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DIY Fundraising…the New “It Factor” in Peer-to-Peer Fundraising?

Author’s note: In addition to Michelle, this post was co-authored by Cheryl Herrick.  Cheryl has a depth of experience in P2P management and development.

Do-it-yourself—or DIY as it is referred to by those in the know—was the hot topic at the 2016 Peer2Peer Professional Forum Conference in Orlando in late February. From the opening plenary to the individual breakout sessions to the conversations over drinks at the reception, DIY fundraising events were center stage. Do we need one? How does this model fit with our signature walk or run events—or doesn’t it? If we do need one, what kind of return on investment can we expect?

The answer, to be quite blunt, is no one knows! Organizations are making it up as they go, course correcting as needed based on lessons learned. While a number of Firefly clients have successfully dipped their toes in the DIY waters, the model is still too young for there to be any documented best practices or data to drive your planning and decision-making.

But…we wouldn’t be very good online experts if we didn’t provide at least a few insights from the conference and our own experience should your organization choose to enter into the wide world of DIY fundraising.

If you build it, they will come—well actually, they probably won’t.
We’re stealing this line from one of the conference presenters because it rings true. You can have an amazing design and a beautiful end product (hint…we can help you with that), but if you do not have solid marketing strategy in place for promoting your new DIY event to existing and new audiences, then you will not get the results you expect or promised to your CEO.

Stand out from the herd—define and promote your uniqueness.
DIY fundraisers are the hot new trend, which means there is more and more competition in the industry for the same limited resources. Before rushing into things, take a step back and determine what makes your DIY event unique. Is there a way to tap into an existing endurance event that your supporters are already familiar with, or is this a chance to do something completely out of the box? Did someone say St. Baldrick’s Foundation?

Measuring success—you’re on your own for the moment.
Fundraising pages may not be new to the nonprofit scene, but the concept of DIY events is different from fundraising pages of the past. That being said, it’s an entirely different concept—and that means that creating benchmarks with data from other non-DIY fundraising campaigns would be like comparing apples to oranges. So what should you do? Embrace your data! Determine what information you need to know from your fundraising reports, such as average personal donation amount, percentage of users updating their fundraising page, and the average number of donations received by your participants. Create a fundraising dashboard that you update weekly allowing you to quickly notice trends. View your communication plan as fluid and adjust according to trends you are see in your data. (Side Note – If you need a partner to help you make these magical dashboard and reports, we should talk!)

Above all else, make it fun for you and your constituents! This is new territory and, in some way, you’re an explorer. Don’t be afraid to try new and different things. Not every call to action—or DIY campaign for that matter—is a success. On the other hand, both success and failure provide valuable insight into what works and what doesn’t.

Have any other tips or lessons learned from the P2P Forum? Tell us in the comments below!

Want some help crafting an innovative DIY peer-to-peer campaign? Let us know!

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