Volunteer leaders key to online fundraising

The “captains” of volunteer fundraising teams are critical to the success of online fundraising for nonprofits, which should work hard to engage those volunteer captains by focusing on what motivates them to participate in fundraising, two new studies say.

Personal affinity or connection to a cause, for example, motivated 69 percent of individuals who actively participated in peer-to-peer fundraising activities, says the Peer-to-Peer Event Fundraising Consumer Survey.

And 72 percent of participants were motivated to exceed their fundraising goals because of a personal commitment to the cause, says the online survey, which was conducted by Blackbaud and the Run Walk Ride Fundraising Council.

It included individuals who had participated in at least one walk, ride or run even in the last two years, with three in four of respondents participating in multiple events.

And the importance of personal connections affected participants’ use of online tools and fundraising methods, the study says, with requests for donations made mainly in person, followed by personal emails, phone calls and social-media networking.

“Many studies have shown that the effective use of online, social-media and mobile technology is critical to a successful effort,” Amy Braiterman, principal strategy consultant at Blackbaud and a co-author of the report, says in a statement.

“But one factor that is often overlooked is the importance of enlisting the help of individuals who are driven to invest their personal time and recruit the help of family, friends and others in their social sphere,” she says.

Based on the research, she says, “peer-to-peer fundraising staff would be wise to treat team campaigns in the same manner as major-gift donors with an eye to engaging them more deeply in the organization.”

The  second study, Understanding the Value of Team Captains, says 41 percent of participants who raised funds are retained from one year to the next, with retained participants overall accounting for about 53 percent of current-year revenue.

The study, based on conversations with a self-selected group of six national nonprofits convened by Target Analytics, a Blackbaud company, says team captains are “vital to the health, growth and success of peer-to-peer fundraising events.”

Multi-year team captains, for example, raise two to three times more than new team captains, retaining about 86 percent of their prior-year revenue.

“Team captains are not only retaining donors but, when we look at the retention rates of the different participant types, team members are retained at a higher rate than individuals,” says the study, also written by Braiterman.

Blackbaud estimates that online fundraising accounts for 30 percent of revenue, on average, for most major peer-to-peer fundraising events in the U.S.

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