[2/6]: Utilising Peer-to-Peer Fundraising in Your Crowdfunding Efforts

If you think peer-to-peer fundraising is just for charities and crowdfunding is just for students, it’s time to think again. This is a sample of Blackbaud’s upcoming six-part whitepaper: Empowering the Crowd: How to Make Social Fundraising Work for Your Educational Institution.

As we explored in our last article, The Importance of Online Fundraising in Your Educational Institution, HEs and Schools see the highest year-on-year growth in online fundraising across, yet it still remains only a small percentage of overall giving (3.8% for HEs vs. an industry average of 7.1%). With the growing significance of online giving, we need to harness new technology and terminology, such as crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising (P2P). Both forms of fundraising have been around for several years, but only more recently have captured a lot of attention in the education sector.


The UK Crowdfunding Association defines crowdfunding as “raising money directly from a large number of people all putting relatively small amounts of money”. But crowdfunding isn’t new. Records date the very first crowdfunding efforts back to 1885 when Joseph Pulitzer asked the American people to help finance the plinth on which the Statue of Liberty would sit.



Other features that often differentiate between crowdfunding platforms include:

  • Incentivised giving or rewards programme
  • Team fundraising pages
  • Adding offline gifts and other fundraising efforts to your campaign total
  • Funding deadlines
  • All-or-nothing, where you won’t receive the funds unless your target is hit reached online

Each feature offers its own unique benefits. As an institution, carefully consider your required features depending on the type of project and your target demographics. Functionality such as all-or-nothing mean that if the project target is not reached within a set timeframe, the donors are reimbursed their gifts and the project is left unfunded. Whilst acceptable for student-led, small-scale personal crowdfunding projects, may not be appropriate for centrally-organised larger-scale projects. Hence the common addition of offline donations.

The general concept of crowdfunding remains the same, however: there is a specific project to fund, whether that be centrally as an institution (philanthropic crowdfunding), or as a group or individual (personal crowdfunding).


Jeff Shuck, CEO of Plenty Consulting and a thought-leader in the digital space, defines peer-to-peer fundraising as “empowering others to ask on your behalf”. Whilst P2P is usually associated with typical charities for events such as running or cycling challenges, there is an opportunity to utilise peer-to-peer within your crowdfunding efforts as a powerful donor acquisition tool. P2P is essentially an additional tier to add to your crowdfunding project, appeal or event. Whilst you can still accept direct donations to your project, P2P allows individuals to set up their own fundraising pages to support that specific project, facilitating your reach into an even larger crowd.



The important question institutions are now asking is how to engage a wider pool of supporters around their core mission. As fundraisers, we know that stories are often best told by individuals to their peers, but institutions are not asking their alumni to engage with and share the message of their alma mater. The Chronicle of Philanthropy explores how millennial alumni engage with, work with, and view donating to their university or college. Among other things, they found that the large majority of millennials said they were willing to raise (not just donate) money on behalf of an institution they care about, and that they were comfortable sharing content about those institutions on social media if they are asked.

Social fundraising is probably already a common part of your offline fundraising, but lacking the benefit of technology to maximise its potential. Or you may be utilising third-party online platforms such that you are not receiving the data. The key message of Blackbaud’s upcoming whitepaper, Empowering the Crowd: How to Make Social Fundraising Work for Your Educational Institution, is to make it easy for existing offline social fundraising to move online to generate a much higher ask-to-donation conversion rate. This shift online can also result in less admin for your team, and offer more rewarding stewardship for your supporters. Additionally, it can deliver better data for your Development Team which we will explore in Part 3 of this series. With the significance of online fundraising growing each year in the Education sector, investing in new technology is vital. This means that standing still is often to fall behind.

Look out for Part 3 of this six part series on 27th May, which will look at how you start moving from crowdfunding to peer-to-peer fundraising.

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