Charity Success Story: Armagh House & CNOY 2022

Under the leadership of Executive Director, Jannies Lee, Armagh House raised over $60,000 in their first year (!) hosting the Coldest Night of the Year in our Mississauga, Lakeshore location.

An incredible community of passionate, generous people gathered together to help Armagh House continue their mission – securing affordable housing for abused women, with or without children, for extended periods of time.

Over 150 walkers teamed up and asked friends and family to give, raising over $60,000 for this incredible cause.

Congratulations to all involved!!

Want to join in on the fun? Become a Charity Partner, become a Corporate Challenge Partner, or register to walk & fundraise now at (Canada) or (USA).

Who Wants to go for a Walk?

“I’ll go for a walk.”

It’s that simple. That simple, but with serious impact. 

For Rotarian Cathy Harrop in Norfolk County, Ontario, that statement, “I’ll go for a walk” was her first step (pun intended!) in participating in the 2022 Coldest Night of the Year (CNOY).

Her second step? Just as easy: “Anybody want to go with me?” 

A few short weeks later saw Cathy and a team of 15 friends-turned-teammates raising $10,198.84 for a local charity and hitting the trail on their behalf. That’s over $10,000 of life-changing funds.

In her own words, “It was just… easy.” 

The Heart of Action 

Simplicity is at the heart of action. Give someone (or a group of someones!) one or two small, actionable, simple steps – that’s where their “yes” lives. Think of the “how did you get started?” stories you’ve heard: it was a walk, a phone call, a conversation, an invitation. Blue Sea’s P2P fundraising campaigns are built to facilitate that simple choice: I’ll walk, I’ll ride, I’ll help. 

In Cathy’s case, it all began one morning at a meeting of the Rotary Club of Norfolk Sunrise. Daniel Avey, the director of Youth Unlimited YFC Norfolk, a charity that works with homeless youth, was the speaker. The necessity of the need couldn’t be more obvious: children and youth should have shelter, safe spaces, and food. When Daniel mentioned that their charity was participating in the Coldest Night of the Year – virtually due to COVID-19 – Cathy’s response was simple: of course she’d walk, and hoped others would join her.

All of these wins hinge on Daniel showing up at that Rotary meeting. That was his simple step. Both groups need each other. Rotary wants to help, Youth Unlimited is looking for support. CNOY was the bridge they needed to make that happen.

Service Over Self

The Rotary Club has a motto: Service Over Self. The more Club members heard from Daniel, the clearer the opportunity for service became. They are exactly the kind of group equipped and able to support change because Rotary Club members are all about a better community. All about Service Over Self. 

Norfolk Sunrise Rotary Club members all show up for that very reason: to make a tangible difference in their community. For some, they want to set a better example for their kids. Others come because they have heard and seen the difference Rotary makes and want to do the same. For others still, in their retirement, they have all that work-energy to bring to volunteer initiatives. Whatever the reason, they all show up to build a better Norfolk County.

Then They Walked

Cathy put out her simple ask, “will you go with me?,” and the rest fell into place. They raised funds, they got organized, and walked on a local trail in support of Youth Unlimited. As simple, and as profound, as that. 

CNOY was everything they needed it to be. “Blue Sea has it all set up – people thanked me for organizing the team, but I didn’t really do much. It was all there,” Cathy shared. A blink of an eye saw a team of 15 walkers and $10,000 fundraised in a matter of weeks, not months. 

54 Rotary Clubs participated in CNOY 2022, each supporting a local charity in their community. Together they raised exactly $188,256.13, nearly doubling the previous year total of $99,279.39. That’s nation-wide momentum with enormous local impact. That’s what CNOY is all about. 

A Simple Step

It’s a simple step, really. Are you a community member with the drive to make a difference? Take a step. A simple, profound, trajectory-changing step to work with others and see the change unfurl. 

Bridging the Fundraising Gap: Go Further with Community Groups and Corporations

Bridges are incredible structures. Each is a feat of engineering, crossing an expanse that seems too big to broach and connecting people otherwise held apart. Bridges change movement patterns, present new opportunities, and draw the unknown into focus.

What do bridges have to do with you and your charity? SO glad you asked. 

On One Side

Every community has issues to address. Big ones – ones that feel insurmountable, complex, and risky. Ideas have been tried, some pie-in-the-sky stuff, but issues persist. 

Every community also has people: visionaries and volunteers who refuse to be daunted by the size, scale, and scope of a challenge. People who believe in a better world, a more just world, who know even small actions have an enormous impact, and who refuse to stop trying.

You know those people. You are those people.

Here’s what you know better than anyone: there is change to be made. You know there is no reason to believe that issues are insurmountable or problems too big. Bridges exist. Bridges help bring about change. They just need to be used. 

You also know the work is hard, you know the work is good, and you know the work is worth doing. 

But you simply cannot do it alone. 

Spanning the Distance

Every mission, every cause, every change needs people. But imagine the slog of drumming up support and engagement one person at a time?  Scratch that. You don’t need to imagine it. You already know it’s exhausting, inefficient, and ineffective. 

It doesn’t have to be that way. (Deep breaths, everyone.) 

Let this sink in: There are pre-existing groups all around you who have the desire to see their community thrive. Groups ready to engage, with shared values who just need a way in. A treasure trove, gathered together, ready to help: 

  • Community groups of like-minded individuals who aren’t satisfied with the status quo and have a network primed and pumped. Think: Rotary Clubs, Lions Clubs local gatherings of women, community change-makers, churches, and youth organizations. 
  • Corporations with a charitable engagement plan, ready to activate their workforce on your behalf. Think of your local hardware store, the vibrant coffee shop, or the tech start-up with a team that needs a screen break. 

But finding them, equipping them, and engaging them as effective fundraisers is a WHOLE other thing. And yet, so worth it! THEY want to see the community thrive, YOU are working for a thriving community – everything lines up. But…it feels hard, right? 

That’s the space between you and these groups: even though your hope, mission, and values can all align, how do you actually work together? 

The Blue Sea Bridge 

Enter Blue Sea Foundation. Blue Sea’s mission is to give charities the power to fundraise successfully. We have built an innovative bridge that connects charities with supporters. Each of our P2P fundraising campaigns is expertly engineered to help you receive maximum fundraising and maximum engagement.

This “bridge” is about more than moving individuals towards you – it’s about mobilizing the community groups and corporations who are poised to step up, step in, and step out on your behalf. It’s all about helping you fundraise efficiently and effectively, while encouraging long-term engagement. We simply LOVE being that bridge. Nothing brings us more joy than seeing charities and local groups come together to make a tangible, world-changing difference. 

Blue Sea campaigns, like Coldest Night of the Year, Ride for Refuge, and The Grand Parade, overcome the space between your work and community groups without you lifting a finger. No new hire, expensive overhead, random tech expertise, or another resource drain on your time and team required. The bridge is already built! All the tools, the systems, and the supports needed are finger-tip ready to welcome these powerful partners and rally them to your cause. 

We have it all, we have it ready, and we have made it with this very hope in mind: to see you thrive, so your community can do the same. 

From Here to There and Then Some

The best work is good work done together. Mobilizing community groups and corporations through a Blue Sea campaign levels up your fundraising and builds meaningful, long-term community engagement. Once the connection is made, Blue Sea has everything you need to go the distance with these new partners and participants. Together, we’ll see the change you know is possible!

From Lackluster to Blockbuster: Sherwood Care Raises Over $70,000 with The Grand Parade

In 2020 Sherwood Care set their sights on raising $20,000. This money represented safer, more vibrant spaces where beloved Canadians could spend their final seasons of life. It represented access, comfort, laughter, new experiences, and delighted seniors. To Sherwood Care, $20,000 in fundraising represented the ability to continue to achieve their mission of delivering warmth, compassion, and quality care.

Before then, their best fundraiser garnered $10,000. In 2020 they not only raised that $20,000, they nearly doubled their goal, bringing in $36,000. The next year, they nearly doubled again raising $70,000. How did they go from less than $10,000 to over $70,000 in under three years? It wasn’t magic or a miracle or chance or wishing hard. It was The Grand Parade. 

Who is Sherwood Care?

Sherwood Care is a long-term care facility nestled in the hamlet of Sherwood Park, Alberta. Established in 1969, they offer residents a full-range of services: round the clock nursing, on site dietician, occupational and physical therapists, social worker, visiting physicians, recreational therapist, a full-time chaplain, hairdresser, laundry and housekeeping, and plant services. Amidst the stormy challenges of the medically complex needs of aging Canadians, Sherwood Care is a refuge for their residents and a harbour of peace for their families. 

Led by a team of dedicated, faithful staff, including Harley Hempel, the Director of Resident Therapies, Sherwood Care deeply values and cares for their community of residents, families, staff, physicians, and volunteers.

Enter the Grand Parade

That deep care is what led them to TGP. After more than five DIY walkathons, Sherwood Care had hit a dead end. Harley Hempel knew they could do better – despite loads of effort, enthusiasm, and expertise, their fundraising events just weren’t raising enough money. While their events had spirit, they weren’t able to extend beyond the already-engaged staff and residents’ families. An incredible amount of work was resulting in lackluster results. 

Never one to be content with lackluster anything, he went in search of a new solution. Partnering with TGP provided Harley and his team with a national peer-to-peer fundraiser that was values-aligned, easy to execute, and had virtually no risk. Check. Check. Check. 

For Sherwood Care, partnering with TGP meant they could:

  • Connect with the community – Free from worrying about branding, website, registration, t-shirts, and receipts, Harley and his team could focus on building and nurturing relationships with team captains. And that’s exactly what they did, resulting in doubling the number of participants from 2020 to 2021.
  • Provided meaningful volunteer opportunities: – Volunteers are the lifeblood of quality care. As teams grew, so did awareness of Sherwood’s mission and vision. This provided Sherwood Care’s current volunteers with a meaningful opportunity to re-engage with the Care Centre after the lengthy COVID-19 restrictions and allowed businesses to participate and make a positive impact.
  • Securing Sponsorships – Over $16,500 was raised through business sponsorships alone. Harley attended TGP training sessions on sponsorships and corporate and community partnerships. This knowledge (and confidence!) was critical in moving the needle:

“TGP’s guidance on sponsorships, now that was something. We had asked business for gift cards and other small things in the past, but to have the confidence to ask for $5,000 – that was wild. To ask organizations we had never thought of…and they said yes! So, so valuable.” 

Big Energy, Big Results

The Grand Parade is about more than fundraising! It’s about building buzz, creating awareness, and showing up for those who are often avoided, ignored, or forgotten. It’s about gathering together in community, doing something important, and having fun! It’s about jumping for joy and throwing Monopoly money in the air when you hit your first $20,000. (We see you Harley! 👀)

For Sherwood Care, The Grand Parade was exciting and engaging – for everyone – residents, staff, and the community at large. It was an amazing opportunity to:

Show They Care

  • Residents, families, and staff delighted in showing up, donning a well-earned t-shirt, and walking in support of both the aging Canadians they love and the valuable work of Sherwood Care. 
  • Big smiles, loud laughter, and full hearts filled the streets around Sherwood Care as everyone knew something truly special was happening. They didn’t just raise money, they took time out of their day to show someone they matter. 

Get Competitive 

  • One team, The Mamacita Marchers, was determined to be #1 in Canada. Their team captain, a unit clerk at Sherwood Care, used her powers of persuasion to recruit 10 people in 2 days and started collecting donations immediately! 
  • The rest of the staff were not going to let the Mamacitas win easily! Other staff were quick to compete, each vying for access to the many coveted donors and climbing their way to the top of the scoreboard. Their spirit was contagious (in a good way!). 
Two women dressed in pink boas at The Grand Parade

Have Fun!

  • Event day featured local Scottish dancers and bagpipers, the Mamacitas team dancing their way through the event alongside 20 other teams, and big smiles on the faces of residents. 
  • The community came out in droves to walk together, eat together, and support one another.

Well Worth It

Aging Canadians deserve an incredible place to live their final season of life. They deserve a place that prioritizes all of their needs and offers an up-to-date, accessible facility, inside and out. The funds raised through TGP support aging Canadians, each of whom has an amazing life story to tell, living out their days in comfort and peace. The kind of place you’d want for your grandparents, parents, caregivers, and someday, yourself. 

When incredible organizations like Sherwood Care partners with the proven systems and support of The Grand Parade, magic happens! Looking to run an amazing, engaging, effective campaign? Walk this way!

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. 

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!