DIY, Third Party Events, Virtual Events, IFE’s…no matter what you call them they are HOT!

Peer-to-peer fundraising has raised billions of dollars for non-profit organizations. Typically, this success has been reserved for disease and disorder organizations that plan and manage traditional events like runs or bike rides. With the explosion of available fundraising technology platforms, constituents’ increased comfort with online fundraising and the low barriers to entry, IFE’s are a way for all non-profits to get their foot in the peer-to-peer fundraising door!


Independent fundraising events (IFE’s) are programs that allow an organization’s supporters to fundraise as they choose, instead of exclusively driving support through traditional staff-driven events. Activity options are endless and range from lemonade stands, paired endurance events to raising funds in honor or memory of a loved one. Utilizing tools that have traditionally been used for events like runs and walks, IFE participants can create their own fundraising pages, send emails and spread the word through social media.

The 2011 Convio Peer-to-peer Event Fundraising Benchmark™ study shows that IFE event participants outperformed “traditional” event participants in key fundraising indicators such as average online gift ($75.50 for IFE’s vs. $56.97 for traditional Run/Walk) and average raised per fundraising participant ($341 for IFE’s vs. $238 for traditional Run/Walk).

A major benefit of an IFE program is the low costs associated with starting and maintaining. With no physical event, many of the traditional costs like tents and restrooms are no longer necessary. In addition, IFE’s remove the need for volunteers and committees, therefore reducing the staff resources needed.


IFE programs are a valid strategy for organizations looking to expand their current peer-to-peer offerings or for those who are looking to diversify revenue streams by jumping into the peer-to-peer pool. Fundraising in general is becoming more social and for some the traditional run/walk/ride events just don’t make sense. Data shows that IFE participants are highly motivated – creating a solid strategy, infrastructure and promotion plan could pay off big!


  1. Do your homework. Reach out to some of your most committed constituents or those who have held “third party” fundraisers for you before. Ask them what they would most important for their participation in this type of program. Consider asking them to be part of a “pilot” phase of your program.
  2. Define your program. IFE’s are inherently flexible and tailored to constituent needs. Yet many programs are brand new for organizations and very loosely defined. What restrictions should exist on the types of fundraising that constituents can perform on your behalf? Articulate business rules for how your program should operate.
  3. Find the right technology. There are a range of technology solutions available for IFE programs. Identify which requirements are most important to support your program and search for the best fit. Defining your program in the previous phase will ensure that your technology solution meets the needs of your program and that your program isn’t being fit to meet technology.
  4. Create a compelling brand. Differentiate your IFE program from traditional events and other peer-to-peer programs. Consider a brand for the program and pay attention to user experience and site design when promoting the program to constituents.
  5. Develop a multi-channel promotion strategy. You can’t expect to “build it and they will come”. Make the most of email, social media, lightboxes and advertising to get the word out about your program!
  6. Develop a winning fundraising plan. Once you have these VIP fundraisers on board, coach them to fundraising success by providing your participants robust tools including best practices, downloadable materials and ongoing tips.

Interested in more like this?

The Strategic Consulting team at Charity Dynamics is dedicated to mulling over current trends, fleshing out recommendations and vetting new opportunities in the digital nonprofit world. Partner with us and gain insight into what’s new, what’s worth pursuing and what your organization can do to change the world.