Photo by ribellephoto
The success of multimillion dollar projects funded on Kickstarter or Indiegogo has some nonprofits wondering how they too can leverage crowdfunding. It’s ironic because most nonprofit fundraising efforts have leveraged the masses for over 25 years; it’s called peer to peer (P2P). Peer to peer adds layers to the fundraising process and is slightly more complex than simply convincing a ton of people to donate to your cause. For many nonprofits, P2P is a more personal, social and effective way of raising money. Despite the differences, crowdfunding and P2P both have roots in American history.
The Founders: Joseph Pulitzer and Bruce Cleland
The idea of crowdfunding dates back to the foundation of the Statue of Liberty, literally. In 1884, Joseph Pulitzer (as in the Prize) used his newspaper to solicit Americans to give money for the production of the statue’s pedestal. He ultimately raised over $100,000 in 6 months, consisting of small donations from approximately 125,000 people! Today, thanks in part to such donations, millions of people flock to the Big Apple each year to bask in the lady’s glory.
Joseph Pulitzer photo: Wikipedia
Peer to peer fundraising dates back to the late 1980’s. New York resident, Bruce Cleland, wanted to run the NYC Marathon for his daughter who had been diagnosed with Leukemia in 1986. So, in 1988 Bruce enlisted the help of a friend, Rod Dixon, who had previously won the NYC Marathon, to help him train. Bruce also reached out to the Leukemia Society to recruit additional runners, and asked friends, family and colleagues for donations for the Leukemia Society on his behalf. The whole idea was pretty novel back then, because ordinary people did not generally run marathons, let alone an entire TEAM. Many people committed to Bruce’s cause conditionally, saying they would only give him money for the miles he completed, or only if finished the race under a certain time. Team in Training was born.
Photo: Team in Training
P2P can be viewed as a type of crowdfunding. But, it is important to remember that P2P and crowdfunding have distinct means and functions. The technology needed to correctly implement a peer to peer fundraising campaign is more complex than traditional crowdfunding. While P2P can be a powerful platform, a cohesive approach and the correct set of tools should be considered when looking to leverage P2P services.