Huge wins from first-time peer-to-peer fundraising

publication date: Sep 13, 2012
 | 
author/source: Janet Gadeski
When Vancouver's Down Syndrome Research Foundation added online peer solicitation to a previously modest fundraising event, they set an ambitious goal. The results beat even their highest hopes.

The 2012 Run Up for Down Syndrome raised three times more than the previous year. The saving on staff time was just as dramatic. Staff time to manually enter event data decreased from 100 hours to less than 10 hours, giving staff time to focus on other fundraising initiatives.

A call from a previously unknown fan completed the triple play of success. He was entering a yacht race from Victoria to Maui. The six crew members decided to use their boat to raise money for a charity. When one of them received an email ask from a participant in Run Up for Down, the crew realized right away how effective their fundraising could be with social technology backing them up. DSRF became their cause, receiving $26,000 from the crew's fundraising efforts.

"That $26,000 wasn't on our radar screen or in our budget," notes DSRF marketing and development director Glen Hoos.

More donors, higher gifts

But third-party events weren't the primary need that drove DSRF towards an online solution. Hoos, fairly new at DSRF, agrees with his colleagues' assessment that with 750 participants, the organization should have been able to raise more than the $13,000 it picked up in 2011.

"Run participants," he explains, "are mostly parents with a child affected by Down Syndrome. The parents are in their 20s to early 40s, so it was clear that a social platform would be a good fit." After evaluating several solutions, DSRF chose Blackbaud's Friends Asking Friends for its affordability and all-round features.

The participant number stayed stable at roughly 750 families. The greatest boost came in the numbers of contributors each participating family recruited. In 2011, working with a manual system, participating families recruited, on average, one donor. In 2012, with Friends Asking Friends, families recruited an average of four donors each. The average gift jumped by 14% from $63 to $72.

Tips from one who's been there

Hoos praises the low-pressure ask that's possible through a social platform. Participants are glad they no longer have to manage cash and collections - gifts are taken through a credit card during the online signup. DSRF helped their participants by distributing draft email messages they could share with friends.

As DSRF wraps up its first experience with social fundraising, Hoos admits that the extra data processing from the fourfold increase in donors was a bit of a surprise. Keep in mind what you want to do with the data post-event, he advises, and test how well your social platform integrates with your existing database.

Contact Glen Hoos; or see more information on Friends Asking Friends at www.blackbaud.com.



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