Fundraising Alternatives When COVID-19 Knocks Out Your Traditional P2P

With hundreds of millions of spring peer-to-peer fundraising in jeopardy, organizations are starting to reveal the new approaches they hope will engage many of the supporters who would have traditionally taken part in their real-world activities.

Here are three noteworthy examples that could provide models for groups looking to reinvent their campaigns on the fly during this uncertain time.


1. The March of DimesMarch for Babies Step Up!

When COVID-19 started showing up in news feeds in January, the March of Dimes moved quickly to create a contingency plan in case it needed to pivot away from its in-person March for Babies Walk series. Sure enough, it did and in early March the group announced that all 257 of the spring walks it had planned were being virtualized.

Turning that declaration into a reality continues to be a herculean endeavor.   The centerpiece of the concept: Rallying supporters to log steps using the Charity Miles app.

Now through May 15, supporters can march in their homes, march up and down their stairs, or march outside (if safe) – using the app to track their progress. To stimulate activity, various types of supporters will be enticed to participate in themed contests such as a March Madness bracket challenge along the way.

The organization is also able to serve up sponsorships to users via geolocation software to help ensure corporate supporters remain engaged.


2. Pancreatic Cancer Action NetworkVirtual is the New Purple
Half of the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network’s 58 PurpleStride Walk events take place in the spring. When it became clear that COVID-19 was a serious threat in early March, the organization decided it needed to move quickly to transition each of its spring events into virtual walks.

At the center of all its efforts is a laser focus on communicating with and engaging its top supporters.

“The people who are with us and love us and care about us will stick with us,” says Lori Stevens, PanCAN’s chief development and community engagement officer. “We’re leading with our mission and impact and talking about why we’re continuing to do what we do during these challenging times. It’s ok to fundraise and ask now with a tone that is appropriate.”

Playing on its signature color, PanCAN has focused its “Virtual is the New Purple” campaign on making sure it is communicating clearly, compassionately, and regularly with its team captains, volunteers, sponsors and other key stakeholders. Though one-on-one conversations, segmented communications, and virtual forums and town halls, the organization is working to ensure that stewardship is at the center of its effort.


3. St. Baldrick’s Foundation –  Virtual Head Shaving Events
What was an organization that has traditionally held 40 percent of its events in March to do if people couldn’t come together to shave their heads in exchange for financial contributions solicited from friends, coworkers and others through peer-to-peer fundraising?

The short answer: anything it can to encourage its head shavers to host their events virtually.

To do that, St. Baldrick’s has moved heavily into video streaming, using two different platforms to stage virtual head-shaving events. 

First, it opened up its own Zoom platform to those who wanted to gather friends and family online to watch and participate in their head shaving events. It has also started working with Tiltify to host live-streaming head-shaving events on Twitch – which provides the added benefit of giving users the opportunity to raise money live.


More details on these efforts are accessible by accessing the archived version of an April webinar in which they shared their stories.

And to help you navigate this transition, we’re also offering a free, regularly updated COVID-19 P2P Info Center, which includes news, advice, and other practical materials to help you make smart decisions about your P2P programs.