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DIY Fundraising Ideas: How to Make Your Own Fundraiser a Success

DIY Fundraising Ideas: How to Make Your Own Fundraiser a Success

Here at PayBee, we know how peer to peer fundraising makes raising money easier and more fun for nonprofits and their supporters. In contrast to most of your fundraising campaign strategies, which place the responsibility of hosting a fundraising event on your event team, a peer to peer fundraiser brings your supporters into the mix by allowing each volunteer or staff member to create their own online fundraising page that promotes your gala. These donation pages can then be shared within their social networks, vastly increasing the number of potential supporters you can reach... and the amount of donations you can raise.

Now, peer to peer fundraising is being used in an exciting new way called do-it-yourself (DIY) fundraising. Like peer to peer fundraisers, DIY fundraisers invite supporters to create personal fundraising pages to raise money for your organization. But where peer to peer fundraising pages are used to promote an upcoming nonprofit gala created by your team, DIY fundraising pages promote supporter-created events that can be offered anytime during the year. 

This makes DIY fundraising a powerful tool in your fundraising efforts since it can potentially be used to raise money all year long. And because this strategy puts the task of fundraising in the hands of your supporters, it takes the strain off of your regular event staff, who can concentrate on hosting major events while DIY fundraisers offer additional sources of income.

This type of fundraising allows your supporters to create their own personalized fundraising experiences, which can be a fun way for them to get involved with your cause. DIY events also tend to be simpler to host and can be produced for relatively little cost. And it goes without saying that you'll be able to reach new donors and ideally build new relationships with the vast online audiences DIY fundraisers can reach.

Of course, in order to attract donations, each DIY fundraiser needs to appeal to the interests of the social networks being targeted. That's why it's important to have an extensive list of fundraising ideas to inspire your supporters when they develop their unique fundraiser events and activities. Below, we've listed some fun ideas for your volunteers and supporters that can connect with the people in your community and raise money for your organization.  

Craft-Based Fundraising Ideas Tap Into Community Creativity

Homemade item fundraising has a long tradition in generating revenue for nonprofits, and many charities have earned healthy profits from bake sales and art auctions. You can enjoy the same kind of success in a do-it-yourself gala, as this not only taps into your supporters' artistic talents but also the willingness of their social networks to purchase fine crafts. Here are just a few popular crafts that can help raise money:

Fine Arts

Do your supporters enjoy painting? Sculpting? Weaving? Do they have a fan following that buys their stuff at conventions and art festivals? Then they could probably generate revenue for your nonprofit by offering a fine arts craft fundraiser. These work best if multiple supporters work in tandem to offer different types of artwork (prints, original paintings, sculptures, buttons, magnets etc.), attracting more attention. Have them promote their do-it-yourself fundraiser on social media (along with photos of their offerings), encouraging their fans to come show their support for the artists and your nonprofits. This works particularly well if the artists could promote an all-new selection of prints, sketches, or figures that fans can add to their collection.   

Handcrafted Dolls 

Crocheting has become a very popular hobby for many craft enthusiasts, and many crochet artists have become quite adept at creating hats, gloves, hoodies -- and even dolls that people will pay top dollar for. Many artists at comic book conventions earn quite a bit of money selling crochet creations in the shape of pop culture characters like Pikachu, Spider-Man, and Toothless the Dragon (from the "How to Train Your Dragon" movie franchise). The nice thing about this kind of craft project is that it tends to attract a specialized community -- so if your supporters already belong to a group of crochet enthusiasts, they could have a built-in audience for a do-it-yourself fundraising craft campaign.

Alternatively, your supporters might consider selling homemade puppets or stuffed animals. These can sell quite well in a school setting or childcare center, and if your nonprofit's mission aligns with any of these populations, this would be an excellent opportunity to promote your cause and encourage revenue. 

Woodcraft

Woodcraft encourages the whittlers and carvers in your support network to show off their stuff. Craft items could be anything from miniature toys (great for holiday gifts!) to more elaborate items like chairs, tables, rocking horses, or walking sticks. Like painters and other fine artists, wood carvers have their own fan following, so be sure to encourage your supporters to tap into their social media networks and advertise a craft fair where people can pick up their creations while supporting your nonprofit!  

Handmade Jewelry

Look on Pinterest and Etsy, and you'll find many crafters sharing photos of their homemade jewelry creations. From earrings to necklaces to rings, there's no shortage to the types of wearable art these craftspeople can come up with. If your supporters enjoy making and selling handmade jewelry and are interested in building their brand while supporting a good cause, this could be the ideal do-it-yourself fundraiser for them.

Quick tip: handmade jewelry that offers a personal connection to a buyer -- like name necklaces or birthstone rings -- have been known to be particularly popular.

Leatherwork

Leatherwork includes craft items like wallets, belts, and bags. Some leather workers also specialize in creating elaborate book covers, jewelry, or even horse saddles. If your support network includes leather workers who've managed to carve out a niche crafting creations that people enjoy purchasing, they likely have the proper setup for a do-it-yourself fundraiser where a portion of their campaign sales can go to your nonprofit programs. 

Candles

Buying scented candles has become a tradition during the holidays, but people also enjoy purchasing scented candles year-round for self-care purposes or to fill their living spaces with fresh smells.  

Of course, scented candles aren't the only type of candle that sells well during craft sales. There are also molded candles and carved candles that can resemble animals, fruits, or other fun objects. Then there are environmentally-friendly soy candles that burn cleaner and longer than traditional candles, and vegan candles that are made without animal products. All of these candles have their own audiences, and any one of them would make a good addition to a craft sale fundraiser.

Tips for hosting craft fundraising events

A handmade item sale event can be much easier to market if it’s built around a theme. This theme can be seasonal (such as holiday craft items) or arranged around the specific craft items being sold (woodcraft, handmade toys, paintings etc.).

It’s useful to choose an event venue big enough to accommodate more people than expected. If a venue can’t be secured for free or for a low cost, a craft sale could offer the venue a percentage of the sale profits. This fundraising idea helps keep a do it yourself fundraiser’s expenses low while still allowing for a popular and well-attended event.

Advertise the craft sale well in advance of the opening date and take advantage of digital tools to market the event over social media. Tickets can also be sold online (PayBee’s ticketing campaign feature helps with this).

Bear in mind that donations can be collected in multiple ways. Aside from charging an entry fee, the sale could include an auction that encourages bidding on some popular craft pieces. Some tables might even offer hands-on craft projects participants can take part in by offering an additional donation.    

Community Event Fundraisers to Spark a Spirit of Generosity

One of the best parts of a do-it-yourself fundraiser is the way it gets the community directly involved in the activities of your nonprofit. And if those fundraisers end up involving even more community members, that just emphasizes how well-connected your charity or nonprofit organization is with the local population. Here are some great ideas for do-it-yourself fundraisers that tap into the community spirit:

Carnival

Who doesn't want to go to a carnival? These fun, family events can be held at any time in the year and can be as large or as small as your supporters' imaginations and budgets allow. While some school or community carnivals can be elaborate affairs complete with rides, live entertainment, and major media coverage, that doesn't have to be the case for all your do-it-yourself carnival fundraisers.

A simple get-together at the community park with family-style games, prizes, and concession stands can be enough to attract local attention, promote your nonprofit, and generate some welcome revenue. Just make sure your supporters follow any legal requirements for holding a carnival. 

Golf Tournament

One fundraising idea that never seems to go out of the style is the golf tournament. Although this idea is usually associated with large-scale fundraisers that attract a lot of media attention, a do-it-yourself tournament can keep things simpler. For instance, it’s easy to secure some time at a mini golf attraction and make this fundraising idea a fun family event. Advertise the event online and provide basic equipment and shoes for participants in exchange for donations.

Movie Night

A do-it-yourself movie night event can be as big or as small as your supporters can manage. A school might offer to show a popular film in their auditorium (with a pajama party theme for the participants). Or perhaps a volunteer with a large house could offer their space for a movie marathon.

Choose a movie that will appeal to all participants in this fundraiser. For instance, if guests like having exclusive access, perhaps your supporters could obtain a copy of a movie from a motion picture company before it’s released to the world. Another option is to choose a movie that was filmed locally (perhaps in the same venue the movie night is being held) and share trivia about the making of the movie. Or maybe some of the filmmakers and actors could attend and answer questions about a cult classic film.

Fundraise by charging an entry fee to see the film (this works best if the event has access to an early release of the movie). Alternatively, the movie can be offered for free, but refreshments can be sold. Provide chances for guests to socialize before and after the film and/or between movies.

One organization that created a successful do-it-yourself movie night fundraiser was the Fairbault Lions Club. The club was able to sponsor a premiere of the movie “Grumpy Old Men” (1993) at a local theater and raise money for Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF). Since the film was partially filmed in Fairbault, Minnesota, it had special interest to the local population and attracted quite a bit of attention.

Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts provide a way for participants to explore their local community, creating opportunities to promote local businesses and attractions. This could provide incentive for businesses to sponsor this fundraising idea as participants race through the city collecting scavenger hunt items or taking photos of sponsors (which can then be shared on social media). Have sponsors offer nice prizes to the winners in exchange for the community-based advertising.

Mini-Con

Conventions tend to attract large crowds, but over time, the events became bigger and ticket prices went up, causing cons to feel more like exclusive affairs.

That's what makes mini-cons a welcome alternative to many communities. These smaller cons can be held at venues like the public library where small groups of people can interact without the pressure huge crowds bring. Admission can be free, but people can still donate to your nonprofit to participate in fun, convention-style events like costume contests. Mini-cons also provide opportunities to merge other do-it-yourself fundraising activities together, like craft sales, scavenger hunts, and auctions.  

Silent Auction

Some of the most successful fundraisers (do-it-yourself or otherwise) have included a live or silent auction. Silent auctions are particularly good fundraising activities since they can take place over extended periods of time. 

An in-person silent auction can easily be incorporated into an existing do-it-yourself fundraiser event and increase its popularity. Showcase popular auction items in the venue and allow participants to write down their bids throughout the event. This silent bidding raises money while other donations are being collected, making the overall fundraiser more lucrative.  

Tips for hosting community event fundraisers

As with any fundraiser idea, planning is essential. Community event fundraisers need to have clear goals and budgets. Knowing what events appeal to local audiences helps choose the type of activities that will attract the most attention. If the event is particularly large or somewhat elaborate, supporters need sufficient time to partner with business sponsors, market the fundraiser, secure a location, and set a schedule. Keep in mind that outdoor events will be affected by the weather, so stay aware of the forecast.

Online and Social Media Fundraising Campaigns Make

When hosting a do-it-yourself fundraising campaign, it's important to leverage online fundraising platforms and digital tools, like those offered by PayBee. Virtual fundraisers can be less expensive to host than in-person ones, but they can reach a potentially larger audience. Here are some of the best online fundraising campaigns with a large (digital) reach:

Birthday Fundraiser

Possibly one of the simplest, yet most lucrative do it yourself online fundraisers a person can host is a birthday fundraiser. These digital fundraisers collect donations from a person’s social network after the birthday girl (or boy) requests donations to a specific nonprofit or charity in lieu of gifts. Birthday fundraisers can easily be set up on Facebook and advertised to one’s Facebook friend group. Some birthday fundraisers set very high goals (occasionally in the hundreds or even thousands) and manage to reach them thanks to a large support group.

Virtual Silent Auction

Technically, we’ve already talked about silent auctions — but there’s more to be said about offering a virtual silent auction. These can be held completely online over a period of several days, allowing for more active bidding. A do-it-yourself version can be easily hosted during another fundraising event (like a min-con or carnival), adding an additional fundraising activity.

Your supporters can even start the silent auction days before the main fundraiser, making it a good way to remind people about the upcoming event and generate revenue immediately. Just make sure to use an online fundraising platform like PayBee that’s mobile friendly so participants can enter bids through their phones and smart devices.

Virtual Awards Ceremony

Hosting a do-it-yourself awards ceremony online is a great way for supporters to remind their networks of your nonprofit’s cause and to encourage donations. Just make sure they provide easy-to-find links that take them to donation pages where participants can offer contributions.

Crowdfunding Campaign

Similar in some ways to peer-to-peer fundraisers, crowdfunding campaigns expand a fundraising audience by requesting small contributions from a wide online community. This not only raises money (since people are more likely to donate if they don’t have to give too much) but also provides opportunities to educate newcomers about your nonprofit’s mission. 

Donation Matching Campaign

Many businesses offer donation matching programs where employers match their employees’ charitable donations to a nonprofit or charity, essentially doubling the money a nonprofit receives. This is beneficial to nonprofits since it effectively provides them with a secondary stream of income. This also motivates employees to donate to nonprofits since they know their contributions will be doubled.

These campaigns work well as do-it-yourself fundraisers, especially if your supporters and/or their network happen to work for a business with a donation matching program. These campaigns can also be combined with other do-it-yourself fundraisers, providing additional ways of raising money.

How to run do-it-yourself social media campaigns

Running online fundraisers is easier now, especially if your supporters can use social media marketing tools like those provided by PayBee, which allow you to share your campaign with your online supporters with just a few clicks.

However, it’s also important to meet supporters where they are. In other words, knowing what type of social media channels an audience frequents lets a group understand where to target their marketing efforts. A Facebook birthday fundraiser works best if most members of a supporter’s social network interact on Facebook. On the other hand, if people prefer socializing on Instagram, perhaps a photo contest that could be better hosted on that platform would be more appropriate.   

Promoting items that people can obtain at a fundraiser also provides more incentive to attend. Some fundraisers offer giveaways while others simply advertise the most attractive items in their upcoming silent auction.

Food and Bake Sale Fundraisers

If there's one thing we know, it's that a good meal will always attract a good crowd -- and that well-fed folks are always in a better mood, and more willing to donate. Thus, the food-related fundraisers listed below can make an existing do-it-yourself fundraiser more popular — or be an attractive fundraising event in their own right.

Bake Sales

A classic fundraiser, bake sales invite the candy makers and bakers in your support network to offer their most delicious creations to the general public and fundraise for your nonprofit or charity. While a sale could offer store-bought products, successful bake sales tend to promote fresh made baked goods that offer a homemade touch. 

Pancake Breakfast

Pancakes are a popular (and inexpensive) breakfast food, so hosting a pancake breakfast is a fun and very affordable do-it-yourself activity. Much of the appeal of this event is in the chosen venue, so if your supporters can offer a pancake breakfast at the local firehouse, aquarium, or museum, this could increase the popularity.

Take logistics into account. Feeding a large crowd of people takes preparation, and a pancake breakfast needs to plan for enough ingredients (including syrups, fruits, whipped cream, and other condiments) as well as plates and utensils. Knowing how many people are coming and what sponsors can donate supplies is key to making this idea successful. 

Restaurant Hopping

If many of your supporters own restaurants and/or eateries, a restaurant hopping fundraiser event could be a great way to fundraise for your nonprofit while publicizing their businesses to the public. Also known as a restaurant crawl or food crawl, this event allows participants to pay an entry fee to tour the culinary establishments in the local area. At each stop, they get to sample a popular signature drink, appetizer, salad, sandwich, and more, allowing them to get a feel for each establishment without breaking the bank.

Food Truck Festival

Food trucks provide a great way to offer concessions to participants during fundraising events — but with access to enough food trucks, the gathering can be an event in and of itself. Supporters can partner with a local food truck (or multiple food trucks) and arrange for them to be at their event. The event team can secure a location with a lot of foot traffic and arrange for volunteers to help with cleanup and manpower. The trucks get better exposure to customers and your supporters provide an extra feature to motivate people to come to their event.

This fundraiser can raise money by arranging for food trucks to contribute a percentage of their sales to your nonprofit’s cause. Alternatively, some fundraisers prefer selling ticket vouchers to guests which they can exchange for meals at the food trucks. This option can work well for food trucks since it’ll give them an idea for how many people to prepare meals for.

Cookbook Sales

Putting together a cookbook might take some coordination by your supporters, but this type of do it yourself fundraiser has quite a few benefits. For one thing, once the cookbook is created, it can be sold at multiple fundraisers, providing an additional source of fundraising income. For another, cookbooks can include ad space from sponsors who can provide the funds to publish and promote the cookbook (as well as donate directly to your nonprofit).

A cookbook fundraiser will work best if you happen to secure recipes from well-known chefs in your community (whether amateur or professional), who would be willing to share popular recipes. The cookbook can also be themed to sell better at certain events (i.e. holiday recipes, desserts, comfort food etc.) and can be updated periodically (if you offer the cookbook as an exclusive online eBook you can download, this could make it cheaper to produce).

One group that was able to make a cookbook fundraiser work was the AMOR Healing Kitchen which partnered with the American Association of Healthcare Administrative Management (AAHAM) and collected 300 recipes from AAHAM members. Money was raised by circulating donation forms to prospective sponsors who provided funds in exchange for ad space (and a complimentary cookbook).

Tips for running a food-related fundraiser

Logistics are particularly important when running a food-related fundraiser as your supporters will have to ensure there are sufficient meals, ingredients, and drinks for all participants. Using a system like PayBee to collect all relevant information from guests before the event can help groups plan ahead and be ready with enough supplies.

Being ready also extends to having enough volunteers on hand to clean up after the event, as well as assist with food-related tasks, like serving and possibly preparing. Be prepared to deal with any legal and health-related regulations concerning food events to ensure the fundraisers run smoothly.

Sports and Fitness Fundraising Events

Fundraisers that encourage participants to move can really get those endorphins flowing — which generates the feel-good energy that encourages generosity. If your supporters enjoy physical activity and friendly competitions, the do-it-yourself fundraising ideas below might be just what they need. 

Fun Run (or Walk)

Fun runs/walks/marathons/triathlons can be held both indoors and outdoors. While many groups enjoy organizing a charity walk in a nice natural area, like a hiking trail or park, the past few years have shown how virtual runs (where participants just keep track of the miles they walk or run in multiple locations and upload this information onto an event website), can be successful as well.

The flexibility of this event makes it a good choice for a do it yourself fundraiser, but supporters should keep their resources and ability to reach participants in mind to ensure the event doesn’t grow too big for them to manage.

Bowling Fundraiser

If many people in your supporters’ network are bowling enthusiasts, a bowling fundraiser can be both lucrative and fun. This usually works by holding a bowling competition at a local bowling alley and arranging with the owners to donate a portion of the proceeds to your nonprofit. Supporters can provide prizes for the champions and pictures of the bowling night offer a great way to publicize the fundraiser and your nonprofit on social media.

Fitness Class

If the supporters holding a do it yourself campaign for your nonprofit happen to own gyms or teach fitness, a fitness class could be a relatively easy fundraiser to arrange. Offer an aerobics, yoga, or biking course in exchange for donations to a nonprofit. Not only can this raise money for worthy causes, it also functions as effective advertising for the gym, which could see a rise in membership as new people participate in the courses.

Dance Challenge

Dance challenges combine the fun of a fitness challenge with the reach of online fundraisers. Just think of how popular some TikTok dance videos are right now, and you can see how this do it yourself fundraiser can be held virtually, with participants collecting pledges to raise money for your nonprofit from multiple social networks.

Another idea is to host a straightforward dance party at a physical venue where guests purchase tickets to attend. Some groups turn this into a hybrid gala, with some dancers attending physically and others participating through livestreaming).

Workout Gear Sale

Selling branded workout gear swag (T-shirts, water bottles, bags, and yoga pants) is a great way to raise money for a nonprofit or charity. This works particularly well if your supporters own a gym and can sell this gear to their clientele. By working with a print on demand company, they can produce branded swag that not only promotes your nonprofit but their business as well. It’s a win-win scenario — and the nice thing is the workout gear can be sold at any fitness-themed fundraiser.

Fitness Raffle

Online fundraising platforms like PayBee make creating customized raffle campaigns a snap — and your supporters can easily offer a fitness-themed raffle that offers cool items like gym memberships, exercise equipment, workout outfits, and/or some of the branded swag listed above.

Raffle prizes can be obtained by partnering with local gyms and sports stores (it might be even easier if the supporters hosting the do-it-yourself fundraiser already own the local gym or store). Promote the raffle online through social media, email, and website, and both the nonprofit and its supporters could receive some excellent publicity.

Organizing your sports fundraiser

Exercise and sports fundraisers work best when you match the type of physical activities you’re offering with the interests of a select audience. If bowling or golf is the sport of choice in your community, then a fun tournament might be the way to go. On the other hand, if you have access to large groups of people interested in losing weight or adopting more healthy classes, a fun run or fitness class could be more appealing.

Be aware of and handle all logistics early on. This includes everything from assembling all necessary equipment to securing venues to making sure to have enough food and drink on hand. Having a medical tent and trained professionals ready is also very important, especially when you’re dealing with large events where dehydration, falls, or injuries can happen.

Educational and Workshop Fundraisers

The nice thing about turning to a large social network to help with fundraising is that you have a wealth of knowledge and experience to tap into. And if some of your supporters are professional instructors or have teaching experience, a workshop or fun class could be just the type of activity to attract a lot of positive attention.

We’ve already touched on how fitness classes connect with the community. Here are a few other possibilities for educational classes.

Cooking Class

People join cooking classes not only to sharpen their culinary skills but also to socialize with students, and a cooking class fundraiser can offer both features. These classes can be offered in-person or online (with livestreaming and video chats helping with the social aspect). If your supporters have connections with a culinary school or a professional chef willing to show students how to make a professional-style dish, people would be willing to pay for the opportunity to learn (and contribute to your nonprofit).

Logistics can be an issue with this fundraiser, and the event team will need to work out not only where this event can be held but also how many ingredients and cooking utensils will be needed and where to get them from. Once these issues are worked out, however, this can be a fun workshop to offer — and students can even enjoy a luncheon or dinner by eating the meals they prepared.

Craft Workshop

We’ve already discussed how a craft sale can be an effective do-it-yourself fundraiser. However, some audiences prefer to take a more hands-on approach to this event by actively creating the crafts themselves. If the craft experts in your group are comfortable teaching people how to create the puppets, dolls, sculptures, or paintings they offer for sale, then this could be a nice additional activity for an existing craft sale (or a good workshop in and of itself).

You could also add an additional social element to craft workshops. For instance, “Paint ‘n Sip” events combine the fun of craft workshops with wine tastings to create an activity where participants work on their painting skills while sipping nice glasses of wine.

Again, preparation is key with these events. Place a limit on how many people can participate and make sure to provide enough craft supplies for each activity. Buy in bulk or on discount to keep prices low. If you make this a limited participation event, people could be more motivated to buy tickets and raise additional financial support for your nonprofit.

Mental Wellness Course

Mental health is becoming a big priority today — so offering a course on mental wellness exercises could be very popular. This could involve offering yoga lessons or holding a workshop on meditation and mindfulness. Secure a peaceful venue and time for this course (like early morning at a public park) or offer it online, with recordings of a livestream available for donations.

Gardening Masterclass

If your nonprofit or charity is related to the environment or conservation, a gardening masterclass could be very appealing to your target audience. Such a workshop could cover anything from plant care to lawn maintenance to even the art of bonsai. While you could offer such a class online, an in-person class where people have the opportunity to pick up skills with hands-on activities might be more popular.

Music Class

Dipping once again into the talent pool of your supporters — if some of the members of your support network teach music professionally, offering a music class in exchange for donations could be profitable for your nonprofit and good advertising for supporters.

Classes could be on a variety of subjects, including voice, guitar, or piano. Take the time to promote this class via social media and both your nonprofit and the music teachers could pick up some additional supporters.

How to engage participants and maximize donations

There are multiple ways to make workshops and classes more fun for participants and maximize potential donations. First, make sure to take a close look at supporter demographics to decide what type(s) of classes would be most appealing to them. If your community is full of aspiring musicians or foodies, that should give you a clue to which types of classes would go over the best.

Don’t be afraid to collaborate with professionals. For instance, if you decide to go with a cooking class, inviting a local restaurant to sponsor the event and possibly provide a guest chef as instructor could be a great way to make the event more desirable.

Connect with students during the workshop. This can be done through everything from ice breakers to learning games to simply leaving room for questions and discussion from attendees. If it fits the event, offer prizes or special celebrations (like a nice luncheon for the cooking class’ creations).

Entertainment and Performance-Based DIY Fundraising

Entertainment events get people out of their houses and interacting in fun ways with the community. Most folks are always eager to spend their weekends doing something social and enjoyable, so why not tap into this by entertaining community members at your next fundraiser? Here are some suggestions:

Concert

Several of the articles in this blog outline how to host a large concert fundraiser at your next in-person, virtual, or hybrid fundraiser. But a concert fundraiser doesn’t have to be a major event to be successful.

Instead, a do-it-yourself concert event might just involve a small local band performing some original songs or popular covers. It might also mean arranging for some talented musicians to do a jam session that’ll get an audience on their feet and dancing. While a concert of any size does require taking logistics into account, they don’t need to be overly complex — and can raise money by selling tickets, offering concessions, and even offering unique giveaways (like a meet-n-greet with the band).

Talent Show

Here’s a popular event that goes over well at schools and churches. Talent shows let community members strut their stuff on stage before family, friends, co-workers, and more (who they can encourage to buy tickets). While singers and dancers tend to dominate at these events, securing some unconventional acts (like magicians, comedians, and martial artists) can help your talent show stand out from the crowd.

Stage Play

Another popular school and church event (although some community theater productions can attract sizable crowds too), a stage play is a fun do it yourself event if you happen to have access to a network of actors, directors, producers, and set builders. Choose a play that appeals to the community or is appropriate to the season (like a holiday production) and block out enough time to cast, rehearse, and open your event to the public.

Video Game Fundraising

Geek philanthropy” taps into the community of video game enthusiasts who use their skills to help raise money for nonprofits and charities. This often involves recruiting “gamers” who enjoy livestreaming their gameplay and have attracted a large online following. By teaming up with nonprofits to participate in a gaming fundraiser, these gamers will livestream competitive tournaments, record-breaking attempts, and “speedrunner” events where gamers play as fast as possible.

During the gameplay, spectators and visitors are encouraged to donate to the nonprofit or charity the gamer is playing for. If the event attracts a large enough audience, these gaming fundraisers can raise a substantial amount of money.

In other situations, a group might make the audience part of the action by hosting a gaming tournament where anyone who purchases a ticket can participate. If your support community includes many video game lovers, this can be an excellent do it yourself campaign — just make sure your supporters know to provide nice prizes (gaming consoles, gift cards etc.) to motivate people to take part.

Costumed Character Meet-n-Greet

Do your supporters have any cosplay enthusiasts who design and wear elaborate pop culture costumes at comic book conventions and special events in their number? Then their skills could be invaluable for a costumed character meet-n-greet that could help attract large audiences to a fundraising event. From superheroes to video game characters to fantasy figures, a good costumed character can really engage your audience — and possibly even educate them about your nonprofit’s cause.

Other ways to use costumed characters include offering special event appearances through your auctions. Plenty of supporters would love to bid on a chance for a superhero to visit their child’s birthday party or some photo ops with a professional-looking movie monster at a Halloween activity.

Open Mike Night

If your supporters have a business like a restaurant or bar where people can hop on stage and perform in front of an audience, this could be the perfect venue for an open mike night. While the first thing that comes to mind in these things is usually karaoke, open mike nights can include anything from stand-up comedy routines to poetry readings. Offer a suggested donation for people who want to participate and let them entertain the crowds (who can also show their appreciation by donating to your nonprofit or charity).    

Promoting your event

In addition to the standard rules for blocking enough time to plan and organize your event, a big part of making entertainment-based fundraisers successful is properly promoting them. This means everything from launching a well-planned social media campaign weeks in advance of the event to getting your sponsors to publicize the event at their businesses.

It’s also a good idea to get the performers participating in the events to promote the event in their social networks, encouraging family and friends to attend (and donate) to the fundraiser. Since the whole point of do it yourself fundraisers is to leverage the wider networks of supporters, be sure to do this at every level of the event.

Eco-Friendly and Sustainable Fundraising Ideas

Making events eco-friendly and sustainable has always been a priority, but these qualities are becoming even more important now, with Gen Z taking a public and stronger stance on environmentalism. With this in mind, the following do it yourself ideas can appeal across multiple generations.

Recycling Drive

Recycling drives enable community members to practice sustainable habits while also raising money for your nonprofit. For this do it yourself fundraiser, your supporters will ask their social networks to collect recyclables including:

  • Glass bottles, jars, and old appliances
  • Plastic containers, lids, bottles, bags, and jars
  • Metal cans, scrap metal, and copper wire
  • Cardboard, newspapers, magazines, and other paper products

The recyclables can then be dropped off in collection boxes set up by your supporters, or your supporters can simply direct their social networks to bring the recyclables directly to a recycling center. Proceeds from the recyclable material will be donated to your nonprofit (along with any donations participants make through links to your donation page).

Clothing Drive/Sale

Did you know that of the estimated 100 billion pieces of clothing created each year, 92 million tons make their way to landfills? This makes conserving, reusing, and safely disposing of clothes and other fabrics a priority for environmental groups.

One way your contributors can support this is by hosting a clothing drive/sale. This can be done by collecting textile materials (clothing, shoes, accessories) similar to the way you collect other recyclable materials. The textiles can then be collected by organizations like Donate This Recycle That which will provide a check for every pound of fabric collected. These partnerships make hosting do it yourself campaigns easier for your supporters.

Plant Sale

Plant sales are great for raising funds and getting attractive plants or flowers into the community. Such campaigns can be seasonal events by focusing on native plants that people want to buy during specific times in the year (garlands, herbs, bulbs etc.) This also helps determine how much time is needed to grow or collect the plants and/or flowers.

Hosting a plant sale also provides opportunities to partner with community organizations. This might include libraries (which often provide a “seed bank” where people can grow plants with seeds provided by the library and then return seeds after the harvest). Plant nurseries and local farm supply stores could also be open to donating or providing plants for the sale.

Plant sales can be held in-person at fundraising events, but plant orders can also be placed online, letting the sale reach a wider audience (and collect more revenue). Consider using an online system to make organization and marketing easier.

Used Book Sale

This works particularly well if your supporters are linked with libraries, thrift stores, estate sales etc. Used book sales offer a way to get novels, textbooks, nonfiction books, and more into the hands of new owners rather than end up in the landfill. Libraries in particular need to periodically get rid of their overstock (as too many books in a storage area can be considered a fire hazard).

Thus, arranging for a used book sale to contribute to your nonprofit or charity is an excellent way to encourage community members to shop at library sales or thrift shops and contribute to your cause while enriching their bookshelves. This could be an ongoing fundraiser where a portion of the sale profits go to your charity in exchange for your promotional efforts. Offer special events, like a fill-a-bag-for-five-dollars day, which can attract more customers and help books sell faster.

One last tip: additional books can often be sold to buyback companies found on price comparison website Bookscouter.

Litter Picking Day

This can be merged with the recycling drive described above. A litter picking day (also called a community cleanup) organizes groups of people to pick up litter in key areas such as parks, neighborhoods, schools, community centers, beaches, hiking trails, or rivers. Collected materials can be safely disposed of and also sorted into recyclable materials that can be sold to recycling centers.

Another way to raise money from this do it yourself fundraiser is to have participants request and collect pledges from their own social networks. Pledge amounts can be based upon the amount of litter collected or the time spent cleaning up the local community.

Organizing eco-friendly activities

Many of the do it yourself campaign ideas listed above benefit greatly from community partnerships. Your supporters don’t necessarily have to handle all the heavy lifting and logistics on their own — they can contact and partner with recycling groups, plant nurseries, libraries, and other organizations that have the resources needed to get eco-friendly events off the ground. This in turn helps your nonprofit or charity build up its own partner network.

Holiday and Seasonal Fundraising Ideas

Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday, Hanukah, and Christmas all bring out a giving spirit, which is why the holidays are some of the best times to host a do it yourself fundraiser. The ideas below merge well with popular holiday activities and provide ample opportunity to raise revenue. 

Holiday Market

Holiday markets attract a lot of positive attention during the winter for their unique gift items and concessions. Hosting one is similar in some ways to offering a craft sale (although the items can be more holiday-themed). Spend time instilling the market with a festive décor and offer concession stands that offer holiday-themed treats like Christmas cookies, cocoa, hot cider, and s’mores.

Santa Meet-n-Greet

Similar to the previously-suggested costumed character meet-n-greet, a Santa Meet-n-Greet allows the cosplayers and actors in your community to appear as Santa Claus during holiday-themed events. This is a nice touch that adds an extra festive feel to fundraising events like pancake breakfasts (which can be reworked as “Breakfast with Santa”), dance parties (where kids can dance with Santa), or auctions (where Santa can double as the auctioneer). Plenty of great photo opportunities here!

Holiday Caroling

Christmas carolers fill winter nights with the sounds of the seasons and can attract nice crowds who appreciate the holiday entertainment. Your supporters don’t necessarily have to go door to door singing — if you can arrange to have the carolers set up in a location with plenty of foot traffic, you can get potential donors to come to them and contribute as they pass (include a QR code with a link to the donation page to make things more convenient for smart phone donors).

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

Here’s a fun do it yourself campaign that can be conducted completely online. Host an ugly Christmas sweater competition (or just an ugly sweater contest), that allows people to take photos of themselves in their worst sweaters and upload them onto Instagram and/or a separate website. Participants can donate to enter and/or people can donate to vote for their favorite ugly sweater. At the end of the competition, the person with the most votes wins a prize (preferably not a sweater) and the proceeds can go to your nonprofit or charity.

Gift Wrapping Booth

Gift wrapping is a welcome service for many people during the holiday. Your supporters could include this booth in their holiday market and/or craft sale, creating another stream of revenue in addition to gift item sales. Just make sure the volunteers are experienced at wrapping gifts and won’t waste any of your resources!

Christmas Tree Disposal

Here’s a fundraiser that can be done following the holidays, provided your community tends to use live trees to celebrate Christmas (and not artificial ones that can be re-used). Since Christmas trees can become a fire hazard if left up too long, people would appreciate having volunteers collect and safely dispose of the trees for them in exchange for a suggested donation.

Advertise this service over social media and get volunteers to share this over their social networks. Bear in mind that this effort requires plenty of organization, including finding volunteers with trucks or trailers that can transport the trees to lumber yards (which might also be willing to contribute to your nonprofit in exchange for the extra mulch and compost they can generate from the trees). Plan ahead and keep safety regulations in mind, and your supporters could be providing the community with a great service.

Tips for holiday-themed fundraisers

Since many community organizations will be hosting their own holiday events during this time of year, it’s essential that your supporters communicate with the right people to ensure their do it yourself campaigns don’t clash with other scheduled events (and, ideally, complement existing holiday activities).

While the theme of these events should be holiday-related, it’s important to link them to your nonprofit’s mission as well to stay on-brand. Work with your supporters to ensure your campaign message aligns with the holidays and whatever event or activity they decide to use to raise revenue.

Fun and Unconventional Fundraising Ideas

Some do it yourself campaign ideas are so offbeat and unconventional that they defy inclusion in any regular category. While the ideas below can be merged with any of the do it yourself campaigns described above, they also make fun activities on their own.

Celebrity Q&A

Thanks to livestreaming, it’s remarkably easy for actors, directors, producers, and other celebrities to make virtual appearances around the world without having to leave the comfort of their homes. Your supporters can take advantage of this by requesting that a well-known celebrity make an appearance at their event for some online Q&A with attendees. This works particularly well for movie nights!

Alternatively, if your supporters have connections with local celebrities who would be willing to appear in person, offer selfies, and even talk about the importance of your nonprofit’s mission, this could be a great opportunity to raise awareness (and donations) for your cause.

Board Game Tournament

This one’s a bit of a throwback, but let’s be honest — some people prefer the increased intimacy and simplicity of playing a board game to more complex computer games. Thus, board games can offer their own fun tournaments that offer the same appeal as “geek philanthropy.” Supporters can invite community members to participate in a night of socializing and games for a suggested donation — and even promote a competition where players advance through board game wins to select a champion. Advertise great prizes and this event can attract some great crowds eager for a night of fun.

Lent Challenge

If your supporters are closely connected to the Christian faith, a Lent fundraising challenge could be an excellent way for them to help raise money for your nonprofit. This simple but fun fundraising idea builds on the fact that many Christians give up something during the six-week period of Lent (like alcohol, chocolate, or meat). Since this means they won't be spending money on these expenses, a Lent Challenge requests that they donate the money they would have otherwise spent to a nonprofit or charity. It's a nice form of fundraising that lets people engage in acts of generosity while observing their faith.   

Pet Photo Contest

Online photo contests can raise a lot of money for nonprofits and reach a wide audience. Pet owners tend to be very enthusiastic about their fur babies and tend to share (some might say overshare) their antics online. Your supporters can tap into this enthusiasm by offering a pet photo contest on Instagram or a separate website. This works particularly well if your nonprofit is linked to animal care and welfare.

Categories can be anything from costumed pets to funny videos. Offer a suggested donation to enter and/or vote for favorite entries and offer a pet-related prize (gift cards to pet supply stores are nice) to the winner.

Naming Dedication

Philanthropists who offer generous donations can find their names attached to hospitals, libraries, schools, and other community buildings. But there are plenty of other items your supporters can use to recognize the generosity of donors.

If your supporters have the right connections or own certain types of property, donors can contribute suggested amounts to have their names linked to a bench, a tree — or even an (as yet) unnamed star in the sky. Spend some time brainstorming weird and wacky items that can be used in naming ceremonies — and then build a fun social media marketing campaign encouraging people to donate for the right to be forever have their name linked to a specific parking spot or a flower bed. The naming ceremony itself can be a luncheon or other do it yourself fundraiser that can be incredibly entertaining.

Wine Wall

Wine walls (also known as wine pulls) are great activities that combine a love of wine with fundraising. This item fundraiser has your team fill either a table or a formal wine wall with wrapped bottles of wine. For a suggested donation -- usually in the range of $25 -- participants get to choose one bottle of wine and take it home with them. 

This fundraising idea goes over very well if you can get your hands on a few very nice vintages that people would normally pay high prices for. By letting guests know the types of wine they could take home, anticipation gets heightened and more people will want to contribute to this fundraiser.  

Promoting your out-of-the-box DIY fundraiser

Promoting your unique fundraising ideas means following the conventional rules of marketing. Start spreading the word early, leverage social media (focusing on the channels your guests frequent), and provide direct links to fundraising and donation pages to make buying tickets and contributing easier.

Be sure to describe your fundraising ideas clearly so everyone understands the rules (including people who've never participated in such an activity before). Keep it fun and emphasize the benefits of participating (great experiences, cool prizes, a chance to show off a beloved pet etc.). 

FAQs on Personal Fundraising Event Ideas

How can I fundraise a lot of money fast?

Taking advantage of virtual fundraising opportunities can help a nonprofit or charity organization raise a lot of money quickly. Peer-to-peer campaigns and DIY fundraising leverage the social networks of nonprofit supporters and allow volunteers to do a lot of the heavy lifting involved in fundraising. Rather than stretch themselves thin by hosting bake sales, sports fundraisers, educational workshops, or performance fundraisers on their own, a nonprofit can encourage supporters to host their own seasonal fundraisers and explore unconventional ideas, which provide a nonprofit with multiple streams of income. 

What is the most profitable fundraiser?

Ultimately, the profitability of a fundraiser depends less on the event or activity itself and more on how well it resonates with an audience. Nonprofits and charities need to understand the type of fundraisers their community supporters want to participate in, and then build their fundraising events around these themes. People who enjoy staying in shape will appreciate good fitness challenges, those looking for mental stimulation will enjoy educational workshops, and supporters who are into sustainability and environmentalism will resonate with eco-friendly ideas.

This rule carries over to DIY fundraising. Supporters after fundraising success need to consider what type of activities will draw in their social networks. This can lead to some unique campaigns as well as good social media strategies that inform, entice, and ultimately recruit the support of new donors and contributors.  

What should I watch out for when coming up with a do-it-yourself fundraising idea?

While do it yourself fundraising is a great way for volunteers and supporters to raise money for their favorite nonprofits and charities, these fundraisers still need to stay on brand for the organizations they're supporting. Although DIY fundraisers are hosted by outside groups, they still need to communicate the mission of the original nonprofit. This can be done by selecting events that align closely with the nonprofit's brand (like eco-friendly ideas for a nonprofit that supports recycling), or by simply working closely with the core members of a nonprofit and communicating the type of fundraiser that feels right for all parties. 

How do I host my own fundraiser?

Hosting a successful fundraiser takes a lot of time to plan and organize. Establish your fundraising goals, budget, and event type and communicate this clearly to all the members of your team. Delegate key responsibilities to different teams and make sure everyone stays in contact and checks in with their progress periodically. Choose a day and time for your event and make sure there's adequate time between your planning stage and the event for you to market your fundraiser across multiple platforms and sell tickets. Using fundraising software helps make building campaigns, communicating with teams, and promoting your event a lot easier.

Moving Forward: Raise More Money with a Do It Yourself Campaign

Do it yourself campaigns leverage the power of community and online digital tools to raise money for your nonprofit. No longer do nonprofits need to limit themselves to just a few fundraisers a year. With the proper community of supporters, successful fundraisers can be hosted by interested parties year round, granting nonprofits and charities additional streams of revenue to fund their programs.

Of course, for any fundraising campaign to be successful, it needs to be supported by the right resources. PayBee's online fundraising platform provides the tools fundraising teams need to customize campaigns, connect with donors and supporters, and assess the success of past campaigns. In an age where the most successful fundraiser isn't necessarily the fanciest gala but an event that attracts the most online and in-person support, PayBee's ability to support in-person, virtual, and hybrid fundraisers is more invaluable than ever.

To learn how our platform can support all of your campaigns (including the DIY fundraising ideas above), sign up for a free demo of our platform. You'll experience a mock live auction that lets you see firsthand the excitement of a virtual fundraiser. And you'll connect with our team of experts, who have helped dozens of nonprofits host successful campaigns, and be able to ask them all your technical questions about how our technology can help enhance your fundraising ideas.

Ready to learn more? Sign up for a free demo and connect with our team to learn how PayBee can benefit your organization today! 

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Michael Jung

Michael-Jung

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