Why should you get your event participants to send more emails?

Mark Davis - 03.18.2009

Is there any single strategy as important for driving online event success as peer-to-peer email?

That’s the question I find myself asking as the Blackbaud team sorts through data from nearly 26,500 US-based events from 2004 through 2008

(I’m excluding the 1,000’s of events in Canada, the UK, South Africa, Japan, Australia and New Zealand that have used Friends Asking Friends®; that data will make a good future post on international fundraising).

Let me know what factors your organization has identified as critical to online event success. In the mean time, let’s take a look at the benchmark data and see how a good peer-to-peer email campaign can dramatically increase an event’s success.

Email Benchmarking for Online Events

For the benchmark analysis, we are modeling the data to see the impact of several factors on event success, the primary measure being the “Online Amount Raised per Participant.” This measure allows us to benchmark the success of events by how effectively their participants are using the online tools. As an example, we wanted to benchmark the percentage of participants sending emails using Friends Asking Friends. The results (see Figure 1 below) show that the greater the percentage of people using email, the greater the online fundraising success of the event.

Figure 1 – Impact from Percentage of Event Participants Sending Emails


In Figure 2, we evaluated the distribution of events in the study across the range of email activity. To help benchmark organizations against the collective, the average percentage of participants sending emails across all events is 24% (highlighted in Figure 2). [as1] The study showed that 22% of events have little-to-no email usage from their participants. The impact for organizations that reach the average is noteworthy, in that participants will raise nearly three (3) times as much online. The data also show a significant impact to organizations currently “near the average” to train their participants to use the system more effectively. Events that are able to engage around 50% of their participants to send emails raise as much as six (6) times more online. This seems to represent a “critical mass” in terms of online fundraising success.

Figure 2 – Distribution of Events by % of Participants Sending Emails


More Resources

Email isn’t the only factor that helps support event success, but it does look like a very important one. Here are two recent articles where the authors fill out the picture and look at multiple event-success drivers:

"Maximizing the Success of Online Events” from Charity Dynamics

"Making the Most of Your Online Event Fundraising Efforts” from Fundraising Success and yours truly.


Here at Blackbaud we are looking forward to benchmarking other event dimensions and sharing the data with the community so watch this spot!

So what drives the success of your events? We’d love to hear from you.

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