How to Engage Participants in Your P2P Virtual Event

Physical peer-to-peer events — like runs, walks, and rides — have been a key fundraising tool for nonprofits for years. But now, virtual peer-to-peer fundraising events and campaigns have taken on a vitally important role in fundraising, too.

In normal times, online peer-to-peer events can be a less expensive way to raise funds year-round in between in-person events. Today, when physical events aren’t practical or restricted, they’re must-haves. They can help nonprofits engage with constituents and make them feel part of a community, even when they can’t connect in person. 

There are multiple approaches to peer-to-peer fundraising that go beyond physical events. Virtual peer-to-peer events generally fall into two categories: Virtual events/campaigns and do-it-yourself (DIY) virtual events/campaigns. With virtual campaigns, a nonprofit provides an online environment for supporters to set up their own fundraising pages in support of a virtual event or campaign created by the organization. DIY virtual events/campaigns allow participants to host their own virtual events or campaigns and invite friends and family to the events to raise funds for a specific campaign for your organization.

Whether you’re moving an in-person eve\nt to a virtual event, or launching a completely new virtual event, getting participants to sign up to fundraise for your organization (and providing them with basic details, sample emails, and suggestions about how to raise funds from their family and friends) is just the beginning. Your ability to reach your fundraising goals depends greatly on your ability to engage with your peer-to-peer virtual event participants and keep them motivated to raise funds. 

Here are six effective ways to get your peer-to-peer virtual event participants more involved and ultimately increase donations:

1. Host Facebook Live events.

Facebook is a great way to connect with peer-to-peer fundraising participants. Host regular Facebook Live events with your participants on a variety of topics to help them raise funds and keep them inspired to support your cause. Here are some example topics for Facebook Live events:

  • An overview of your nonprofit’s impact on your mission 
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising tips and strategies
  • Q&A with a top fundraiser from a previous peer-to-peer event or campaign

2. Issue social media challenges.

By its very nature, peer-to-peer fundraising is a social activity. Create social media challenges to get participants more excited about your virtual event and help them engage with their potential donors. For example, at the beginning of the week, post a challenge online via your website and social media. (For those participants who aren’t super users of social media, you might want to email the challenge as well.) Challenges can be related to your organization’s mission, such as “the participant who posts the most pet themed photos wins the challenge,” or generic, like “the participant with the most donor selfies wins.”  Then, promote the winner online in the following week as part of a “winner’s corner,” or through a special shout-out if your virtual event has a live element. 

3. Use theme days.

Participants who feel as if they’re part of a group and are having fun are more likely to feel engaged with your organization and with the peer-to-peer event they’ve signed up to support. One way to foster a sense of community among participants is to establish theme days. For example, designate a “crazy hat” day in which participants wear their most unusual hat and post selfies to your event’s community page, or have your participants wear their favorite sport team’s jersey.

4. Send out a call for videos.

Ask participants to create videos to help inspire other participants. For example, ask your top fundraisers to develop a short video about why they’re raising funds for your organization or what have been their most effective approaches for raising funds from friends and family. Provide them with a few guidelines (length of video, topics, file format), an example video, and details about how you’ll use the videos (to send as motivation for other participants) so they have context as they create their videos.

5. Provide incentives.

Those who sign up for your peer-to-peer virtual event or campaign already have shown interest in raising funds for your organization. But a little extra incentive can give them a nudge to keep up the fundraising momentum. For example, offer a t-shirt, an online gift card, or other gift for participants who reach specified fundraising milestones.

6. Educate your participants.

Getting your participants more knowledgeable about your nonprofit and your mission will help them be more effective at sharing your organization’s message with potential donors. For example, create a treasure map or scavenger hunt for your participants to explore your website so they can become more well-versed with your cause. Make it fun and informative by leading participants to different areas of your website or social media. Give them instructions on how to submit their answers via social media, online form, or email. Offer weekly prizes for those who have completed the activity correctly, or include a grand prize drawing. This is an ideal approach for participants who are new to your cause. 

Keeping your participants engaged and inspired to raise funds for your organization is key to peer-to-peer fundraising event or campaign success. There’s almost no end to the ways you can inspire participants. It just takes some planning, creativity, and a bit of extra work. But the results will be well worth it. 

Need more ideas or an extra set of hands for your virtual events or campaigns? Contact Cathexis Partners.

Laura L. Higgins, Strategic Consultant, Cathexis Partners

Laura specializes in fundraising and community-building events. She has worked with nonprofits for more than 15 years.