Understanding Nonprofit DIY Fundraising

Do-it-yourself (DIY) fundraising is an exciting growth opportunity for nonprofits and is one of the fastest growing types of fundraising out there.

DIY: The Basics

What exactly is nonprofit DIY peer-to-peer fundraising?

DIY fundraising empowers your community of supporters to raise money (as peer-to-peer fundraisers) on your nonprofit's behalf by starting a fundraiser on their own at any time. And, DIY (or do-it-yourself) fundraising is essentially a new fundraising channel that can run simultaneously without taking away from any of your other campaign efforts.

By offering this type of fundraising, supporters are able to create their own fundraising events and campaigns that are personal to them. Maybe they’ll organize a run, start a bake sale, set up a bowl-a-thon, or even request donations to your organization instead of birthday or wedding gifts.

This action of creating your own campaign on behalf of a charity you’re passionate about is already happening on the internet and you might not even know it. Do you have supporters creating their own campaigns on Facebook, GoFundMe, CrowdRise, etc? Why not have all of the campaigns benefiting your cause in one place? It creates a sense of community, shows potential DIY fundraisers successful examples of campaigns, and highlights a collective total of money raised by this group of passionate supporters.

Wait, what is peer-to-peer fundraising and how is it different?

DIY fundraising is actually a subset of peer-to-peer (or P2P) fundraising with the main differences lying in the type of campaign structure.

With traditional peer-to-peer fundraising, supporters set up personal fundraisers that are part of a specific event or campaign. Holiday campaigns, giving days, or charitable dinners are some examples. All of the money raised by those supporters rolls up to that one event and the charity is the organizer.

With nonprofit DIY fundraising, the fundraiser is at the controls from the beginning and can start a personal fundraiser at any time for any type of campaign they want. Supporters can set up memorial fundraisers, wedding fundraisers, pub crawls, or even girls night out fundraisers all at their whim. This type of fundraising allows your supporters to be in charge and create a campaign that reflects their personality and passion for your cause.

Why DIY works

So often we hear that supporters are asking what more they could be doing to support causes they care about. That’s why giving supporters the opportunity to allow them to support your cause in their own way when they want lets them go that extra mile for your cause. And, if your supporter can’t give monetarily at the moment, or has already given what they can, this allows them to take that next step by showcasing their passion for your cause in another way.

Sometimes the best ideas aren’t those that are talked about in the boardroom, but rather grassroots efforts that stem from creative and driven supporters. DIY fundraising allows supporters to take that creativity and channel it in a way that works for them, which leads to successful personal fundraisers.

“I think at the end of the day, we can all sit in a room and try to come up with the best organic or from your bootstraps fundraising ideas, but honestly, the best ideas come from out in the real world, not an enclosed four wall room. So just listening to your people, seeing what's happening in action, that's ultimately what's going to get it off the ground and inspire more people to get involved.”

- Colby M., Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Additionally, nonprofit DIY fundraising creates a sense of community that is more organic and inspiring. Seeing the way other supporters give back can give fundraisers the boost they need to take that leap of faith and start their own DIY campaign.

DIY: The Benefits

As a nonprofit, you have many jobs that need to get done and most often, there is not enough time and resources to make it all happen. Constantly looking for new ideas to increase revenue, change things up, and get new supporters can be exhausting. Do-it-yourself fundraising is a great way to easily add a new fundraising channel in order to help achieve your goals.

Numerous nonprofits already have successful DIY programs — here’s what they’re saying about the benefits of DIY fundraising:

It’s a new donation channel

DIY is a new channel largely untapped by nonprofits and allows passionate supporters to go beyond their checkbooks.

It’s a new and exciting style of fundraising that’s attracting all types of supporters including Millennials and the Gen Z’ers.

Additionally, according to our charity partners, adopting a DIY program doesn’t necessarily cannibalize other fundraising efforts. It can often exist as an additive channel to raise both money and awareness.

Campaign efficiency

DIY campaigns don’t really require a ton of ongoing nonprofit management. Once you have buy in from your organization and then create the landing page, structure of the campaign, and the supporting documents, you can encourage your supporters to create fundraisers on your behalf.

When you host a DIY program on a fundraising platform and encourage all of your supporters to use that platform for their DIY efforts, you’re able to control the level of brand consistency while creating a community of fundraisers all passionate about your cause and your mission.

Fundraising diversity

When you incorporate a new fundraising channel like nonprofit DIY fundraising, you’re able to diversify your funding sources and limit your organization's risk if one of your fundraising initiatives doesn’t go well. This is similar to how people diversify their personal investment portfolios, so that one change in the market doesn't cause them to lose too much.

If your nonprofit heavily relies on one stream of funding or one large annual event, your organization’s growth and mission becomes dependent on it. For example, if a natural disaster or other unforeseeable occurrence cancels an event or dries up your nonprofit’s funding stream, you could be at a big risk of not being able to fulfill your mission.

So including other funding streams like DIY can help mitigate this type of risk.

A fresh way for supporters to engage

DIY fundraising is a modern approach to individual fundraising and your supporters want to feel like they can customize their own campaign to fit their needs and wants. This is especially attractive to younger supporters like the Gen Z population as well as Millennials who want a customizable world at their fingertips.

Empowering nonprofit supporters

There’s something so so great about empowering your community to do more in a way that is personal to them. They feel even more connected to your cause and organization because they’re able to easily do more than just give from their pocketbooks. Now, they’re able to share with their network not only that they’re passionate about your cause, but they are also sharing with their network how they like to give back. Maybe it’s starting a bake sale and they’re able to share that they love to not only support your cause, but also how they love to bake. Maybe they want to want to do a memorial fundraiser and let the world know about their loved one and also share how they support your cause.

Nonprofits get brand and data control

Nonprofit DIY fundraising is happening online all over the place no matter if you know about it or not. When you create a dedicated DIY program, you create a place to house all of your DIY fundraising giving you full control over your brand including the logos, colors allowed, etc. You’re also able to give them a starting point with some approved photos and text to use on their page.

And, when you have a DIY program housed on one platform, you’re able to collect all of that data (dollars raised, new donors, fundraiser information, etc.) that otherwise would have been strewn across the web with no access to it.

“Coming across as being, again, genuine, people are going to want to donate more money to you.”

- Ben Kaplan, American Cancer Society

Successful DIY programs

Although there isn’t an exact cookie cutter recipe out there that will determine if a nonprofit will be successful at doing DIY fundraising, there are a few common characteristics we’ve seen from nonprofits who have really nailed a solid DIY fundraising program.

Characteristics of nonprofit organizations that could make it a good fit for DIY:

Nonprofits with a large supporter base

Why? Well, because of the sheer volume of supporters looking for alternative ways to give back to their favorite nonprofit. When you have a lot of people willing to go that extra mile, then you have more fundraisers on your DIY page, more examples of success stories, and more opportunity to engage and nurture these supporters.

Nonprofits with really engaged supporters

If your supporters find a personal and direct connection with your cause, you’re more likely to have a DIY fundraising program that takes off. Individuals with families affected, survivors, or anyone else with a direct connection are more likely to take the time to share with the world why they support your organization so wholeheartedly.

Nonprofits that are getting asked by supporters what else they can do

When you have multiple supporters approach your nonprofit asking what else they can do to help, DIY is a great option. Starting a personal DIY fundraiser is a great way to engage these supporters because they don’t necessarily have to give more, they just have to support your cause from a grassroots level and get their network on board to support your mission.

It fits your brand, your mission, and your supporters

Are you trying to modernize your fundraising? Are your supporters and organization already getting creative and pushing the envelope when it comes to peer-to-peer fundraising? Do you have a good idea if any supporters are out there running their own peer-to-peer campaigns on the internet on your behalf? If you can answer yes to these questions, DIY is definitely a consideration for your cause.

Is DIY right for you?

If you’re ready to go down the path of DIY, there’s no formula or calculation of the above successful characteristics to figure out if your nonprofit should run a DIY campaign. And, it’s definitely not a magic pill.

Be sure to set realistic expectations about what you’re trying to get out of your DIY program. Are you looking for five fundraisers a month to each raise $500? What about 10 at $1,000? Try to figure out what success looks like so you can get a plan organized to reach out to your most passionate supporters and start making progress towards those goals.

The core elements of a DIY peer-to-peer fundraising program

You need to make sure that at each stage of the supporter journey you’re giving a supporter everything they need to be successful

Nonprofit DIY fundraising landing pages

Your nonprofit’s landing page is a great place to inspire your supporters to do more and to start a DIY campaign. Provide them with all the information they would need about your organization, show them examples of what other people are doing, and give them ideas on how they can transform their fundraiser and make it their own.

Fundraising pages for your supporters

Providing your supporters with an easy-to-build and intuitive fundraising campaign page is key to a successful DIY campaign. It can be a simple peer-to-peer page to collect donations and show support that also gives your supporter a place to tell their story.

Their fundraising campaign page could also be a little more sophisticated and set up for event management. This could include details about a physical event or even a way to buy tickets and register for the event.

How to kickstart nonprofit fundraising

DIY fundraising needs organizational alignment because shifting focus from driving donations to allowing supporters to fundraise is an important distinction when getting into this type of fundraising.

How do you start to get organizational alignment?

First you have to identify if your community fits the characteristics of a DIY supporter base. The points above are great starting points but there are also other ways to do more research. Start by looking around at individual fundraising sites - like GoFundMe and Facebook. Could your supporters already be raising money for you there?

Surveys are another low-cost way to get a temperature check on how your supporters might embrace DIY peer-to-peer fundraising. Ask them about their interest in hosting their own event or being better connected as a community, and if they’re looking to do more.

Once your organization has decided you’re going to dive into DIY, it’s time to start building a program and the supporting content.

How are you going to position your story so that it encourages fundraisers not just raise money but to want to tell their story and be part of a community?

Recruit Nonprofit DIY fundraisers

Leverage your all-stars. If you know you’ve got superstars (board members, volunteers, or even just passionate donors), ask them to be evangelists for your cause and start their own DIY fundraiser.

Take time to craft your ask

Build email templates as follow up communication for supporters who are just getting started, and in the thick of it. Have a few emails templates ready to keep encouraging them, thank them, and show your love and support. Because a little love and little follow up can go along way.

Support your DIY fundraisers

It’s key that once you get supporters to become fundraisers that you have the resources ready to go to help them along the way.

Resources could include DIY toolkits that provide logos, images, and placeholder story text for them to use to build out their campaign. It can also include some ideas on how to get started, or messaging best practices.

Also be sure to include some contact info of who to reach out to if they need help or support as well as where to look to find answers to common questions. If you’re concerned about supporting these kinds of help requests, some DIY platform vendors (yes, like CrowdRise by GoFundMe) offer plans where they take on all the customer service inquiries you might get.

Some other keys to successful DIY fundraising

  • Ease-of-use - Make sure the platform you’re using is easy to use. Both for your nonprofit and for your supporters, donors, and fundraisers.
  • Social sharing optimization - Educating your supporters about the value of a share is a great way to encourage them to talk about their fundraiser on all of their social networks.
  • Brand control - Allowing your fundraisers the freedom to fundraise for you while still maintaining some control to make sure their story becomes part of yours helps to encourage them as individuals and supports your brand.
  • Financial control - Can you give supporters the option to control which of your projects their raised funds will go to? For nonprofits with national or regional footprints this can be big incentive or opportunity.
  • Data control - Bringing all of these supporters into a single platform centralizes your program data. In addition make sure your solution gives you 100% ownership of all of your donor and fundraiser data.
  • Fundraise button - It may sound simple, but it is so often forgotten. You need to make sure people know they can fundraise. Having a fundraise button, not just a donate button is a great way to drive traffic to your DIY landing page making everyone who visits your website aware of the possibilities.

Analyze your DIY peer-to-peer fundraising program

There is no opportunity to improve something you aren’t measuring. Your DIY program is no different. By monitoring it you give yourself the ability to improve it over time. Request feedback from those who have run DIY fundraising programs for your charity. Were there things you could have done better? Even minor tweaks to messaging or resources could help fundraisers bre more successful in the future. Even better, explore any analytics integrations your peer-to-peer platform offers.

DIY FAQS

We know a lot of nonprofits have questions on DIY fundraising, so here we go with the top FAQs we hear the most:

Q: Why do large nonprofits use DIY fundraising?

A: One of the main reasons is it’s a new nonprofit fundraising channel that doesn’t cannibalize other efforts and it allows for fundraising diversity and efficiency.

Q: What are some simple DIY fundraising ideas my supporters might embrace?

A: Simple events are very common for DIY fundraisers and are fundraisers just getting donations from friends and family members. The most common fundraiser is a survivor or someone directly connected to the cause pledging to do something based on the money they raise. Like climbing mountains, running, swimming or cycling a certain distance. This can be on their own or part of a bigger event like a marathon. Another common yet simple DIY fundraising campaign idea is giving for a special occasion. The fundraiser could be doing it for a birthday, wedding gifts as donations, or in memory of someone who is connected to the cause.

Q: What if my fundraisers want to do something bigger? A more complex fundraiser?

A: That’s great. DIY fundraisers should also have the opportunity to run any type of fundraising event to show their support. Races, dinners and other events that require selling tickets or registration aren’t uncommon for DIY fundraisers.

Q: How can you control the brand of your DIY fundraisers?

A: By hosting your DIY programs on one platform, you’re able to control the brand theme. By using a DIY platform, you’re also able to set colors, logos, and even default photos and text for everyone who creates a fundraiser as part of the program. The fundraiser themselves can add their own pics and add to the story as well to build out the personalization of their campaign.

Q: So you’re saying if we build a DIY program people will just start fundraising?

A: Although there are a lot of benefits to DIY fundraising programs for nonprofits, there is still work to do in terms of recruiting and supporting fundraisers. You want to make sure to have a clear direction on how you will recruit and sustain a growing DIY community. And DIY peer-to-peer fundraising can be more difficult for some nonprofits, so set realistic expectations and achievable goals before starting a program.

Q: How can I get supporters to leave other fundraising platforms?

A: Really, the fact that their raising money is great, and you don’t want to discourage them, but make sure they know you have a program that they can join. Explain to them that it’s a community of fundraisers just like them showing support for the cause. By joining you they become part of something bigger and you can provide features and tools to help them raise more.

Choosing a DIY fundraising program

So just what should a nonprofit look for when choosing a DIY platform? It all starts with making sure it covers all the basic components of DIY, setting you up for success.

  • A customized landing page that tells your story and explains why and how to launch their personal campaign
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising program capabilities
  • Brand control
  • Financial control
  • Data collection, ownership, and reporting

Additionally, the platform you use should provide you with the additional features needed to help amplify your efforts and raise more funds.

  • Easy-to-use so supporters can get up and running quickly.
  • Completely mobile responsive, including landing and donation pages as well as a responsive “back-end” experience that allows supporters to create and run their entire campaign from their mobile device.
  • Ticketing and registration features for supporters who want to do more complex events.
  • Optimized social sharing features to help fundraisers bring in more donations as well as new supporters.
  • A 24/7 support system in place for you and your donors to make sure nothing fall through the cracks.
  • Data integrations to help you get your data where you need it so you can make insightful and smart decisions on where to go next.

Here at CrowdRise we do all of those things. We’ve created a nonprofit first platform that gives you everything you need in order to run a successful and effective DIY program for your charity.

And, we work with some of the largest nonprofits in the world to create their own customizable DIY fundraising program.

I think that's one of the beautiful things about the CrowdRise platform. It’s so easy to use and it kind of guides the user on how to set up an effective campaign.

- Ben Kaplan, American Cancer Society

CrowdRise by GoFundMe is a true enterprise DIY solution with the tools, customization and support to help you be successful. And it’s so easy for you and your supporters to use, it’s as if you have a white-labeled version of GoFundMe for your nonprofit. Exactly the same tools and optimizations for your fundraisers, but all designed to reflect your nonprofit’s unique brand.

Want to learn how DIY fundraising can help your nonprofit grow?

The complete nonprofit DIY eGuide