Online Fundraising for Nonprofits | Ultimate Guide & Ideas List

Fundraising Ideas

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Online fundraising has continued to grow in popularity, and with the increase in internet accessibility, it’s not going away. While traditional face-to-face efforts are still some of the most engaging ways to reach donors, virtual fundraising has proven to be an easy way to raise funds and engage your supporters. Although highly useful, online fundraising is ever evolving, and it can be hard to keep up with the shifting landscape as new trends, best practices, and software solutions emerge.  

Whether you’ve been fundraising for a while or you’ve just begun your charitable endeavors, this guide includes key ideas and considerations for your online efforts, including the basics of virtual fundraising, the tools available, and the types of campaigns you can host.  

Stay up to date with all things online fundraising with this guide!  

Online fundraising overview 

Online fundraising allows your organization to raise money virtually using an online platform to collect donations and register event attendees. With most online fundraising platforms, your nonprofit can create a donation form or registration form to embed onto your website for your supporters to use. 

Benefits of online fundraising 

There are many benefits to virtual fundraising. For nonprofits, fundraising online provides a larger possible donor base to reach while still being cost-effective. It also allows you to collect more data with data integrations that are simple to set up. 

For donors, online fundraising is a more convenient way to give because they can give from anywhere without needing to keep cash or a credit card on them. They can even make their donation a recurring gift to make donating even easier.  

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Online fundraising ideas

With a dedicated online fundraising platform and the widespread use of the internet, there’s an abundance of online fundraising ideas that your nonprofit can tackle. Keep in mind what resources you have already as well as your core mission while considering the ideas from this guide.  

1. Peer-to-peer fundraising campaign 

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a type of fundraiser that mobilizes your supporters to raise money on behalf of your organization. These participants reach out to their friends and family to promote your mission through various marketing channels including social media, email, text messages, and more.   

Depending on the number of participants, a peer-to-peer fundraiser will help your nonprofit impact many people in a short amount of time. By leveraging each volunteer’s network, you’ll encounter more first-time givers while spreading the word about your mission.   

Before you start, research and invest in capable and dedicated tools for your fundraiser. This way, each of your volunteers will have their own branded campaign page to customize and share their unique connection to your mission. Seeing a close friend’s passion for your mission encourages people to donate more than a general fundraising ask.   

mockup of Qgiv's auction platform for online fundraising guide

2. Online auction 

The next idea in this guide is hosting an online auction. Auction fundraising provides a way for you to raise funds while providing an incentive to your donors, and the whole process can take place online. All you need is a group of items or experiences to auction off for the highest bid! Donors get to take home the prizes while your mission reaps the funds.   

If you’re hosting an online auction, consider investing in auction software with both app-based and web-based bidding tools. This way, your guests can experience the whole auction with a convenient and easy-to-use interface no matter if they prefer to bid from their smartphone or desktop. Increase the excitement around your auction by showcasing your auction items on social media.     

3. Email drip fundraising campaign  

Email is likely already one of the main ways that you communicate with supporters. Whether it’s to thank them for a gift or to let them know of an upcoming event, email provides a space for you to share meaningful content about your mission. An email drip fundraising campaign helps further engage your donors and solicit gifts by sending out multiple emails at specific dates and times based on users’ interactions with the email campaign.  

Each email encourages potential donors to give through different calls to action. For example, your first email could be purely educational and feature a link to your website. If the reader opens that link, another email might be sent out with a video explaining a specific campaign you’re hosting that relates to the first email. However, if the reader never opens the link, the drip campaign could stop right there to avoid overwhelming uninterested recipients.   

For an effective email drip campaign, set up triggers using your marketing automation tools to preprogram certain content and email schedules in advance. Automate personal details, like names and gift amounts, into email content as well to save you time and incentivize more engagement with your emails.  

Qgiv text fundraising mockup featuring $50 donation to Lakeland Food Pantry

4. Text-to-donate campaign  

Text-to-donate campaigns are an important addition to every online fundraising guide. With 91% of Americans owning a mobile device, incorporating text fundraising into your next campaign just makes sense. All you need is a dedicated phone number (or shortcode), a keyword, and an online mobile giving page.   

Supporters text the keyword to your shortcode which leads them to your online giving form. These forms must be mobile optimized so people who want to give through their phones can do so easily!  

Supplement your existing fundraising efforts with text fundraising or host a dedicated text campaign. Because of its convenience, many organizations use text fundraising in addition to live events or during time-sensitive situations. It’s great for providing donation opportunities in an accessible and intuitive manner during moments of inspiration.  

Four people running across a bridge during a virtual runathon

5. Virtual fundraising event  

Virtual fundraising events have been rising in popularity over the years because of the accessibility of the core tools they utilize, such as video conferencing and chat rooms. These are tools that your nonprofit, and just about anyone, can utilize.  

Additionally, virtual events are often easier and cheaper to plan than traditional ones. You don’t have to worry about renting a venue, hiring caterers, or putting together staff members! Simply ensure all of your digital guests have the right tools and start engaging online.  

Virtual fundraising events come in a lot of shapes and sizes. For instance, you can host a virtual runathon where each participant exercises in their dedicated space. Or host a virtual conference led by thought leaders for your cause. Throughout it all, ensure that the virtual tools you use work with your event registration platform. That way, all the important data is streamlined and centralized in one place.  

6. Pledge campaign  

A pledge campaign is one of the most effective ways to leverage your current supporters. A pledge campaign is when you solicit gifts from your supporters, but the funds are not processed unless your target fundraising goal is met. Donors love pledging because it ensures their gift is being put to good use if it’s processed.   

Pledge campaigns are great when you have a very specific goal in mind. For instance, if you’re raising money to purchase new equipment for a research lab and know the exact price, then there is a specific goal you must reach. Use that as your fundraising target and start engaging supporters!  

7. Online giving day  

Past #GivingTuesdays are evidence that a dedicated day of charitable giving is great for inspiring supporters and gaining fundraising momentum. If you want to boost your funds, consider hosting a specific online giving day! Determine a fundraising goal and advertise this event well before the fact. This will let your supporters know exactly when their gift will count toward your online giving day campaign.  

Dedicated giving days are successful because they’re often held on specific dates that inspire charitable giving in your donors. Consider hosting an online giving day on your nonprofit’s anniversary, a cause awareness day, or another momentous occasion. This feeling of celebration combined with the urgency of a 24-hour deadline might encourage your supporters to give even more! 

8. Matching gift drive  

Corporate philanthropy has been on the rise for a while, with matching gifts being one of the most popular methods. That makes a matching gift drive a perfect idea for this online fundraising guide. With corporate gift matching programs, certain businesses agree to match a charitable donation that one of their employees makes based on a list of guidelines. These guidelines consist of a deadline to submit the matching gift request, gift size, and list of eligible charities.  

To host a matching gift drive, partner up with a corporation that is willing to match all the donations you receive for a certain campaign. However, don’t worry if you can’t find a willing business participant. You can still host a matching gift drive by leveraging your donors’ existing business affiliations and asking eligible donors to submit matching gift requests to their employers after donating.  

Matching gift drives raise a lot of money in a short amount of time. With just one corporate partner, you can double (or even triple!) a donation or even your entire fundraising revenue. Create relationships with corporations whenever possible in case you want to embark on this online fundraising idea in the future.   

rack of t-shirts for a t-shirt fundraiser

9. T-shirt fundraising  

Does your nonprofit have any recognizable logos or an especially catchy mission statement? If so, use them for nonprofit merchandise! Design a T-shirt or other type of merchandise and ask your supporters to buy it as a donation to your mission. Many people love sporting gear from the causes they’re passionate about, and whenever they wear one of your T-shirts, they’re also advertising your mission on your behalf!  

T-shirt fundraising raises money while encouraging supporters to help spread the word about your organization. Consider hosting a design contest where supporters or staff members submit unique designs for your T-shirt. This creates a fun, competitive activity while providing you with some great products to choose from.  

10. Social media viral campaign  

If you’re an active social media user, you know that viral trends happen quickly and seemingly out of nowhere, which is why this online fundraising guide encourages you to take advantage of them. For example, the ALS ice bucket challenge is probably one of the most famous viral fundraising campaigns. It consisted of people simply filming themselves dumping an ice bucket on their head and “tagging” their friends and family to continue the challenge on social media. While not every participant donated, this viral campaign definitely promoted awareness of what it was fundraising for— amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.   

To go viral, you need a genuine and unique vision for your fundraiser. Since humans are very visual creatures, incorporate photos or videos in some way. For instance, ask your supporters to post photos or videos of themselves doing a “challenge” with a specific hashtag. Make sure the challenge or trend clearly relates to your cause. While creating viral content is cool, it won’t be effective if no one understands the correlation to your nonprofit’s cause.  

11. Livestream fundraising event  

Livestreaming has been a popular pastime for years, with professional video gamers or YouTubers broadcasting their content in real time for fans. Your nonprofit can utilize livestreaming as well! With free tools like YouTube, Twitch, Instagram Live, or Facebook Live, you can easily start live broadcasting to your supporters. This is a great way to engage donors and solicit donations.  

Consider hosting “challenges” where if a donation goal is met, you promise to do a specific action. These can consist of “eating fire ramen on live camera” or “jumping into a pool of water with all your clothes on.” People love to see outrageous content, so use that to raise money!  

12. Virtual raffle fundraiser  

The next idea in this online fundraising guide is online raffle fundraisers. With a grand prize and some excited supporters, a raffle quickly raises money for your organization.  For a virtual raffle, ask your donors to give certain amounts equal to one ticket. For instance, a $5 gift could equal one raffle ticket and a $10 donation equals two, and so on. The more a person gives, the greater the chance they win the prize!  Your donors can continue to give until the set deadline when you’ll choose a winner using a random generator. 

If you want your virtual raffle to gain lots of momentum, use an enticing prize for your supporters. Whether it’s a physical item or an experience, advertise it early on so that donors get excited and possibly buy multiple raffle tickets for it.   

13. Online workshop   

Fun workshops and classes are great fundraising events for the community to come together and learn something new from an expert. Hosting a cooking class with a professional chef or a training workshop with a pet trainer gives your donors an opportunity they may not have otherwise just by buying tickets from your organization. But you don’t need to host these events in person. Online workshops provide a fun event for your supporters, and they won’t even need to leave the comfort of their homes! 

Use your event registration platform to sell tickets to a private video meeting and provide an additional donation option in the registration form. During the video conference call, your donors will get to watch professionals show them relevant tips and tricks. Schedule time for a Q&A with the expert towards the end of the event to answer any questions your attendees put in the chat. Add a donation call to action to keep in the corner of the video call and post the donation link in chat to encourage further donations. 

computer on a desk showing an virtual conference call for an online fundraising workshop

14. Virtual escape room   

Community collaboration is essential to fundraising for your nonprofit, and escape rooms will engage your supporters while giving them a chance to meet new people. While renting out an escape room may be a little expensive, there are online escape rooms that provide the same type of community-building fun.   

Research online escape rooms and find one that best suits the needs of your virtual event. Send an email to reach out to your donors and see how many would be interested in this type of virtual game night to help with your event planning. Consider offering an early bird discount for attendees who purchase their ticket far in advance.   

15. Birthday fundraisers   

Facebook Fundraisers should be included in every online fundraising guide. If your nonprofit is registered with Facebook, your supporters can host a fundraiser for your organization leading up to their birthday as a way to encourage their friends and family to give to causes they love. Birthday fundraisers help introduce your nonprofit to more people and expand awareness about your cause through your donors, basically doubling the fundraiser as a marketing tool as well.   

Check Facebook’s requirements for registering your organization’s page as a nonprofit. Once your page is registered, send out an announcement to your supporters that they can use your organization for their birthday fundraiser. Remember to thank any supporters that do host a birthday fundraiser for your nonprofit.   

16. Wish list campaign   

In-kind donations offer an option to donors who want to help lower your overhead costs for supplies. While most give in-kind donations in person, making a wish list online provides supporters who are out of town or live in another state a way to donate supplies to your nonprofit. Online stores like Amazon offer options to add notes about what the items are supposed to be used for and how many items you need.  

Create a wish list on Amazon or another online store and share the link with your supporters. Wish list campaigns work wonderfully for school supplies or toy drives since your donors can see how much of each item you may need and send their purchases directly to your organization from the store.   

camera filming a livestream fundraising event for the online fundraising guide

17. Virtual talent show   

Talent shows are fun events the whole family can participate in. If your donor or one of their family members has a special ability, talent shows are a perfect opportunity for them to show off while raising funds for your cause. Take advantage of these talents and host a show online that your supporters can participate in or purchase tickets to watch.   

For a virtual talent show, choose how you want your talent show to work. Either host a video call or have your supporters post videos of their talent on social media and tag your organization. Incentivize your donors to participate in the show by offering small prizes for first, second, and third place.   

18. Fitness challenge   

Virtual fitness challenges raise money for your organization, get your donors active, and promote a healthy lifestyle. Challenge your supporters to complete the greatest number of steps, run the most miles, lift the heaviest weight, or any other exercise you can think of. Celebrate your donors’ accomplishments by sharing their posts about the challenge on your social media.   

Using a peer-to-peer platform, instruct participants to create their own fundraising pages to share with their networks. From there, people can either make a one-time donation or pledge to donate a set amount for each task the participant completes. While many fitness challenges use a peer-to-peer system, another option is to turn the challenge into a competition where any participant who doesn’t complete the challenge pledges to donate a certain amount at the end of the set time period.       

19. Google Ads campaign   

Not every online fundraising idea has to be an event or fundraiser. Ads are key to raising money and awareness for your organization. While many social media platforms offer ad options that your organization can utilize, Google Ads provides a grant for nonprofits to advertise their website for free. 

Take advantage of this grant by applying for the Google for Nonprofits program and activating the grant in your organization’s Google account. Google will place your ad at the top of search result pages, encouraging new supporters to check out your site and donate to your cause. Google Ads is also a fantastic tool for recruiting volunteers for your nonprofit.  

calendar for recurring donation online fundraising idea

20. Recurring giving   

One option to include when you’re fundraising online is a recurring gift option. Encourage your donors to make their gift a monthly occurrence. Recurring donations help build a long-lasting relationship with your donors while providing a consistent flow of money to your organization. After all, over one year, monthly donors give 42% more than one-time donors.  

If you’re already using a fundraising platform, this is possibly the easiest idea to implement in this online fundraising guide. Many fundraising platforms offer the option to include a recurring donation field in their donation forms. Some also offer prompts to encourage donors to update their one-time gift to a recurring donation.   

21. Cause marketing campaign  

Another great online fundraising idea you can take advantage of is cause marketing! To host a cause marketing campaign, you need to find a business to partner with to host a mutually beneficial campaign. Your business partner would advertise your organization and possibly donate a percentage of profits from certain item purchases, while you would advertise their business to supporters of your cause. 

Cause marketing campaigns allow you and your business partner to use each other’s networks to increase visibility for both of you. Plus, your business partner would boost their philanthropic reputation within the community. Look for a business that could find a connection with your cause to keep your mission at the top of donors’ minds. 

22. Giving society  

Giving societies help you provide an exclusive experience to your donors who are looking to support your mission for the long term. A giving society is a group of donors created by your organization based on their giving amount and frequency. This society helps you steward and further engage with your donors. 

Create an online space for your giving society to connect with each other and your nonprofit. This way you can consistently update your giving society on the projects that are important to them and provide them with other benefits for their generous support. 

 hand holding a phone opening the youtube app for virtual fundraising guide

23. YouTube series 

Video is one of the most powerful tools you can take advantage of when virtual fundraising. It’s a great tool for telling your donors stories about your work in a personable and enjoyable way. One way to utilize video is to create a video series on YouTube to raise awareness for your cause and reach new donors. 

Your video series should show how your organization’s work has helped your community and what you could do with more donations. This is a great online fundraising idea for ongoing projects or before and after stories with the people you’ve helped. 

24. Virtual lock-in 

Lock-ins are a type of popular fundraising event for a lot of youth-centered missions. What kid doesn’t love a giant sleepover with their friends? But your lock-in doesn’t have to be in-person, and a virtual lock-in may be more accessible for some families. All you need is a video chat tool and some fun virtual activities. 

The goal of a lock-in is to have fun through the night, so you can host a movie marathon or virtual gaming tournament to help keep everyone awake! This is a great virtual fundraising idea if you want to include the whole family in the fun of fundraising!     

25. E-card campaign 

Another fundraising idea for this online fundraising guide is an e-card campaign. Just like sending out holiday cards through direct mail, you can set up a form for your donors to purchase holiday emails to be sent to their friends and family from your nonprofit. 

Your supporters send the e-cards to their networks, raising awareness for your cause while celebrating the holidays without the stress of creating a card from scratch. Once you set up your e-card campaign form, your supporters choose an image, customize their holiday message, and provide you with the email addresses to send their cards to! 

26. Influencer campaign 

With the growth of social media, influencers have continued to gain more and more popularity by creating relatable and entertaining content for their followers. By collaborating with influencers, you can benefit from their content creation skills. There are a few ways to create a campaign with influencers, but the main result of this online fundraising idea is to expand your nonprofit’s audience. 

One way to host an influencer campaign is to allow them to do a social media takeover on your account and share stories on both your social platforms and theirs to show them helping your cause. Another way is to work with an influencer to design a merch collaboration for your organization to sell to help motivate their followers to give to your cause. Or an influencer could help you create and get the ball rolling on a social media challenge. 

27. Online pajama day  

Just like with online giving days, another idea is to host an online pajama day! Encourage your supporters to show off their pajamas online, either through social media or during a big video chat. This online fundraising idea helps you raise awareness while providing your donors with a fun day in comfy clothes.  

Advertise your virtual pajama day through your social media and email marketing channels to get everyone excited. Once the planned day arrives, you can show off your teams’ pajama pictures online as a fun way to celebrate the work that they do for your cause. 

present from santa for secret santa online fundraising ideas

28. Secret Santa fundraiser   

A Secret Santa fundraiser works like a wish list campaign, where your supporters can buy items from a list as a type of in-kind donation for your organization, but instead of donating supplies to your organization, they would become a Secret Santa to someone your organization helps.  

To host a Secret Santa fundraiser, collect lists of people your nonprofit supports, and then allow your supporters to sign up to become someone’s personal Father Christmas! Your donors can purchase items from the list you provide and send them to your organization to distribute to those in need. 

29. Virtual gala 

Another great idea to include in an online fundraising guide is a virtual gala. Galas are often used to celebrate some of your major milestones and the supporters who made reaching them possible, but because it’s often a big event, you might not think about making it virtual.  

Ask your donors to register for your virtual gala using an event registration form so you can send them an exclusive link to the event. Your donors can then choose to dress up for the event or watch without turning the camera on! You can also send your gala attendees a gift basket in advance for them to enjoy while joining virtually.     

30. Volunteer social media challenge 

Volunteering is a perfect way for supporters to give to your cause, even if they can’t afford to give financially. However, you don’t need to host an event or meet up in-person for your supporters to volunteer. Create a social media challenge around volunteering for your supporters to show off their love for your cause. 

Market your volunteer challenge in advance and ask your followers to post a picture of themselves helping your cause. For example, an environmental organization could ask supporters to post a photo or video of them picking up litter somewhere in their community to keep the Earth clean and help curb pollution.  

31. Nonprofit collaborations   

Influencers aren’t the only people your organization can collaborate with. Another great virtual fundraising idea is to work with other nonprofits with missions that are connected with yours. This collaboration could work as a social media swap for a day or two or could be a joint donation drive. 

When you choose which organization to collaborate with, you want to look for a nonprofit that is connected to your cause without competing with it. For example, a food bank and an animal rescue could host a joint wish list drive for canned food and share facts about food needs for people and animals on both of your social platforms. 

32. Expert webinars 

A common online fundraising idea is to host expert webinars. Invite leaders in your cause to come and teach your donor base a more in-depth view of your cause. While workshops help teach your supporters a new skill, a webinar allows them access to experts they’d otherwise be unable to reach.  

Your donors can sign up for your webinar through an online event registration form and provide questions in advance, or you could plan a section of the webinar for questions from the audience. This way, your donors can talk about your cause with authority to their own networks, convincing them to donate as well.  

dying easter eggs as a DIY fundraiser

33. DIY fundraisers 

DIY fundraisers are a variation of peer-to-peer fundraising, but instead of participating in a challenge, your participants host their own event to raise donations for your cause. Your DIY fundraising participants sign up and create their fundraising page to share with their own event attendees. 

The event your participants host is up to them entirely and can be anything from an Easter egg decorating competition to a birthday party that asks for donations rather than physical gifts for the guest of honor. DIY fundraising is a great online fundraising idea because it puts the control in your participants’ hands.     

34. Donateathon livestream 

Livestreaming is a popular type of virtual fundraising, but there are popular variations that add more incentives for your donors. A common type of livestream amongst streamers is a “subathon” where every viewer that subscribes adds a small amount of time to how long the streamer stays on the livestream. 

For nonprofits, you can host a “doanteathon” livestream where every donation of a specific dollar amount adds time to the livestream countdown. Don’t worry about staying on the livestream forever though! You can create a cap on the length of your stream or create a rule that only donations before a certain fundraising goal can contribute to the time additions.   

35. Gaming fundraiser 

Everyone loves games! Get your supporters engaged with your online fundraising campaigns by introducing virtual gaming fundraisers. You can play anything from trivia to tabletop games all online, and you can even turn it into a tournament that your donors can pay to enter! 

To help you decide which games to play in your fundraiser, consider taking a survey of your supporters. Once you know the game, you can find what tools you’ll need to play online and create your event registration.    

Online fundraising best practices 

As you continue fundraising, you will learn some best practices along the way. Whether it’s always showing your donors appreciation or offering multiple ways to give, there are key tactics that can help increase your donor engagement and raise your overall revenue.  

While some of these online fundraising tactics are similar to your more traditional fundraising efforts, there are some key points in this online fundraising guide to keep in mind:   

  • Create an online fundraising strategy. Before you start online fundraising, form a plan on how you’re going to tackle each step of your online campaign. Decide who you’re going to target with each campaign and how you’re going to reach out to them. Consider what fundraising tools you’ll need and research various options. Use this strategy as a base to form more specific plans for each online fundraiser you host.  
  • Frequently communicate with your supporters/donors. Send emails and other communications to your supporters using your marketing tools. This is great for engaging your donors while keeping them updated on your latest online efforts and campaigns.  
  • Offer an option for recurring gifts. Within your online donation form, provide an option for donors who want to give more frequently. This is a great choice for those who want to give more but can’t at this time. Instead of one bigger gift, they can opt for a recurring donation of a smaller amount. Not only does this set the stage for future engagement, but it also provides more stable support for your mission.  
  • Encourage matching gifts. Determine if you’re able to embed a corporate philanthropy search tool within your online donation form for your donors to quickly check if they’re eligible and be presented with the appropriate guidelines.  
  • Maintain consistent branding. Depending on your online fundraising campaign, you’re likely engaging your supporters on multiple channels and platforms. Maintain consistent branding throughout all of your efforts, so your supporters can instantly recognize one of your campaigns as soon as they see it. 
  • Host an event alongside your online fundraising. One of the best ways to maximize your online fundraising efforts is to host an event alongside or leading up to it.  This gives your donors something to look forward to and provides you with an opportunity to solicit more gifts during the event. 
  • Suggest giving amounts with impact statements and images. Use your donation form to suggest giving amounts that will have a big impact on your organization and include statements and images on how that amount will help your cause.  
  • Keep your donor data updated. Don’t just collect donor data, keep it organized and up to date based on how your supporters interact with your organization. An outdated donor list can cause you to waste time and resources on people uninterested in your cause.  
  • Offer a memorial donation option. Many people want to give a donation to honor causes loved by people or even pets that they’ve lost. Giving your donors an option to remember their loved ones can help keep them engaged with your organization.    
  • Provide incentives. While donating can provide your supporters with a sense of fulfillment, there are other incentives that could motivate them as well. Look into offering merchandise or even an online badge for donors who give a certain amount or upgrade their gifts to recurring.    
  • Track your progress. To know if your online fundraising campaign was successful, you need to track the progress of the campaign. Analyze the results of each campaign and compare it to your original goals to see what’s working and what’s not.   
  • Segment your donors. Donor segmentation can help you save time and resources while keeping your communications personalized to your donors. There are many ways to segment your donors, so it’s important to choose which segments are most effective for your organization.     
  • Use a multi-channel marketing strategy. Marketing is a crucial part of any fundraising effort, but since you won’t interact with your donors in-person during an online fundraising campaign, using a multi-channel marketing strategy provides you more points of contact to engage with your donors and reach even more potential supporters.  
  • Take advantage of fundraising automation. Just like with donor segmentation, fundraising automation can help save your team time and money by streamlining repetitive tasks using technology. This helps keep your team from burning out while allowing them to focus on tasks to further your mission.   
people on a computer looking at online fundraising best practices for the online fundraising guide

The best practices listed in this online fundraising guide will help with planning and hosting successful online campaigns. 

How to create an online fundraising campaign 

  1. Months before it starts, plan out your timeline with SMART goals, deadlines, and tasks. A successful online fundraising campaign takes time to plan. Ensure that you have an achievable yet ambitious goal to inspire your supporters. The most effective goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time based (or SMART). Look at past campaign data to see what is feasible, lay out your campaign timeline, and assign tasks to team members to stay on track. 
  2. Encourage online gifts through your website and online donation form. Your donors need a dedicated place where they can give online. Set up a specific online donation page for your campaign that explains your goals and how it will help your mission.   
  3. Promote your online fundraising campaign on multiple channels for maximum exposure. Use multiple engagement channels to reach as many donors as possible. Look at where your audience is already active and prioritize those marketing channels. 
  4. Continue fundraising momentum by keeping up communication and expressing the impact of each donation. Motivate your donors by letting them know how your current campaign is going. As soon as they make a gift or a milestone is reached, send out an email showing your supporters the impact. For example, if you’re raising money for your school, specify that donations of a certain amount provide books for a classroom. Ensure your donors can visualize the difference they’re making. 
  5. Wrap up your event with donor appreciation letters and evaluate your success. Once your online fundraising campaign wraps up, summarize the results and express your appreciation to your donors. After all, without your donors you wouldn’t be able to accomplish half as much as you have.  

Many of these best practices and steps depend on the tools and software that your nonprofit uses. Without a stable and dedicated foundation, it’s hard to fundraise and continue growing.  

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Online fundraising platforms 

No online fundraising guide is complete without addressing the different types of platforms you can use to start your online fundraising campaign. Many online campaigns have different needs in terms of software, so consider any future fundraisers you may want to host as well. One simple way to start fundraising is through social media platforms. If you register as a nonprofit with Facebook or Instagram, they can double as fundraising platforms for your organization. Facebook Fundraisers are a great way to get started with online fundraising. 

Crowdfunding platforms are another popular way to raise money on the internet. You see plenty of GoFundMe and Kickstarter pages online, and crowdfunding is a helpful option when asking for donations because so many people are familiar with how those platforms work.  

However, there are online fundraising platforms made specifically to address the needs of nonprofits like yours. Fundraising platforms, such as Qgiv, provide tools that will help your organization do more than host a crowdfunding campaign. Investing in fundraising software that provides more than just a donation form will help you host future campaigns without restarting your research. From peer-to-peer fundraisers to events to text donations, find a fundraising platform that meets all the needs your organization has for online fundraising. 

Online fundraising tools 

When you’re researching the best platform for your organization, you’ll find an abundance of online fundraising tools and software that your nonprofit can invest in depending on the type of campaigns you want to host and your unique mission. Consider the following fundraising tools when conducting your research:  

  • Customizable online donation forms. Online donation forms are a must for your online fundraiser. After all, it’s one of the easiest ways for your donors to give! Ensure that you’re able to customize each of your online donation forms to your unique campaign. Guarantee you’re asking the right questions and collecting key data on your supporters!  
  • Payment processing tools. Digital wallets help make online fundraising even more convenient than it already is. By providing your donors with different payment options, you provide your donors with more flexibility and a faster way to donate to your cause.  
  • Event management tools. Fundraising events help you engage your supporters and raise money. Make sure everything goes according to plan with capable event management and registration tools. Host your event registration on your main website, create a compelling event page, and watch your supporters get excited! 
  • Report and data analytics. Whether it’s from your registration forms or digital engagements you have with supporters, virtual fundraising provides you with valuable donor data. Invest in tools to collect that data and compile reports in order to make insights on your average supporter.  
graph of online donation form overview tracking for the online fundraising guide

While it’s possible to find separate tools that perform these basic online fundraising functions, a piecemeal solution isn’t always the best move, especially for growing organizations. You’ll likely have to keep finding additions to your system and go through lengthy integration processes to ensure your data is accessible and centralized in one place.  

That’s why this online fundraising guide recommends investing in a comprehensive online fundraising platform that meets all of your nonprofit’s needs. We know you value your donors, so you deserve to have a fundraising platform with a dedicated system of tools that will sustain your organization and your donors as you grow.   

Along with the core tools mentioned earlier, here are some of Qgiv’s key offerings:  

  • Recurring donation options to increase overall retention rates and encourage more stable support.  
  • GiftAssist which enables your donors to easily offset the processing costs that come with an online gift. This means more of their original donation goes to your mission. As soon as a donation with GiftAssist is made, you can send a special thank-you to that individual.  
  • Fundraising thermometers that show real-time progress towards your fundraising goal. Post this on your online fundraising page to motivate your donors and cultivate some excitement!  
  • Text fundraising tools that your supporters can use to donate whenever they want with both text-to-give and text-to-donate options.  
  • Peer-to-peer fundraising tools to facilitate a successful social campaign where each participant can create their own unique page, and you can easily track everyone’s progress towards your ultimate goal! 
  • Auction platform with multiple bidding options to increase convenience and enjoyment for your auction attendees. With all important processes accessible from whatever device your donors choose, the entire experience is streamlined, and your guests can check out with their prize immediately.  
  • The Givi fundraising app allows your donors to control their gifts and event tickets directly through an app on their phone. Givi also works for auction bidding, providing the entire fundraising experience in the palm of their hand. 
  • Integrations with key CRMs like Salesforce, Raiser’s Edge, Bloomerang, and more! All your key fundraising data is collected in a secure and safe place with a comprehensive view of all your data to help you make fundraising insights and better decisions.  
screenshot of Qgiv's $50 recurring donation option to sponsor a kennel

Frequently asked questions 

To wrap up this online fundraising guide, here’s a list of frequently asked questions that many fundraisers have when they first begin:  

1. Why should I use online fundraising?   

Technology is constantly expanding, and online donations are increasing with it. In fact, online donations average at $204, and younger generations prefer making donations either online or through social media. Virtual fundraising is convenient for donors, and because it isn’t as expensive as hosting an in-person event, it saves your organization money.       

2. How do I start fundraising online?  

In order to start fundraising online, you need the necessary tools that empower your donors to give. For the basics, invest in an online donation form as a way to process online gifts! For a comprehensive and scalable solution, find a full fundraising platform that will help your organization grow.  

3. How can my nonprofit accept donations online?  

To start accepting donations online you need an online merchant account, payment processor, and an online donation form. Supporters simply fill out the form, input their financial information, and the funds are deposited in your account.  

4. How can I ask for online gifts from supporters?  

If you want to start asking for online donations, advertise this new channel of engagement to your donors. Promote your online donation page throughout your website, in your email announcements, and in social media posts.  

5. What kinds of online fundraising campaigns can I host?  

The type of online campaigns you host is dependent on the type of organization you are and the tools and resources you have. Consider what your main mission is and the online strategy that will bring the most success. For instance, if you’re trying to raise money for your university, think about where your audience is already active. Many students are big on social media and would love a social fundraising campaign.  

6. How can online fundraising help my annual fund?  

As you already know, your annual fund is the money you raise throughout the year in order to cover your nonprofit’s day-to-day functions and support the campaigns you host. Dedicate a yearly online fundraising campaign to your annual fund, providing your nonprofit a way to have consistent support.   

7. How successful is online fundraising?  

It’s clear that online fundraising is only growing in popularity each year. In 2021, online giving saw a 9% increase. The more we depend on technology, the more this will become a main form of engagement.  

8. What is a fundraising platform?  

A fundraising platform hosts the tools and software that you’ll use to conduct all of your fundraising efforts. A good platform features customizable online donation forms, communications marketing tools, and a place to compile and view reports 

9. How can I track my online fundraising progress?  

To track your virtual fundraising progress, establish a dedicated way to manage and collect key data in real time. This is dependent on the fundraising platform and CRM you decide to invest in. Ensure all your data is centralized within your CRM, giving you a comprehensive look at how your campaign is doing. Use your reports and data trends to pinpoint your weaknesses and your strengths.  

10. Is there a way my donors can manage their donations?  

Donation accounts allow your donors to manage their giving, event tickets, and payment information all in one place. Your donors can upgrade or change their recurring gifts and save their payment information to make giving even easier. They can also manage and access any event tickets they’ve purchased and use their account on the Givi app to streamline their check-in at events. 

Additional resources  

Online fundraising may seem daunting at first, but with the right tools and resources, your nonprofit can start collecting gifts immediately! Use this online fundraising guide to determine the best ways for your organization to use the internet to raise money for your cause. If you want to do some additional research before you get started, here are some other helpful articles:  

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