Online fundraising has become one of the most popular and effective ways for charities and not for profits to interact with donors. Charities are increasingly collaborating with online fundraising platforms such as JustGiving to deliver personalised campaigns, which have shown to drive donations and raise awareness of their cause. Another key to creating a successful campaign is social media, which can spread messages quickly, and in some cases make a campaign go viral.
As more and more people access the internet on smartphones, it is important that fundraising campaigns are compatible with mobile technology.
Finally, with any type of fundraising, it is important to bear in mind who the target donors are, how best to communicate with them, and how they would like to donate.
Below are some of the most popular online fundraising platforms and tips on how to use them effectively:
Crowdfunding allows a lot of people to make a small donation, which collectively makes a greater impact. Several crowdfunding pages were set up for those affected by the Grenfell Tower fire in London, with one raising more than £40,000 in a matter of hours. There are many different sites available but they should be used as part of a wider communications plan.
2. Online donation sites
Websites such as Just Giving and VirginMoney can be useful as they allow individual supporters or volunteers to fundraise on your behalf.
One example of a successful collaboration with an online platform was the British Heart Foundation’s personalised video campaign for the 2016 London to Brighton bike ride.
The BHF teamed up with JustGiving to target people with active donation pages in the week ahead of the event. The campaign led to a 14 per cent increase in the charity’s JustGiving donations, compared with the previous year.
A spokesperson for JustGiving, said: "These sort of campaigns demonstrate clearly the importance of engaging, personalised campaigning that can be easily shared on social media and help drive up fundraising totals."
3. Donation buttons
If you include a donation button it needs to be a simple process that is smartphone-friendly. Make sure your fundraising page is linked into your payment system or PayPal account - if it is too complicated, donors will give up. Offering fixed donation amounts can make it quicker, but always include the option of ‘other amount’. Another incentive is to tell people what their donation will buy.
Publicising your organisation’s progress using an online donation tracker can encourage people to help you reach the end goal.
4. Social media
Online tools such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat, have been responsible for some of the most iconic fundraising campaigns. The #icebucketchallenge and #nomakeupselfie were hugely successful and raised a lot of money for charity.
To get the most out of social media you need to create a community around your campaign and keep them up to date with its progress. Your campaign needs to have an emotive message that people can relate to; content that is easily shared through tweets or videos; an easy donation process and, if possible, a high profile person or celebrity to endorse the campaign and grow followers.
In September, Facebook launched a set of fundraising tools available to charities. They include a ‘donate’ button for individuals’ pages, a forum called the Facebook Fundraisers community, which allows people to raise funds and awareness, and the ability to collect donations through Facebook Live broadcasts.
5. Text donations
Text donations are an incredibly quick and easy way to give and can be used to target a new group of supporters. But it will only work if you have an eye-catching campaign that prompts a quick response. To help organisations do this, Vodafone has partnered with JustGiving to offer a free text giving service.
One of the most successful digital campaigns of last year, and winner at the National Fundraising Awards, was Alzheimer’s Research UK ‘Running Down Dementia’. The campaign used a digital platform to provide an interactive virtual running experience. Without the costs of a physical event, the charity successfully created a movement of people all working towards the same goal - participants pledged to run 100km, or more, to raise £100 for the charity.
Kenneth Foreman, Senior Sporting Events and Partnerships Manager at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: "We focused on creating a virtual community that gave people the opportunity to share their experiences, encourage one another in moving closer to their goals and celebrate milestones.
"By using digital technologies such as Facebook groups, live video streams and leader boards, we kept the community involved and engaged throughout the campaign.’’