Over $154 million was generated for charity in 2021 by “digital-centric” peer-to-peer fundraising, a 30% increase over 2020, according to data from 44 nonprofits released in a study issued today.
The inaugural “Digital-First Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Study” focused on programs whose efforts were not grounded in traditional, physical peer-to-peer fundraising efforts such as walks and rides. “Digital-first” efforts leverage tools such as social media and livestream video to inspire donations from people connected with program participants.
The study, issued on March 1, 2022 by the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum, and sponsors GoodUnited and Tiltify, provides insight into how large and small nonprofits are making digital-first peer-to-peer fundraising work for them.
“This digital-first study is an important first look at an aspect of peer-to-peer fundraising that has and should continue to experience dramatic growth,” said David Hessekiel, president of the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum.
Study highlights include:
■ 44 nonprofits generated $154.9 million from digital-first peer-to-peer fundraising programs in 2021, up 30 % from $119.2 million in 2020.
■ That 30% revenue increase is nearly 9x the collective rate registered by the primarily physical and hybrid programs measured by this year’s separate Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Thirty study which showed a 3.5% rise from 2020 to 2021.
■ Sixteen programs reported raising $1,000,000 or more from digital-first peer-to-peer fundraising; seven reported $500,000 to $999,999; 15 reported $100,000 to $499,999 and six reported under $100,000 in revenue.
■ Participation in these programs grew 132% from 2020 to 2021 (note: some programs launched in 2021 and not all participants raised money.) The number of donors to digital-first efforts grew 29% (among the 86% of organizations who provided this data.)
The study revealed that digital-first peer-to-peer fundraising is being explored by organizations widely ranging in size and approach. For example:
■ The “Team Seas” fundraising campaign hosted by YouTube personalities Mr. Beast and Mark Rober raised $30.9M in 2021 for The Ocean Conservancy and The Ocean Clean Up to remove 30 million pounds of plastic, and trash from oceans, rivers and beaches. “Team Seas” is an encore performance to the “Team Trees” campaign that brought in $23.6 million for the Arbor Day Foundation.
■ The American Cancer Society generated $19.5 million from Facebook Challenges in which supporters pledged to take on an activity (e.g. walk 10,000 steps daily for a month) and enlist connections to donate.
■ “Stream For No Kid Hungry” raised $753,000 for the anti-hunger charity by recruiting 390 primarily video gamers to raise money from people who watch them stream online.
■ Trans Lifeline, a support hotline serving the LGBTQIA+ community, raised $526,500 in 2021 exclusively on Twitch, which represents 20% of their overall revenue for the year. The popularity of fundraising on Twitch prompted the organization to create the website Peer2Peer.live, a list of Twitch streamers who are committed to offering safe and supportive content.
■ PBTF GameON raised $200,000 for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation by providing “livestreamers, content creators, esports organizations, and gamers the opportunity to help find a cure,” according to the foundation.
“At Tiltify, our mission is to bring together online communities, charities, and companies to do social good across the globe,” said Tiltify CEO and co-founder Michael Wasserman. “Over the past year, we’ve seen a massive increase in digital-first fundraising campaigns, which has enabled celebrities, social media influencers and content creators of all sizes to rally their communities around a cause and raise more money for charity than ever before. This study solidifies this trend across the philanthropic space as a whole. Digital-first fundraising programs are mainstream and making a real impact on society.”
“Social giving is the highest and best use of social media,” said Nick Black, cofounder and CEO of GoodUnited. “The six billion dollars raised on Facebook signals supporters’ desire to converse and convene in the channels where they spend time. Increasingly, that’s online. It’s not an overstatement to say the economics and virality of digitally-native fundraising has the power to save the world.”
“We look forward to exploring how digital-first programming evolves to expand support for the missions of nonprofit organizations,” said the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum’s Hessekiel. This study is an important first step as we benchmark progress in this burgeoning sector.”