It’s interesting to see how, even though fundraising is essential for most non-profits, many small and mid-sized organisations still don’t have efficient systems implemented to get consistent funding. Some have fairly modern websites yet don’t allocate the resources to make it happen. Some are scattered across social media platforms and crowdfunding sites which take the control away from them.
In this article, I’m sharing my favourite six online fundraising ideas for non-profits that you can run directly on your website. There are more, but these are great – at least from my perspective after 15 years of building web solutions for non-profits.
Permission to fundraise
Before I go into the topic of website fundraising, I want to acknowledge that many people feel “salesy” when thinking about getting money for their non-profits. More so if it’s from donors. So today, I grant you permission to do so!
Know this. As long as you come from a place of integrity and transparency, you need to trust your efforts will pay off – literally.
Moreover, non-profits also have overhead costs that need to be taken care of. So, please, don’t fall into the “non-profit starvation cycle”, where organisations are heavily underfunded and end up failing.
Those who connect with your cause WANT to help. That help will sometimes take the shape of a volunteer but often will come as monetary support. And that’s why not having a proper system for website fundraising is a disservice to your cause.
So now that I’ve taken a stance here, I hope you give yourself permission to try these ideas to help your organisation reach its potential.
Combining the online and the offline worlds
Even though all these website fundraising strategies are digital, you can – and should – leverage them in all your in-person events, meetups, market stalls…you name it. So next time, bring a tablet and get people to donate, sign up, purchase a raffle ticket, or whatever idea you are trying out, right then and there.
Doing this builds up momentum and allows people to take action without having to get to it once they are home busy with something else.
A word on social media platforms and crowdfunding sites
Both are great for funding, but depending on the size, goals and structure of your non-profit, might not be fully sustainable in the long run.
Accepting funding directly on your website gives you MUCH more control over what you do, how you manage your campaigns, layout and messaging.
Also, social media and crowdfunding websites are beasts of their own. And remember! To build your online presence, you need consistency and, ideally, funnel everyone into your website.
Don’t get me wrong, I love social media, and it should be 100% part of your strategy. You can even have a donation button on your Facebook, start a challenge, and more. But today, I want to encourage you to try the following fundraising ideas and stay focused on your website for long-term sustained growth.
#1 – Running online raffles
Welcome to the modern world of raffles! You don’t need to bring a stack of tickets with you everywhere anymore.
Running an online raffle system does require someone who knows how to set it up and what you need in terms of your website’s capabilities. But it’s still an easy process that can be done quickly. As we build WordPress websites, I’ll focus on this specific platform, but know that most website builders offer different integrations to do this.
How do online raffles work?
Basically, you will get a ticketing system installed into your WordPress platform. If you are part of a small non-profit and plan to run a small fundraiser raffle at the time, then you can choose the most basic functionalities of this ticketing system.
If you prefer to go big, you can go for the most robust options that allow many raffles at once, unlimited tickets, and custom number formats and images.
Once someone gets a number online, they will receive it via email. However, as we all have that friend that’s not web-purchase savvy, you can still sell cash tickets and enter them manually in the system.
Finally, my favourite feature of an online raffle ticketing system is that you can manage, archive, back up, and restore all your raffles. This will save you lots of time and effort. It will also help you stay accountable.
#2 – Get donations
Adding a donation system to your WordPress website will tremendously benefit your non-profit, especially when using beautiful, engaging and super-easy to use forms.
How do online donations work?
Online donation forms built right on your website let you manage your donors, set up donation frequencies, and keep track of the support you are receiving. It just makes everything so seamless and straightforward that it will save your volunteers hours of work.
Also, as non-profits run annual reports and members need to be fully accountable for their actions, having an entire data set on donations will be extremely helpful.
From a donor’s perspective, this strategy works wonders because it’s easy to sign up, pay, and set up recurring donations.
#3 – Silent auctions
An online silent auction hosted directly on your website can truly boost your fundraising efforts.
Silent auctions come full circle and usually have a higher reach. Depending on your organisation, you can get items that align with its cause from several businesses, artists or associations to enter the auction. That gives them the chance to gain exposure and grow their connection with community members.
Plus, they can help you expand your marketing reach without too much effort, as they can also advertise the auction to their own audience.
Another perk of running an online silent auction on your website is people get to have something tangible in return. It can be a dinner voucher, a work of art, a signed tee…
All this fun, without even having to leave the house, bidding from their phones. It just makes it so easy for people to engage.
How do silent auctions work?
Online auctions let people bid on items posted on your website, and the person that wins takes it home.
To do this, you will need to set up a section of your website for fundraising as if it were an online store – think eBay – by using a silent auction plugin. This will let you post the items, a starting bid, images, accept bids, a dashboard to manage the process, a set duration – most last around 7 days – and a secure credit card processing interface.
As you can see, this type of auction involves your community at a higher level, and it’s a fun way to connect with local shops, projects or even like-minded non-profits. You can even consider running a combined event, where people attend in person and bid right there from their phones.
#4 – Special downloadables
Physical items are not the only thing you can offer on your website. If your organisation focuses on education, crafts, or the environment – to name a few – you could easily create a downloadable product people can purchase online.
To some, this may sound intimidating, but you don’t need to create the next big thing to share what you do.
Keep it simple and think of something someone would be interested in purchasing.
If, for example, your organisation runs a local market like the Friends of Bollygum park, you could offer a downloadable showing people how to start a veggie garden or a crafty project. If you support other non-profits’ growth like MJB Consulting, an ebook with the things you need to start your own organisation can be a great option.
How do special downloadables work?
Once you create your digital product, you should post links to it on your website and market it to your email list, social media, and website visitors. I like this fundraising idea because you get to provide a ton of value to those who purchase from your website.
To set it up, you will need a plugin that allows you to host and distribute digital files of several sizes and receive payments. It will also let you set the purchase price and manage your clients. Some plugins also have a ‘pay what you want’ option, which can be a good fit for non-profits.
#5 – Selling course content
Creating and selling an online course directly on your website can truly impact your organisation. I need to lead with a few caveats here tho!
I usually recommend this website fundraising idea to those who are already in the education space or are planning to turn this strategy into the core of their growth.
Even though many marketers say selling online courses is a set it and forget it kind of thing, the reality is online courses need to be marketed hard. Also, some level of planning and thinking needs to go into them.
Are you going to offer support? Are you presenting live webinars? Are you offering lifetime access? Split payments? A downloadable ebook? A member portal?
Yes. Many questions. But all-important ones.
How does selling online courses work?
The great thing about selling directly on your non-profit’s website is that you have more control over how to manage the course and the revenue from it.
When I touched on downloadables above, I was referring to crash courses, case studies, or templates.
To offer a fully-fledged online course, you need to find a model that aligns with your organisation, take the time to create something powerful, and have a marketing strategy to get people to purchase it.
If you want to start offering online courses, the best option is to get a professional web developer who can build this for you. Interface and user experience are key here, so you shouldn’t be trying to patch things along the way to make it work.
At Digital Services Lab we offer website solutions to build your online course without the hassle and overwhelm.
#6 – Partner with an artist
Partnerships can be abundant wells of growth. When you partner with someone, you start a virtuous cycle as you help each other thrive.
How to partner with an artist to fundraise online?
Collaborating with an artist can take your non-profit’s inspiration to a new level. Artists can create projects inspired by your cause and showcase your mission. From a live event to a silent auction, a class, or simply offering their works of art on your website, this partnership can take many shapes.
Using Google Ads to supercharge your reach
All of the website fundraising ideas above need to be part of your marketing plan and strategy to streamline your funding model.
To maximise your reach and success potential, Google Ads grants for non-profits offers up to $10,000 per month in search ads on Google.com, which can move the needle of any of your fundraising ideas and campaigns!
At Digital Services Lab, we work exclusively with non-profits and ethical businesses.
When you work with us, you get a team that will provide and equip you with all the online tools you need to help your cause. From Search Engine Optimisation to member portals, website care plans, graphic design and web development, simply get in touch and book a call. We are here for you.
In the meantime, I hope you’ve enjoyed these ideas for fundraising and give them a go!