Promoting Peer to Peer Fundraising with Social Media: An Experiment

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          We had a belief that Peer to Peer fundraising could make our signature fundraising events more profitable and increase their return on investment. We decided to try a social media stunt to see if we could raise some pledges and create a little more interest in our pledge fundraising pages for our Rock the House Run. The appeal was” Larry versus Ronald”. Our communication team came up with the concept that Ronald McDonald House Southern Alberta’s Executive Director was challenged by Ronald McDonald to run the 5 kilometer race. The Executive Director challenged Ronald back that each would create a fundraising page and raise money for Ronald McDonald House. The communications team designed a promotional plan that would live only on the charities social media platforms. The charity would purchase no advertising and would not utilize traditional marketing efforts to promote the peer to peer element of the fundraiser. The charity created a low budget you tube video called “Pledge me maybe” to promote the challenge

 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6M7HhJGUaA4&feature=c4-overview&list=UUQNfTsH1g4uAnrnW6lqNFgw.

            Additionally I was encouraged by our communications staff to use my personal social media channels (twitter and instagram @larrymathieson ) to chronicle my training progress and encourage followers to pledge and set up their own pledge pages to support the event. The appeal was an unexpected success, as 148,000 impressions were made on twitter with 1,200 comments were made using the hash tags #RocktheHouseRun, #teamRonald or #teamLarry. Although certainly not viral by You Tube standards the “Pledge me Maybe” video set a record for the house of 700 views over a two month period. The appeal did not end up being a pure social media experiment as some of the local radio and television personalities who follow the charities social media began promoting the challenge on traditional media channels.

            The pledge revenue had consistently increased over the years however with the social media appeal the revenues jumped from $30,592 in 2011 to $64,500 in 2012. In addition the Presenting Sponsor was so impressed with the community’s engagement in the appeal that on the morning of the run the company announced that in addition to the amount they had paid for their sponsorship that they would make a matching donation of $63,217 (the total pledges received by the charity the morning of the race). The increase in total revenue generated by peer to peer pledges as well as the matching donation significantly changed both the gross and net results for the charity. Registration revenue did increase for the event between 2010 and 2012 but not in a way that was transformational to the total event revenues. It should also be noted that sponsorship revenue also increased significantly between 2010 and 2012 and was also an important factor in the events overall profitability. Ronald McDonald House Southern Alberta’s pledge or peer to peer fundraising for the event continued to grow in 2013 to the point where pledge donations alone reached the level of pledges combined with the presenting sponsor match in the 2012 event.So in essence the pledge revenue doubled once again.

           The example above illustrates how on-line peer to peer fundraising efforts can improve the overall revenue picture for a small nonprofit organization’s events and how social media can be utilized to impact total numbers of donations and total revenue. The Rock the House Run has been an event that has created additional visibility and has raised funds for the House, however there are certainly Road Races locally or nationally that raise a lot more money.  However as a smaller local charity the total amount raised is not as important to us as what the return on investment from the event is. Clearly it appears that peer to peer fundraising combined with the usage of social media does improve an event like RTHR’s return on investment.      

If you’d like to read my last post on peer to peer fundraising check  out this link:

https://mathiesonlarry.wordpress.com/2014/01/27/friend-raising-how-your-small-charity-can-raise-funds-through-peer-to-peer-fundraising/

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2 thoughts on “Promoting Peer to Peer Fundraising with Social Media: An Experiment

  1. Also, there is a large credit to the new external organizational group (after 2011) (Strides) who provided a newly dedicated operations group and higher community engagement as a result (new venue, date also etc). Kudos to all levels of the community for stepping up. Social Media is a wonderful way to market and engage, only if the base product is worthwhile. (and it obviously is). Congrats on all the success of the race! It’s amazing to see!

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