The first post in our Thanksgiving series, 5 Creative Ways to Thank Your Donors, discussed ways your nonprofit can augment its “thank you” messaging to donors. Now, it’s time to thank your peer-to-peer event participants. While these supporters would still benefit from many of the tips offered in our first post, they may require a slightly different strategy for obtaining the Year-Over-Year (YOY) participation you should be striving for.

  1. Say cheese. Before, during and after the event, take pictures! Participants, volunteers, bystanders, get everyone involved and try to capture the spirit of your event. Find the smiling faces and be sure to post the photos to social media with a distinct “thank you for being involved” message. This makes it easy for your participants to “like” or “share” the content, thereby furthering their involvement and increasing the likelihood their network of friends and family will be impacted by your organization’s message.
  2. Say it simply. You can’t say “thank you” too many times, but go ahead and try anyway. Have your staff and volunteers thank the walkers/runners/bikers as they check in, as they stop for water, after they cross the finish line and anytime you see them in between. Few things can beat a personal thanks from a real person, and this can make the digital “thank you” a participant receives after an event even more memorable.
  3. Invite them back. The best way to get participants to come back is… to ask them! Send participants a thank you card (or e-card) that includes information on how to get involved with your next event. Make it as easy as possible, and you’ll see increased retention YOY.
  4. Share your mission. Most peer-to-peer event participants get involved because they feel a connection to the mission behind the event. Don’t let them forget what the run/walk/ride is for! In your thank you, specify what was accomplished by their participation, whether it was increased awareness, more funds raised for a specific cause or something else entirely. Just make sure you tie their involvement directly in with the goals that were met.
  5. Post-event survey. These can be a great way to begin the conversation between participants and your organization. Ask what they liked, and more importantly, what they didn’t like about the event. If you make it evident that you are listening to the participants and making changes based on their suggestions, you can really amplify the level of involvement and connection they feel to the event.

As always, these are just a few ideas that can be combined with endless other possible strategies for engaging your peer-to-peer event participants. Get creative and find ways that are unique to your organization or event to really increase your Year-Over-Year participation. Whatever you do, make sure that you maintain this level of gratitude year round, not just on turkey day.