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4 DIY Fundraising Idea Types To Boost Nonprofit Donations

Do-it-yourself (DIY) campaigns, also known as supporter-driven campaigns, occasion campaigns, and third-party fundraising, are among the fastest-growing types of peer-to-peer fundraisers. These campaigns help nonprofits of all shapes and sizes empower their donors to fundraise their way by creating campaigns customized to their stories.

Although this form of peer-to-peer fundraising has been around for a while, its rise in popularity in recent years is due to its relative ease of execution, the personalized fun it offers supporters, and its ability to amplify your cause to untapped audiences. It’s the perfect addition to any fundraising calendar, year-end or year-round.

In this blog, we’ll dig into top DIY fundraising ideas and ways to get started, but for now, let’s start with the basics.

What is DIY fundraising?

DIY fundraising is a strategy in which supporters create personal fundraising pages or creative campaigns at any time to raise money for your cause. This deepens their connection to your mission with little work required from your team.

DIY fundraising campaigns can be created for birthdays, weddings, graduations, reunions, anniversaries, tributes (in honor of others), memorials, and personal challenges (fitness, activities, personal goals, etc.). The possibilities are endless!

Why does it work? Today’s supporters have many options and channels to direct their giving. But they also give because of social motivators—after all, studies have found that 85% of donors make their first gift because someone asked them to. When that someone is a trusted friend or family member, the motivation is even stronger!

That’s why having dedicated supporters ask their networks to donate to your nonprofit is a powerful way to boost revenue and secure new supporters.

Our Favorite Participation-Boosting Ideas

To start creating your nonprofit’s DIY fundraising strategy, start by gathering ideas that will facilitate high levels of participation from engaged supporters. Let’s look at categories of ideas that will get your supporters excited to participate!

1. Participant-Led 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:


Event-a-thons are a tried-and-true way to fundraise, bringing 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
  • Skate-a-thon

Equip your supporters with the essential tools to organize their event-a-thon, and you’ll see substantial returns on your investment. A robust peer-to-peer fundraising platform can significantly enhance supporters’ efforts.

Cooking Class

A full-day learning experience or a fun class and dinner event will appeal to 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 this event, they can charge an entry fee and include a donation appeal during the cooking class to bring in funds to support your cause!

Car Wash

A car wash is an easy and profitable fundraising event for DIY fundraisers. They’re a staple for a reason: they’re low-cost, quick, and an easy way to bring in funding. Plus, this event is particularly well-suited for the summer season, providing a fun way to raise funds and cool down on warm days!

Your supporters will need to invest in soap, sponges, and marketing materials. On the day of, your most loyal volunteers and DIY fundraisers will wash cars while talking up your mission to generate donations.

2. Merchandise Sales

Merchandise sales are great DIY fundraisers because they typically require less planning than on-the-ground events, 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 for many individuals to give their hard-earned money to nonprofits, some people may need 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-focused merchandise that incorporates your nonprofit’s branding and logo. Then, have your supporters spread the word about your new items to their networks, helping sell more gear to raise money for your cause.

T-Shirt Sale

For this merchandise sale, you’ll encourage your DIY supporters to design your t-shirts. It’s a unique way to show off your mission and connect with your community and supporters. Their shirts could feature:

  • Your nonprofit’s logo
  • A landmark in your community
  • Your town/city
  • Or, a unique design

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

3. Challenge Fundraisers

We all like a bit of friendly competition, right? With a challenge fundraiser, that friendly competition can turn into more dollars for your cause. A few of our favorite ideas include:

Ambassador Fundraising

This idea requires 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 ask them to serve as ambassadors, who will conduct the bulk of the fundraising. At your end-of-campaign event, reveal the ambassador who raised the most money and award them a special prize.

This challenge fundraiser will incentivize your ambassadors to raise more money for your organization to ensure they come out on top. You can also use this idea to engage your audience in other ways, such as by asking them to host awareness campaigns or invite their networks to attend your next event.

Talent Show

Talent shows, which are popular with schools, can be an amazing supporter-driven fundraising event for any audience or cause. Your supporters can simply charge an entrance fee for contestants, sell tickets to spectators, and sell concessions to generate more revenue.

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

4. Virtual Fundraisers

Virtual DIY fundraisers are a great way to drive revenue and engagement by reaching donors near and far. A few of our favorite virtual DIY fundraiser ideas include:

Birthday Fundraiser

Celebrating a birthday is fun, exciting, and (according to re:Charity) an ideal occasion to fundraise for a worthy cause! Any DIY supporter can turn birthdays into impactful fundraising opportunities by adopting a charitable birthday social media strategy.

If you have your supporters’ birthdays in your CRM, send an automated email the month before their birthdays that asks them to host a birthday fundraiser on your behalf. If they accept, give them detailed steps to set up their campaign, provide them with a DIY toolkit including graphics and marketing templates, and offer suggested fundraising goals.


Text-to-give campaigns involve a few simple steps to set up. You’ll partner with a provider to select a phone number and a keyword, which you’ll market to your supporters. When individuals text the keyword to your phone number, they’ll receive a link to a donation page, where they’ll make their gift.

With a text-to-give campaign, your supporters can promote your phone number and keyword to their peers. It’s a great strategy for tapping into your younger, more tech-savvy audience, such as members of Gen Z.

Happy Hour

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

Or, encourage your DIY supporters to make the event a series of weekly virtual happy hours so everyone has a chance to join. Be sure to follow the same virtual event best practices 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 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:

1. Recruit the Right DIY Fundraisers

The first step is to recruit DIY fundraisers willing to solicit donations on your nonprofit’s behalf. Good places to look for successful DIY fundraisers include:

  • Your board members
  • Your volunteers
  • Your event committee
  • Sponsor connections and networks

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. In particular, individuals who already interact regularly with your nonprofit are most likely to accept your invitation.

2. Invest in a DIY Fundraising Software Provider

As with any new investment, it’s important to be strategic when choosing your 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 create their fundraising pages?
  • Will we be able to track campaign progress?
  • How secure is this platform?
  • What support or training will we need?
  • Does this software fit our budget?

You may have already seen a DIY campaign online before, with supporters creating fundraising pages on Facebook, GoFundMe, etc. While it’s tempting to go with one of these providers, it’s better to take your DIY fundraising in-house, as it gives your nonprofit more control, helping you to:

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

If you’re looking to handle DIY fundraising on your own, OneCause recommends using peer-to-peer fundraising software. The right software will empower you to easily set up your DIY fundraising program and improve engagement through various features, including fundraising microsite builders, social integrations, gamification tools, and data analysis.

3. Provide Detailed Instructions To Help Fundraise

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. Start by:

  • Walking them through how to set up and personalize their fundraising pages
  • Showing them how donors use technology to make a gift
  • Highlighting the marketing efforts your team has in place
  • Going over social media guidelines, including hashtags they should use, accounts they should tag, graphics to include, etc.

Prepare your supporters before their fundraising campaign by arming them with resources and information. This will help transform them into amazing advocates for your cause and reach their fundraising goals.

4. Provide Support Throughout the Campaign

Set DIY fundraising participants up for success by providing support throughout their campaign. When they first join, provide them with a toolkit with branded images, logos, social graphics, impact statements, and information about your nonprofit’s mission. This toolkit will help your supporters craft their personal stories while staying on brand with your organization.

Additionally, give them examples of successful DIY fundraising campaigns. These resources will spark creativity in your supporters and assist them in identifying and emulating best practices to fundraise more effectively.

As the fundraiser progresses, check in with DIY fundraisers periodically. Answer any questions and provide any other support they may need for their fundraisers to go well.

5. Thank Your Fundraisers and Donors for Their Contributions

At the close of your DIY fundraisers, acknowledge your supporters, thank them for their aid, and communicate the impact of the funds they raised.

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
  • Free merchandise or swag branded to your nonprofit

Ultimately, it all boils down to a genuine expression of your appreciation for their efforts. You know your constituents best, so choose a method that resonates with them.

Wrapping Up

DIY fundraising is a powerful way for your nonprofit to drastically expand its reach, open avenues to make its mission stand out, and strengthen relationships with its supporters. By putting your supporters in charge, you’ll give them control over how they aid your nonprofit, fostering a sense of pride in your cause. So don’t be afraid to ask your supporters to fundraise on your behalf—you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how many are open to the idea!