DIY Fundraising: The Ultimate Guide for Smart Nonprofits

Do-it-yourself (DIY) campaigns are one of the fastest-growing types of peer-to-peer fundraising. Nonprofits of all shapes and sizes are empowering their donors to “Fundraise Your Way!”

Putting the fundraising power in the hands of your supporters means nonprofits are able to reach more donors, raise more for their cause, and take on less work. By allowing supporters to spin up individual campaigns for occasions, personal challenges, or specific giving days, your cause can drive deeper engagement with supporters, while taking a hands-off approach to fundraising. That’s why peer-to-peer DIY is win-win fundraising strategy that more and more organizations are tapping into!

At OneCause, we’ve worked with countless nonprofits to support their DIY fundraising efforts, so we’ve seen firsthand the impact that a well-executed strategy can have for both on-the-ground and virtual fundraising. We’ll dig into top tips for DIY fundraising and examples of successful campaigns, but for now, let’s start with the basics.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

What is DIY Fundraising?

DIY fundraising is a strategy in which supporters create personal fundraising pages to raise money on behalf of your cause. These campaigns can be spun up for birthdays, weddings, graduations, tributes (in honor of others), memorials, and personal challenges (fitness, activities, personal goals, etc.). The possibilities are endless!

The difference between a regular peer-to-peer campaign and DIY fundraising (and why DIY fundraising is so great) is that rather than being tied to the specific timeframe or event, supporters can spin up a fundraising page anytime they want. This provides evergreen fundraising opportunities for you and your supporters.

At OneCause, we know fundraising is important 365 days a year. That’s why we are helping nonprofits tap into DIY fundraising. Supporters can create their own campaigns, channeling their personal passions and networks into fundraising action. They set the fundraising goal, timeframe, and theme/activity.

DIY campaigns might be:

  • A single, time-bound campaign (run for a specific period of time once)
  • An annual campaign (run during a specific period of time each year)
  • A year-round campaign (open and available all year long)

Nonprofits have always known that the more personal an ask, the more likely that supporter will be to donate. According to the recent OneCause Giving Experience Study, 51 percent of survey respondents were motivated to give to a cause because they cared about the person who asked them to donate. What a HUGE opportunity for nonprofits to reach and engage new donors.

You may have already seen a DIY fundraising campaign online before, with supporters creating their own campaigns on Facebook, GoFundMe, etc. But why not have all the campaigns benefitting your cause in one place? Doing so would allow your organization to:

  • Keep track of donor data for consistent follow-up and future touch points.
  • Create a sense of community among supporters.
  • Show examples of successful DIY fundraising campaigns.

The OneCause peer-to-peer solution even allows fundraisers to customize their pages by adding their own stories, photos, and videos.

Let’s dive into a few more benefits of DIY fundraising.

Benefits of DIY Fundraising

There are several major benefits to DIY fundraising campaigns for both nonprofits and donors alike. If you’re on the fence about planning a P2P campaign, here are a few top benefits to keep in mind.

Provides supporters with a personalized fundraising experience

DIY Fundraising campaigns boost engagement by providing a fun, interactive way for supporters to get involved with your cause. With a DIY campaign, donors can see a different side of fundraising by actively engaging with a cause they care about and doing it via an activity or campaign idea they create. Making the entire giving experience more personal, more connected, and more fun!

By the end of one DIY fundraising campaign, you’ll have:

  • A deeper connection with your supporter.
  • New supporters to engage with.
  • More visibility in the community.
  • An example of DIY fundraising to share with others.

Now, imagine if you are able to replicate that among your top donors, engaged volunteers, and board members. Talk about the potential for BIG impact!

Reaches new donors and begins building relationships

More traditional fundraising models, like crowdfunding, funnel all engagement through a single outlet, in this case your campaign page. This can limit your ability to grow your donor base.

DIY Fundraising, on the other hand, allows your supporters to share their personal story about why they’re passionate about your cause. With their support, your nonprofit can:

  • Reach new donors: This networked structure, where your supporters ask their own friends and family to donate to your cause, means that you’ll reach new audiences in a more organic way. DIY fundraising campaigns are a highly efficient way to grow your community and raise more support.
  • Begin building deeper relationships: With OneCause, you not only get the contact information of who spun up a DIY campaign on behalf of your nonprofit, you also get the contact information of every individual who donates to that campaign! From there, you can begin to build deeper donor relationships, starting with a personalized thank you from your organization!

Launches simple and low-cost fundraising efforts

A DIY fundraising campaign isn’t just easy to launch – it can be highly cost-effective, too!

With DIY fundraising, your supporters take on most of the heavy lifting. They choose a campaign type, create their fundraising page, and blast it out to their networks. All your team needs to do is help bring visibility to it! This makes DIY a turn-key fundraising idea that your nonprofit can use at scale.

Plus given how many new supporters you’ll be able to reach, DIY fundraising is one of the most efficient strategies available today (when it’s backed up with the right tools and tactics.)

Here are the key features to keep in mind as you explore your options:

  • Customization options
  • Social and mobile-friendly features
  • Virtual-friendly tools
  • Integration capabilities
  • Gamification tools

To keep the fundraising process easy for your supporters, you’ll want to take the time to explore peer-to-peer software that will help build out your nonprofit’s toolkit. Our roundup of top nonprofit fundraising software providers can give you a sense of the options available.


DIY Fundraising Best Practices to Follow

Allowing your supporters to fundraise on your behalf without any barriers can make some organizations a little hesitant. But when you put in place these best practices, you can have successful, on-brand fundraising campaigns without the heavy lift.

From recruiting the right people for the job to saying ‘thank you’ at the end of a campaign, here are our best practices to follow.

Recruit the right DIY fundraisers.

One of the most important keys to success is recruiting the right DIY fundraisers. These fundraisers should be those who are connected to your cause and their own community.

Good places to look for successful DIY fundraisers are:

  • Your board members: Board members are already dedicated to the success of your nonprofit. They often have large professional and personal networks, making them perfect social fundraisers. Engage them at a new level and watch turn their contacts into supporters for your event.
  • Your volunteers: Volunteers are another reliable source since they are already deeply involved with your cause. They are used to giving their time and talent to your efforts. Target your most active and generous volunteers and ask them to spin up a DIY fundraising campaign.
  • Social media: Social media is a great place to promote the opportunity for DIY campaigns. Look for local personalities with a lot of friends, tons of social interactions (likes, comments, etc.), and an active social presence.
  • Sponsor connections and networks: Ask your sponsors and long-time community partners if they would be interested or know someone who would be. Call in those favors to get great ambassadors working for your cause.
  • Event committee: People who have worked at previous events are passionate about the outcome of your organization! Tap the most dedicated ones to spin up a DIY campaign.

Promoting the opportunity to create a DIY fundraising campaign doesn’t have to be daunting. Look for people in your network who have a passion for the mission and values of your organization.

Invest in a DIY fundraising software provider.

As with any new investment, it’s important to think through a few considerations before choosing new peer-to-peer fundraising software. As you research your options, ask these questions about each platform you’re considering:

  • How scalable and flexible is this platform? You want all your fundraising software to grow with your organization, and peer-to-peer fundraising software shouldn’t be an exception. Make sure that your platform not only fits your fundraising needs now but can continue to do so in the future.
  • Does this software offer a mobile-friendly user experience? Look for software that prioritizes the user experience on all levels. A mobile-first approach will be best, especially in today’s virtual fundraising environment.
  • How easy is it for supporters to spin up a fundraising page? Does the software have templates created for DIY campaigns to make it easy on your supporters?
  • What support or training will we need? Ask for a demo of the software to see what the user experience is like. Additionally, ask your vendor what training and support they offer should you encounter any learning curves or issues.
  • How secure is this platform? Any time you accept online donations, security should be a top priority. With DIY fundraising, your donors will be sharing their fundraising pages with everyone they know. Make sure that your platform provides them with a positive, secure giving experience.
  • Will we be able to track campaign progress? Look for software with comprehensive reporting features that can help you track multiple DIY fundraising campaigns across a number of different metrics, including overall progress towards fundraising goal and social media reach.
  • Does this software fit our budget? As with any software, a peer-to-peer fundraising platform will require an initial investment. But be sure to watch out for other down-the-line expenses as well. Transaction fees, training costs, payment processing charges, and other fees may impact the total amount you ultimately spend on your software.

Provide detailed instructions to DIY fundraisers.

To ensure their campaign goes off without a hitch and is a huge success, introduce your supporters to the technology they’ll be using and the marketing for their campaign.

  • Walk them through how to set up and personalize their fundraising pages
  • Show them how donors use the technology to make a donation.
  • Highlight the marketing efforts your team has in place.
  • Go over all social media guidelines, including hashtags they should use, accounts they should tag, graphics to include, etc.

Preparing your supporters before their fundraising campaign arms them with resources and information so they can be amazing advocates for your cause and reach their fundraising goals.

Leverage gamification strategies to motivate supporters.

To ensure the success of your supporters’ DIY campaigns, be sure to add an extra layer of social engagement and competition. These strategies can help motivate your fundraisers and their donors:

  • Leaderboards: Be sure your software provides real-time leaderboard on each DIY campaign site and individual fundraiser pages to keep everyone motivated.
  • Social timelines: Build in social timelines so people can see what others are saying about the campaign
  • Social media integrations: Make it easy for your supporters to share their fundraising site with their social circle by including social media integrations.
  • Recognition features: Add milestone tracking and badges to give your fundraisers continual encouragement towards fundraising goals.

Follow up and provide support throughout the campaign.

To help your DIY fundraising participants feel empowered and encouraged, be sure to set them up for success and provide support throughout their campaign.

By making it fun and easy, you not only help your supporters raise more money and reach more donors, but you also make them want to do another campaign in the future!

Here are a few top tips to ensure a pleasant experience for your fundraisers:

  • Create a toolkit: When your supporters are unleashed to begin promoting and fundraising for your mission, it’s important to give them the right materials to do so successfully. A toolkit with your mission, logo, branded images, social graphics, and impact statements can help your supporters craft their personal story while still staying on brand. And it makes your supporters feel, well, supported!
  • Give them examples: Highlighting successful DIY fundraising campaigns can be just what your supporters need to get started. It can spark creativity within them and help identify best practices that they too should follow to be successful.

Thank your fundraisers and donors for their contributions.

The final (and most important) best practice to follow is to acknowledge your supporters, thank them for their time and money, and communicate the impact of the funding!

If your organization has the capacity, consider these options for a thoughtful indication of your gratitude:

  • A video from your nonprofit’s constituents saying thank you.
  • A brochure, pamphlet, or report detailing what your nonprofit is working on.
  • A shoutout in your monthly newsletter.
  • Highlighting a ‘Fundraiser of the Week’ on social media.
  • Swag with the name of the campaign, your logo, or any branded gear that connects them to your mission.

When you continue to engage with your supporters post-campaign, you emphasize to them that they are an important part of your nonprofit’s community. And in the nonprofit world, nothing is more important than maintaining healthy relationships with your supporters.

When you show your gratitude, it makes it more likely that they will want to keep creating new campaigns, sharing your mission, and raising money for your cause.

Powerful DIY Fundraising Ideas

Nonprofits who see the most success with DIY fundraising are ones who set their supporters up for success. By providing some DIY fundraising ideas on your website, your supporters will feel prepared and empowered to tap into one of those ideas or get creative and come up with something new!

We’ve gathered our top ideas for powerful DIY fundraising campaigns. Let’s dive in!

Occasion fundraiser

When a supporter is deeply connected to your cause, celebrations in their life can also include celebrating your cause!

Spinning up a DIY fundraising campaign of a special occasion is one of the easiest and personal ways to fundraise. Top ideas include:

  • Birthdays
  • Reunions
  • Weddings
  • Anniversaries
  • Special Occasions

People can see 3-4 occasion fundraisers a day on social media – help your supporter’s campaigns stand out! Including a video about your organization’s mission can bring the campaign to life and draw people in.


Event-a-thons are one of the most popular DIY fundraising campaigns. They drive in a great deal of donations, are highly engaging, and the options are endless!

To stir up excitement, these are our favorite event-a-thon ideas. Share these with supporters who are setting up a DIY fundraising campaign!

  • Walk-a-thon: Empower your supporters to organize a traditional walk-a-thon. Participants can log their activities in your campaign center, generating donations and supporters along the way.
  • Dance-a-thon: Encourage supporters to set up individual or team peer-to-peer fundraising pages and leverage their extensive social networks to raise money for the cause and host a big dance party.
  • Read-a-thon: All the bookworms in your donor base will be ecstatic with this DIY fundraising idea. Have your supporters decide how long they want the read-a-thon to be. From there, it’s up to them to make it unique and drive home the mission.
  • Bowl-a-thon: Spare yourself the hassle and have your supporters organize a bowl-a-thon ripe with team fundraising challenges, social activities, and fun giving opportunities leading up to the bowling alley.
  • Basketball shoot-a-thon: Make this fundraiser a slam dunk with competitive fundraisers looking to win. Your supporters can get people to come, charge an admission fee (even for those coming just to watch the games), and give the winners a prize.
  • Serve-a-thon: This DIY fundraising event helps raise money for your organization while performing some needed community service! Just like a walk-a-thon, your supporter can create a serve-a-thon and have their participants accept donations for the amount of trash they pick up.

Not sure if your supporters are ready to go in-person? Most of these ideas can be taken virtual! Visit our Virtual Fundraising Resource Center for best practices on how to make a virtual event a success.

Viral video challenge

Effectively communicating your cause via social media is simple and doesn’t require a large team or a giant budget – and they are completely virtual.

Everyone remembers the 2014 Ice Bucket Challenge, right? That viral challenge was a huge win for The ALS Association, helping them raise over $115 million!

Encourage your supporters to create their own unique challenge for supporters to complete and share online, along with a dedicated hashtag and clear instructions for donating to your cause online. Here’s how it goes:

  • First, identify your target audience.
  • Then, create posts that either educate, entertain, or empower your donors.
  • Finally, watch the wildfire spread!

Having a clear call-to-action (e.g. Donate Now) will be essential in gaining traffic to your supporter’s online fundraising site.


For some of your nonprofit’s projects and initiatives, crowdfunding might be the way to go!

This online fundraising method involves your supporters creating a campaign page, usually on one of many leading crowdfunding platforms, that explains why they’re raising money for your cause. Then, they encourage their peers to share their fundraising efforts far and wide.

Effective social media marketing is essential for success with crowdfunding.

With your DIY supporters posting updates and mission highlights on your behalf, they’re showcasing the value and charitable backbone of your team. Their efforts:

  • Help bring in new donations
  • Attract new supporters
  • Spread your mission to a wider audience

It’s a win-win for everyone involved!

Note that crowdfunding works best for especially eye-catching or emotionally compelling, time-bound projects. Tell your supporters that raising money for your annual fund might be best left to a traditional fundraising campaign or virtual event.

Virtual event

The digital transformation from COVID-19 will extend far beyond the end of the pandemic, driving innovative donor strategies. Donors have grown accustomed to engaging with and giving to their causes online!

That’s why a virtual event is the perfect DIY fundraising campaign idea. They’re relatively easy to set up and can reach a large audience. Set your supporters up for success with these top virtual event ideas:

  • Virtual walk/run: Your DIY supporters can create a landing page with a call to action asking people to donate or get involved in the event. Participants can take a photo of themselves on their walk or run and then share it on the campaign page.
  • Virtual gala table: Have your supporters ask their friends and family if they would be willing to host “virtual tables” where they can rally their network around the cause. This is a great way for DIY supporters to engage their loved ones with the cause they care about and attract more attendees.
  • Virtual cocktail party: Another awesome DIY fundraising idea is having your supports host a virtual cocktail party. They can send a party package filled with wine, cheese, crackers, or local sponsor treat to guests and then hold their virtual cocktail party online.
  • Virtual golf tournament: A golf tournament can go virtual! Your supporters can organize a virtual golf tournament where each group plays their own round and then posts fun photos, great shots, etc. Maybe it could include virtual reality where some people can play a course at home using inexpensive virtual reality headset glasses and their phone that includes a golf course app. Let your supporters get creative!

To host a virtual event with a hub of activities, use a virtual event platform that is versatile and all-encompassing.

Pledge campaign

Pledge drives can be a tactic to generate a lot of buzz and support!

These fundraising campaigns involve encouraging donors to pledge their support in the form of donations to be collected later. While pledge drives can help you reach wide networks, they do involve post-campaign work of collecting all the outstanding donations.

We suggest focusing on easy-to-use peer-to-peer software that maximizes donations by making giving easy. Look for tools that make it easy for participants to spin up personal fundraising pages, and where supporters can complete their donations with a few clicks. (i.e., give money vs. making a pledge). Easy tools will help your participants (and you!) raise more and reach more!

Encourage your supporters to share on social media the reason(s) they’re supporting your mission as well as their personal donation page. That way they can spread the word about your mission while also gaining donations along the way!

Product sale

While supporting a great mission is reason enough, some people need just a little more incentive to hit the donate button.

That’s why a product sale is such a great option! Your DIY supporters most likely have some hidden talents or fun hobbies. Have them tap into them and use them to raise money for your cause! Some of our go-to ideas include:

  • Online merchandise sale
  • T-shirt sale
  • Community yard sale
  • Discount card fundraiser
  • Custom calendar sale
  • Care package sale

Pro Tip

Offer your supporters the option to sell branded merchandise with your company’s logo! When your logo is promoted on water bottles, T-shirts, laptop stickers, and more, it’s free additional advertising for your cause (and it keeps your organization top-of-mind for those who donated).

Wrapping Up

DIY fundraising is a powerful way for nonprofits to raise support, engage donors in new ways, and reach much larger audiences than they’d be able to on their own. By putting your supporters in charge, you’ll drastically expand your reach and open up all kinds of flexible ways to make your mission stand out.

This guide walked through all the essentials, but don’t stop here. There are tons of valuable resources and nonprofit success stories to learn from, so keep exploring!