The Do-It-Yourself ethos is widely popular these days, whether it’s a matter of home improvement or finding an activity to keep the kids entertained. It’s easy to see the appeal—there’s an inherent satisfaction and sense of pride in learning new things and not having to hire an expert. Recently, the DIY approach has gained a lot of momentum in the realm of nonprofit fundraising.
The 2016 Peer2Peer Professional Forum Conference highlighted DIY fundraising as one of the biggest trends in charity. Organizations recognize the advantages of the DIY approach, which include expanding awareness, diversifying revenue sources, and allowing people to customize their participation. Because the strategy is relatively new, however, many organizations are still learning how to use it.
DIY fundraising appears to be a cost-efficient alternative to more traditional events, such as walks, runs, and gala events. While the DIY approach may cost less, the process isn’t completely free—but this should not detract nonprofits from using it. The caution is more of a reminder that DIY fundraisers require organization and a commitment to marketing and promotion, just like any other event or campaign.
Putting a DIY fundraising program in place and setting up a website is only the beginning. Charities can position themselves for success by actively marketing their program to supporters, and this can be as simple as an invitation for anyone with initiative to design and organize a fundraiser, and carry it out in connection with the nonprofit.
Part of this includes having staff members to provide coaching and offer resources. DIY fundraising isn’t easy money, but it can dramatically increase engagement and get people talking about your organization. For a better idea of what others have done, here is a list of prominent medical research organizations with DIY fundraising programs3.
National Multiple Sclerosis Society
Dedicated to finding a cure for multiple sclerosis (MS), the National MS Society has instituted a large selection of fundraising events, including Walk MS, Bike MS, and Muck Fest MS. The organization offers DIY fundraising opportunities as well. On the society’s website, interested individuals can explore fundraising ideas, connect with other DIY enthusiasts, or create an activity of their own.
American Diabetes Association
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) solicits supports via a variety of channels. In the DIY fundraising program, anyone committed to supporting the ADA will find several options, allowing them to participate according to their interests. Options include joining a team, creating a fundraiser, setting up an online donation website in memory of a loved one, and coordinating volunteer walks.
American Lung Association
Since 1904, the American Lung Association (ALA) has advocated for lung health and clean air. ALA has expanded into a family of organizations that includes the Fight for Air Climb, Freedom from Smoking, and Lung Force. In addition to these efforts, the organization hosts a DIY fundraising page that enables users to build their own donation websites and interact with fellow supporters.
The Alzheimer’s Association focuses on improving the care of individuals with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, as well as discovering cures for these conditions. The association hosts fundraiser walks around the country, and its DIY program opens up opportunities for additional community events. Visitors to the AA site will find suggestions for fundraisers of all sizes, whether the goal is to generate a couple hundred or a few thousand dollars.
Established in the 1980s, the PKD Foundation has endeavored to develop treatments and find a cure for polycystic kidney disease. The nonprofit invites supporters to “fundraise your way” and organize creative events, such as a cocktail party or neighborhood garage sale.
Along with these ideas, the PKD Foundation offers assistance in organizing DIY events. Event organizers can register online, build a website, and manage their progress all with the help of the foundation.
National Pediatric Cancer Foundation
The Pediatric Cancer Foundation opened its doors in 1991, and in 2016, the organization’s leadership added “National” to its name to reflect its growth. Along with hosting events like fishing tournaments and 5K runs, NPCF encourages its donor base to organize and host their own events to help raise money for pediatric cancer research.
NPCF offers fundraiser-in-a-box kits that include ideas and directions on how to best set up a successful event, but individuals are also encouraged to pursue their own ideas. Anyone interested can find out more and sign up online.
National Alliance on Mental Illness
In 1979, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) started as a grassroots initiative, and the organization now features hundreds of affiliates throughout the United States. NAMI operates with fundraising support, and its comprehensive DIY program offers event tips and encourages goal setting, including establishing and following a timeline.