Tactics to Retain Participants in Peer-to-Peer Events

Boundless had the honor of attending the 2016 P2P Forum Annual Conference in Orlando last week, which touted the highest attendance in the event’s history with almost 500 participants. The P2P forum hosts organizations from across the nation who come together to learn from each other about how the peer-to-peer fundraising model works, how it’s evolved, and how to keep up with the competition. Boundless has had a presence at the event for two years, and we are thrilled with the opportunity to help educate nonprofits on how to leverage the power of promotional products to help meet their goals.

The highlight of this year’s conference was when Alexys Fleming, a 23-year-old expert make-up artist living with type 1 diabetes, was presented with the Cash, Sweat & Tears Award. Over the last several years, she has engaged with a network of millions of YouTube followers to raise money for the American Diabetes Association and helped create a community of supporters to make a difference. Boundless had the opportunity to present Alexys with a small gift of recognition to honor her achievement.

A key takeaway from the conference was that the endurance event programs (think walks and runs) have some of the highest growth year-over–year when compared with other fundraising initiatives, with participants maintaining a growing interest in marathons, century rides, adventure races and more. Now more than ever, participants are looking to challenge themselves physically while supporting a mission that they believe in and in turn fundraise on their behalf. Being that this is an area of high growth, there is a lot of competition and organizations need to focus on retention of their participants in order to stay in the game.

One of the breakout sessions during the conference focused on the endurance event space and specifically what tactics could be employed to retain participants year-over-year. Below are a few key learnings that were shared during the session.

  • Ensure that participants have a great experience during the event. They won’t renew if they don’t feel that they are part of something bigger than themselves, or if they don’t feel they were successful. A great way to make participants feel they are part of a bigger team effort is to create a branded t-shirt to distribute.
  • Provide an opportunity to register for the next event at the culmination of the one participants just completed. Renew their commitment for next year while they are most excited and fully engaged. Strike when the iron is hot!
  • Create a sense of community amongst your participants. A private Facebook group is an easy strategy to enable participants to share best practices, collaborate on training tips, and suggest fundraising ideas. As one savvy conference participant described: “the more you can have event participants spend time together in the ‘foxhole,’ the more engaged they will be with your organization and the more likely they are to re-register.”
  • Be sure to celebrate successes of participants. They want to feel like they have made a difference. Stewardship at this key milestone that will help keep the participant loyal to your cause. A great way to celebrate with your participants is presenting them with a branded product that will help them remember this memorable milestone―such as a medal or a finisher’s apparel garment.
  • Keep participants engaged post-event. Don’t let a gap to grow between the event date and getting started for the next year. This can be easily done, by creating opportunities to get together virtually or in social gathering.


It’s crucial for nonprofit organizations to evolve, stay ahead of the game, and stand out amongst their ever-increasing competition. Many tactics were shared at the P2P Forum, but what resonated the most was that organizations need to find champions amongst their participant base that believe and will help drive their mission forward by advocating on their behalf. Allowing participants to fundraise in their way, on their terms, will enable stronger and long-term sustainable growth.


At Boundless, we can help you strategize your next peer-to-peer fundraising event. From creative solutions to great incentive prizes, we’ve got you covered. Let’s make your next event the most memorable yet. Contact us at (512) 472-9200.


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