Reflections from a Peer-to-Peer Pioneer

 Paull Young

By Peter Panepento
P2P Professional Forum Content Strategist

Paull Young recently ended his five-year tenure at charity: water — where he led a wildly-successful peer-to-peer fundraising effort that generated more than $37-million for the nonprofit’s programs.

To mark his final day, Young published a wonderfully-designed and insightful piece that shares what he learned during his time at charity: water.

It’s a must-read for anyone who is working in the peer-to-peer fundraising space and I encourage you to read the entire post.

But there are two key points that are particularly worth calling out for peer-to-peer fundraisers, regardless of their role:

Market opportunity, not guilt

It’s impossible to watch videos and commercials showing abused animals or malnourished children and not feel guilty.

But while these spots work well in old-school media, Young says they’re not likely to be shared and discussed in social networks.

“In a model where inspiration is key, and a media environment where sharing wins, opportunity, not guilt, is critical for our content strategy,” he writes.

E-mail still trumps social

Facebook and Twitter are great places to share ideas and raise awareness. But if you want to actually get results from your volunteers, you must encourage them to communicate with their peers through email, he says.

Young says charity: water has been strident in telling its fundraisers to use personal email “above all else” to get their friends to give.

And that tactic has worked well.

“Social media is great for sharing content, but it’s really hard work to get someone to stop what they’re doing and pull a credit card out of their pocket,” Young writes. “Hence a direct personal email can be the difference maker for a fundraiser as it removes the plausible deniability of seeing a post in social media.”

We wish Paull well as he moves to a new, exciting role at the social-sharing site Instagram, but his thinking and work will definitely be missed in the peer-to-peer world.