DIY Fundraising: How To Activate Supporters To Fundraise Year-Round

Tina Jepson
Tina Jepson

“Fundraising on your own schedule, anytime, anyplace,” sounds like a great way to entice your supporters to participate in peer-to-peer fundraising efforts, right? But is this fundraising technique feasible and does the financial outcome outweigh the time commitment? Simply put, yes!

In fact, DIY (do-it-yourself) fundraising is a strategy nonprofits of all missions, sizes, and capacities are starting to try. Your role as a fundraising professional is to provide your personal fundraisers the tools they need to succeed, and then it’s up to them to rally their networks of friends and family to give.

On the surface, it may seem like a very hands-off approach to fundraising for you, but there’s still work to do on your nonprofit’s end.

If you’re considering incorporating DIY fundraising into your annual fundraising plan, here’s why and how to get started.

What is DIY Fundraising?

First, let’s break down DIY fundraising and how it differs from traditional peer-to-peer fundraising.

When people decide to raise money for your organization and take on the role of “fundraiser,” we refer to them as “personal fundraisers.”

With DIY fundraising, these fantastic, inspired personal fundraisers create a website to fuel their individual campaign. Unlike regular peer-to-peer fundraising, which operates on a set schedule with a start and end date, a DIY campaign happens at the personal fundraiser’s convenience.

An organization may suggest a goal and provide fundraising tips, but it’s ultimately up to the fundraiser to make a call for themselves.

What Does DIY Fundraising Look Like?

DIY fundraising is fairly new, so nonprofits are still trying to figure out exactly how to use its structure to best suit their fundraising needs. However, some common themes have popped up as DIY fundraising has grown.

DIY Fundraising Campaigns are Interconnected: Think of DIY fundraising like a tree. You have the main trunk, which is your organization’s campaign website. From there, personal fundraisers create their own branches from their personal fundraising website. Each branch represents a different campaign. Some branches are larger. Some branches are smaller. Regardless, each branch is necessary.

World Bicycle Relief uses DIY fundraising all year long. As you can see in the image below, they have a main campaign website. From there, personal fundraisers can create their individual page.

Personal Fundraising Page

It’s Both Individual and Structured: Nonprofits and charities provide a framework to help personal fundraisers structure their websites, usually in the form of a toolkit. Basic campaign information, such as the potential financial and “greater good” impact of a personal fundraiser’s campaign, suggested campaign timelines and goals, and story writing prompts are all necessary.

But, when push comes to shove, a personal fundraiser will implement these factors how they see fit.

Check out World Help’s DIY fundraising campaign: mycause. On this informational page, World Help details the personal fundraiser’s job responsibilities and options.

MyCause Web Page

It’s Usually (But Not Always) Centered Around a Special Event: Some organizations find that personal fundraisers often mobilize around special days and occasions, such as birthdays and holidays. For example, there are many DIY campaigns out there that “sponsor” a fundraiser’s wedding, anniversary or birthday. In most cases, the fundraiser requests donations to your cause instead of gifts.

However, there are also people out there that are so enthusiastically loyal to your cause that they want to fundraise “just because,” so it’s nice to give them the opportunity to do so.

For example, consider your first-time and newer donors. In many cases, they’re just getting to know your nonprofit and are looking for ways to do more. A DIY campaign can give them an avenue to get involved in a way that deepens their relationship with your cause and multiplies their reach. That’s the beauty of community-driven fundraising. A bit of inspiration goes a long way in activating your donors to become personal fundraisers!

It’s Beneficial to Everyone Involved: Nonprofit staff and personal fundraisers share responsibility in running the campaign, and they also share the benefits.

The person or persons tasked with managing the DIY campaign initiative must prepare all support documentation, keep abreast of all ongoing campaigns, and offer ongoing mentoring to participants. However, once the preparations are made, day-to-day management of the DIY campaign is fairly simple.

At the same time, personal fundraisers must hold themselves accountable to follow best practices to ensure a successful campaign.

By the end of the campaign, you’ll have an active volunteer fundraiser who knows more about your cause and how to support it, a new set of donors, and more visibility in the community. As a bonus, ongoing DIY fundraising campaigns ensure a consistent flow of income to your cause year-round.

Helpful Tips & Tricks

The key to providing a pleasant experience for personal fundraisers is to make it fun and easy. Here’s how:

  • Provide Support: As I mentioned previously, structure and support are vital in providing personal fundraisers the information needed to succeed. Try creating a personal fundraiser toolkit that assists fundraisers in setting up their website, structuring their story, adding images, remaining “on-brand,” and sharing their campaign with others. Ensure there’s always a staff person on-hand to assist if any problems or questions arise.
  • Show Examples: Highlight excellent personal fundraising websites in your toolkit., or provide an example on your main website.
  • Promote This Opportunity: Your supporters, both online and offline, should recognize that the DIY fundraising experience is open and available to everyone. Promote this volunteer opportunity on your website, emails, and social media.

How do you Get Started with a DIY Fundraising Campaign?

Get started developing your DIY fundraising campaign by first pinpointing your end goal.

Answer this: What do you want to accomplish through this fundraising initiative?

Structure the Campaign: Create a campaign around this overarching goal. Note the impact you want to have and the money you need to get there, create a DIY campaign-specific campaign name, and delegate the everyday management to a member of your staff.

Create a Website: Once you’ve structured the campaign on paper, sign up for a free peer-to-peer fundraising campaign website and upload content to entice personal fundraisers to get involved. Include a video about the DIY fundraising campaign and the intended impact.

Make Support Documentation: Don’t forget to create a toolkit and other support documentation and post it to your website and on the main campaign site. A welcome email for personal fundraisers is also effective in communicating expectations and offering assistance.

annual report

Promote the Campaign and Recruit Fundraisers: Over time, fundraisers will hear about the campaign and research how to be a part of it. Remember to keep the campaign visible and link to it whenever possible.

Share Success Stories: Once a handful of personal fundraisers complete their campaign and reach their goals, consider interviewing them about their experience for your blog. Again, this helps to reinforce the idea that there’s a whole lot of “fun” in fundraising.

Capture Data: As time goes on, you’ll find ways to improve your DIY fundraiser. In the meantime, always ask your personal fundraisers about their experience after they wrap up their campaign, including any highs and lows, and suggestions they have to improve the campaign for future fundraisers.

DIY fundraising rallies your supporters on their terms and helps your organization raise money consistently throughout the year. It’s a simple way to mobilize volunteers to fundraise for your cause whenever and wherever they see fit.

To begin your DIY fundraising campaign, create a free account on CauseVox.

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