The Power of Friendraisers SD Portland 2020

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By Sister District Portland Leader Merry Ann Moore

Got friends? Then you can friendraise!

The Sister District Portland experience with friendraising events is included in our broader guidance around this fundraising tactic. For more, please see: How-To: Friendraiser Events


Leadership in Portland decided to go big on “Friendraiser” events in 2020 after our experiments with the tactic in 2019 accounted for 57% of our $18,036 fundraising total from 11 events. It was a great way for us to reach out into new communities and tap into people’s networks to grow our team, and it was a way to scale fundraising events that required relatively little time and effort from leaders.

Recruiting Friendraiser Event Hosts at Our 2020 Kickoff

We held a kickoff meeting in February 2020 at my house and recruited Friendraiser hosts at that event! The following is a description of how the recruitment worked and how leaders followed up with committed hosts to support them in creating and executing their events.

Kickoff Event First Half: Volunteer and friendraiser host recruitment

  • When people signed in we asked them to complete an online questionnaire on their interests and talents on a bunch of laptops
  • Recruited for phonebanking, postcarding, fundraising
  • Livestreamed the meeting to a few folks who couldn’t attend in person
  • Leaders gave an overview of SDP, past successes, and why NC is such a pivotal state
  • The fundraising ask was, in short: “Sign up now for a friendraiser, and/or help us organize a larger fundraiser”
  • We had two leaders with clipboards circulating to get vols to commit, pick a month in which they’d like to host their friendraiser: April, May, June
  • We recruited 8 Friendraiser hosts from 19 attendees!!

Kickoff Event Second Half: Campaign actions

  • Part two of the meeting: taking action for Howard Hayes, our PA candidate.
  • Leadership team provided amazing homemade soup, other snacks, bevvies as incentive
  • Most people stayed
  • Postcarding
  • Phonebanking
  • Gave all attendees a volunteer recruitment flyer to take home with next steps

Next step: Working with Friendraiser Host Prospects to Host their Events

  • Our Friendraiser committee of four helped firm up the 8 prospects coming out of the kickoff meeting and reach out to others who responded Yes on our standard volunteer survey
  • Committee got together for an hour to create a simple shared Google spreadsheet with the names and contact info of all host prospects and the month the prospect had indicated wanting to host the event
  • Decided and indicated which leader would be working with which Friendraiser Host to see their event through
  • The spreadsheet was crucial — each leader could see the other leader’s progress, so there was a sense of accountability and shared success
  • Leaders checked in on progress over email and at team meetings

Sample creative execution on Friendraisers

  • Ice cream social, raising $2800
  • Yoga fundraiser with a matching challenge grant, raising $1100
  • Virtual wine tasting, three projects raising over $6000
  • Virtual variety show, raising $1,600
  • Online game/trivia nights with prominent comedians – $10,915
  • “Just the ask” friendraiser when scheduled chef scheduled couldn’t appear, raising $1040


  • In 2020, we raised roughly $20,000 of Portland’s total $55,000 fundraising haul with 9 friendraisers
  • Expanded the number of donors using our ActBlue links, which expanded our team list
  • Provided a way for new people to take a leadership role
  • Let volunteers increase their giving exponentially, without a huge commitment of time, money, organizational work, or cleaning their house
  • Expanded awareness of SDP mission
  • Recruited new phonebankers at Friendraiser events too!

Key Takeaways

  • Friendraisers are a way to scale that doesn’t require a massive lift from team leaders
  • Coordinating friendraiser hosts and prospective hosts is a key role for every SDP team