Starbucks and CNOY: Warming Hands, Heads & Hearts Together Since 2011

Starbucks has been fueling countless commutes, endless study sessions, hectic post-work-get-the-kids-to-practice-and-make-dinner days, and flirty first dates in Canada since 1987. But the masters of the macchiato are also fueling change in their communities. 

An Extra Shot of Social Change

Giving back is the Starbucks way. They are more than coffee (and the bacon & gouda breakfast sandwich… never forget the bacon & gouda breakfast sandwich). This corporation with a heart strives to make a difference in the local communities they serve. “We have always believed Starbucks can – and should – have a positive social impact on the communities we serve. One person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time” says Keshia Ali, Project Specialist in Social Impact & Public Policy. 

The conversation began when Starbucks partners (that’s what they call their employees) indicated that they wanted to do more to support charities in their neighbourhoods. 

Every day these partners see, and serve, folks impacted by homelessness, poverty, domestic violence, and other pressing social issues. Store by store, they were individually taking action. At one location, for example, a customer frequented the cafe, grabbing a seat in the evenings and drinking a few glasses of water; staff started to build a relationship with her. On the way to work one day, the store manager stopped at the ATM and saw this same woman sleeping in the vestibule of the bank.

The manager couldn’t just walk away and struck up a conversation, asking how they could help. The customer was open and honest about her story. It’s a heartbreaking one. She lost her home, she lost her family, she lost nearly everything. The local Starbucks team responded; they purchased gift cards and other essential items so she could get ready for job interviews and take the first steps towards getting back some of what she lost. 

Starbucks partners across the country have similar stories and know the impact of kindness and teamwork. They’d seen first hand that small steps can lead to big changes. Now they wanted to do more, get more people involved, and make a bigger difference in their communities and communities like theirs across the country. They shared this need and Starbucks responded – in a big, CNOY way.

A New Partnership with Peer-to-Peer Event Coldest Night of the Year

Starbucks recognized the engagement and passion their partners showed when it comes to giving back, and found a way to grow this organic activity into a company-wide, cross-country initiative. 

Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY) is a super-fun, family-friendly fundraising walk that supports local charity partners who provide essential care and service for people experiencing homelessness, hurt, and hunger. And it’s more than that. 

CNOY is a moment each year when tens of thousands of Canadians step outside the warmth and comfort of home to shine a light of welcome and compassion in their communities. Remarkably, the Coldest Night of the Year has raised over $43,500,000 in 149 communities across Canada since it began in 2011.

Joining CNOY’s Corporate Challenge has enabled Starbucks teams to:

  • Work Together and Compete to Make a Difference. Partners work together in teams to fundraise for local charities of their choice – as stand alone stores or in coalitions of Starbucks locations. Other Partners compete against their “rivals” up the street, checking the Challenge Board and rallying together to be the most generous Starbucks location in town. 
  • Support Their Communities. With the full support of the national Starbucks brand, these Partners are raising money to serve people experiencing homelessness, hurt, and hunger in their neighbourhoods. Helping those they see and serve on a daily basis makes this fundraising campaign not just fun, but impactful in a real, tangible way. 
  • Create Long-Term Relationships with Local Charities. Through CNOY, Starbucks partners can get behind the causes that matter to them (e.g. youth, homelessness, domestic violence, etc.) and connect to local charities while taking part in a nationwide movement. Oftentimes, Partners use this introduction to build longer-term, year-long relationships with these charities, expanding their impact. 
  • Make a Huge Impact. In the last three years, Starbucks Partners have raised $196,497 for local charities serving people experiencing homelessness, hurt, and hunger through CNOY campaigns. Generosity and courage surged amidst the global pandemic, and Starbucks Partners raised over $98,297 in 2021 alone!

Through their participation in the CNOY Corporate Challenge each district, store, and partner has the chance to meaningfully contribute. To give back. To live out the Starbucks way: creating positive social impact on the communities they serve – to inspire and nurture the human spirit.

Grande Results 

Starbucks is known for “so much more than what we brew.” A company with a huge heart, Starbucks is committed to being a positive force in the communities in which they operate. Partnering with CNOY allows them to take the organic passion and activism of their partners and maximize its impact. 

Starbucks’ partners are thirsty for change; they want to make a difference. And they are. Partners have done incredible work for charities in their communities. CNOY offers the perfect pairing with a strong, recognizable national event and a proven program that delivers an easy, seamless way for teams to contribute and expand their impact. 

Can it do the same for your organization? (Spoiler alert: Yes.)

Try These Team Captain Recruitment Supersets to Hit a New Personal Best

Our P2P fundraising events take a lot of the heavy lifting off your plate. That means you can create a heart-racing, buzz-building, donor-delighting fundraising campaign by focusing on a handful of exercises. The most important one being: team captain recruitment! 

That’s right, team captain recruitment must be your #1 priority, because team captains are the key to a successful campaign – hands down, every time. 

Get Your Recruitment Muscles Warmed Up

Team captain recruitment isn’t complicated, but it does take time and effort. You might work up a bit of a sweat, but if you’ve got the heart, we’ve got a foolproof plan. So squeeze into that spandex (yep! Spandex is cool again), do a couple of stretches, and let’s get recruiting! 

First things first, set your fundraising goal and do the math to calculate how many captains you need to reach it. You can try to recruit the 100, 200, or 500 people you need to hit your fundraising goal, or you could recruit a handful of your charity’s salt-of-the-earth supporters as team captains and let them do the recruiting, leading, and fundraising for you. Hint: the second idea is so. much. better. Team captains will be your best recruiters and most invested fundraisers, among many other awesome qualities

Plan Your Workout

What makes a great team captain? Where can you find them? How do you get them onboarded in time? 

Our game-changing recruitment strategy maps all of your charity’s contacts and relationships in concentric circles. These circles house your best potential team captains: 

Start with the core, recruiting those closest to you – those who already know and love you – and move out from there. This core consists of your board members, management team, and major donors – all the people you regularly interact with who make your awesome work come to life. 

As leaders don’t forget your friends and family too. They are your inner core fan club and most events can count on Mom, Dad, siblings and others to team up and fundraise!

Gear Up + Get Moving 

Ready to turn up the speed for real results? Let’s go!

  • Use your core! Ask each board member, management team, or major donor to be a team captain. Encourage these core captains to tap into their own varied and diverse networks to recruit a fabulous team, do some spirited fundraising, and get the word out about your charity.
    • Your Board of Directors can engage with your event in two ways: 
      • If your primary focus is on raising funds, the Board Chair can champion a super-team of board members who commit to raising a lot of money together. 
      • If you hope to build a lot of awareness through the event, the board can divide and conquer, captaining multiple teams that tap into the reach, influence, and rolodex of these key players (no, rolodexes are not cool again, sadly.)
    • Major Donors are great potential team captains. Don’t assume they are one-and-done with their last big cheque. Invite them to start a team, be on a team, and fundraise from their rich network like everyone else.
    • Look for a way to ask these folks during a face-to-face interaction – bring it up at the next board gathering, ask them to connect over coffee, and commit to discussing it at your next meeting. 
  • Add some weight! Successful campaigns need buy-in from leadership. Set the expectation that your leadership team all sign up to be enthusiastic captains. Be clear and do what it takes to secure buy-in as early as possible.
  • Practice muscle memory! Remember alllll those people who have participated and donated in the past? Invite them back and ask them to lead their own teams. They are an often untapped, but readily accessible, resource. (Hop into your WAVES account, download the last 5 years’ participant data, and reach out to anyone who raised more than $500 to see if they’d consider leading a team this year.)
  • Don’t skip leg day! Do leg work for big returns: with each interaction/meeting/pumpkin spice latte, ask: “How can I invite this person to be a team captain?” That volunteer group that shows up to paint and do odd jobs every May? Put it on their radar. That business that loves to do semi-yearly drop-offs? Let them know. Those teens who do their service hours with you? Sign them up! These interested groups will appreciate another touch point and a new way to support your work. 
  • Stretch! Once you’ve done the work of getting your inner circles on board, think bigger: what businesses in your community might want to join in? Remember, this work is important, but often doesn’t yield the same results as exploring your active base. 

Sure, this workout takes… work. Team captain recruitment needs a little time and energy but it pays off big time. Results guaranteed. 

By focusing on team captain recruitment and going all in on these exercises, you’ll be building an amazing community of individuals who are engaged in your work, charting the path to fundraising success, and potentially finding new relationships to further your mission. Grab that water bottle, headband, and runners – it’s time to sweat it out and make it happen. 

Next Steps:

  • Login to WAVES and read through the Team Captain Recruitment Generator. 

Team Captain Love – A Little Attention Can Deliver Big Results

When a major or mid-sized donor writes a cheque for $2,000, $5,000, $10,000 or $20,000 the response from most charities is usually very prompt and very personal.

A warm call from your CEO perhaps, a personal hand-written note from your development director at the very least, and likely a swag-bag full of acknowledgment in appreciation of their generosity. And rightly so – you or your gifts officer likely worked very hard nurturing that relationship over many months or even years, so that when the cheque finally got written it was worthy of the acknowledgement and celebration. 

What’s often the icing on the major or mid-sized donor cake is what happens after you bank their gift.  Donors like these, who are stewarded well, have tremendous potential to deliver additional value to your charity including:

  • Additional gifts in the future
  • Peers they willingly introduce you to 
  • High capacity volunteer skills and a willingness to help
  • Committee or even Board of Director leadership potential

Your Other Major Donors 

Here’s the big secret: the very qualities you seek in these donor prospects (the ones you and your development team spend hours, days, and weeks searching for in your database) are mirrored in many donors who are already supporting your charity – team captains. 

Yes, team captains

Buried in the dusty participant list of your well-loved peer-to-peer fundraising event are some faithful and passionate major and mid-sized donors that you may be missing out on. These generous, faithful influencers are right under your nose and deserve your attention. 

Here’s a short list of why you should dedicate MORE time and attention to your team captains:

  1. They Often Self-Donate – Most team captains make the first donation to their campaign. They pull out their credit card and self donate to get things going. Some give quite generously, but regardless of the amount, these folks are known for having skin in the game. 
  1. They Fundraise Well – Team captains are often outstanding fundraisers and the longer they fundraise the better they get at it. It’s not enough to give themselves, they expect their friends and families to give too. They are your unpaid development team: a captain who fundraises $1,000 will personally ask 15-20 donors that your charity would likely never meet otherwise.
  1. Their Team Fundraises Too –  Not surprisingly, they inspire their friends and family to fundraise with them. The average team fundraises about $2,000 but many hit higher levels of $5,000, $10,000 and $20,000.
  1. They Come Back Year After Year – Team captains often take part in a well-run p2p fundraising event for a minimum of 4-5 years. They are incredibly faithful. Take a moment and do the math: what’s the value of even a modest team that raises $2,000 annually for 4-5 years? (And that’s not taking into account the anecdotal, undocumented benefits of additional gifts, volunteering, etc.)
  1. They Recruit Religiously – Captains tend to be great at recruiting the people in their network to walk, run, ride, hop, etc. with them. Most team captains take their role very seriously. If you ask them well, make your expectations clear, and help when they need it, they’ll recruit to heaven and back for you. 
  1. They Spread the Word – During your event (and after) team captains like to talk about their experience, your charity, and why they got involved. It comes naturally to them. Does your $20,000 major donor evangelize for you this way? I wonder… 
  1. They Sing Your Praises –  Team captains are often your biggest, loudest, and most vocal cheerleaders. They love your cause and they may even love you. Imagine what they would do if they got your attention? If they felt acknowledged and seen? 
  1. They Can Introduce You To Others – A captain’s high fundraisers and large donors could be valuable prospects for your charity. Treat captains well and then ask for an introduction. This is one way to ensure your event feeds into your year round fundraising efforts.
  1. They Have Great Ideas (If You’ll Ask Them) – Imagine how much insight a team captain might have about your annual p2p event if only you’d ask! They see stuff you can’t. They want you to be successful. Ask them for advice! Plus, asking team captains for advice doesn’t just help you, it helps them feel connected and in relationship with your charity. 
  1. They Often Have Potential To Give More – If your team captain self-donates then they are prime candidates for giving directly, outside the event. This is one of the easiest asks you’ll have all year. You know they give, they gave to you so, what’s stopping you?  
  1. Some Of Them Own Businesses – Leaders in business often find themselves as leaders in p2p events. So as you scour your registrants and notice their email is a business be sure to get to know them better. They could become matching donors, major donors, sponsors, or centres of influence.  And if you notice a business owner on a team who isn’t a team captain then look to get an introduction to see if you can’t get to know them a little better. 
  1. Youth Team Captains Have Parents Worth Noticing – There’s not much more to say here except before potentially turning your noses up at lowly youth teams, remember who their donors might be: parents, grandparents, and other adults who want to support their youthful zeal. It’s kind of funny to think that the gatekeeper to the wealthiest donor prospects in town might be on one of your youth teams. You can’t make this stuff up. 
  1. They Will Take Your Call – If a team captain has self-donated, fundraised, recruited, and led their own team in your event then you can be pretty confident that they know who you are (as event director). They will take your call. You can’t abuse this access, but you can be confident that at the very least they’ll pick up when you dial. 
  1. They Are Humble And Kind – Well no, not all of them are nice, but honestly, after 17 years in p2p I can say that the vast majority of team captains are incredibly decent human beings and a joy to work and talk with. They give without strings or expectations, other than perhaps throwing them a little bone once in a while acknowledging how they are busting their butt for you and your charity. Please give them that. 

Team captains really are wonderful. And better yet, they are low maintenance, often living off the scraps of their meaningful experience in your event, or the briefest of discussions with you on event day. Can you imagine how they might respond if they received your full attention? They’ve already bought in to some extent, it’s time you give them what they deserve, considering all they are giving to you. 

So by all means, keep digging for new prospects in town. Have at it. But when you get tired of that exhausting excavation, dig up your participant list from last year’s walk-a-thon and open your eyes to the rich potential your team captains list offers you. They are the hidden gold in your p2p fundraising event. 

Next Steps

  • Do a deeper-data dive on your team captains – discover your treasure. 
  • Write a plan to better love, acknowledge and nurture your team captains. 
  • Include a communications plan to give them ‘insider’ info on your charity or event.
  • Begin to think through an individual stewardship plan for each identified captain. 
  • If you are in the middle of your campaign, be sure to call them to say thanks today. 

The 30 Day Forecast: How to Calculate Your Expected Earnings

A thousand years ago, before the internet and online fundraising systems were ubiquitous, charities would have little clue how their p2p fundraising event-a-thons were doing until event day or later. You would recruit teams and fundraisers, arm them with pledge sheets and brochures, send them out, and then white knuckle it till your team started counting the stacks of coins and cash after the event. 

Thank goodness things have changed. 

With the majority of participant registration and fundraising now happening online, organizers (like you), don’t have to sweat it out. We’d go so far as to say, the last 30 days of your campaign can be confidently predicted, if you’ve done the work to recruit team captains. 

The Big Ifs

If you have the following results 30 days before your event (which, if you’re following our method, you should), you can predict with confidence** how much money your p2p fundraising event will bring in. 

The 30 Day Benchmarks

In order for the math to work you’ll need to be within 10% of these metrics:

  • Teams – 60% –  30 days out you should be at about 60% of your goal for team recruitment. Did you want 20 teams? Then you should have 11-13 registered and fundraising.
  • Participants – 30%  If you recruited your team captains with clear expectations to recruit and fundraise you should have 30% of your expected participants signed up.
  • Revenue – 15%  With teams and participants signed up, you’d expect to see some fundraising happening right? If you don’t, you’ve got a problem. If your goal is $30,000 you should be $3,000-$4,500 at minimum. 
  • Donors – 10-15%  Your donor total, (assuming you’re hitting the average of 5 donors per participant) should be 10-15% a month out. 

Where Are You Heading? Calculate Your Event’s Performance 

So enough waiting – if your campaign is in the range for all four metrics above, here’s what should happen in your campaign 30 days later. Grab your pen, a calculator and have some fun factoring in these expected results. 

  • Teams  should increase by 66%  
  • Participants normally swell by 273% 
  • Revenue – surges 418% 
  • Donors – grows exponentially by 745%

Let’s look at a pretend event. Here’s what we’d expect to happen based on where they are 30 days out:

Metric30 Days OutFactorAdd 30 Days Later
Teams1566%10= 25 
Participants30273%81= 121
Revenue$4,100418%$17,138= $21,238
Donor62745%461= 523

So now, punch in your numbers below to see if you are trending the right way. 

Metric30 Days OutFactorAdd30 Days Later
Teams66%=  
Participants273%=
Revenue418%=$
Donor745%=

Now, there other factors that will impact your results, including but not limited to, your culture of philanthropy, event leadership buy-in, nature of your beneficiary, familiarity and comfort with your cause and charity, age of your charity, demographics of your community of supporters, accessibility of your p2p event activity, etc. 

How do things look? Do these stats encourage or concern you? 

If you’re on track: Keep your foot on the gas! You are doing great. 

If you’re behind: Don’t be discouraged. Call us please. We’ll troubleshoot with you, help you reset and you’ll get your momentum back. Also, consider reviewing these articles below to inspire your recruitment:

Exponential Success

Visualize successive waves hitting the beach: the first wave of effort is focused on acquiring team captains. The second wave comes as a result of those captains arm-twisting their friends and family to sign-up. This is followed closely by a wave of fundraising revenue as event day nears, and finally, the much larger donor wave hits with force the last 4-5 days before the event 

That’s how a well run p2p event looks like. It’s exponential.

**Coldest Night of the Year is Blue Sea’s signature annual event welcoming 25,000 fundraisers annually across Canada. Since 2011 the event has raised $34,000,000. Over the past three years, here’s what happened to our four key event metrics the last 30 days. Remember, these metrics are averages based on the week to week results of 150 different campaigns run by small, medium and large charities in the same event. Some with staff, some with high-capacity volunteers. A good mix of urban and rural and old or new charities too. Budgets as low as $100,000 or as high as $25 million. So, a nice wide cross section in the pooling sample. 

7 High Impact Thank You Ideas for P2P Fundraisers

A few years ago I finally threw it out. 

The paper was ripping and the light blue ink was hard to read, but still, I paused at length before finally tossing it in the trash. I’d kept it since October 1991 when it came, stamp affixed, in a nice embossed envelope. 21 words, written by hand, and sent from someone I deeply respected. 

A thank you card.

“Brian, What’s in the water up there? What an amazing month! Thanks for your business and thanks for being you ~ Bob”

Were those the exact words? No, they were not. But the “Brian” and “Bob” parts were there and something about him appreciating what I’d done was in there too. Also, holding on to it for years and years was absolutely true. I kept that note in the top right drawer of my desk and read it more times than I’d like to admit. 

That thank you mattered to me. 

The impact of a sincere, well delivered thank you cannot be overstated. A thank you is the easiest and most effective way to nurture any relationship. Honest, heartfelt thank yous build trust, inspire confidence, lift loyalty, and make an impression that lingers long after they are first experienced. 

Now of course, you’ve been thanking people for years, and if you’re running p2p fundraising events, you already know successful events require a lot of thank yous. So, whether you’re looking for some inspiration and new ideas, or somewhere to start, here are seven high-impact thank you ideas that work.

7 High-impact Thank You Ideas

  1. Postcards – Never forget the basics because they work everytime! Handwritten thank yous never go out of style. Use one of our designs, a postcard with your charity branding, or better yet, pick one up from a not-quite-exotic Canadian location and write, “I was in ________, thought of you, and wanted to say thanks for _________.” Stick a stamp on that puppy and you’ve got yourself a thank you that will land on someone’s fridge for months. Postcards, yes, it’s 1957 again. 
  1. Personal Video – Last year I gave to a local shelter who emailed me with an ask I couldn’t resist. A few days later, I received a one-minute video from their CEO who gushed some words of appreciation. It was way too much for the level of gift, but guess what? I shared it with most of my friends. That thank you landed well. So well that I gave again this year. You could do the same with your p2p event. When thank yous are personal, thoughtful, and shareable – you’ve hit the thank you trifecta. 
  1. CEO Call/Card – Your VIP fundraisers or Team Captains would be blown away to hear from your CEO/ED directly. How to make that happen?
    • Draw up a short list of your top 10 fundraisers, including their addresses and phone numbers, their team names, and how much they raised.
    • Give the list to your leader(s) and ask, “Please call these folks, thank them, and ask if they have any questions. If they don’t have any questions, ask them one simple question – ‘Why did you do this?’” 
    • These simple steps will lead to a sweet discussion that leaves both parties feeling encouraged.  
  1. Chair of the Board Call/Card – Same idea as above, except when you ask your Board Chair to make these calls, they have the advantage of saying, “I’m a volunteer just like you and I can’t begin to tell you how much this means to the charity, our leadership team, and of course our beneficiaries (you’d use another word)…” It’s always worthwhile for a board member to connect with the community of supporters. It’s a fiduciary ear to the ground that will instruct their BOD decision making and it leaves your Top 10s feeling recognized and appreciated.
  1. Social Media Shout Out – If the person(s) you want to thank are active on social media, imagine how they’d react to a public expression of thanks! Post meaningful shout outs online and tag those VIPs. Ensure the captions and sentiment feels personal and specific to each individual you’re thanking (think about including the same content/length as you would in a hand-written thank you card). Consider sharing a picture of the person (if it’s flattering) and tagging your CEO to widen the impact. 
  1. Group Thank You Email – A couple of years ago I gave to a walker who was participating in the Coldest Night of the Year. The day of the event I received an email where he named (by first name only) and thanked everyone who gave to him and what they meant to him. I was blown away. Not only did I love seeing the cohort of givers and reading what was great about each person, I blushed at his kind thank you to me too. They were short bullet points, nothing too fancy – but they were words from the heart and they had a real and lasting impact on me. It was an efficient use of his time too. Consider how you might use this approach with your groups of event volunteers, donors, vendors, or other stakeholders who deserve a thank you this year. 
  1. Connect the Dots – When a team captain or participant raises some big money (whatever big means to your charity) in a p2p fundraising event, one way to thank them is by connecting their fundraising dot to your charity impact dot. When you reach out to thank them, share a specific example of  how the funds they helped raise made a difference. 

“Do you remember the $3,500 your team raised a couple months ago? That money let’s us do this, that and this other thing, and because of that, we see or expect to see these things happen (insert impact).”

Make it easy for them to connect the dots and then say, “I want you to know how much we appreciate the way you busted your butt for us this year. THANK YOU.” 

Be Strategic With Your Thank Yous 

To maximize your stakeholder engagement you’ve got to be strategic with your thank yous. Make a plan, estimate the time it will take to recognize everyone, and have a budget in place to support these efforts. Think about who can help you complete these thank yous in a timely manner, and most of all, think about who gets what kind of thank you and from whom. 

Start at the top without apology. Thank your biggest fundraising captains and participants first. Thank your sponsors second. Then your key volunteer leaders and their teams. And then your average (but oh-so-important) fundraising participants. If they both self-donated and fundraised, be sure to acknowledge that. They’ll love it.

If your event has less than 150 participants and 100 of them fundraised for your charity, make sure those fundraisers get a thank you from you. In the early years, it’s worth the investment of your time. Don’t waste time thanking participants who didn’t do anything thinking that it will motivate them to do something next year – it probably won’t. 

Finally, send a thank you to your spouse, partner, kids, or parents because let’s be honest, there has never been a p2p fundraising event anywhere that didn’t include someone’s family stepping up to the plate to help. Thank them too. 

What makes a thank you land? Exactly what you’d expect – sincerity, warmth, and friendliness. According to Time magazine, we shouldn’t overthink it. Don’t agonize over the words. There is a lot of grace when gratitude is concerned. We love being thanked and as it turns out, thanking people is also good for us. 

6 Signs Your P2P Event Has a Culture of Fundraising

There are hundreds of thousands of peer-to-peer fundraising events across North America every year. A myriad of walk, run, ride, dance, read, hop, skip, and spin-a-thons are everywhere with the numbers growing annually. And why not? A successful p2p event can build buzz, momentum and your bottom line. A well executed a-thon can gather your community, rally your staff, bring attention to your charity and harvest thousands of sponsors and donors dollars. 

What’s not to love?  

Well for one, it takes a lot of energy to keep your event going if not growing. Sustaining that adrenaline-fused first year buzz is a challenge. People get bored, move on, or bump into new interests. As the stress of keeping up that momentum grows, so too does the tendency for charities to focus more on attendance rather than fundraising performance and as a result, the culture of fundraising suffers, and eventually, the event dies off from lack of fundraising oxygen. 

6 Signs Your Event Has a Culture of Fundraising

There are 6 major signs that your event has a culture of fundraising. Consider this a checklist to review with your board or committee to ensure your event isn’t slipping into awareness participation rather than fundraising satisfaction.

  1. Obvious Fundraising Goal 
    • When you go to your event page do you see a super-obvious fundraising thermometer with your goal in bold? 
    • Is your fundraising goal known by everyone on your staff? 
    • Is it discussed often between those in management, program, and support roles? 
    • Is it shared on social media and in social circles? 
    • If it is, that means it’s embedded in your charity – and that’s a good sign. 
  1. Unapologetic Fundraising Language 
    • Does your website and public-facing content make it crystal clear what your event is about? 
    • Do you invite people to fundraise first and walk/run/spin (or whatever it is your a-thon is doing) second? 
    • Does your auto-registration email thank people for registering to walk or registering to fundraise
    • Do you make it clear to your team captains what you need them to do in terms of fundraising? 
    • Give yourself a high-five if you aren’t beating around the bush with your fundraising language – this is also a good sign. 
  1. Helpful Fundraising Tools + Support
    • Does your website and printed material provide useful, current tools to support fundraising?
    • Have you created fun, engaging social media images and content that support fundraising? 
    • If you’ve built these tools it’s likely because you understand fundraising (yay!) and it’s a positive indicator of your fundraising culture. Keep investing in training and asking. 
  1. Big CEO Buy-In 
    • Does your CEO care about this event? 
    • Are they registered, leading a team, recruiting and fundraising? 
    • Do they inquire often as to the progress of your event and bring it up often in meetings?
    • Are they modelling what’s expected? 
    • If your CEO is a champion for your event and fundraising personally, chances are your event has a strong culture of fundraising #welldone
  1. Percentage of Participants Fundraising 
    • How many of your participants are fundraising for you? 
    • Are at least 50% fundraising, with your real goal being between 60% and 70%?
    • If you have 50% or less your event is at risk of failure long term. It will implode on itself if you don’t correct it. 
    • When the majority of team captains and participants are fundraising the expectations, accountability and results change. 
  1. Number of Donors – Sometimes an apparently successful fundraiser can be buoyed by a generous sponsorship or large donation. The final campaign revenue figure is high but when you dig down the fundraising metrics are actually weak. A key metric to track then, isn’t just the amount raised per participant but the number of donors who give to each participant (and the total number of donors in your event). 
    • Are these numbers growing? What’s the trend? Don’t hide behind large donations. 
    • Track your number of donors carefully to ensure a growing culture of fundraising. 
    • NOTE: great online fundraising systems track the number of emails ‘asks’ your participants send – this is also a helpful metric to track.

Building a successful fundraising culture in your p2p event takes planning, intentionality, and nerves of steel. Don’t fall for the “more participants is better” lie or it’s close cousin, ”if we get more participants this year they’ll convert to fundraising next year”. That almost never happens. Hold your ground, expect and encourage fundraising and you’ll get a lot of committed, passionate participants fundraising their hearts out for you without apology for years to come. 

Do You Have Enough Team Captains to Hit Your Fundraising Goal?

So, you’ve just opened your calendar and see that your peer-to-peer fundraising event is less than two months away. How do you know you will succeed? How do you know you’ll hit your fundraising goals? The short answer is that while you can’t be 100% certain, the leading indicator of your future success is tied to your team captain recruitment. 

You need to ask “have we asked enough people and do we have enough team captains to hit our goal this year?” Now is the time to check in and ensure your recruiting is on pace, remembering that you need about 75%+ of your captains onboard 3-4 weeks before Event Day in order to give them enough time to recruit and fundraise well. 

But just how many captains do you need? It’s a simple math equation: divide your charity fundraising goal (for example, $30,000) by $1,500 (the average raised per team):

$30,000 / $1,500 

= 20 team captains

So now do your math. Where are you at? 

Ideally you should be at 25% of your team captain recruitment goal 45-60 days out. Are you close? Under or higher or on track? Recruitment should be your daily focus to ensure your success. The sooner captains register the sooner they can begin recruiting and the sooner they begin fundraising. Whatever your schedule looks like, be sure to clear enough time to focus on recruiting and communicating with your team captains and prospects. 

If you need MORE team captains:

  • Refresh Your List
  • Loop Back
    • If you’ve already asked some folks and they’ve not yet responded, don’t assume their answer is no. Forward your original recruitment email to them with a friendly note,“Hey, you might have missed this – can we talk about it this week?” 
  • Teamwork
    • Where possible make this a group effort. Don’t try to be the hero – get others in your charity to help ask as well. Make it a science by giving your team a list of prospective captains to ask. In your weekly or bi-weekly event management calls, be encouraging and accountable to each other, ensuring every prospect on your list is asked and followed up with.
  • Challenge
    • Use the power of the Corporate & Community Challenge to uncover new Team Captain prospects. 

If you have ENOUGH team captains:

  • Check-in and say thanks regularly
    • No matter what, send short, sweet emails to thank, support, and encourage your team captains. Throughout the campaign we recommend sending bi-weekly emails, then weekly emails for the final three weeks before event day. It’s a small action that can make a big difference!
  • Share Fundraising Advice
    • We have a lot (a lot, a lot) of advice, tools, and resources that you can use and share with your captains. From super helpful how to fundraise basics (RIDE, TGP, CNOY) to fundraising campaign ideas (RIDE, TGP, CNOY), to our Oscar nominated fundraising videos (not true, but let’s try and make that happen!?) (RIDE, TGP, CNOY), share our tools with your teams to keep those donations rolling in.
    • Not sure where to find them? Check out WAVES or contact your campaign success rep. 

Key Takeaway

Take inventory of your campaign. Do you have enough captains? Do you have enough prospects? Are you on track? Is your calendar open enough to allow you to focus on recruitment 60 days out? You still have time if you are behind, so dig in today!

Sign Up: Summer Series

Summer is the perfect time to dive into these topics – Engaging Faith Communities, Business Partnerships, Social Media, and Donor Retention. This Summer Series has been designed for all charities, not just those who are mid-campaign. Sign up for one, or all four of the Summer Series sessions, and you’ll be able to put this new knowledge to work right away!

The best part? There will be time in every session to work in small groups with other charity leaders! So join us for one, or join us for all – just be sure you join us this summer!

Quick Links:

Session One: More than Money – How to Engage Faith Communities for P2P Fundraising Success

 Session Two: Stop, Collaborate & Listen – How to Find & Secure Win-Win Business Partnerships

Session Three: Social Media Superfoods – Actionable Tips to Optimize Your Charity’s Social Media

Session Four: Why Donors Walk Away And How To Keep Them Connected with Your Charity Long-Term

Workshop Details

More than Money – How to Engage Faith Communities for P2P Fundraising Success 

Church communities, faith groups, and social clubs could be the difference between a paltry p2p performance and heavenly fundraising results. But how do you meaningfully engage these groups?

In this 60-minute interactive online workshop you will hear directly from a church leader who successfully led a $200,000 p2p fundraising campaign by involving other faith-based communities. Join us to learn: 

  1. Why churches, faith groups, and social clubs want to be involved with good causes doing great things in the community 
  2. Why ignoring these groups is a risk you can’t afford to take
  3. Jim’s three not–so–secret secret steps for HOW to engage churches, faith groups, and social clubs (spoiler alert: they like a free breakfast)

This is an action packed hour that has ample time to spend in small group discussions where you can brainstorm, problem solve, and share best practices with other charity leaders and event directors from across Canada.

Your Host, Jim Heuving: For almost 30 years Jim has been a pastor with a heart to see great things happen in communities. He has been engaged in numerous organizations as a leader, board member, and consultant. He launched Cloverdale Community Kitchen out of his church in Surrey which earned two Not–for–Profit awards from the local Chamber of Commerce. In 2021 they raised over 200k at their CNOY fundraiser. With years of leadership experience, training, and zeal to see good expand, Jim is able to help you navigate wisely and smartly to make the most out of what you have available. If you are looking to engage your local church community, Jim may be able to give you some insider tips.

Stop, Collaborate & Listen – How to Find & Secure Win-Win Business Partnerships

Ready to take your p2p fundraising event to the next level? Want to better understand HOW to access the tens and hundreds of thousands of dollars that Canadian businesses are budgeting each year for marketing and philanthropy?

You are in the right place!

In this 60–minute interactive online workshop you will learn:

  • How cause marketing and CSR perfectly positions your p2p fundraising event to receive philanthropic support from local organizations
  • How to customize and communicate the unique opportunities your p2p fundraising event offers businesses in your community
  • Proven methods for cultivating and capitalizing on relationships with businesses big and small
    Our best tips for getting local businesses engaged in your event and coming back year–over–year

This is an action packed hour that will have you hearing from our Blue Sea experts and working in small groups to brainstorm, problem solve, and share best practices.

Your Host, Cathy Manuel: Educated as a social worker and having worked in the charitable sector for nearly 25 years, Cathy understands both the complex needs of the client and the ongoing programming and fiscal challenges faced by charities. Her relationship with Blue Sea extends back to 2012 when she led Ride for Refuge in Moncton and later followed as event director for Coldest Night of the Year. In recent years, Cathy has worked with multiple charities to achieve their fund development goals. Her experience and expertise in donor relations, community connections and fundraising, will provide you with a colorful roadmap to engage the business community and elevate your scoreboard.

Social Media Superfoods – Actionable Tips to Optimize Your Charity’s Social Media

Know social media is important but not sure where to start? “Doing” social media but not sure if it’s doing anything? Not sure where to be, when to post, or what to say?

In this week’s 60-minute online workshop we’re taking a deep dive into your charity’s social media presence. Using our super–useful, super–strategic, super-cool social media checklist you will take stock of your charity’s online efforts:

  • Are you on the best platforms?
  • Are your accounts optimized?
  • Are you sharing enough of the right kind of content?
  • Are you missing out on the “low hanging fruit” that could supercharge your social engagement?

Your Host, Kristy Guthrie-Roth: Kristy is a content marketing and communications expert with nearly 15 years’ experience helping visionary organizations achieve their goals with online content that educates, engages, and inspires action. As BSF’s Manager of Communications, Kristy is here to help simplify the world of social media for your charity and give you the knowledge, tips, and tools you need to be successful.

Why Donors Walk Away And How To Keep Them Connected with Your Charity Long-Term

P2P fundraising events inject hundreds of new names and faces into your charity’s ecosystem. They represent an incredible opportunity to both raise those megawatt funds and turn strangers into long term donors. Win–win–win–win–win, right? Why then, are we seeing such low donor and participant retention rates? What’s the secret to turning a walker–rider–donor into a long-term donor?

Find out in this 60-minute online workshop. Our resident donor engagement expert pulls back the curtains and shares the lessons he’s learned in more than 20 years of fundraising.

Join us to learn: 

  1. Why the majority of donors stop giving after the first gift
  2. How to transform one-time donors into long-term supporters
  3. How to employ a p2p fundraising event as a key component of a long-term fundraising strategy (and not a stand alone fundraiser)

Take a vacation from your summer vacation to connect with like–minded charity leaders and event directors from across the country. In this workshop, we’ll alternate between short presentations that are bursting with value and dedicated time to work together in small groups.

New knowledge, check!

Fresh ideas and time to brainstorm, check?

An opportunity to share your experiences and hear how other charities are approaching donor retention, check!

Your Host, Mika Takamaki: Mika has been raising money in the charitable sector for more than 20 years. That includes a 10 year stretch of asking friends to financially support his own work. As an original member of the Blue Sea team, Mika talks about fundraising with 1,000+ charities every year. He knows not only the challenges and fears fundraisers face, but also how to overcome those obstacles. He loves hearing and re-telling stories of great things our charity partners are doing but most of all he loves being able to include a sports analogy in every conversation.

What’s the Scoop on Corporate & Community Challenges?

Corporate and community engagement is a critical component of successful p2p fundraising events. By tapping into the business community, you’re able to reach more people, build more buzz, generate more awareness for your cause, and ultimately raise more funds. The best part about corporate and community engagement is that it’s not one sided – it’s not just about asking the businesses and community groups in your area to support your charity – it’s about offering an equal (or greater!) opportunity to help them reach their goals.

What is a “Challenge?”

A challenge is a corporate and community engagement tactic that invites big-hearted businesses, schools, community groups, and churches to register teams, recruit walkers, and fundraise for your p2p event. Because we know what motivates these organizations and understand what they value, we’ve been able to design a Challenge that delivers results. 

What kind of results, you ask? 

Over the last three years corporate and community teams registered in Blue Sea’s CNOY challenge have raised over $2.2 million dollars! In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how p2p fundraising event challenges work (using the CNOY Challenge as an example) and show you how to use it as a tool to fundraise more successfully. Let’s dive in:

How Does the Challenge Work?

The Challenge is an event within an event wherein regional/national businesses, small businesses, community groups, schools, and churches register teams and compete on the fundraising leaderboard for their organization and category. 

It enables each participating group to gather a team, get donors, walk on event day, and make a difference in their community. Often seen as a cornerstone of their corporate culture, used as team building exercises, or employed through a social giving or corporate social responsibility program, the Challenge is a unique opportunity for a business or community group to do more than cut a cheque and call it charity. 

Large Businesses with Multiple Locations

77% of Canadians want to work for a company that has a strong CSR policy

For larger organizations with a regional or national presence (think: Starbucks, RBC, Shopper’s Drugmart, etc.) the Challenge provides an opportunity to engage the stores/branches/locations across the country in a meaningful way. With the Challenge:

  • The organization receives a unique fundraising webpage with a branded URL that they can use to share and promote their efforts
  • Employees can see the overall fundraising total (“Wow! Starbucks has raised  $56,000!”) and the totals of each participating store/branch/location (“Our store is almost in the lead, we only need to raise another $200 to beat those Burlington baristas!”)
  • Teams can see how they stack up against other businesses within their category (“We’re the most generous coffee shop in town!”)
  • Every location can participate in the fundraising, community building, and the event itself (“Even though we’re in a remote location, we can get out and walk together as a team on event day”) 
  • The money raised stays in the community and doesn’t get whisked away to a national charity
  • Employees have an opportunity to unite with their team and the organization at large. They band together to make a difference and end up feeling like they’re part of an organization that cares 
  • Locations get fired up with friendly competition as they try to top the leaderboard within their organization and ensure they blow their rival businesses out of the water!

For these businesses, participation in the Challenge can be a huge win because it delivers value on every level – corporately, for employees, for the community, and of course for the local charities they support. If the brand aligns with the charitable cause (i.e. for businesses in real estate, food services, healthcare, etc.) this will be especially impactful!

For Small Businesses

92% of Canadians think that it is important for a company to give back

But one needn’t be a national chain to reap the benefits! For businesses with a single location operating in single community, a p2p fundraising challenge delivers all of the same essential benefits:

  • Staff come together to support a cause and give back to the community 
  • The company receives rightful recognition for their efforts and good works
  • Teams can battle against other businesses in their category! This healthy competition is fun and motivating 
  • Ultimately, the small business and its employees leave with a real sense of accomplishment. They’ve engaged with each other in a meaningful way, they’ve worked together to do something big, they are proud of their team and their company, they feel good about the help they’re providing to a local cause. Money literally can’t buy this type of experience and goodwill.

Community Groups

The fun doesn’t stop with businesses though, as community groups (schools, churches, Lion’s Clubs, Rotary Clubs, etc.) can also register teams, fundraise together, and participate in the p2p event. A fundraising challenge gives them an opportunity to:

  • See the national total (and impact!) of their organization’s fundraising efforts
  • Show off their impact and continued relevance to their community (“We’re here and we’re making a difference – even after 25 years!”) 
  • Compete against other groups or teams (“There’s no way we’re letting Pastor Kim’s team beat us!”, “We want to show the Lion’s in Ontario how we do things here in BC!”)
  • Come together to support a cause that sits close to their hearts

We’ve seen the mayors of rival towns compete to benefit important charities, churches and school groups band together to build community relationships, and volunteers be rekindled with excitement, energy, and pride to be part of their community group.  

Challenge Benefits 

As you can see, the Challenge isn’t all about charity! For our charity partner EDs, asking a company or community group to join the Challenge is not just asking them to get involved in your event – it’s giving them an opportunity to participate in a campaign that can deliver multi-faceted value and big bottom-line benefits to their organization. 

As outlined above, the Challenge is their opportunity to:

  1. Engage employees, group members, and customers 
  2. Compete in a fun, spirited way
  3. Build goodwill within their community and receive the (rightful!) recognition for their good works
  4. Pull together as a united team
  5. Do something that fills everyone involved with pride

We get excited just talking about it! It’s good for them and it’s good for you. If done right, a corporate and community Challenge motivates teams to fundraise BIG and adopt the event as an annual tradition.

Our Challenge to You: Grow Your Challenge

In your recruitment strategy then, don’t stop at team captains! Think about the “outer rings” of your concentric circles of fundraising: who can you invite to the Challenge?

  • Use those names of potential captains as the jumping off point for building out your Challenge. Do those individuals work for (or own) businesses or community groups that could use a very fun, super engaging, business building event that delivers 5-factor benefits?? Tell them so! Pitch the Challenge as a way for their organization to get involved in the community in a BIG way (that doesn’t really require that much effort on their part).
  • The best companies to ask are ones who:
    • Align with your cause or your charity
    • Market to your walkers
    • Are already participating in other locations
    • Are sponsoring your event
  • If you have one Challenge team signed up, look for other opportunities in that category. For example, if you’ve recruited a team from the local Toyota dealership, walk across the street and talk to the folks at Honda. 

Just remember: businesses and community groups love what well-run p2p events provide for them. Be confident heading out there and recruiting these team captains. The Challenge is about so much more than charity! 

Challenge Accepted?

If you’re a Blue Sea charity partner, we have tons of information and training on Corporate and Community Challenges on the WAVES site (run, don’t walk, and check it out now!). If you’re not, give us a call to discuss, we’re here to give charities the power to fundraise successfully.

Sponsorship & Fundraisers: Meet the Power Couple

Fundraising and sponsorship have gone together for decades. They are the ubiquitous power couple at every fundraising event. Have you ever been to a golf tournament without hole sponsors? No. Or how about a gala without sponsors for tables, food or silent auction items? No again. So why are they always together? What makes this relationship work so well? 

You’ve Got What THEY Want

Businesses are looking to grow their brand, find and keep new clients, and make a profit. They’re also looking for ways to boost morale, strengthen their culture, and make a difference in their communities. To do this they need to create and successfully sell a service or product that people want and build affinity in the hearts and minds of those people. It’s no small feat. 

They need to be continually connecting with their customers and prospects. That’s why they’re on social media, attending trade shows, updating their websites, and making sales calls. 

Here’s where things get interesting: It just so happens that the people they are targeting are often the very same type of people who will attend your fundraising event. Having a presence at your event then, is a strategic opportunity for them to achieve their goals!

Remember local businesses:

  • Need to always be finding new and meaningful ways to connect with their customers and prospects
  • Understand that consumers look favourably on generous businesses 
  • Want to be associated with great events that bring their community together
  • Value the opportunity to invest in a professional, well run, local event 
  • Wish their employees could get involved as well
  • Are willing to invest to get everything above and more!

Sponsoring your event isn’t a favour for your charity! It’s a real and worthwhile business investment.  

They’ve Got What YOU Want 

Charity events are rarely cheap. The costs associated with most fundraising events tops 50%-75% of the amount of money raised. To offset the risk of those costs, and ideally boost your take-home funds, you need businesses to invest as sponsors. 

Remember, businesses:

  • Often have a budget for supporting local causes. They are used to being asked for donations and are used to giving to worthwhile charities
  • Might have philanthropic motivations but will still consider your event an investment
  • Want to do more than write a cheque and are often quite willing to register a team, recruit, and fundraise as well
  • Are natural connectors. In our experience, if you get one happy sponsor you’ll get more!
  • Will keep investing if the social and financial ROI remains positive

So, make it your priority to secure at least 10% of your total fundraising dollars from sponsorships! 

Key Takeaway: the icing on the p2p fundraising cake is sponsorship. Make sure you get your sweet slice of this growing revenue stream!