How to choose the best digital fundraising platform for your not-for-profit
Digital is the fastest-growing donor acquisition channel. The easiest way for not-for-profits to run online fundraising and donation campaigns is through a digital fundraising platform.
A digital fundraising platform is an online service that allows you to receive online donations, run peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns and engage with fundraisers and their supporters.
Recently, popular fundraising platform EverydayHero announced they will be shutting down, leaving many not-for-profits looking for a good alternative. While there are many options out there, including Raisely, Evenico, MyCause, and Funraisin, selecting the right platform can be challenging. In this guide, we’ll walk you through how we help our clients make their choice.
Why should you invest in a digital fundraising platform?
A digital fundraising platform makes it easy to reach your supporters
Digital fundraising platforms are a simple way to set up virtual fundraising and donation campaigns without the need for complex coding or web design skills.
Many platforms are designed to make it easy for you to set up your fundraising campaigns, optimise them for donations and engage with supporters—all in one place. With a fundraising platform, you can set up a peer-to-peer or direct fundraising campaign in a few hours.
These platforms integrate best digital fundraising practices
Fundraising platforms are single-mindedly focused on creating the best fundraising and donor experience they can. That means they include features like offering multiple donation ask amounts and including key messages ‘above the fold’ (before the user scrolls). It’s no wonder that even large not-for-profits like the Salvation Army use online fundraising platforms for big campaigns. These platforms are designed to make it easy for the donor to give to you, by ensuring a smooth transaction process with minimal steps.
How to choose a digital fundraising platform
With so many providers out there, choosing the best digital fundraising platform for your not-for-profit depends on both your organisation and the donor experience you want to create.
Make sure the platform provides the best experience for your donors
Whether it’s as part of a campaign or for a peer-to-peer fundraiser, donors should find it easy to donate.
When choosing a fundraising platform, consider whether the process of donating or signing up to fundraise is enjoyable for the supporter. Does it take more than a few clicks? Is it frictionless or are there multiple forms to fill out?
The platform should keep all the key information ‘above the fold’ (before the user scrolls) and give you the option to customise the donation ask amounts.
Source: CatholicCare Australia. Ensure important information stays above the fold.
The fewer steps needed to complete the transaction, the better. Complicated sign-up processes lead to higher drop-offs in conversion rates. Ensure your platform of choice reduces the number of steps (such as buttons clicked or information entered) before the transaction.
Don’t crowd the process with unnecessary details up-front—you can always ask for extra details after the sign up process.
Once they’ve signed-up to become a fundraiser, or once they have donated, your supporter should receive an encouraging confirmation email. Ensure the platform allows integration with your email platform, or provides automated emails to coach and develop your supporters.
Choose a platform that suits your team’s needs and capabilities
The most common mistake in selecting a platform: not considering whether your team is equipped to use it. Features and integrations are meaningless if they go unused because the implementation team doesn’t know how, or doesn’t have time, to set them up.
For teams that aren’t familiar with coding, a drag and drop interface and some pre-set templates will make it easy to customise and build your fundraising page. If your team is experienced with web design or coding, they might want the additional flexibility of editable HTML and stylesheets.
The platform should also make it easy for your team to learn the ins and outs of different features. When investigating different tools, look at their learning resources, their knowledge base, and their customer support. If you need extra customisations, or last-minute support at campaign launch, will the platform make this easy to access?
Consider which cost structure works best for you
Digital fundraising platforms typically use one of three cost structures: free for the charity, percentage of donations, or flat fee. Consider which of these works for your organisation:
Free (supported by an optional donor contribution)
Small organisations looking to reduce costs. Flexibility, customisation and user support is not required.
Percentage of donations
High-volume campaigns. Full CMS, integration and user support is required.
Ensure the platform integrates with the software you use
Make sure that your platform is able to integrate with, or ‘speak to’, other important pieces of software used by your team. The goal is to automate as many processes as possible: you shouldn’t need to export data in a spreadsheet and import it to another platform.
For example, look for these integrations:
CRM: when a fundraiser signs up, or a donor donates, they should be automatically added to your CRM and segmented based on attributes like the campaign they participated in and amount raised (value), so that you can personalise your communications in the future.
Email platform: if the platform doesn’t offer in-built email communications, look at whether it can be integrated with your existing email platform, like Mailchimp or Campaign Monitor. This will allow you to build fundraiser ‘trigger’ emails (for example, to congratulate fundraisers when they reach a certain amount raised) or coaching journeys (giving fundraisers tips to engage with potential donors).
Accounting software: ensure your donations are able to feed into your accounts for reporting and budget tracking, with minimal manual reconciliation.
Consider additional features that can help increase your fundraising revenue
Many fundraising platforms offer additional features that motivate your supporters to maximise their fundraising. In our experience, these features have a significant impact in fundraising success:
Fundraiser personalisation: the fundraiser is able to add a profile picture and personal note on why they are fundraising
Fundraising updates: the fundraiser can post regular updates about the cause or their efforts
Gamification: when the fundraiser reaches certain milestones, they receive badges or unlock extra privileges
Segmentation: the platform allows you to segment supporters based on their donation amounts or other criteria, and tailor your communications accordingly.
Digital fundraising platforms offer a simple yet effective way to solicit donations or run peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns online, so selecting the right platform is worth the time investment. If you’re looking for help in making a decision, our team can help.