The Grassroots Difference: Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Empowers Donors


by Jeff Grogan and Operation Warm Staff

Operation Warm believes every person can make a difference in children’s lives by donating $20 for a new coat. But starting a peer-to-peer fundraising effort can make one person’s impact worth much more. Your peer-to-peer campaign has the potential to help an entire classroom, school or community, giving you the power to really affect change.

What is Crowdfunding?

Crowdfunding is a way to raise money for a cause by reaching out on social media networks and asking people for a donation.

A plethora of crowdfunding websites clamor for your attention every day through social media, so it may seem like it’s the most efficient way of raising money for worthwhile causes. In fact, crowdfunding is severely limited in its reach and can feel impersonal to donors unless they already have a connection to the fundraiser.

What is Peer-to-Peer Fundraising?

The alternative to crowdfunding is peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising, which can raise money faster than crowdfunding and helps empower leaders in the community.

Peer-to-peer fundraising goes a step further versus crowdfunding. It not only empowers you as the organizer or leader of the campaign for the cause, but it also empowers and gives ownership to anyone in your network. The difference between crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising is that  instead of just asking for donations, you ask friends, family and your community to be fundraising supporters.  In the case of Operation Warm, anyone who wants to support your school or community can create their own beautiful donation web pages. Whenever anyone donates to any of these pages, the funds are all pooled into your campaign. This makes it much easier to reach larger goals and help more children.

In addition, peer-to-peer leaders get to watch their friends making a difference for a cause they care about. These peers are trusted partners with their causes, so they help other donors feel included in the mission.

Peer-to-Peer Fosters Personal Connection

There are several reasons Operation Warm encourages donors to start their own peer-to-peer campaign in addition to making a personal donation. An empowered community member not only helps serve kids around the country, but it also gives donors a personal connection to the cause. When they have questions, they know who to ask; when they see calls to action on their social feeds, they trust the person posting.

Peer-to-peer efforts make everyone involved more comfortable, more confident, and more well-informed. Because of the benefits, these operations tend to multiply as others catch on to the ease of making a difference through their own fundraising efforts.

Personalized Campaigns

Fundraising leaders can also be creative in how they raise awareness and encourage others to donate. In some cases, this motivates people to do something worthy and fun. For example, fundraising leaders may promise to run a 5K, grow a beard or throw a birthday donation party.  Whatever peer-to-peer strategy you can think up, you can do. It is wonderful fun knowing that your accomplishment will spark others to commit to helping your community.

Peer-to-Peer Lets You Tell Your Story

Sometimes the simplest, most powerful tool to connect with others and make a difference is telling a story. Operation Warm strongly believes in the power of stories to change hearts and transform lives. Peer-to-peer fundraisers can create their own customized fundraising page where they express why this cause is important to them. Our nationwide platform can transform personal testimonies into brand-new coats through powerful peer networks.

Measurable Results

In gathering recent data of fundraising efforts online and through social media, found that social giving increased 70 percent between 2013 and 2014. This means people are increasingly more familiar with seeing and responding to fundraising campaigns online; it’s easier than ever for you and your friends to make a difference in your community or across the country. Chances are that your friends, and their friends are ready to make a difference. They just need to know how.

This trend doesn’t just apply to tech-savvy millennials, either. Classy found 87 percent of both 18–34-year-olds and 35–50-year-olds said they were receptive to digital peer-to-peer campaigns, and the numbers stayed strong even for responders over age 70. Even if your personal skills with social platforms lack the savvy of others, your effort can still make a significant impact.

Opportunity to Make a Difference with Operation Warm

On average, our peer-to-peer fundraisers contribute three times as much money as those who donate individually. What’s more, as a leader, you can choose to support your local communities with coats that have an impact beyond warmth.

The job is simple and the rewards are many. You can make a difference on your own, or you can grow dozens of difference-makers in your own backyard. Grassroots efforts like these make kids’ lives better by providing entire classrooms with warm coats. Are you ready to become an advocate today? If so, we are happy to give you more information.

Jeff Grogan is a professional freelance writer and editor who volunteers with Operation Warm. “I work for Operation Warm because they meet practical needs for children in poverty and have a profound effect on communities. This organization does one thing exceedingly well, and is clear about its purpose and process.”

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