4 DIY Fundraising Ideas to Boost Participation & Donations

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

This form of peer-to-peer fundraising has been around for quite a while and is known by a few other terms as well: supporter-driven campaigns, occasion campaigns, and third-party fundraising.

But the rise in popularity for DIY fundraising in recent years is because it’s easy on the nonprofits, personalized and fun for supporters, and can quickly amplify your cause to new, untapped donor segments. When you put the fundraising power in the hands of your supporters, your nonprofit can reach more donors, raise more for your mission, and take on less work. It’s the perfect addition to any fundraising calendar, whether year-end or year-round.

With DIY fundraising, supporters spin up individual campaigns that are personal to them—which deepens their connection to your mission with little work required from your team. That’s why peer-to-peer DIY is a win-win fundraising strategy.

In this blog, we’ll dig into our top DIY fundraising ideas and ways to get started, 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 or creative campaigns to raise money for 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.), reunions, anniversaries. The possibilities are endless!

DIY campaigns are usually:

  • Single, time-bound campaigns (run for a specific period of time once)
  • Annual campaigns (run during a specific period of time each year) or
  • A year-round campaign (open and available all year long)

No matter what approach you take, DIY fundraising provides evergreen fundraising opportunities for you and your supporters.

Why does it work? Today’s supporters have a myriad of options and channels to direct their giving. But they also give because of social motivators. We found that 58% of social donors give to nonprofits because they care about the person who asked them to donate, not necessarily because they’re familiar with or care about the organization. This is a powerful way to boost revenue while securing new supporters for future outreach.

With DIY, your donors create their own campaigns, goals, timeframes, and themes. Then watch fundraising magic happens as they channel their personal passions and networks into fundraising action.

You may have already seen a DIY fundraising campaign online before, with supporters creating their own pages on Facebook, GoFundMe, etc. The challenge here is visibility and access to donor data. You need to see who gave, so you can’t thank, steward, and cultivate deeper and more lasting relationships.

But bringing your DIY fundraising in-house gives your nonprofit control, visibility, and donor data at your fingertips. This allows your organization to:

  • Track donor data for consistent follow-up and future engagement.
  • Create a sense of community among supporters through ongoing outreach.
  • Centralize, support, and streamline your DIY fundraising campaigns.

The OneCause Peer-to-Peer solution allows you to bring your campaigns into one place and empowers fundraisers to customize their campaigns by adding their own stories, photos, and videos.

Our Favorite Participation-Boosting Ideas

As nonprofits look to create a peer-to-peer DIY fundraising strategy, gathering ideas for types of DIY fundraisers to promote is a great starting point. And the good news is, we have awesome ideas ready for you.

High levels of participation from engaged supporters are essential for any peer-to-peer fundraising campaign—but when your supporters are fully in the driver’s seat, it’s critical. Let’s focus on ideas that will get your supporters excited and engaged! 

Participant-Lead Events

 Do you have supporters with unique expertise and perspectives to share with your community?

Ask them to host a fundraiser to gather like-minded participants to raise funds for your mission while doing an activity they love! Here are a few of our favorite ideas: 


 Hosting an event-a-thon is one of the most popular peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns and for good reason. It’s a tried-and-true way to fundraise—it brings individuals together in a fun way for a good cause! Share these options with your supporters:

  • Walk-a-thon
  • Dance-a-thon
  • Read-a-thon
  • Bowl-a-thon
  • Serve-a-thon
  • Skate-a-thon

Empower your supporters with the tools necessary to create their own 5k fundraiser, and you’ll see the return in that investment. All you need is the right technology.

Cooking Class 

A full-day learning experience or a fun class and dinner event might be very appealing for the gourmets in your audience. Your supporters can contact culinary schools, notable local restaurants, or the best chef in town to discuss their event and explore your options.

Once your supporters market the value of this event, they can charge an entry fee and include a donation appeal during the cooking class to bring in those funds to support your cause!

Car Wash

A car wash is an easy and profitable fundraising event for DIY fundraisers. Between the event’s simplicity and everyone being outdoors, it’s hard to find a better fundraiser!

Your supporters will need to invest in soap, sponges, and promotion. Their most loyal volunteers and DIY recruits can help wash cars the day of. Car washes are fundraising staples that speak for themselves. They’re low-cost, quick, and easy ways to bring in funding.

Merchandise Sales

One of our favorite types of DIY campaigns is merchandise sales. These typically require less planning than an on-the-ground event but can make just as big of an impact! Let’s dive into a few ideas for you to share with your donor base.

Online Merchandise 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 swag sale is such a great option! Design custom swag or other mission-fun-focused merchandise. Have them tap into their networks and sell the gear to raise money for your cause! Some of our go-to ideas include:

T-Shirt Sale

Similar to the online merchandise sales, you can encourage your DIY supporters to make their own t-shirts. It’s a unique way to show off your mission and connect your community and supporters. They could feature:

  • The nonprofit’s logo
  • A landmark in your community
  • Your town/city
  • Unique graphic design

From there, DIY fundraisers can either find a local artist and ask them to design a t-shirt or design it themselves to sell for a donation. People love one-of-a-kind items!

Custom Calendar Sale

With the ability to make custom calendars online, this fundraiser is just a click away.

Motivate your supporters to create their own calendars with unique photos of past events/fun pictures and sell them to their friends, families, and networks to raise funds for your cause. 

Challenge Fundraisers

Challenge fundraisers but the FUN in fundraising. Everyone loves a bit of friendly competition! The best part? That friendly competition typically turns into more dollars for your cause.

A few of our favorite ideas include:

Ambassador Fundraising 

This requires a bit more work for your team—but it’s worth it when you see the donations roll in. First, identify a handful of top supporters and highlight them as Ambassadors. These Ambassadors do the bulk of the fundraising, and at the end of your campaign at a big party, virtual or in-person, reveal which Ambassador raised the most money!

Get creative with what works for your organization. Here are some ideas that other nonprofits have done to utilize Ambassadors:

  • Awareness campaigns leading up to your event to build excitement.
  • Holding a competition to drive donations.
  • Engaging ambassadors or sponsors to promote event attendance.
  • Social media campaigns led by Ambassadors.

Scavenger Hunt

Have your supporters create a scavenger hunt opportunity where people walk, bike, or drive to pre-assigned locations in your area and answer questions at each site. At each place, there are questions related to a theme such as environmental, wildlife, historical, etc.

One scavenger hunt fundraiser had people form teams and each person donated $40 to play. There were 12 stops in three hours, and it culminated in a party outside with prizes. Their scavenger hunt raised almost $100,000. Check out their success story here.

Talent Show

Though most popular with schools, a talent show can be an amazing supporter-driven fundraising event for any audience or cause. Your supporters can make their talent show as over-the-top or low-key as they’d like. They can simply charge an entrance fee for contestants, sell tickets to spectators, and sell concessions for extra donations.

Add a lucrative twist by having the audience vote with their donations. Set out tip jars with each contestant’s name and photo or allow your guests to give online and indicate their favorites by donating to the specific person. 

Virtual Fundraisers

Virtual DIY fundraisers are a great way to drive year-round revenue and engagement. They’re easy to spin up and allow you to reach donors near and far.

A few of our favorite virtual DIY fundraiser ideas include:

Birthday Fundraiser

Celebrating a birthday is fun, exciting, and a great occasion to fundraise for a worthy cause! Any DIY supporter can turn birthdays (or any other big event) into impactful fundraising opportunities by adopting a charitable birthday social media strategy.

If you have your supporters’ birthdays in your CRM, think about an automated email that goes out the month before their birthday that:

  • Outlines how easy it is to set up their campaign
  • Provides a DIY toolkit (social graphics, sample captions, etc.)
  • Offers suggested fundraising goals


With a text-to-give campaign, your supporters can simply promote a phone number or shortcode to their friends and family.

OneCause offers text-to-donate capabilities through our Text2Give product—perfect for an easy text-to-donate fundraiser!

Happy Hour

Virtual happy hours and gatherings are a more casual way to engage with supporters. Leading up to the event, have fundraisers compete to see who can raise the most for the cause. The key is to keep the fundraising top of mind while you socialize.

Or encourage your DIY supporters to make it a series of weekly virtual happy hours to let everyone have a chance to join. Just be sure to follow the same virtual event best practices that you’d use for a live-streamed event.

How To Get Started with DIY Fundraising

Once you’ve landed on a few winning DIY fundraising ideas that you’re excited to try, you’ll need to hammer out some specifics. From recruiting the right people for the job to saying ‘thank you’ at the end of a campaign, here’s how to get started with DIY Fundraising!

Recruit the Right DIY Fundraisers

Good places to look for successful DIY fundraisers are:

  • Your board members
  • Your volunteers
  • Social media
  • Sponsor connections and networks
  • Event committee

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?
  • Does this software offer a mobile-friendly user experience?
  • How easy is it for supporters to spin up a fundraising page?
  • What support or training will we need?
  • How secure is this platform?
  • Will we be able to track campaign progress?
  • Does this software fit our budget?

Provide Detailed Instructions to Help Fundraise

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 donate.
  • 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.

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.

  • 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.

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 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!