DIY Fundraising: How to Activate Fundraisers All Year Long

7 min
profile picture of Classy blog contributor Will Schmidt
Will Schmidt

When someone signs up as a peer-to-peer fundraiser, they’re expressing a passion about your work and a commitment to your cause. In fact, they’re so dedicated that they’ll reach out to their networks, appeal for donations, and raise money on your behalf.  

These already impactful individuals could have an even greater impact, and potentially raise more money, if you gave them creative control over their fundraising with a do-it-yourself (DIY) campaign. In this way, you can let supporters fundraise at any time of the year, for any personal reason or occasion—even if it’s not tied to a current campaign.

Below, we’ll share the definition of DIY fundraising before showing you a real-world example of a nonprofit that’s built a successful and robust program. Then, we’ll walk you through how Classy can help your nonprofit nail your own DIY campaign.

What Is DIY Fundraising?

It’s important to define DIY fundraising because it’s known by many different aliases. Some call it evergreen fundraising while others label it year-round peer-to-peer fundraising. At Classy, we refer to it as DIY fundraising. 

DIY fundraising operates just like a traditional peer-to-peer campaign. Fundraisers can create personal fundraising pages under a parent campaign and ask for donations to fund the parent campaign.

However, typical peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns usually have a hard stop date and a designated program that the funding will be allocated toward. All personal fundraising pages under this campaign will end when the parent campaign ends, and the funding must go to the predetermined program. 

DIY fundraising campaigns, on the other hand, are always “on” and fundraisers can choose which programs they want to fundraise for. In this way, you present supporters with an opportunity to drive your mission forward on their own terms.

It might be a little scary to hand over this much control to your community, but it can yield positive results where revenue and creativity are concerned. For example, people can leverage their birthdays, weddings, or athletic milestones to raise money for your nonprofit. 

Another benefit of DIY fundraising is that people are often motivated to give to other people, not always directly to your nonprofit. Thus, when someone starts a DIY fundraising initiative, you have an opportunity to connect with their personal networks and motivate that audience to give.

In fact, 46% of survey respondents in our special report, Why America Gives, say they choose to donate to a cause if a family member or friend asks them to. In addition, 50% state that a friend or family member being personally affected by a cause would motivate them to give.

Real-World DIY Fundraising Example 

The concept of DIY fundraising can be slightly overwhelming, so we tracked down a real-world example by The Ronald McDonald House Charities Alberta (RMHCA) to showcase what a robust program looks like. 

Include Visible Calls to Action

Above all else, it’s important you make your program visible to your audience: they won’t create a DIY fundraising campaign if they don’t know it’s an option. 

You’ll notice that RMCHA places a call to action (CTA) at the top of their home page to fundraise, right next to their donate button.

DIY fundraising

Including the CTA to fundraise at this level in the page hierarchy shows that it’s just as impactful and important as making a one-time donation. When you click on the button, it leads you to a secondary page where you can specify which Ronald McDonald House affiliate you’d like to support, Calgary or Red Deer. 

Give a Few Ideas to Start

Choosing either of those options takes you to the affiliate’s official DIY fundraising page that lists all the different ways you can fundraise on their behalf. There are nine different options to capture a variety of events, interests, and motivations like donating a birthday, wedding or shower registry, and fundraising in honor of someone.

There are also options to fundraise at a school, fundraise at your office, or host a fundraising event like a dinner. If you have an idea that’s not on the list, they still encourage fundraisers to pursue it with a final, tenth, option:

DIY fundraising

Provide Clear Instructions

It can be overwhelming for a fundraiser to have so many options, so it’s important you have very clear instructions for them. In addition to the descriptions on each of their fundraising suggestions, RMHCA also includes instructions in the side panel of their site that describes how to get involved:

DIY fundraising

A DIY fundraising program like this may seem like a lot to organize. However, clearly written descriptions and instructions can help reduce friction points and encourage more people to sign up as DIY fundraisers. 

How Classy Can Help 

Outside of the best practices we observe with RMHCA, partnering with the right fundraising software can help you maintain clear communications with DIY fundraisers, celebrate their impact, and effectively report on their success. 

Email Automation

Potential fundraisers can find your DIY campaign organically through word-of-mouth, your marketing efforts, or search engine optimization. And while organic interest is great, it also comes with a risk that newly created campaigns could slip under your radar. 

Thus, it’s important you set up automated emails that are triggered when someone creates a new DIY fundraising campaign. You can pre-populate copy in Classy’s back-end to include: 

  • Instructions on how to get started
  • Educational materials for successful fundraising
  • Past examples of successful DIY campaigns
  • Pre-written social media promotion copy

Use this introductory email as an opportunity to start a positive relationship with your fundraisers. The more empowered you can make them feel, the more successful they’ll be soliciting donations on your behalf.

Milestone Celebrations

It’s important that you celebrate milestones, big or small, with your fundraisers to keep them focused and inspired. Consider setting smaller, incremental goals that you can celebrate together along the way. If they focus too much on the larger end goal, they may lose motivation if it’s not attained quickly enough, or at all. 

To ensure this doesn’t happen, create milestone notifications that will be sent when they’re at a specific percentage to their personal goal. 

Alternatively, you can set up notifications to trigger when they hit specific dollar amounts, like their first $100. Or, if $100 funds something tangible with regard to your programs, you can call that out in a notification to keep their gift closely tied to impact.

Campaign Duplication

If you’re going to have multiple DIY fundraising options, like RMHCA does, it’s important you create multiple peer-to-peer campaigns. This will help with your back-end reporting as you can locate personal fundraising pages created to support a specific parent campaign.

This also allows you to put custom imagery on your different pages that still aligns with your nonprofit’s overall brand. For example, the header images you might use for a memorial page will be different than what you use for a birthday page. 

To save yourself work, build the skeleton of a peer-to-peer fundraising page where all you have to do is update the imagery and maybe small sections of copy. Then, duplicate the campaign in Classy’s back-end.

Program Designations

Program designations allow your fundraisers to pick from a list of your different programs to fundraise on behalf of. For example, if you’re a food services nonprofit they could choose things like after-school nutrition, mobile food pantry, or meal deliveries. 

Their fundraising efforts would support that initiative, and all donations made to their DIY fundraising page would be tagged on the back end with the specific program. Not only does this give your fundraisers more autonomy, it also makes it easier for your back-end reporting and reconciliation

Classy Manager

Classy Manager operates as a back-end administrative interface that can help you easily access, evaluate, and control your fundraising efforts all from one spot. You can use this feature of the Classy platform for a variety of use cases, like identifying zero-dollar fundraisers for re-engagement efforts. 

These fundraisers haven’t brought in any donations yet, but they’ve built personal fundraising pages. In your data report, you can exclude pages created within the last week or so, as those fundraisers are likely still getting the ball rolling.

Once you’ve refined the list to specification, you can pull the email addresses of these fundraisers and add them to an engagement email series. For example, you might send them a message that reads: 

“We noticed you’ve got a great fundraising page but haven’t received any donations yet. It can be difficult to get the ball rolling, so here’s a quick list of simple steps to make it easy. If you’re still having trouble, reach out to us and let us know how else we can help you fundraise.” 

Free Download: The Quick Start Guide to Data Driven Fundraising

Since DIY fundraising operates on the same framework as peer-to-peer fundraising, incorporating it into your strategy can evangelize your mission to the public, add additional revenue streams, and introduce new audiences to your organization. In order to be successful though, it’s important to anticipate and remove as many barriers to entry, as the freedom DIY fundraising provides may be overwhelming for some.

Remember to clearly explain the instructions for how someone can get involved, provide some ideas to get fundraisers started, and celebrate their wins along the way. If you’d like to learn more about the different ways Classy can help power up your DIY fundraising program, reach out to us below.


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