Participant Toolkit

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Download our complete Fundraising Guide below for sample posts and ideas to help you ask for support from your networks and reach your goal.

Fundraising Guide

What is peer-to-peer fundraising?

Peer-to-peer fundraising (also known as “Friends asking Friends”) is a method of fundraising that motivates supporters to fundraise on behalf of a cause, as opposed to an organization asking for donations directly. In this case, you are asking your peers to contribute to a cause you care about.

How will you and your peers support the cause?

Covenant House can't solve youth homelessness alone. We need champions, messengers, and storytellers to help us move our mission forward. Peer-to-peer fundraising is a great way to reach new networks of people and gain new donors. You are now a part of our organization's narrative and your outreach on our behalf will bring new attention to Covenant House Vancouver.

How do I get started?

Stare down your fundraising goal - try raising $1,000 towards your goal in one week!

  • Day 1: Sponsor yourself for $100
  • Day 2: Ask three family members for $50
  • Day 3: Ask five friends to donate $25
  • Day 4: Ask four co-workers to sponsor you for $25 (don't forget to also ask your company if they have a matching gifts program). “Co-workers” can be interchanged with volunteers or other leaders if you are involved in an association.
  • Day 5: E-mail 10 personal contacts and ask for a $25 donation.
  • Day 6: Ask 10 people in your social network for a $25 donation. Social networks include Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. If social media isn't your thing, try texting your contacts and asking them to contribute.
  • Day 7: Ask one business you frequent for $25

With these steps, in just one week you will be well on your way to achieving your fundraising goal!


Three steps to success

We know that fundraising can be challenging, especially considering the ambitious goals we ask Sleep Out participants to achieve. If you break the work of fundraising into manageable tasks, it’s easier than you think. Every successful fundraiser we've worked with begins their Sleep Out campaign with the same three steps and you can too. Here are the steps:

Step 1: Set up your fundraising page and make it personal

Once you are registered, a fundraising page will automatically be created for you on our website. The default page is generic; your first step is to personalize your page so that it reflects who you are. Add a photo and explain why you are sleeping out, and your connection to our cause.

Step 2: Divide your contacts into groups and customize your messages

  • Group 1: The circle of people closest to you in the world
  • Group 2: Friends, family, and colleagues whom you see often and with whom you share common values

Step 3: Ask each group directly for what you want

Making your “asks” is the most time consuming part of fundraising, so we recommend starting with your Group 1 contacts. You can practice on them since they are your most captive audience and they’ll give you some starting gifts to get you going. Then move to Group 2 (after some donations have come in from Group 1) and use the best material that generated a response from Group 1. Lastly, your messaging to Group 3 can build on what you sent to Group 2, and what seemed to resonate with most people.

You can call people, or ask them in person. You can write a letter by hand, send an email, or post on social media, or you can try all of these approaches depending on how you usually communicate with your contacts.

Fundraising FAQs

How do I save time by cutting and pasting text while also trying to make my appeals personal?

Use an email template (see†our Social Media Guide) that includes the information you want to share with the different people you are contacting. Address each person or group by name, and make the opening line personal to them. You can keep the majority of the email the same, but if you can include some specific, unique details for different people or groups, your requests will be more successful.

How do I make sure my contacts understand how sleeping out supports the cause?

Answer: We have included a lot of information on our Sleep Out website about what the Sleep Out is, and how it helps homeless youth. You can also visit the general†Covenant House Vancouver†website for additional information. We encourage you to visit these websites and copy and paste any text that resonates with you. A personalized message from you - someone who is volunteering to advocate for these kids - will open people’s eyes. By sleeping out, you are showing your friends that you care enough to do something outside of your comfort zone for homeless youth.

How do I explain where their money goes?

The funds raised by Sleep Out participants are put to work immediately, keeping the lights on and the doors open for the homeless youth who will seek our help this year. Every dollar raised by the Sleep Out will go towards funding our Street Outreach Program. Once immediate needs are met, Covenant House youth are offered individualized development plans leading to an independent adulthood, free from the risk of future homelessness. Sleep Out participants provide critical support that helps fund these necessary services.

When and how do I appropriately thank people for their gifts?

Always be sure to take time to thank people for their gifts and for their investment in homeless young people. We would suggest that a two-step thank you strategy is most effective: first, thank your donors immediately after you receive a gift, and then follow up after the Sleep Out to reflect on the experience and share a photo or story to show how the event made an impact on you. You can also periodically send updates to your supporters throughout the fundraising campaign to keep them engaged in the event and share your success and progress.

What if someone ignores my requests for support?

Ask again! If someone doesn’t respond the first time, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are not interested in helping. Life moves quickly and sometimes a reminder email (“hey buddy, the Sleep Out is in a few days”) is all it takes.