As consumers, most of us have experienced the differences between do-it-yourself (DIY) and full service. Whether this applies to a home improvement project, cooking a meal, or tuning up your car, you will almost always have a choice between doing it yourself or using a full-service provider.
Keeping this in mind, it is no surprise that the choice between do-it-yourself and full service also applies to online fundraising. In fact, there are many options out there for online fundraising, ranging from online donation pages and donor management software to mobile silent auctions and raffles. Each of these options comes with its fair share of DIY and full-service providers.
With so many choices, how can you easily determine the cost-benefit tradeoffs associated with DIY versus Full Service Online fundraising?
At a high level, we believe that whether you are using DIY or full-service options, online and mobile fundraising will provide your cause or organization with huge upside benefits, in terms of reach generated, donors engaged and proceeds raised. The benefits of using online and mobile technology are too great to continue using traditional (paper and pen) methods of fundraising! This applies to general donations, or speciality fundraising methods like silent auctions, drawings, or raffles.
That being said, our preference is heavily in favor of DIY online fundraising tools. When it comes to fundraising, some of the most important aspects of our decision are based on:
- Flexibility & Control
- Support / Customer Service
A do-it-yourself system can offer each of the above qualities, while full service may only offer one or two!
In today’s post, I’m going to walk you through the benefits of DIY versus Full Service fundraising, in order to better prepare you for your next do-it-yourself endeavor.
Flexibility & Control
As fundraiser hosts ourselves, we know the stresses that come with organizing an effective fundraiser. We also appreciate tools and options that provide us with the most flexibility when organizing a fundraiser – online fundraising is no exception here!
Especially with online and mobile fundraising, a do-it-yourself offering will provide you and your team the flexibility to set up your fundraiser at your own pace, whether you prefer starting a month in advance or the day of (for those who live on the edge)! Taking a mobile silent auction or raffle as an example, a DIY service allows you to:
- Upload your items (along with images, descriptions, and starting bid amounts) at your own pace. This means you can enter your items as they are donated, and do not need to track your items in multiple locations!
- Extend the length of your fundraising campaign in an instant. Do you want to add another hour (or day) to your fundraiser? No problem.
- Adjust any bids submitted in error by your donors immediately. No more waiting to hear back from your full-service providers to make the change!
While a full-service provider may save a few hours of preparation, you will be committed to their timeline. This means any last-second changes (which we’ve all experienced) are extremely hard to address!
Luckily, DIY offerings afford you the control to take matters into your own hands and build your fundraiser from the bottom up (and make any necessary tweaks along the way).
On a similar note to flexibility, being able to manage all aspects of your fundraiser quickly and on your own schedule can give you huge advantages.
Did you just receive another amazing silent auction item an hour before your fundraising event starts? Do you need to add a quick shout out to a new sponsor? Having the ability to quickly and efficiently make the necessary changes to your online fundraiser will allow you to address these circumstances, in a way that full-service providers simply cannot offer. A DIY service gives you full control of your fundraiser, so you can easily make necessary changes, including last-second item additions, new messaging, etc.
This means making changes is as easy as finding your computer or phone, logging into your account, and making your changes.
Most full-service providers require significant lead times to make any changes, while DIY allows you and your team to make changes on the fly, and even set up your entire online or mobile fundraiser in minutes!
Support / Customer Service
Because most fundraising hosts are extremely busy organizing entire fundraising events or campaigns, consistent customer support is a must-have for any fundraising tool to be considered. Most full-service providers do offer excellent customer service, and may even dedicate a team of employees to attend your fundraising event or oversee your fundraising campaign.
While most DIY providers do not offer the physical presence of employees, we have found that the do-it-yourself model can lead to more consistent support. Rather than offering employees only at the time of your event or campaign, DIY providers typically have full customer service teams who can offer remote support 24/7. This means that you will be able to reach a support member at any hour or any time before or during your fundraising event! This includes full onboarding capabilities to ensure that you understand how the service works.
When using an online fundraising tool as part of your fundraising efforts, one of your biggest concerns will be how effectively the tool works!
Many people are skeptical of the efficacy of DIY tools, thinking that, if they are doing the setup themselves, there is a higher chance for user error and mistakes that could negatively impact fundraising efforts. Along the same lines, some also believe that full-service products guarantee an effortless and error-free process.
While the full-service providers out there certainly do help reduce errors or mistakes in your fundraiser setup, there are MANY do-it-yourself options that offer nearly identical functionality, benefits, and consistency in their service. This means that the savvy consumer has nothing to fear when deciding between DIY and full-service tools. From our extensive knowledge of the market in mobile and online silent auctions and raffles, we know that DIY options offer extensive benefits, including:
- Unlimited item entry, with images, descriptions, and custom starting bids / bid increments for each prize
- Online and text-message bidding
- Outbid notifications, notifications for winners, etc.
- Post-fundraiser analysis
Finally, the factor that ties everything together – price! Whether you are working for a nonprofit organization or running an individual or third-party fundraiser, your costs are extremely important, as they are directly related to the proceeds that you will donate to your cause.
When considering affordability, full-service tools pale in comparison to DIY. Full service means that you will be paying for a provider to run your entire online/mobile fundraiser from start to finish. This means you are paying for employees to set up the donation or silent auction/raffle page, and will probably even be paying for employees to be present at your fundraising event.
These costs can really add up, and typically cost a minimum of $2,500 per event (and often much more).
On the other hand, do-it-yourself options are much lower-priced. The lower pricing is a result of putting some of the workload on the customer (you) to set up and monitor your fundraiser. The key here is to find tools that offer a balance of DIY and seamless user experience. A great user experience will make it extremely easy for your team to set up your own fundraiser, while saving tons of money – most DIY options are a mere fraction of the cost of full-service providers! Accelevents, for example, charges only $99 + $1 per participant – this means huge savings for your fundraiser.
At this point, I’m sure you’ve realized that, when considering online and mobile fundraising, do-it-yourself options offer a strong advantage over full-service options.
Our last word of advice here is to consider all of the above criteria when choosing your online fundraising tool. Rather than focusing solely on price, flexibility, etc., make sure you are considering the criteria as a whole. This will ensure that you are not only saving money but also will enjoy complete control of your fundraiser as well as offering an easy and effective tool for your team.