Online fundraising is one of the most important ways to connect with donors today, and you’ve got more options than ever before. Tried and true methods of raising money have been reimagined for a new, virtual, and anytime, anywhere world. With social giving, virtual events, hybrid experiences, and more, there are tons of new and flexible ways to make your mark online.
Nonprofits of all sizes have seen incredible results with online campaigns, challenges, giving days, and other creative ways to engage today’s donors. Almost half of the organizations we surveyed for our 2021 Fundraising Outlook Report said they generated 20% or more of their annual operating budget through online fundraising and events!
Maybe your nonprofit hasn’t fully tapped into the power of online fundraising yet. Or maybe you’re looking for fresh, innovative online fundraising ideas. Either way, we’ve got you covered.
With the growing popularity of fundraising technology and virtual tools, the boom in online fundraising will continue far past the pandemic and shape the future of fundraising. The key is to make your online fundraisers stand out and engage your virtual supporters! To help, we’ve gathered our favorite online fundraising ideas.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a powerful way to bring people together, educate them about your mission, and raise support for your cause. P2P fundraising is already a fairly common tactic for nonprofits, but have you thought about the benefits of giving your campaigns a new virtual twist?
Taking your campaign virtual engages participants and supporters online, in fun, new, and creative ways that, if executed correctly, can amplify your donations. Team-based fundraising competitions are an excellent way to get started. Be sure to mix in a few virtual gatherings along the way and cap it off with an exciting hybrid grand finale event!
Charity auctions have always been reliable fundraising events for nonprofits. Now, with the help of mobile bidding tools and virtual fundraising software, it’s easier than ever to take your auction virtual.
In many ways, virtual auctions are even easier and more cost-effective to plan than traditional live or silent auctions. To host an online auction, procure the perfect collection of items, set up your virtual event center, and start promoting your auction to donors. Bonus points if you recruit ambassadors to secure even more registrants for your virtual auction!
Hosting a social media contest for your supporters is a low-stress way to boost engagement any time of year. Come up with a contest that relates to your mission and is easy for followers to join. All you’ll need is:
Get creative to come up with the perfect idea for your own audience, then launch the contest, encourage plenty of engagement, and pick your lucky winners! To raise money during a social media contest, ask participants to include a link to your donation page on their posts and to share it far and wide with friends and family.
Raising awareness for your cause and increasing your nonprofit’s visibility can be just as important as securing donations. An online awareness campaign is a great way to reach wide new audiences of potential supporters and activate net new donors along the way. Our Giving Experience Study found that 31% of donors who gave online during the pandemic were first-time givers—never underestimate the power of expanding your reach!
Social media and live-streamed community events are excellent choices for highlighting your mission, boosting engagement, and growing your base of support. If you launch an awareness campaign, mix and match a few of the other ideas in this list to maximize your reach.
Ambassadors campaigns are a form of peer-to-peer fundraising ideal for generating lots of excitement, harnessing your most passionate supporters, and increased proceeds raised before your event. Recruit well-connected supporters, set them up with their own donation pages and personal coaching, then set them loose to spread the word! Ambassador campaigns can be easily adapted for all kinds of organizations and fundraising contexts.
Go completely virtual with a multi-day online event—an ambassador or peer-to-peer campaign leading up to a hybrid or virtual gala complete with an auction, entertainment, games, and more. Use comprehensive online event and fundraising software to handle every stage of your gala, from registering guests to processing bids and streamlining checkout.
The power of multimedia allows nonprofits to build connections with donors and humanize their mission, no matter where supporters are located. As you fundraise online, look for opportunities to launch live donation appeals. Use nonprofit-specific livestreaming tools to connect with donors and drive giving before, during, and after your events and campaigns.
A virtual fitness challenge can entice your donors to get active for a good cause. People are using fitness trackers now more than ever. Why not use them to create a difference? In order for your fitness challenge to be a success, be sure you get creative and have the right technology to support it. To raise money, have participants secure pledges from their friends and family.
You’ve heard of Giving Tuesday. Why not create your own buzzworthy giving day all about your mission and community? Use a combination of social media, email, peer-to-peer fundraising, and livestreamed announcements and appeals to launch your giving day. Give it a memorable hashtag and encourage tons of online engagement.
Use your livestreaming capabilities (or just go live on social media!) to give supporters a backstage glimpse of your work. You could ask supporters to pay to register for the scheduled tour, or make plenty of live appeals while streaming it for free to your entire audience. The main idea is simply to connect to your cause by letting them feel like part of the team.
Are there interesting public conversations related to your mission? Or would donors just be interested to learn more about your cause from experts in the field? Recruit experts, local leaders, even your executive director to join a virtual roundtable discussion or seminar series. Have supporters pay to register in advance, then develop an engaging program and Q&A sessions.
Walkathons are easily adapted to the world of online fundraising. Use peer-to-peer fundraising software to let participants set up donation pages and ask for pledges online. On the big day, everyone might walk separately on their own time and log their distances, or you could also go for a hybrid option and gather a group to walk and celebrate together in person.
Matching gifts are a form of corporate philanthropy that’s often overlooked by nonprofits. Many employers will financially match donations made by employees to eligible nonprofits, meaning double the impact from just one gift. Promote these programs to your donors and ask them to check their own eligibility with a quick social media and email campaign.
This online fundraising method involves creating a central campaign page that explains what you’re raising money for. Then, encourage supporters to share your project far and wide on social media. These campaigns work best for especially eye-catching or emotionally compelling, time-bound projects.
Partnering with other organizations can help grow your audience and cover event expenses through sponsorships. To combine the power of corporate support with peer-to-peer fundraising, try a corporate fundraising challenge! We call it competitive social fundraising. Use P2P software to launch a campaign that allows individuals, teams within a company, or multiple companies to compete to see who can raise the most for your cause.
Seek out supporters with a large social media following and ask if they would be willing to partner with your organization. For-profit businesses have formed relationships with influencers, so who’s to say nonprofits can’t do the same? Ask them to share about their personal experience with your organization’s mission or promote your online fundraising campaign.
This online fundraising idea is an effortless way to generate year-round revenue. Create custom merch featuring your logo or other relevant designs and offer them for sale online, either on your own website or using a third-party service. Get creative to come up with the right offerings for your audience. T-shirts, hats, mugs, tote bags, and more are all classic choices.
Membership programs are a great way for nonprofits to generate steady support. But make sure to actively incentivize joining your program in order to turn it into a more active online fundraising channel! Free merchandise, ticket discounts, VIP access, special volunteering opportunities, and more can all be great perks that will help you grow your program.
Similar to your membership program, offering recurring donation options makes it easy to generate more support for your nonprofit with less work. Use online donation software that makes it easy for donors to opt into monthly giving. Then, use a quick social media and email campaign to show donors the increased impact that their continued donations will have.
Text-to-give allows donors to quickly give via their mobile phones, making it a perfect online fundraising addition for your toolkit. During any fundraising campaign, awareness day, or live, hybrid, or virtual event, simply remind donors that they can easily give via text. Streamlining the donation process is a surefire way to encourage more gifts from donors.
Now that we’ve covered the essentials of online fundraising, let’s dive into some keys to success. Here are the most important strategy components to keep in mind:
In order to host a successful campaign, you’ll first need to determine what success means to your organization. It’s important to qualify and quantify exactly what you want to gain from your online fundraising campaign, as that goal informs your planning strategy. In addition to raising money, you might also use an online fundraising campaign or event to reach other goals, such as:
No matter what your goals are, make sure that you have a way to quantify them. If you don’t have a metric for success going in, you can’t measure how well you did or improve your strategies going forward.
Now that you know what you’d like your campaign to accomplish, you’ll need to figure out what type of online fundraising software will get the job done.
This software provides easy-to-use tools for you to program a high-quality virtual event experience – ultimately driving more fundraising activity and proceeds to fuel your mission. With this software, supporters can:
These are must-have features for your online fundraising success, so rounding them up into a powerful and flexible software solution is an important choice for nonprofits.
Explore these success stories to learn how organizations of all shapes and sizes have revolutionized online fundraising with OneCause.
It should come as no surprise that as you move your fundraising online, you’ll need to bring your marketing efforts online as well. Social media, video, and email marketing are just a few inexpensive ways to resonate with potential donors.
Your nonprofit’s database will be essential for online fundraising campaigns. Use your database or CRM to help you research your audience during the planning process, and then ensure all new engagement data is automatically reported once your campaign begins. Online fundraising software that integrates with your database will be invaluable. An organized, integrated data system will allow you to:
Look for nonprofit-specific CRMs that include the intuitive features you need. Ease of use, integrations with your other tools, and simple segmentation features are all must-haves.
Harnessing the power of peer influence keeps an online fundraising campaign rolling. Social engagement tools, such as gamification, are critical to taking your campaign to the next level. Consider these top gamification strategies:
These pro online fundraising tips can give your next campaign or virtual event an edge and help it generate more interest, engagement, and support for your mission.
In order to have a successful online fundraising campaign, you need easy-to-use online tools. Your fundraising page should be customized and personalized with campaign-specific images, messaging, and goals. Be sure to make the giving experience simple by following these key steps:
Here’s an example of one step on an effective fundraising page. It keeps the process simple, provides options, and clearly illustrates impact:
In order to cultivate better relationships with your supporters online, your organization has to be consistent in its outreach, communications, and engagement. One of the easiest ways to do this in your next online fundraising campaign is to promote additional ways to stay engaged. Your organization should offer a variety of differing opportunities in order to maintain relationships with as many of your supporters as you can. Some ideas include:
Offering many different options to your many supporters ensures that more of your community remains involved with your organization, while also demonstrating that you understand your various supporters’ needs and engagement preferences.
Giving levels offer your supporters donation choices in the form of pre-set amounts. Rather than leaving the donation amount up to your supporter, think about providing giving levels that can serve as real-time impact statements for your organization. It might look like this:
The more details you can provide, the better! Making the need real will make the request actionable. People want to know how their donation will make a difference, and adding giving levels to your form can show clear impact.
Stories are powerful tools. They help us make sense of the noise that surrounds us by putting it into a form that makes sense and moves us. For nonprofits, there’s no better tool to connect with volunteers, clients, and donors. But why is storytelling so important in online fundraising?
Our favorite way to practice storytelling is through video. Get out your smartphone camera (we aren’t looking to make a Hollywood movie here!) and capture the story of your mission. Your donors will be able to connect with your mission in a whole new way and you’ll be able to take your online fundraising campaign to the next level.
Data is the key to unlocking your online fundraising potential. It allows you to better engage with donors and grow at scale (while still being personalized). Take your online fundraising to the next level by using data to segment your donors and target your campaigns.
How you decide to segment your donors depends on the needs of your organization and will help make sure you are connecting with donors in ways that will maximize impact. You might group donors into different segments based on:
By actively recording this data in your CRM, you can easily filter and sort donors into new segments over time. This is especially valuable for email and direct mail campaigns that promote your online fundraising.
In order to accurately record and analyze all of your engagement data, you’ll need to integrate your online fundraising software. This will save time (and headaches) while also giving you a powerful foundation of data to guide your strategies in the future. Check out these benefits:
Multichannel marketing refers to using a variety of mediums to spread the word about your online campaigns and events. This will increase the chances that your promotions catch supporters’ attention and that they’ll be exposed to your campaign through multiple touchpoints. By keeping it on their minds, you’ll drastically increase the chances that supporters will click to donate or sign-up once you send a final call to action message.
Use methods such as:
A tactful multi-channel strategy is key to attaining maximum engagement with your online fundraising. But don’t try to do it all at once! Choose 2-3 tactics that work best for your team and your mission, and use those to anchor your strategy.
If you’re ready to take the next steps in online fundraising, you’ll need to build an online fundraising toolkit to set you up for success. Look for comprehensive platforms that make it easy to adapt your plans for the virtual fundraising era with built-in donation tools, peer-to-peer, marketing features, mobile bidding, and live-streaming capabilities. OneCause can help.
Designed with flexibility in mind, OneCause makes online giving and virtual fundraising easy for any organization. Our platform will help you cover all your bases, engage donors, save time, and raise more. Take our platform for a test drive to see it in action! Or, keep researching online fundraising best practices with these additional resources: