The impact of stewardship on P2P fundraising [insights from data]

Jesper Juul Jensen
Min to read

Peer-to-peer (P2P) campaigns have emerged as a robust tool for non-profit fundraising, rallying supporters and gathering crucial funds. A pivotal part of this process is stewardship, but have you ever wondered about its real impact?

In this blog post, we scrutinize the data around the effects of stewardship on P2P fundraising. We illuminate the potency of stewardship in nurturing a lively community of committed P2P fundraisers using tangible case studies and data analysis.

Stewardship’s Influence on P2P Fundraising Performance

In determining the success of fundraisers, the number of stewardship emails sent emerged as the third most crucial factor. The number of opened emails ranked eighth. 

Only self-donations and the length of the fundraiser description were more significant in determining a fundraiser's success.

However, does this imply we should inundate all fundraisers with emails? No, definitely not. We'll later explain why .But let's first go through a more real-world example of how email stewardship can enhance P2P fundraising.

Case Study: Re-activating Fundraisers

To provide a concrete example of how stewardship impacts fundraising, we will highlight a specific campaign. This campaign consiss of three emails, each sent under set conditions based on the timing of the fundraiser's last donation. The campaign is a standard part of the BetterNow email journey that all our users start with. 

The table below presents the outcomes.

Fundraisers, E#4.1 - Campaign: Inactive for 10 days 97.6% 51.6% 7.4% 22.1% 0.0%
Fundraisers, E#4.2 - Campaign: Inactive for 20 days 95.9% 47.4% 3.4% 15.5% 0.0%
Fundraisers, E#4.3 - Campaign: Inactive for 30 days 97.0% 49.0% 7.3% 9.4% 1.0%

Each email, dispatched at different times after the last donation, had a significant reach and yielded impressive results. In this context, a positive result means a fundraiser received a donation within ten days of receiving an email from the campaign.

While conversion rates decrease over time, they still occur at a high frequency. This suggests that the campaign was successful in re-activating many fundraisers. The negligible unsubscribe rates across all three emails show that recipients appreciated the campaign content and remained engaged with the charity's cause.

Most importantly - it helped in getting P2P fundraisers activated. 44% of all inactive fundraisers were reactivated, some more than 30 days after their last donation. This will make a big impact on the overall return on a P2P fundraising campaign.

Deep-Dive into the Data

Now, let's circle back to our key finding—the number of emails sent was the third most vital factor, and the number of emails opened was the eighth most crucial for the outcome of P2P fundraisers. We saved these intricate data analysis details towards the end of this post for our fellow P2P fundraising enthusiasts!

Our data doesn't provide a precise numeric result on the impact of stewardship journeys. But we do present the partial dependence of individual performance based on the number of emails sent and opened.

From the two graphs below, we see that the optimal number was six sent emails and five opened emails. Sending more didn’t bring any significant difference.

graph of sent emails
graph of opened emails

This only makes sense in the context of the specific email stewardship in place at the time. We used our knowledge of BetterNow's email flow. For example, was it because 5 sent emails meant a fundraiser necessarily got the ‘goal reached’ email. If so, the result can hardly be surprising.

But we couldn’t find anything in our email flow that would result in a positive spike at six emails. Both unsuccessful and successful fundraisers get emails. The only suspect cause is that it indicates a certain length of the fundraiser.


Taken together, our primary conclusion is the importance of having a robust email stewardship journey in place, preferably with at least five emails for each fundraiser.

Moreover, be sure to optimise each email continually. Test, iterate, and particularly ensure to measure conversion goals instead of merely relying on open and click rates. If you need guidance on this, we have a complete blog post on how to test your donor and fundraiser email journeys. (Or, you could just let BetterNow handle it for you – just saying...)

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