The Evolution of Recruitment and Retention

Posted on February 6, 2020

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By Rachel Gans Kemp

The peer-to-peer fundraising event world we now live in is about engagement and community — so much so that even using the words recruitment and retention feels antiquated. It is not just about getting bodies to your events and then hoping that they will come back year after year. It’s deeper. It’s impactful. It’s about providing an experience that doesn’t allow for someone to even question their current or further involvement.

At Event 360, we have been optimizing our services by using Hustle with many of our clients. We shared this in a previous blog post highlighting the 5 Things We Love About Hustle! Hustle is the trusted leader of texting platforms that is now being used in the P2P space. Let’s face it, texts cut to the chase. They provide one-to-one connections that are personal, quick and helpful. In the sphere of P2P, texts can provide updates and promos, gather feedback and support, all in a short sentence or two.

We have learned a great deal and are eager to share a recent experience that demonstrates the impact of this unique tool for engagement and community building. We engaged in a month-long experiment, texting a large group of past participants for one of our events. This group crossed five different US markets and spanned various audiences. It included team captains, participants and volunteers who engaged with this event between 2013–2019.

We were curious how engaged our participants would be based on the last year they participated in the event, as our ongoing recruitment efforts only included participants from the past two years. We sent various texts to each audience throughout the month, and here is what we saw:

  • Engagement rates (the percentage of contacts who responded to our message) of more than 20%
  • A 368% increase in our website click traffic from texting during an early registration incentive over what we saw last year during the same period
  • Team captains were the most engaged audience
  • NONE of the event volunteers opted out from receiving the texts and many showed great enthusiasm for the texts
  • Participants registered: 41% of whom last participated between 2013-2017 and were no longer part of our personal cultivation.
    • Even more exciting, 21% of those participants who registered were team captains. This means not only did we invigorate their desire to participate, they will also recruit others to join them in 2020!
  • A very low percentage of participants opted out from receiving our texts

A few other interesting learnings from this experiment were:

  • Even participants who did not reply to the first text but did NOT opt out would often reply to the follow up texts. As long as we shared relevant, helpful content, the text recipients were interested in the content and were willing to continue to receive it. Text provides them a quick nugget of information and when they feel drawn to — whether it is the first text they receive or the fifth — they will engage.
  • With such a low opt-out rate overall, outreach proved that even participants who had not engaged with us in several years were still valuing their connection to the cause and to the event. While their reason for involvement may have changed, the vast majority were still open and receptive to our communications. Having an engagement platform with broader, more personalized reach allowed us to engage these lapsed constituents.
  • We tested different kinds of texts, like sharing gratitude for their involvement, an authentic thank you, a support check-in, or even sharing a joke to brighten their day. It was incredible how many people replied and engaged even when nothing critical was on the line. It was not always about asking them to sign up, to raise money, or to recruit their friends. It was about connection, person to person. (And yes, when you send text messages, you WILL get asked if you are a real person. It’s a fun thing to get to prove!)

Texting via Hustle was an incredible bridge for us to engage with participants, and its reach led to deeper connections and more action than we even anticipated. The evolution of P2P event engagement and true community has arrived.

When you are ready to reinvigorate your past and existing participant base, reach out and let’s talk more about what a partnership could look like! There is so much potential literally at your fingertips. Let’s find it together!


Rachel Gans Kemp is the Senior Team Recruitment Manager at Event 360. She has over a decade of experience working with non-profits across the country, focusing on enhancing their participant community and overall event efficiencies. Beyond this, Rachel fills her time in Oregon with as much fresh air and movement as possible!



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