How friendly competition can increase fundraising efforts

Why it's important and how to incorporate it into your fundraising campaigns and events

Max Friedman avatar
Written by Max Friedman
Updated over a week ago

Why is friendly competition important?

As mentioned in our fundraising success guide, we already know that the number one reason why people donate is because someone they know personally asked them to.

Therefore, it only makes sense that we'd want to motivate people as much as possible to make direct asks of their network. And that is exactly why friendly competition can play a pivotal role in the success of your fundraising efforts. Let's think about it logically:

Scenario 1: You are among a group of friends supporting a cause, and no one knows how much anyone is donating, if they even have, or how many donations they've helped raise.

Scenario 2: You are among a group of friends supporting a cause, and everyone knows how much the others are donating (unless they choose to remain anonymous), and how many donations they've helped raise.

For each scenario, how much time/effort/money are you likely to give?

The benefits of Scenario 2 are overwhelming:

  • Donors can feel better about their donations, knowing that their gift is directly supporting the individual who asked for their donation

  • Individual fundraisers are more highly motivated to raise money since everything is public and trackable, resulting in a more personalized and community-driven experience

  • Organizer(s)/admin(s) can hold people accountable for raising certain amounts of money and use this information to motivate them with incentives, public recognition, etc. (see below for more ideas)

As a quick side note, if you are concerned about friendly competition being unfair (considering people's capacity for donating and raising money may differ based on many circumstantial factors), there are several ways to level the playing field.

On Givebutter leaderboards, we factor in not only how many dollars you've raised, but the number of donors you've gotten as well (# donors * $ raised = leaderboard score). Someone who raises $1,000 from 2 donors would be ranked the same as someone who raises $200 from 10 donors. This way, the "competition" is not just about how many dollars someone raises but their involvement and awareness generated as well.

Incorporating friendly competition in your fundraising efforts

When people think about collecting donations and raising money, the first thing they'll often do is try to find a way to make the entire experience as simple as possible for both the people fundraising and any potential donors – this is a mistake.

While simplicity is generally a good thing, when it comes to fundraising, it's also critically important to ensure participants have some sort of skin in the game. And as we've already established, a healthy dose of friendly competition can make all the difference — making the few extra steps more than worth it.

There are two primary ways to incorporate friendly competition, regardless of the organization type or fundraising format:

  1. Peer-to-peer – this is the method of individuals asking their networks for donations, which is the core foundation for any competitive fundraising campaign. We frequently see anywhere from 2 to 2,000+ individuals participate in a single fundraiser. On Givebutter, this means that each individual also gets their own trackable and customizable fundraising page as part of the campaign.

  2. Multi-team (aka "Umbrella" or "Nested") – individuals can be grouped by teams, such as chapters, and compete at a higher level to see which team can raise the most. This is great for things like giving days, tournaments, marathons, competitions, and other team-based events/campaigns.

Once you've established the parameters for your peer-to-peer and/or multi-team fundraising campaign, there are many different ways to motivate participants:

  • Offer an incentive – gift card, physical prize, special experience

  • Give public recognition – official award, social media/blog post

  • Match donations – up to a certain amount, only if you hit a goal

Online fundraising platforms like Givebutter can also help motivate participants by enabling you to do the following:

  • Make everything public – contextual fundraising pages, accountability

  • Allow for personalization – individual photos, videos, text

  • Provide instant gratification – notifications, dynamic supporter feed, auto-updating leaderboards

  • Track effectively – custom trackable links for each team/member

  • Centralize everything – one place for online and offline donations

Examples of friendly competition in action:

Final remarks

Us humans are motivated by social signals. The clothes we wear, the things we buy, and the places we go are all intrinsically motivated, at least on some level, friendly competition. Raising money is no different!

Yet, there are many people who would say that deriving a social benefit from charitable giving is wrong, or at least not their motivating factor. We hear you. However, time and time again, we have seen a healthy dose of friendly competition result in some of the most successful fundraising campaigns on Givebutter, and in the world. So if more money is raised for good causes, and people can feel more invested in those causes that they're supporting as a result, well - we think that's a win-win.

Ready to foster some friendly fundraising competition?

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