Peer to Peer Board Engagement: Expectation vs. Reality



Bob and Barbara the board members walk into the walk manager’s office and declare they achieved their $10,000 team goal for the upcoming event and they also had luck recruiting 3 new corporate teams each. They are also interested in signing up some volunteers but they don’t need anyone’s help… They are happy to use the online system on the website.



Walk Manager attends the Board meeting and presents all of the details for the upcoming peer to peer event, the organization’s largest annual fundraiser. The board seems disengaged. They aren’t sure how to have an impact on the net results and they begin asking questions about why we have to have an event, why can’t we just do more major gifts or a golf tournament.

Sadly, it seems we typically see the second scenario more often. Many boards do appreciate the potential of peer to peer fundraising and they actively participate, but that didn’t happen on its own. That is the result of a peer to peer leader educating and informing and supporting the board.

Every board member joined with the goal of having an impact on the cause and the organization. Peer to peer events provide a very tangible way to leave a legacy.

In nonprofit boards we often look to our boards to be fundraising boards. The peer to peer piece just fits into this idea. But, after recently attending a breakfast hosted by the Tricities chapter of NACD I realized that might be a flawed approach. Corporate boards don’t look to recruit board members that can boost sales. They recruit individuals that can provide meaningful advise and expertise. Great corporate board members provide strategic direction, hold the management team accountable and they typically are the investors so they have a vested interest in the group’s success. But again that success is determined by building a strong and sustainable company that stands on its own – not one that depends on the strength and connections of the board.

Instead of being disappointed about our boards and trying to convert them to fundraising boards, we may need to take a step back and reassess their true impact and potential.

Alternatives can be advisory groups for specific fundraising initiatives so you still have the potential for peer to peer involvement at the C-level but that doesn’t need to be the board. These alternatives can also serve as recruiting opportunities for the actual board.

What are your expectations of the board?
Do you struggle to engage and motivate board members for your peer to peer program?
Is there another group you could leverage or rely on?
How are you educating your board and other advisors on the true potential for your program and how/where you fit in the leer to peer landscape?
Do you need a secondary approach?
Have you asked them these questions before?
Do you have a specific communications plan for your volunteer leadership?

Being a great peer to peer leader means you need to effectively and efficiently prioritize where you spend your time because there are an unlimited number of options: recruitment, corporate teams, retention, volunteers and organization leadership, event logistics, reporting, fundraising and more! Knowing which drivers are the right ones for your program will allow you to filter and prioritize this never ending list of options and determine you are spending the right amount of time based on the ROI.

Take a few minutes to think about your approach and see if there are 1-3 things you could keep, lose or change.

It will definitely save you frustration and could end up positively impacting the bottom line if it saves you time, allows you to focus on the right things, and moves the organization forward.

Let me know what you think! Agree? Disagree? Let’s hear it! Thanks for reading!

– Rachel Kubicki