New research aims to find out so get involved to gain valuable insights for your P2P strategies and maximise income from events.

In late 2015, I was given a very challenging task by my fundraising director – to come up with a campaign to acquire donors who gave to 16 passionate and dedicated peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraisers who had trekked the Great Wall of China, raising money for student scholarships. She wanted me to come up with a marketing campaign to inspire these donors, not only to donate again to our charity, but to become regular givers.

As I sat at my desk trying to devise a strategy, some burning questions came to my mind.

“Why did these individuals decide to make a donation in the first place? Were they giving to us, the charity, or was the donation for the fundraiser? What was driving these people to give?”

I went looking for answers to help guide my campaign but found very limited research. The only information I could find was anecdotal, and largely based on the opinions of consultants or charity fundraising managers. While experience can gather important insights, very few charities had put their theories to the test, nor had many asked the donors themselves.

Fast forward five years and these questions still sat in the back of my mind unanswered, coming to the fore again when I was contemplating a research topic for my PhD. So what exactly is known about the motivations influencing P2P giving?

The concept of ‘relational altruism’ was coined by economics researchers, Scharf and Smith (2016) in their research examining the online giving webpages of 35,000 P2P fundraisers in the UK. Their research proposed that P2P donors are largely motivated to give because they were asked by the fundraiser.

Australian researchers Chapman, Masser and Louis (2019) also suggested that P2P donors are influenced more so by the fundraiser and their actions than by the charity or cause, following their review into survey data from 10,000 P2P fundraisers.

In 2020, a new motivation of ‘being inspired by youth’ or wanting to support a young person’s fundraising efforts was proposed by sports academics Filo, Fechner and Inoue.

Academic researchers have also highlighted the importance of the challenge in P2P fundraising. A key characteristic of P2P giving is that is that the fundraiser pledges to undertake an activity in return for the donation to their nominated charity. Whether the activity is perceived as challenging or difficult has also been found to play a role in a influencing donor’s decision to donate (Olivola & Shafir, 2018). However, interestingly, this research did not find any correlation with the amount donated and the degree of difficulty of the challenge.

When discussing P2P fundraising one cannot discount the work of Martin Paul and Gavin Coopey from More Strategic, a Brisbane-based consultancy. They proposed the P2P Online Triangle, which suggests that not only the relationship between the donor and fundraiser plays a role in influencing P2P giving but also type of relationship, the level of the challenge, as well as how connected the fundraiser is to the cause. They based this hypothesis on data gathered from fundraisers who took part in the City2Surf fun run.

However, based on the limited examination to date, specifically research investigating P2P donors directly, it is unlikely that all of the motivations driving P2P have been discovered. My research aims to uncover and understand the full spectrum of motivations influencing P2P giving.

Why is this research important?

There’s no doubt that economically P2P fundraising can be a very profitable way for charities to raise funds. In the USA, the top 30 P2P fundraising initiatives raised almost $1.37 billion in 2019 . Although little is known about the amount raised through P2P fundraising in Australia, it’s believed that in 2018 as much as 32% of the Australian population gave through P2P fundraising (Charities Aid Foundation, 2019).

Charities today are facing increasing levels of competition with more and more charities being established every day. In Australia there are more than 58,000 registered charities, with this figure growing by 4% each year. With this increasingly cluttered marketplace, charities have to work harder than ever to solicit support.

Understanding the factors that influence a person’s decision to donate to a P2P fundraiser is very valuable. By understanding what these motivations are, charities will have a better chance of maximising donation revenue by creating more effective P2P fundraisers.

What’s the benefits of being involved in this research?

The benefits of taking part in this research include access to insights that charities could use in the development of their P2P strategies and events. This research could also be used by charities to develop more effective tools and advice to assist P2P fundraisers in their efforts to raise funds. Charities may also be able to use these insights to help inform marketing campaigns to convert P2P donors into long-term supporters, helping to ensure the charity’s future sustainability. Charities taking part in the research will be able to access the research findings, upon completion of the research.

What’s planned

I’m looking to interview representatives from charities to hear your opinions and thoughts on motivations, based on your experience in running P2P fundraising programs. The total commitment to take part in this research is a one-hour interview over the telephone. All information supplied by participating charity representatives will be anonymised and participants de-identified. No information will be shared with other charities or third parties.

My research also involves hearing from donors directly through focus groups and also a large-scale donor survey.

About the researcher:  Tanya Carlyle worked in fundraising for 10 years before moving to academia, where she is currently undertaking her PhD investigating the motivations driving peer-to-peer fundraising at the University of Newcastle. She has worked for various charities including the Breast Cancer Trials group, TROG Cancer Research and the University of Newcastle’s Office of Alumni and Philanthropy.

How to take part in the research

If you are interested in participating in this research or have any questions, please contact: Tanya via email at: [email protected] or phone (m) 0407 276 061.



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