I had the pleasure of participating in the 2016 Peer-to-Peer (P2P) Forum Annual Conference and it was fantastic. I try not to use this blog to advertise but have to share that the P2P Forum is a wonderful resource for fundraisers, nonprofit professionals - and just about anyone trying to make change happen. To learn more, go to the website peertopeerforum.com or visit the linkedin group at: https://www.linkedin.com/groups/1902048. The conference was a valuable opportunity to hear from other fundraisers and consultants doing innovative things in this growing space. The conference also features an exhibit area for vendors to showcase their products, services and platforms supporting peer-to-peer fundraising.
One thing that struck me as I explored the vendor area was the vast array of technology available to enhance the P2P experience. Whether you work for a big national organization or are starting your own campaign, there are infinite ways to connect via social platforms (there are way too many to endorse just one but they're all really cool!) There are even tools to connect you with other connectors. And tools that will re-connect you with other re-connectors. And on it goes...
But even with all these advanced tools, my key takeaway was that P2P is still People to People. It can be friend to friend. Neighbor to neighbor. Even Stranger to Stranger. But at the end of the day, whether you're using streaming, gaming tech, or just a good old fundraising page, people still need to reach out to other people. This stuff just helps us do it a lot quicker and more efficiently.
Beyond that, I wanted to share a few standout moments, ideas and concepts and my own takeaways:
Start (or Strengthen) A Social Movement: One of the key concepts that was highlighted several times was that we, as fundraisers using P2P, have the chance to participate - or better yet, be the drivers for social movements. While we as fundraisers often speak the language of goals, benchmarks, objectives and the like, I'm confident that our participant fundraisers and donors will feel a much greater sense of commitment and connection to the opportunity to be a part of a Social Movement. Author and researcher Derrick Feldmann offered some excellent insights and I highly recommend checking out his book "Social Movements for Good".
Its All About Choice: Do It Yourself (D.I.Y.) is gaining momentum - a lot of momentum. This really isn't surprising when you think about evolution as we've come to expect choices in everything from the car we drive, to the phone we use to the foods we eat. So why not fundraising? One size doesn't fit all. Walks aren't going away while runs, endurance events and rides are here to stay. The exciting opportunity here is that we're seeing more unconventional approaches to peer-to-peer fundraising. Our role is to encourage our volunteers to embrace their passions and participate in social movements in ways that move them.
Be the part. It's not enough to just look the part: One of my favorite lines from the movie Rocky III comes at the end when Apollo says to Rocky "You fight great - but I'm a great fighter". That line captures the essence of our role as fundraising - or social movement - leaders. We need to move beyond saying and training to being the embodiment of these movements. It's all too easy to talk about best practices, what our fundraisers should do and how easy it is to send out a certain number of emails which will yield a set number of donations. But are we doing these things ourselves? Are we right there in the trenches with our participants? We should be. One of my favorite fundraising consultants who consistently participates in the endurance fundraisers she leads put it best when she said "I don't care about dressing the part. I care about being the part." Be the part.
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of working in support of a cycling event for a nonprofit client. This was my first peer-to-peer client and event in about two years. By sheer coincidence, my recent work has included traditional fundraising campaigns, board development projects and leadership coaching. It was exciting to step back into the world of peer-to-peer and endurance events, a combination with a special place in my heart due to my passion for running, cycling and of course, fundraising for great causes.
Sometimes stepping away can bring fresh perspectives. In these brief six weeks I was able to experience one of my favorite parts of peer-to-peer: coaching participants in fundraising. And with the event just around the corner, I had the chance to witness the magic of riders seeing the finish line; from first-time century riders to veterans. The opportunity to see first-hand their sense of accomplishment and impact is one of the true privileges of serving in this field. I came away thinking about some of the principles that have stayed the same as well as a few where a shift in thinking could make a positive difference:
Robert Grabel is the President of Nonprofit Now! You can find his posts here and at www.robertgrabel.com
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