Top Ten Tools to Help You Run a Highly Successful Fundraiser Online
When you run a nonprofit, a significant portion of your resources are dedicated solely to fundraiser planning. Donations fuel your mission, so it is no surprise that soliciting your donors is such an important part of what you do. In today’s world, there are many fundraising tools that can simplify and streamline this process, for in-person and online events. In this article we will break down the most advantageous ones out there, from the least to the most comprehensive, so that you can make the best choice for your organization.
- How to Decide What Fundraising Tools Your Nonprofit Needs
- Best Communication Tools for Promotion and Social Media Giving
- Best Online Fundraising Platforms
- Best Payment Processors for Nonprofits
- Final Thoughts
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How to Decide What Fundraising Tools Your Nonprofit Needs
Fundraising tools like GoFundMe, HootSuite, Springly and GreaterGiving are designed to organize, consolidate and streamline the logistics behind hosting a fundraising event. They should ease the amount of effort you have to put into making your campaigns successful, as well as take some of the busywork off of your staff so that they can focus on other more personable endeavors, like making connections with your organization’s supporters.
No two nonprofits are exactly the same, and nor are their needs, so it is important to take a close look at what you can accomplish with each fundraising tool before you attempt to integrate one (or multiple) into your workplace. For example, while many systems can help you manage in-person events, most have features that are generally geared toward online events - so whichever type of campaign you intend on running the most should figure strongly.
It is important to note that there are highly comprehensive and multifaceted tools out there, which generally fall under the umbrella of "software", as well as much simpler ones, which will only take care of one or a few aspects of running a fundraiser. Just to what extent you need help and guidance from a fundraising tool depends on factors like how large your organization is, and what skills members of your staff possess already. At any rate, this guide should help you ask the right questions so you know what you are looking for, and how to plan accordingly.
Step One: Create a Focus Group
Gather several staff members with a solid, broad view on the functions of your organization. Conduct an open forum that aims to outline what your nonprofit needs to successfully run a fundraiser. Ask questions like: what type of fundraisers do you intend to run? Do you want to create a donation page for a peer-to-peer campaign? How about a silent auction? How much time will using a digital tool save you and your staff? Are you positive that you could run a more fruitful event if you had better fundraising data management tools? In short - what exactly do you need help with? Have a member of your staff record your conversations so you can keep track of any pertinent ideas and insights.
Matt is reaching out to put together a focus group!
Step Two: List Your Current Resources
First and foremost, what is your budget for fundraising software? A company could be all you want and more, but you are not going to be able to work with them if you cannot afford their services. Next, what are your human resources? Do you have a web designer, or would you benefit from a platform that helps you create one? How about a social media expert? Finally, take a look at what software and communications tools you already have. Are you happy with them, or do you think your services need expanding? How would any services you are interested in integrate into the rest of your network of fundraising tools?
Step Three: Research Companies
Have one person in your group research the companies that offer any services you have decided will serve your organization best. Brands should list the top features available for each software they provide, prices, and any pros and cons. Compare this list against your list of needs, the resources you already have, as well as your budget. You will find yourself narrowing down your options more and more.
For example, if one of your volunteers is a video editor and is willing to take on the task, you do not need to waste money on editing software to make donation videos. Alternatively, if no one on your staff has any experience with social media and does not plan on gaining experience any time soon, then your nonprofit may just benefit from a fundraising software that is exceptionally attuned to social networking.
Pro Tip: Make sure you first try out whatever software your nonprofit resonates with most. If that provider does not offer a free trial, run for the hills! You should 100% have the chance to try out software that is this important before you buy it, especially if it comes at a significant cost.
Best Communication Tools for Promotion and Social Media Giving
Each of the following tools contribute to communication in their own way: they make interacting with your supporters more effective and attention-grabbing. Unlike the multifaceted nonprofit management software options we discuss later in this article, you could, in theory, utilize all of these tools at once. They serve different functions and do not compete with one other.
Engaging images are a great way to capture attention. Canva’s website offers over 8,000 templates as well as tutorials to help you increase your skills in creating social media graphics. A drag-and-drop builder makes it easy for even a beginner to get quality graphics for your nonprofit in just minutes. If you are currently running social media fundraising campaigns, or are interested in expanding your reach, boosting your visuals is a must.
Utilizing Instagram hashtags is an effective way to get donors or potential donors to find your nonprofit in a search. Postchup is an app that helps you find the best hashtags for your organization. It also offers metrics to help you track how well certain hashtags are performing, and also allows you to dig deeper into Instagram data insights.
An essential piece of social media advertising for your nonprofit is scheduling your posts. With HootSuit you can easily implement content scheduling, check analytics, and check out content suggestions. This tool is a must for any crowdfunding event, as it can help you keep several steps ahead.
There are few nonprofits that do not launch yearly email fundraising campaigns. MailChimp is an affordable email service that allows you to schedule and automate your email delivery, and offers appealing and professional templates to build your communications.
Best Online Fundraising Platforms
These fundraising software options are comprehensive; they include multiple features which are consolidated to offer nonprofits a more holistic fundraising experience, with more bases covered.
Launched in 2010, GoFundMe has become one of the largest crowdfunding platforms in the world. You can set up a campaign in only 3 steps: add the amount of money you want to raise, create your story with text, photos, and video, then share your campaign on social media or through email.
David is ready to check out some fundraising platforms!
A simple dashboard allows you to access and manage donor information, send thank you emails, withdraw funds, and more. There are no platform fees, but you pay a processing fee of 2.9% and $0.30 per transaction.
This platform allows nonprofits to raise money with one of the lowest-cost platforms available, and also offers select tools for free. You can set up a variety of campaigns, from crowdfunding to giving days-even peer-to-peer.
The processing fee is 1.2% with a $0.29 fee per transaction. While CRM integrations are available, these are only available with the paid plan ($99 per month, can be canceled anytime).
Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Platforms
Bonfire is a fundraising platform that offers peer-to-peer and crowdfunding capabilities, with the additional feature of allowing your nonprofit to create and sell merchandise. With simple point and click, you can customize products like t-shirts, water bottles, hats, and sweatshirts, and sell them directly from a Bonfire supported online store. They then ship these items directly to the purchasers.
QGiv is a comprehensive fundraising software that supports peer-to-peer fundraising, online auctions, text fundraising, and other online events. It allows for easy integration with CRM, email marketing tools, QuickBooks, and other programs that help streamline and automate the fundraising process.
Hybrid Platform (Virtual and Live Event Planning)
These hybrid offerings are the most multifaceted of all; they are often used by (and are necessary for) nonprofits who manage large and complex virtual or live events.
Springly (that's us!) is an all-in-one nonprofit management software; it includes all of the tools you need to manage your organization in one place. We complete the package with a full CRM, fundraising and membership capabilities, communication tools, and of course, a full event management system. Because you have everything centralized into one software system, automation does a lot of the heavy lifting for you.
This online fundraising software offers a wide range of services for virtual events, but also supports hybrid and live events with equal competence. Event services connects you with consultants that can help you maximize event performance, and their client services team will help determine specific needs for your campaign.
So whether you’re creating simple donation pages, running an online auction, or planning a gala, Greater Giving offers the tools you need to collaborate with your team and build a successful event.
A huge centralized online fundraising platform, GiveSmart connects campaigns, CRM, online event ticket sales, payment processing services, and advanced auction capabilities. This software can easily handle any live, hybrid, or virtual event, and has a strong customer service team to answer questions or give advice at any time.
Best Payment Processors for Nonprofits
Payment processors are a must for any organization looking to accept donations online. These tools make holding a web-based fundraiser possible. Payment processors will not help nonprofits bring fundraisers to life from start to finish like some of the platforms listed above, but they will ensure that you can accept donations online in the first place. Thus, they are essential.
Stripe offers special charity pricing on their payment processing fees for registered nonprofit organizations. To qualify for this discount, your nonprofit must be a registered 501(c)(3) organization that raises at least 80% of its income through donations. It also offers advanced reporting tools, developer tools, and is trusted by many large charities and nonprofits.
Salma is ready to process her first donation!
While Square does not offer a discount to nonprofits, they do have several features like business management and payment analytics software that come free with sign up. Especially useful for nonprofits is the customer management software that stores contact information and donation history.
PayPal offers several resources for nonprofits, including discounted transaction rates for 501(c)(3) organizations. They offer a dedicated Donate button to make donor payments a breeze, and even include recurring donation set-up capabilities. Your organization will also automatically be included in the PayPal Giving Fund, so donors looking for a cause can find you. Finally, integrations are easy as PayPal seamlessly works with many CRM software providers.
Both managing donor information and finding the best way to collect donations online are essential to forwarding the vision and mission of your organization. Take some time to figure out what features will pay, and which may not be necessary to fulfill your particular set of needs.
Integration, automation, and comprehensive data can not only maximize donations, they make your fundraising team far more efficient. And these systems allow your staff to be more creative too. By letting the software do the busywork, staff and supporters can take the extra time to create and implement more inventive and effective fundraising events in the future.
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💡What are fundraising tools?
Fundraising tools are any systems, software or devices that make your campaigns run more efficiently. In this day and age, this will mainly mean online tools that offer payment processing, integrated systems, data analysis, and automated tools to help your fundraiser launch with maximum effect. Find out more.
🔑 What is the best platform for fundraising?
There are so many platforms available at so many price points, that this question could be answered in a variety of ways. The most important tip for finding the best platform is to ensure that the features it offers are ones that your nonprofit can both afford and use. The best platform is the one that meets the individual needs of your organization. Find out more.
📝 What are different fundraising strategies?
Fundraising is such an essential part of the nonprofit world, that there are almost countless strategies in existence. Some of the more popular in today’s world include social media fundraisers, peer-to-peer fundraisers, crowdfunding, community events, online giving days, email campaigns, and give-to-text. Find out more.