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!

Important Reminders to Keep Yourself Sane & Your Event Successful

We begin every peer-to-peer fundraising event campaign inspired by you, the Event Directors across the country, who are so willing to step up and lead – it’s no small matter. 

And this year is no different. 

Whether you’re gearing up for RIDE 2021, TGP 2021, another event, or simply feeling like you need a pep-talk, here are three important reminders that Event Directors have taught us over the years: 

  • Fundraising happens when fundraising matters – We know you want to see great fundraising this year – of course you do.  Then as you begin, go out of your way to connect your mission to your participants and especially your team captains. Explain in simple terms what you do, why it matters and how it’s making a difference. When you do, you’ll invigorate fundraising everywhere in your charity, including your p2p fundraising campaign. 
  • Your cause is serious but p2p fundraising events are fun – We remind you of this annually because this is the approach we take in the event and it’s worked well. When emailing, posting, recruiting or fundraising, balance the grinding pain and need behind your cause with the uplifting fun and hope of this event. Keep your event light, fun, and celebratory (where appropriate), and your cause serious, critical, and worth caring about. 
  • No campaign is perfect (not even yours) – No matter how good your campaign plan is, it’s never going to roll out exactly as you hoped. And this year we’ll all need to be more agile and flexible than ever. Things are changing almost weekly so you know, the best made plans… Cut yourself some slack as you begin your campaign this year.  After all, your team isn’t following your plan so much as they are following you (and we think you are pretty awesome). 

Key Take-a-way: You’ve got this! Find a simple way to explain your mission, balance your cause and the event carefully, and remember, people love you, not your plan. 

Our Proven Process For Team Captain Recruiting

Recruiting team captains to join your peer-to-peer (p2p) fundraising event isn’t complicated, but it does take some planning, strategizing, and determined follow-up. The most successful campaigns always begin the team captain recruitment process with good old fashioned brainstorming. Let’s walk you through the process from start to success:

Ready, Set, Brainstorm!

First things first, gather your team and put brainstorming as the first item on your meeting agenda. Together, you’re looking to come up with a big, fat list of all of the names of all of the potential team captains who could join your p2p fundraising event this year. Everyone should come prepared to think big, brainstorm, and contribute to the list (and yes, everyone needs to be involved asking, too – more on that below). You should also expect that everyone on your event planning team will lead a team of their own – especially if it’s the first year you’re running the event. 

Now, to aid you in this exercise, print out our Team Captain Prospect Generator and think about each category of prospect (listed below). Who could you ask? Set up a shared Google Doc with these categories as headers and type in ALLLLL of the potential names you can think of.  (Pro Tip: A shared Google Doc is the best format because this way your whole team can add names in real time and update activity between meetings.) 

Who Could You Ask? 

Me | YouFriendsFamilySpouse/Partner
Board MembersCEO | MgtStaffVolunteers
Service ClubsBusinessesPoliticiansMedia

Divide & Conquer

Once you’ve got an initial list of 20, 30, or 40 names, consider who on your team is the best person to ask each of these potential captains to join your campaign. Consider who each person is, how they’re involved with your charity, how long they’ve been involved, who they know, etc. For example, we wouldn’t recommend that a new staff member ask your Board Chair to lead a team… that’s the CEO’s job. In the same shared doc that you’ve been using to generate a list of names, assign the best person for each ask.

The assigned “asker” should then go ahead and connect with their potential team captains individually (no mass emails please!!). Remember to be confident in your ask and follow-up at least every two weeks till the prospect gives an answer. 

Then, repeat the process! Every week in your event team meetings, have team captain recruitment as your #1 item of business – how are the asks going? How many captains are registered? Who else can be added to the list of prospects? Who is the best person(s) from the team to ask these new additions?

Our Top Tips 

Team captains should come from every corner of your community of supporters, so be open-minded and don’t answer for people you haven’t asked. Let them decide for themselves if they want to join your p2p fundraising event. In our experience, most people are flattered to be asked and are willing to consider it, especially if you ask personally, define their role and expectations clearly, and connect their fundraising efforts to your charity’s mission. 

Here are a few quick tips: 

  • How to ask?  Personally, by phone or zoom, zoom, zoom. Email last resort. 
  • When to ask? Now is a good time or later today – tomorrow at the latest. 
  • What to ask? Ask them to lead, recruit and fundraise for you. 

We can confidently say that if you consistently and enthusiastically work through this team captain recruitment process, you will have a successful event. It’s as easy as one-two-ask! 

Why Team Captains Are Your P2P Fundraising Campaign Fuel

When Blue Sea first began we didn’t understand how important team captains were to the success of a P2P Fundraising event. We spent a lot of time trying to recruit hundreds of individual participants (which was both expensive and exhausting) when all we really needed were a couple dozen team captains.

Why? Because if you get these leaders, you’ll get their followers, and if you get their followers you’ll get their donors. It’s that simple. 

That’s the power of team captains in peer-to-peer fundraising. They are the leading indicator of your success as long as you recruit them properly with clear expectations to:

  1. Lead their team energetically  
  2. Recruit 7+ friends and families successfully 
  3. Make fundraising a priority for themselves and their team

Recruiting Team Captains 

So what’s the best way to recruit team captains?

  • Start by tasking everyone on your team to ask 3 people they know well to be a team captain. 
  • Ensure they understand how their personal and team fundraising will impact both your charity and the lives of the people you serve. 
  • Connect their fundraising to your mission. Explain what you do, why it matters and how it’s making a difference in your community. 
    • This is the fuel your captains need to remain focused and motivated during the campaign. 

1000% Worth It

Is it worth it? Absolutely – the average team captain recruits  6-7 team members and raises $1,500-$2,000. That’s average but many raise well above that level. Imagine recruiting 15, 20, or 40 of them? Do the math – that quickly gets your event up to the $25k, $40k or $100k level. And better still, team captains who are well cared for and appreciated by you during (and after!) the event will come back year after year because they enjoyed the experience  of leading their team and fundraising for your charity. 

So yes, team captains are worth it. They are 24 carat gold. They’re your campaign fuel. Your number one campaign strategy should be recruiting and encouraging them throughout the campaign. 

Key Takeaway: Successful campaigns recruit 25% of their team captains in the first 30 days, 50% in the next 30 days and 25% in the final month.

Campaign Quick Start: Gather Your Team

We’ve worked with a lot of different leader types the past decade and respect and admire all of them.  Maybe you recognize some of these types below?

  • The Organizer shows up on time, does what they say and always (always) finishes what they started. 
  • The Networker shows up with a miles-long list of people and businesses who they know personally. 
  • The Cheerleader shows up with every ounce of their enthusiastic being. 
  • The Risk Manager shows up with a thoughtful, critical eye on plans, strategy and risk management. 
  • The Do-It-Your-Selfer shows up ready to put the whole event on their back if they have to. 

Other types include the Number-Cruncher, Collaborator, and always-on Promoter. The point is, great teams are almost always made up of different types of people with their own unique personalities. A P2P fundraising event team will likely require team members who, collectively, have all of these skills and abilities. As Event Director your first goal in this first week of your campaign is to strategically assemble the best possible team. 

So without further ado, here’s what you need to do:

Gather Your Team.

Do it soon. Ask staff, high-capacity volunteers, or former event participants. Invite people with different gifts, skills, and backgrounds and ask for their help. People love to be needed so don’t hesitate.

Once they agree, set a weekly or bi-weekly meeting schedule (likely by zoom) to gather, plan, and execute your recruitment and fundraising plan. The more often you meet and the more accountable you are to each other and your plan the more successful you’ll be. 

Make a Plan

A good plan is clear, realistic, and above all simple. It keeps the most important things front and centre and helps everyone stay out of the weeds. Four tips to remember:

  1. Set your fundraising goal using the expected number of team captains as your guide—for every 10 teams you expect to recruit, add $15,000 and always set your public goal 15-20% less than your private goal. 
  2. Prioritize team captain and sponsorship recruitment in every meeting. Tackle these tasks first before anything else.
  3. Have everyone on your team responsible for asking 2-3 prospects. Own the recruitment responsibility together. 
  4. Make sure your meetings are fun so that your team loves meeting. You’ll need to  pull hard together from November through February. This should be a fun and exciting experience for your team members, not feel like a never-ended daily grind 

Key Takeaway:

Don’t try to do this alone. Gather a team around you, make a plan, meet regularly and have everyone on your team contribute in the recruiting of your team captains and sponsors.

You Know You’re An Event Director If…

Every week we throw a lot of stuff at you. Oh, you hadn’t noticed? Really? I think not – we KNOW we firehose you with gallons of peer-to-peer metrics, data, trends, guidelines, deadlines, blogs, delivery-dates, best-before-dates, don’t-forget-valentines-date etc. It never ends and we make no apologies for that. We want you to be successful (and honestly, we have a problem and can’t help ourselves). 

But not this week. Oh no – this week we’ve got absolutely nothing of value to say, write or share with you. Instead, we want to buzzfeed you with some meaningless meme-fare that we hope puts a smile on your face and helps you start (or end) your day with a little levity. 

While a lot has happened on Earth in the past 12 months, one thing that hasn’t changed is that EVENT DIRECTORS (that’s you!!) are the superstars that drive great p2p fundraising events. If you have any doubts about your event director DNA then scroll down the page and know that we get you and that you’re among friends. 

You Know You’re an Event Director If…

  • You’re constantly watching the 3 Ws: WAVES, weather, and walkers
  • Your wardrobe consists almost entirely of swag
  • Your spouse starts calling themselves a CNOY widow
  • You yell at your 10 year old for not fundraising more
  • You wake up in a cold sweat worried about fundraising metrics
  • Your office/home has more boxes than furniture
  • Your charity colleagues avoid you in the staff room because of their poor fundraising
  • You get the feels watching old Jerry Lewis telethons
  • You find yourself unconsciously looking for good walk routes
  • You smile knowingly as you write down the names of all the sponsors at another charities golf event
  • Even your personal emails have your giving link included
  • Your Mother starts leaving messages concerned about how you are doing
  • You are overheating because you are wearing too much swag (Or maybe just a BC Lower mainland experience?!)
  • Your backseat has posters, postcards and toques — as you never know who you might mean or where you might be able to snap a #cnoy photo……
  • Your children react uncontrollably to the question, “Did you ask them yet?”

Event Directors are a special breed of humans! We commend you for your efforts, enthusiasm, and adaptability. Thank you for being you!

Launch Party Planner (With Virtual Adjustments)

We recommend that every charity hosting a p2p fundraising event officially kick things off with a campaign launch party. The purpose of a launch party is to make a splash and get your community of staff, captains, participants, volunteers, and donors excited and mobilized to fundraise! 

This party doesn’t have to happen on day one of your campaign, you may have already recruited fundraising teams and participants and signed up local business sponsors, that’s actually ideal. Instead think of your launch party as a 30 day countdown that positions your event as the fundraising event worth getting involved in and kicks your campaign into high gear!

We recommend our tried and true strategy for planning and executing an engaging launch party. 

For the first time ever, we’re sharing the Launch Party Planner that we use in coaching our event charity partners.

Choosing When to Party: Give yourself 6 weeks to plan a super-fun, high-energy, team-captain-attracting and momentum-building launch party and aim to host the party 30 days before event day. 

The Big Five

To be clear, a successful launch party will: 

  1. Bring your cause and charity to the forefront
  2. Ensure your community knows – and is excited – about the upcoming event 
  3. Motivate prior year participants and (especially) team captains to sign-up
  4. Inspire same-week recruitment traction and deliver actual registrations! 
  5. Get attention from your board, management, and staff (and result in their registrations!)

Here’s How: Launch parties are worth the effort if you make them fun, fast, and worthwhile. People are expecting a bit of a show and you need to be ready to deliver a solid event. You can’t call it a party if it feels like a meeting right? Here’s some pointers to get you up and running fast without it distracting from your actual campaign efforts. 

Note: if your launch party needs to be virtual keep reading and see our “Virtual Adjustments” section below to help bring this all together. 

When: Book your launch party no later than 30 days out from your event. Keep in mind holidays and vacations that might be happening in the lives of your attendees and plan accordingly.

Where: If you can host the party at your office, do so: homefield advantage is best! But, of course, pretty it up and make it look like a party is happening when your guests arrive! Use your provided event garb, hang some posters, lay out the toques/t-shirts/swag, order some balloons, etc.  

Who: Your invite list should include: 

(1) last year team captains 

(2) VIP fundraisers 

(3) involved board members 

(4) media / political supporters 

(5) prospective captains 

(6) prior year lead sponsor (or prospects)

It’s assumed that your ED / CEO will play a key role as well.

What: Here’s an outline to help you plan the actual in-person event. It  should be about an hour in total allowing for check-in (to capture names and contact info), mingling, food (if any), and the short presentations below:

  • Focus on Your Cause (7 mins) 
    • Share the primary challenges faced by the people you serve. Make it personal. Talk about one story and then translate that story into 1-3 key local stats that highlight the wider challenges your community faces. Don’t overwhelm them with despair – just help them understand there’s a problem that _________ (i.e., Bob & Jane) are experiencing. 
  • Focus on Your Charity (7 mins) 
    • Don’t talk about your history – talk about today. Share how your charity is stepping into Bob & Jane’s story. What did your charity do? Why is that important and how is it helping? Then segue into the p2p event, “So, this is why we invited you to this CNOY/RIDE/TGP launch party today…”
    • Pro Tip: Have someone from the community speak briefly, endorsing your charity and its local impact. A well-known, well-spoken chair of your BOD could work well. 
  • Focus on the Event (7 mins) 
    • Explain what the event is, how it works, (whether in-person or virtual), your expectations of participants and what you are trying to achieve.  
    • Share the CNOY/RIDE/TGP promo video, your team captain goal, overall goal and then connect that to Bob & Jane’s story. By raising $___________ we’ll be able to help ___________ (many more Bob & Janes). 
    • Pro Tip: If you’ve hosted this event before, consider inviting back your most enthusiastic and successful (this part is key!) fundraising team captain to share their story. Their words should make their role look attractive and doable to those listening. Be sure to review what they plan on saying prior to the launch. 
  • Close + Call To Action (2 mins) 
    • Wrap up your launch party with a confident, well scripted ask:  “Well, you’ve heard Bob & Jane’s story, and how this event will help us fund the new/ongoing programs locally. What we’d like to ask you to consider is, how will you work with us on this event?”
  • Captains – please register today (have computers ready to go)
  • Participants – please register, recruit and fundraise this year
  • MEDIA – please cover this local event with national impact
  • Questions – take questions from anyone and everyone until they are all answered 
  • Follow-up
    • Consider having team captain kits ready to go for everyone who signs up 
    • Call, text, or email “Thank Yous” to all who attended
    • Include the name of your sponsor(s), if they’ve already signed-up, in all communications 

Tips For Hosting an Awesome Virtual Launch Party 

Let’s be honest, we’re all tired of Zoom meetings, but you can make your launch party an absolute online success following any combination of these tips (some will work well in person too!). Even in locations where you can gather safely, consider adding an online or simulcast option so people can join in from a distance. 

  1. Make Registration Easy
    • Use the online registration system in Zoom (or equivalent virtual meeting software) to make it easy for people to sign-up and for you to both manage the event and communicate with attendees afterward. 
  2. Devote Time to the Description
    • Write an inviting, punchy description of what’s in store for attendees and pair it with a great graphic.
  3. Record it!
    • Remember to record your virtual launch party so you can share it (in full or edited down to short snippets) later on. This is a virtual bonus and something that’s something much harder to do with in-person launches! 
  4. Decorate!
    • Use a virtual backdrop to add some fun to the online experience 
    • Use video of walkers out on routes in prior years, or send/share/use any of the images on our CNOY/RIDE/TGP home pages 
    • Change the backdrop for every speaker to add variety
    • Consider creating physical backdrops using our event posters, swag, etc. 
  5. Engage Attendees With Polls 
    • Create two polls to share
      • 1 serious – a cause-related trivia or a “guess how many” question
      • 1 super-fun, silly, entertaining question 
  6. Make Use of Your Event Location Page
    • Did you know that you can host your virtual launch party right on your location page? We’ve added a simple way for you to connect Zoom, YouTube and 5 other video streaming services right into WAVES 
  7. Share Your Screen
    • A virtual launch party has the added benefit of being able to show people whatever you want: content on your cause and charity, your event pages, etc.
    • Plus, you can show exactly how to register, select your location, name a team and get fundraising. 
  8. Play Our Event Promo Video
    • If your wifi is stable, it’s easy to click on the event promo video and play that for everyone to watch together. Make sure the volume is up on the YouTube link itself and everyone will hear it well. 

Whether online or in-person a campaign launch party is key to the overall success of your campaign. This mini-event is important but shouldn’t feel overwhelming. We’ve worked with hundreds of charity partners on thousands of p2p fundraising event campaigns and – trust us – the steps laid out in this Launch Party Planner work. So get planning, send the invites, write your engaging short presentations, and be prepared to party!

Donor Engagement 101 – Is Your Charity Acing Donor Engagement?

Do you have a donor engagement strategy? Your engagement strategy is part of your fundraising strategy, and the two are inextricably linked. You cannot have one without the other — at least not if you want to meet your goals! Let’s take a look at donor engagement and how P2P fundraising can amplify your efforts… and your results.

What is Donor Engagement? 

A thoughtful article on Front Range Source looks at donor engagement by focusing on the word itself. Engage means:

  1. To occupy, attract, or involve (someone’s interest or attention)
  2. To participate or become involved in

Involve. To engage your donors, you need to involve them on a level that goes beyond the purely transactional. 

It’s easier to get at the core of what donor engagement is if we first look at what it is not. A great way to disengage your donors is to treat them like an ATM. When you don’t bother to find out anything about them, to involve them in any other way beyond writing a check, or to honour their gifts with good reporting and feedback on the impact, they’ll wonder if they’ve spent their money in the wrong place. And they will have a point! 

Think of it this way: donor engagement allows you to add value to the lives of the donors. You never lose sight of the transactional side; you have a mission, and you need your donors to help with their dollars. But as they give to you, what are you giving to them? 

Engagement is the Foundation for Fundraising Success

Engaged donors don’t feel like their worth is measured entirely in dollar signs. Instead, they feel that they are integral to your mission. And, boy, are they. With higher levels of engagement, you’ll see:

  • More repeat donations
  • Larger donations 
  • Volunteering
  • Continued support and attendance at events
  • Advocating for your organization and/or for the central issues for which you stand
  • Lifetime engagement 

Engagement does boost the bottom line — but it goes beyond money. It’s about showing respect for those who fund you, building relationships, adding value to their lives, and demonstrating the impact of their gifts. Engagement is a way to add dimension, meaning, and significance to a donation, and ultimately, to your relationships with donors.

If your model is to consume… and consume and consume… donors and donations with little or no thought to effective engagement, you will 100% get what you deserve. (And in case you were wondering, that is not long term success!)

Authentic Opportunities to Engage

Do you have a plan to engage donors? How do you involve your donors beyond writing a check or clicking “Donate Now”? Here are a few ideas:

  • TOURS – Offer select donors a personal tour of your property or an insider’s look into a program that they’ve helped fund. 1-on-1 tours are great but touring with a larger group engages your donor with your wider community of support too. 
  • TESTIMONIES – Send a link to a video testimonial from someone who is representative of the impact of the donor’s gift.
  • BOARD – Have a Board Member give donors a personal “Thank You” call.
  • BUDDY UP – Introduce donors to key staff members. Host a 20 minute ZOOM or phone meeting to introduce a new program and its leader. Build engagement by letting other voices speak as well. 
  • SPECIAL EVENTS – Invite a limited number of donors to an intimate gathering (e.g. a dessert night) where they can ask questions, speak to your staff, and share ideas with their peers.
  • COHORTS – Establish a select peer cohort (e.g. business leaders or social service professionals) to work together on a real world problem related to your mission. How would they solve this? 
  • SHARE – Share knowledge. You have a wealth of information about your community, your key issues, your target clients, and much more. Help donors understand what you do, why, and how. Provide fact-based learning that helps them understand the issues — and better understand their world.
  • ADVICE – Are you stuck on a problem at work that one of your donors has experience with? Call them up and ask them for their advice. If you are sincere and not using this merely for an excuse to ask, they’ll value your candor and quite likely have some good solutions for you to consider. 
  • QUESTIONS (not ASKS) – Do you know who taught your donor to give? Do you know what’s important about giving for your donor? Do you know why your donor gives? Have you ever asked your donor who their favourite charity is or what charity they respect the most (and why)? Ask questions to learn about their philanthropic heart. 

Engagement can look different, and it should look different depending on your organization and its goals. But the key here is authenticity. These are meaningful activities, meaningful ways to involve donors. Dumping them in a mass email list looks pretty paltry by comparison, right? 

Enter P2P Fundraising 

A peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising event offers a unique engagement opportunity for you and your donor. In this instance, where you are inviting your donor to fundraise on behalf of your charity, it’s a litmus test of sorts. You aren’t looking for them to write a cheque, you are asking them to ask their friends to support them in the event. That’s quite a shift. It can be humbling to move from being a donor to being a fundraiser. But, if your donor says yes it’s a strong indication of their growing engagement. 

P2P fundraising, by nature, is more than simply raising money. It’s more than a transaction. These events give your donors ownership, in a sense. They can declare their support and commitment and involve their networks in causes and issues that matter to them. The sense of camaraderie and accomplishment is far more satisfying, more meaningful—more engaging!—than making a strictly financial contribution and maybe getting a free t-shirt.

P2P fundraising events also provide donors a variety of ways to get involved (e.g. volunteer, team captain, participant, supporter, etc.), as well as myriad touchpoints through which you can tell your story, teach donors about who you are, and report on the impact of giving.

Powerful P2P Fundraising Events

To leverage the power of P2P fundraising, you have to get donors and their networks together, excited, and, you guessed it, engaged. Events need to be:

  • Professional, well-organized, and well-executed. In other words: your event needs to reflect well on your donors so they want to reach out and spread the word. Their name is on the line too!
  • Connected to a meaningful cause and to a meaningful activity. 
  • Easy to participate in. If it’s difficult or confusing to sign up, participate, fundraise, or share, donors may wonder if your organization is run in the same haphazard way. And again, they have a point!

A well-run, buzzy P2P fundraising event generates excitement, increases knowledge and awareness, provides opportunities for involvement, boosts engagement. And, oh yeah, raises funds! 

Are You on Track for Long-Term Success?

How well do you plan for engagement? Is it ingrained in your fundraising strategy? Are you providing opportunities that allow donors to do more than give, that empower them to become involved, that enable you to build strong relationships? Or does engagement take a backseat to fundraising?

No trick questions here: just food for thought. P2P fundraising can help your organization build the relationships that drive you towards your goals. Let’s get involved!