These days most charities conduct some form of online fundraising – £2.4 billion is now donated annually online and by mobile in the UK. However, few smaller charities make the most of the opportunities provided by online fundraising. Indeed, 83% of local charities believe that they need more support with their online fundraising (Localgiving, 2016).
This article is aimed at helping small charities reach their online fundraising potential.
Why fundraise online?
- Online fundraising can help you attract new donors while keeping current supporters engaged with your work.
- Online fundraising can be less timing consuming and more cost effective than traditional offline fundraising methods.
Where to start?
There are two basic ways to fundraise online:
- The DIY approach: Your group can start fundraising online immediately by placing a payment button (e.g. PayPal) on your website. If you’re confident online and have the skills, this can often be the most cost-effective solution, but you will still have to make arrangements to collect Gift Aid.
- Online fundraising platforms: Fundraising platforms not only make receiving donations easy but offer numerous other benefits, including: fundraising information and resources, opportunities to participate in match fund campaigns and automated Gift Aid claiming (meaning your donations can be worth 25% or more) and help from experts.
Choosing and online fundraising platform
There are numerous platforms to choose from so knowing where to start can be a challenge. Here are a few:
|Platform||Cost||Positives||Points to watch|
|BT MyDonate||Free to join, no commission, but transaction fee.||Free to join platform.||Limited support – not totally free.
“Ideal for experienced fundraisers”
|Localgiving||£96 pa, 5% commission, transaction fee.||Lots of support, free access to match funding and grants, live help and training. Also serves local charitable groups that are unregistered.||Only available to charities or groups serving local communities in the UK.
“Ideal for local groups with strong volunteer dependency.”
|JustGiving||£18 pm (£216 pa), 5% commission, transaction fee.
(Larger charities pay more.)
|Brand leader, major platform.||For profit organisation, reflected in fee structure.
“Ideal if a quick decision is needed.”
Setting up a fundraising page
Whether you have a fundraising page on your own website or on a platform you should think carefully about how to engage your supporters.
- Time limited appeals, focussed on achieving a specific goal can often be very effective. For example, “we are aiming to raise funds to pay for this trip by this time”. This allows you to build momentum around your cause and gives supporters an understanding of how their money will be spent.
- Think carefully about your donation suggestion or “ask” (the amount you are asking for). People are strongly influenced by the ask on a fundraising page. It is important to strike a balance between maximising the amount people give, and ensuring people aren’t put off.
- Make your campaign attention grabbing. People’s attention span can be very short – particularly online. Make sure the language and images you use are arresting. Don’t be afraid to be emotive and get quickly to the point. Personal stories and quotes are usually more effective than statistics.
Spreading the message online
Setting up a fundraising page alone will not bring in donors. So…
- Contact your immediate network – your friends, family, colleagues and recent supports. This allows you to spread the word in an organic but targeted way (friends of friends often share interests).
- Directly contact as many of your supporters as you can. This may be via email or newsletter. Encourage them to share your campaign on social media with their friends, family and colleagues.
- Make sure you always thank your supporters for their donation. Whenever possible give them further opportunities to support your cause – e.g. by signing up to a newsletter or sharing your appeal with their contacts.
- Ensure your fundraising page is shared far and wide. Spread the word across all your social media channels (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) and encourage people to share or retweet to help your cause.