Reinventing DIY Peer-to-Peer for National Nonprofits | Strategies for Engagement & Growth

In today’s hyper-connected, digital world, incorporating social giving in your peer-to-peer strategy can make or break fundraising success – especially for nonprofits trying to innovate and grow supporter engagement.

We know from recent OneCause research that today’s donors:

  • Hear about giving opportunities from their social networks,
  • Give to nonprofits to support their friends & causes they are passionate about,
  • Are motivated by the fun of fundraising,
  • Want an easy & seamless giving experience, above all else.

So how do you bring all these needs and ideas together?

Peer-to-Peer DIY fundraising, of course!

Many national level nonprofits are looking for new ways to reach untapped segments and engage existing donors through support-driven campaigns. These do-it-yourself fundraisers can help dramatically grow your fundraising impact, at scale, without overburdening local chapters.

That’s the beauty of DIY (Do It Yourself), third-party, and support-driven campaigns. Your nonprofit can harness the creativity and personalized passion of supporters, helping them fundraise their way, without the heavy burden of managing campaigns.

The best part – these campaigns, if done right can, be turn-key, presenting nonprofits with easy solutions to raise more and reach more.

Learn the ins-and-outs of DIY peer-to-peer and how you can leverage it to grow your fundraising and attract new supporters today.

This informative and lively guide will share strategies for planning and executing third-party fundraisers that any national nonprofit can use.

Let’s dive in! We’ll cover all things DIY fundraising, including:

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) and 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.

Participants can also fundraise in multiple ways using the same campaign and participant page. One participant can donate their birthday, host a bake sale, and complete a personal challenge all in one campaign. The culmination of their total fundraising impact shows in one place. 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. 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 fundraising software 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 for Nonprofits

There are several major benefits to DIY peer-based fundraising campaigns for both nonprofits and donors alike. If you’re on the fence about planning a DIY supporter 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 peer-to-peer fundraising models 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, create their own campaigns and third-party events, and drive donations for 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 supporter-driven 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 national nonprofit can use to scale across chapters, affiliates, and regions.

Given its universal appeal (donors can personalize their campaign or events) and wide 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 key features to keep in mind as you explore DIY fundraising:

  • 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 need the right peer-to-peer software to help build your nonprofit’s DIY strategy.

How to Leverage DIY Fundraising

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 DIY fundraising ideas and examples of successful campaigns later on. But for now, let’s break down how to leverage DIY fundraising into four steps:

  1. Create Your Strategy
  2. Develop Your DIY Concepts
  3. Build Your DIY Program
  4. Promote to Your Supporters
  5. Engage Post Campaign

Step 1) Create Your Strategy

As a National nonprofit organization, you likely have chapters or affiliates at the local level through the country or regionally. The first step before getting started is to define your strategy.

The means defining how you will roll out your new DIY fundraising program at the local level. Ask your team to discuss and determine:

  • Who has done peer-to-peer or social fundraising before? Not a requirement, but if the local fundraisers have peer-based campaign experience you will want to note that for planning and training purposes.
  • Will DIY fundraising be available to all local offices? Or will you limit it to only special chapters or affiliates? If limiting, what is the criteria?
  • Does everyone have peer-to-peer software? If not, what chapters or affiliates will need it to launch campaigns?
  • Are there any at-risk chapters or affiliates that may not be a good fit for DIY fundraising?
  • What are your per chapter or annual DIY fundraising goals? What do you think is feasible for your initial launch? You can think about this as a per campaign goal or per chapter/affiliate goal.

Taking time to answer these macro questions will help ensure alignment and create a strategic framework that your team can follow to begin planning your DIY fundraising program.

Step 2) Develop Your DIY Concepts

Just as your cause, your mission, and your donors are all unique so too should be your DIY fundraising strategy! The first step in exploring DIY is figuring out who your supporters are and what they are interested in.

Why? Because the beauty of DIY fundraising is the ability for your supporters to fundraise the way they want. Your job is to tap into their passions and use those to connect them to your mission and raise funds for your cause.

Let them get creative! Bonus points if they can relate their fundraising campaign back to your cause. For example, a supporter for an animal shelter could host a Yappy Hour fundraiser, inviting friends and family to bring their four-legged friend over for an event benefitting the shelter.

While birthday fundraisers are one of the most popular types, the breadth of DIY fundraising far surpasses that. Donors today are using DIY for:

  • Birthdays
  • Anniversaries
  • Gotchya Days
  • Donate Your Day
  • Memorials/Tributes
  • Personal Challenges
  • Alumni events
  • Group Campaigns
  • Third Party Events

The list goes on and on because the opportunities are endless! Which means your first step in implementing DIY fundraising is two-fold.

  1. Create a list of fundraising ideas that are most likely to resonate with your donors and gather the tools and information they’ll need to be successful.
  2. Empower your supporters to go beyond your recommendations and use their interests and passions to raise funds and awareness for your cause.

Creating this framework will do wonders for your DIY fundraising strategy. Then what’s next? Get the right technology and the right people

The Right Tech: Perfecting the Supporter Experience

Donors, supporters, and volunteers are online and connected 24/7/365. So, when it comes to DIY fundraising, choosing a solution that is easy, promotes engagement, and has built-in social tools drives success.

But with all the options out there, deciding what to invest in can be intimidating. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • 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.

Did you know? According to our 2021 Giving Experience Study, ease is the number one factor when deciding to participate in a fundraising campaign.

A successful DIY fundraising campaign goes beyond the transaction and focuses on the giving experience. Nonprofits need a fundraising software that will allow donors to give quickly and easily while also providing nonprofits with a secure, easy-to-use platform.

So, be sure to invest in a peer-to-peer fundraising solution that extends ease beyond donations to all aspects of the online giving experience. This will ensure you not only attract supporters to fundraise, but keep them engaged, motivated (with rewards and gamification), and on the fast-track to fundraising success.

The Right People

The “who” is just as important as the “what” and the “how”! Before you get too far in the planning process for implementing your DIY fundraising strategy, be sure to determine who will oversee the different components.

It’s a good best practice to select a program director who oversees your DIY fundraising, manages the big picture, and assigns roles and responsibilities to other staff and volunteers. Having a leader that’s head of planning means that other team members will have someone to direct questions to and they can keep your team on the right path to accomplish your goals.

If you’re just introducing DIY to your nonprofit’s fundraising strategy, it’s a good idea to consider the many facets of a DIY campaign and delegate a person (or a few people) to tackle specific aspects, such as:

  • Marketing Development
  • Multi-Channel Promotion
  • Donor Engagement
  • Fundraising Technology
  • Follow-Ups & Thank You’s

One of the many benefits of DIY fundraising, though, is that most of the heavy lifting is on your supporters! Just be sure you have someone, or some people, overseeing the creation and promotion of DIY campaigns (and always say ‘Thank you!’).

Step 3) Build Your DIY Program

Once you have a strong strategy and the people and technology to help you implement, it’s time to start building out your DIY fundraising! Here’s the thing… if you spend enough time and effort upfront, your supporters will return the favor in tenfold. Let’s dive into how.

Think about it this way: just 1 day of setting up a DIY fundraising program can turn into 365 days of supporters fundraising for you.

Or think of DIY fundraisers as employees for your nonprofit who work for free… 24 hours a day, 375 days a year. You have the people who are committed to the success of your mission. If you engage and empower them, they’ll evolve from donors to champions for your cause!

So, take the time to:

  • Set up your DIY fundraising program
  • Set up your supporters for success

Let’s dive into some tips, tricks, and keys to success.

H4: Set Up Your DIY Fundraising Program

When setting up your DIY Fundraising program, you’ll want to find a balance between being structured enough that your supporters’ campaigns will be successful and open enough to allow your supporters to make their campaign their own.

After all, the best part about DIY fundraising is the ability for supporters to fundraise their way.

In this ‘Build’ phase, you’ll want to focus your efforts on your website and your fundraising platform. Follow these top tips to ensure your success:

  • Keep it on brand: When creating a DIY campaign template, be sure to include your nonprofit’s logos and colors so that as more and more supporters tap into DIY fundraising your brand shines through consistently.
  • Make it prominent: Be sure DIY fundraising is a main feature on your website. You never know when your supporters next anniversary, happy hour, or birthday is. That’s why you must be consistently in front of them with DIY fundraising as an opportunity.
  • Have a clear CTA: You’ll notice that nonprofits with the most success in DIY fundraising typically have a CTA for DIY fundraising next to their donate button on their site. This shows that fundraising is just as (if not more) impactful than a one-time donation.
  • Add gamification: Be sure your peer-to-peer fundraising software allows for leaderboards, social timelines, social media integrations, and recognition features to add an extra level of engagement and competition.

By taking the time to make your website and fundraising platform 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!

Set Up Your Supporters for Success

After setting up your DIY program, set up your supporters for success! To ensure their campaign goes off without a hitch, 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.

PRO TIP: This can all be done in a short video on your website or a one pager. Choose whatever option your organization is more comfortable with and consider how your donors would best respond to this information – written out or in video format.

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

  • 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. This 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.

PRO TIP: Here’s what you should think about including in your toolkit

  • Mission
  • Campaign one-sheeters
  • Impact statements
  • Brand or style guide
  • Social media graphics
  • Videos
  • Email templates
  • Relevant statistics
  • Links for donors to learn more

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

Step 4) Promote to Your Supporters

Getting the word out on your DIY fundraising program is critical. And, if done right, it can give your nonprofit the chance to try creative and innovative strategies to find new donors and hit big goals.

Unlike the lesson from “Field of Dreams,” just because a DIY fundraising program is built, doesn’t mean that contributors will come or that donations will flood in. To be a success, DIY needs to be marketed.

As technology evolves, the ways in which we connect do as well. Because of this, you’ll be best served by using a multi-channel marketing strategy. Let’s break it down by:

  • Outbound Promotion
  • Website Promotion
  • Social Media Promotion

Outbound Promotion

Outbound promotion campaigns include most of your traditional marketing channels to help you “push out” organization generated communications.

Having a good outbound campaign is the first step to launching your DIY fundraising program and hitting fundraising goals.

Just remember, DIY fundraising success lies in your ability to harness social networks and attract new donors, so outbound promotion is key. These include:

  • Email – email blasts, newsletters, help spread the word and bring your virtual event directly to your supporter’s inbox.
  • Direct mail – if you have budget, direct mail (postcards, flyers) can grab attention! With so many people at home these days, mail is a creative way to stand out.
  • Print advertisements – find opportunities to get in local print pieces, to generate and maximize impressions.

While these channels might seem basic, they’re highly effective in garnering exposure, attracting supporters, and bringing in new fundraisers for your cause.

A broad outbound strategy will help you reach new donors and foster strong relationships with current audiences. It also enables you to create positive awareness for your virtual event – and let’s face it, with so many distractions these days, every cause needs a way to stand out.

Website Promotion

Your website is your donors’ go-to place for information about your cause and how to show their support. DIY fundraising is arguably one of the BEST ways to do so – so let it shine on the homepage of your website!
Make sure the opportunity for DIY fundraising is:

  • Easy to find
  • Easy to understand
  • Easy to get involved

PRO TIP: Get a few loyal donors or active volunteers to walk through your site, ask questions, and call out improvements.

Think about highlighting a new DIY campaign on your website each month – maybe as a blog or featured video! That way it sparks interest in other supporters, shows them what’s possible with DIY, and makes them want to get involved as well.

Social Media Promotion

Nonprofits can engage individuals in a way that brands cannot because they have a much easier time tapping into their supporters’ emotions. To effectively communicate with your target audience about the power of DIY fundraising, ensure your social media posts leverage one or more of the following “Five E’s of Engagement”:

  • Empower – Prove your supporters’ voices matter, wherever they are.
  • Educate – Knowledge is power; if DIY fundraising is an option for your donors, they need to know what your cause is about and why they should participate.
  • Elevate – We often underestimate the power of elevating others; make your supporters feel like the rock stars they are!
  • Ease – Make getting involved with DIY fundraising easy.
  • Entertain – give your supporters a reason to laugh and smile. They’ll be more likely to want to support your cause.

Social media can supercharge your DIY fundraising program. Post consistently, leverage the 5 E’s of Engagement, and you’ll be good to go!

Step 5) Engage Post-Campaign

Once you have gone through the steps of concept, build, and promote, your work is not over yet. It’s time for the final step…engage!

DIY Fundraising is your opportunity to show donors the impact they can have when they help you in new and different ways. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by!

If your organization has the capacity, consider these options to show 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.

In the OneCause Social Donor Study, we found that while 29% of donors said that it was important to receive a thank you from an organization, only 13% heard back from the organization they were involved in.

Thank you’s are an easy and highly effective way to drive deeper engagement and cultivate year-round connection beyond just the transaction of fundraising and giving. So get to thanking!

When you show your gratitude, you emphasize to them that they are an important part of your nonprofit’s community and your mission and it makes it more likely that they will want to keep creating new campaigns, sharing your mission, and raising money for your cause.

DIY Fundraising Examples

We learn best by seeing what others do – it’s a fact!

See how real nonprofits are using OneCause’s Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Solution for their DIY fundraising campaigns to stand out, maximize reach, and inspire online giving.

Canine Companions

Canine Companions is leading the service dog industry so their clients and their dogs can live with greater independence.

The organization provides service dogs to adults, children and veterans with disabilities and facility dogs to professionals working in healthcare, criminal justice and educational settings.

To increase their impact, Canine Companions introduced DIY fundraising to their supporters, encouraging them to host a walk/run, barbeque, dog wash or dedicating their birthday or anniversary for donations.

Why it works:

  • Gives concrete examples of DIY fundraising campaign ideas.
  • Has clear CTAs to “Start Fundraising” or “Make a Donation.”
  • Showcases a video on homepage that highlights their mission.
  • Includes donation impact statements.

Our favorite part is the Frequently Asked Questions tab that breaks down questions by registration, technology, and matching gift questions.

Learn More

Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation

The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation is a volunteer-fueled organization dedicated to finding cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, and improving the quality of life of children and adults affected by these diseases.

To help move their mission forward, the foundation is empowering their supporters to ‘Fundraise Your Way’ by donating their day or hosting an event.

First, supporters are called to get creative and choose a fundraising idea that’s personal to their purpose and passions. Then, they’re encouraged to spread the word, invite friends, and raise money.

Why it works:

  • Their DIY Fundraising Campaign is powered by technology that is easy to use and maximizes impact.
  • The page highlights their mission, impact, and fundraising goals.
  • Supporters are empowered to get creative and make their campaign personal to them.

Learn More

Alberta Cancer Foundation

Alberta Cancer Foundation invests in programs and research programs based on their potential to lead to progress in the areas of earlier detection, better prevention, improved treatment, and quality of life thanks to the help of their generous donors.

On the organization’s website under ‘Other Ways to Give’ supporters are encouraged to Create Their Own Event.

Alberta Cancer Foundation breaks it down into 5 simple steps:

  • Choose a fundraising idea
  • Sign & submit a Fundraising Agreement Form
  • Once approved, the organization will send a fundraising toolkit that answers all their questions
  • Continue planning & executing the event
  • Enjoy!

By making it easy, and providing important resources along the way, including an event handbook and fundraising toolkits, supporters feel prepared and empowered to fundraise their way and support the worthy cause.

Learn More

Wrapping Up!

More fundraising resources are just a click away.