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.