Online fundraising for nonprofits is becoming more important every year as part of a sustainable overall fundraising strategy. But what are your options for online fundraising? Today in the CharityNet USA Blog, we’re looking at how to raise money for charity online!
The simplest form of online fundraising for nonprofits is the direct donation. This is as easy as putting a little “Donate Now” button on your website. A trusted third-party online payment service, such as PayPal, will handle the actual transactions and provide the cybersecurity that your donors expect.
However, this simplicity is deceptive, because donation buttons by themselves don’t tend to raise a lot of money. You can do your best by making your donation button prominent on your site and having a well-written page with a strong ask, but to truly unlock the potential of direct donations through the Internet you need a “hook,” something interesting to draw people in.
Here are some examples of hooks that can help you raise money for charity online:
- Email Fundraising: This is a staple of online fundraising for nonprofits. Your donors probably aren’t visiting your site on a regular basis, but if you have them in your email list then you can bring your strong ask to them. (Or at least to their inboxes!) Fundraising emails, when they are well-designed, visually attractive, and optimized for your goal, are a great opportunity to reach out to donors on topics that interest them and pivot to your fundraising ask. Just remember: Nobody likes to be asked for money every day. Keep these emails infrequent, or you’ll burn out your subscriber list!
- Matching Donations: Matching donations are the charity world’s equivalent of running a sale. They are an exciting form of online fundraising for nonprofits, because with matching donations your donors get to feel like they’re donating twice as much. People love sales, and, sometimes, simply offering matching donations will be enough all by itself to get donors to click on your donation button and chip in. Of course, to be able to offer matching donations in the first place you need big-dollar donors to step up to the plate. CharityNet USA can help you build strong relationships with corporate and big-dollar individual donors, including sponsorships and matching donations. Once you get your first sponsors, matching donations are an important part of how to raise money for charity online. And here’s a tip: If your pool of matching funds is limited, that can actually work to your advantage by creating a sense of urgency: “Donate now to get your donation doubled!”
- Online Telethons: Styled after the TV telethons of the 20th century, online telethons typically involve a bunch of people getting together in front of a camera and doing fun things, like playing video games and being silly, 24 hours a day for roughly a week. Donors, instead of calling in on the phones, click on your website’s direct donation button and give online. Charities like Desert Bus for Hope and Games Done Quick use this method of online fundraising for nonprofits to great effect, raising hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars annually. (Though the planning takes many months!) You don’t have to limit yourself to video games: Cooking, gardening, animal care, music, and sports are just a few possibilities.
One of the trendiest avenues of online fundraising for nonprofits nowadays is crowdfunding. We recently wrote an entire article on crowdfunding, so go check it out for an in-depth look at whether crowdfunding is viable for your organization, and how to raise money for charity online through crowdfunding.
Selling merchandise, or just “merch” nowadays, is a pillar of online fundraising for nonprofits. It helps you tap into two types of donors:
- People who like to get something in return for their donation
- People who support your cause so much that they want to wear it
“Merchandise” usually means t-shirts, or similar garments like hoodies, but other common merchandise options, to name a few, include:
- Tote bags
- Pet supplies.
At CharityNet USA, we can advise you through the entire e-commerce development process, from determining which products would be likeliest to serve your fundraising goals, to doing the graphic design on those products, to integrating an online shop into your website.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a way of engaging your most passionate supporters to run fundraisers of their own on your behalf.
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, takes full advantage of peer-to-peer online fundraising. For nonprofits, which often operate on small budgets and have very limited resources, delegating work to your most loyal donors and supporters is an incredibly valuable force-multiplier.
Despite how busy everybody always seems to be, many people are looking for meaningful activities to enrich their lives, and peer-to-peer fundraising for a noble cause can be deeply rewarding and empowering.
Contests & Giveaways
Finally, there’s the old classic of running a contest or giveaway. This is a very popular form of online fundraising, for nonprofits and everyone else. Contests and giveaways work best when your donors have some additional willingness to donate that you are not currently tapping into. By getting them excited about the chance to win a fabulous prize, you’re giving your donors one more way to support the good work you do.
Learn More About Online Fundraising for Nonprofits at CharityNet USA
There’s a lot more background information and strategy than can ever fit into a single blog! At CharityNet USA, we can help you develop your fundraising strategy to grow your organization and make it sustainable over the long run. From getting your nonprofit tax exemptions to getting your bookkeeping done properly, we can also help you master the many moving parts of your fundraising activities.