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The Comprehensive Guide to Online Fundraising

Are you looking to do online fundraising that actually works? Read our comprehensive guide on how to do it along with ideas that generate donations.

Table of Contents

Online Fundraising

Online fundraising can be a daunting task, and knowing where to start is often an overwhelming endeavor. Using our helpful and comprehensive guide, we have made it easier than ever to create your online fundraising event, discuss ideas, troubleshoot issues, and quickly find fun games to make your event a great time. We have plenty of experience with charitable fundraising, and this guide is everything you need to make sure your next drive or event is wildly successful!

What Is Online Fundraising?

Digital trends, changing technology and an ever-evolving social space are rapidly changing our online spaces. Fundraising has changed, and technology is here to stay. Expanding your fundraising opportunities to online spaces is more than a trend, it’s the future.

Organizations can use their online presence to capitalize on what they are already doing, and create a larger network that helps increase donations, support causes, and bring in helpful funding. Online fundraising can be used for many different things, and putting together the right fundraiser can be overwhelming. 

Online virtual fundraising is the most popular way for organizations to raise money for good causes. More and more our daily activities are happening solely on the web, and virtual giving has monumentally increased over the last few years.

How Is Online Fundraising Different From Offline Fundraising?

You’re looking for fresh, innovative approaches in what you’re already doing. Setting up personal, online fundraising pages and networks creates a streamlined and focused effort that is far superior to offline fundraising. Via online networking, marketing, and promotion, it’s easy to quickly see the benefits in moving your fundraising to an online space. Online fundraising builds quicker credibility and visibility, and it also is much more fun, allowing those involved with your fundraiser to see their investments and good will rewarded much quicker than offline.

Why Do Online Fundraising?

  • Expanded Reach: Online fundraising allows you to surpass all geographical limitations. Email, social media and instant contact creates unparalleled opportunities in getting your message to a wide audience quickly. Online Fundraising allows you to find donors and supporters with a much broader sense of participation.
  • Personalized Fundraising: An important benefit is how much easier it is to establish a centralized voice and view. Adding pictures, video and personal messages can create a sense of intimacy in your fundraising efforts. 
  • Financially Smart: Creating an event can be an exhausting endeavor, and online fundraising reduces the overall cost and effort of fundraising. Online fundraising does away with the costliness of paper materials or wasted time, and instead focuses on the message. 
  • Stability and Convenience: Online fundraising minimizes the risks associated with any fundraising effort. Especially within the current thrall of our ever-changing world, online fundraising is safer, easier, and smarter than offline. It’s much easier to manage your team, focus on your goals, and maintain your image as well.

Online Fundraising Ideas

  1. Virtual Scavenger Hunt

What it is: cityHunt has created the best of everything by combining their games, puzzles, and trivia into one fantastic experience that has something for everyone!

How to do it: This video explains it all, but the “Best Of” Virtual Scavenger Hunt is a host-guided icebreaker that includes art, trivia, puzzles, questions, and more, all curated around you and your team. This event has been specially created from hundreds of hours of peer-reviewed events personally created by the cityHunt team. 

Why it works for Online Fundraising: The Virtual Scavenger Hunt doesn’t just focus on one thing, instead creating over an hour of fun and learning that has a little bit for everyone. It has been specially crafted for the Online space, and works with any group and setting.

  1. Crowdfunding

What it is: An effective campaign that expresses a specific need. Crowdfunding relies on specific goals, time frames, deadlines and promotions. Crowdfunding is perfect for small groups and non-profits that want to reach a larger group of people.

How to do it: Create a platform for your cause and spread it to as many people as possible. Tell your story and be honest; crowdfunding relies on how appealing your goal is to a wide group of people. Using a GoFundMe or similar crowdfunding site, you can easily make your needs known and accompany them with pictures and video. 

Why it works for Online Fundraising: Crowdfunding is a great way to attract large groups, make smaller fundraisers known, and cross geographical barriers. Online fundraising can often go viral, and it is easier to cast a wider net on an audience through crowdfunding than most other means of online fundraising.

  1. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

What it is: Peer-to-Peer fundraising is often used interchangeably with crowdfunding, though they have their differences. Peer-to-Peer relies on organizing mini fundraisers as individuals, creating mini crowdfunding fundraisers on your behalf. This can be very effective as it depends on existing networks and trusted supporter relationships.

How to do it: Setting it up is quite simple. Select a platform that fits your needs, then give your individual fundraisers everything they need to make them successful. Create a network that includes your clear message, some compelling visuals and all necessary materials for promotion that answers any questions your donors might have.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: It’s easy to motivate your fundraisers when you can contact everyone via email and social media. Instill a healthy dose of competition and encourage your fundraisers to create teams, acknowledge who is most successful, and contact as many people as possible via social media and online networks.

  1. Matching Gift Drive

What it is: A gift drive cuts out the middle man by allowing individuals to know exactly how their donation will impact your organization. A matching gift drive seeks to double this by showing your donors that every gift they make will be met by an equal amount.

How to do it: Find a corporate partner or major donor who is willing and able to match gifts up to a specific amount. Promote your matches online via all your fundraising channels, such as your website, through email, and across social media.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: Donor matching is exciting, and it makes it easier for individuals to promote themselves and their good will when they can see their gifts matched in real time. You can create healthy competitions or showcase the finest donors on your website or social media. The impact will exceed all effort required.

  1. T-Shirt Fundraising

What it is: T-Shirt Fundraising is an effective way to raise money online by selling shirts. You can design shirts as merchandise for your organization or emblazon them with words or logos of your efforts.

How to do it: This kind of fundraiser is good for supporters who may not be able to donate as much money but wish to contribute in some way. You can promote t-shirt sales in conjunction with different fundraising efforts and campaigns. Choose an online host that can make custom shirts, and you can use this style of fundraising as promotional materials and giveaways as well.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: Customizable t-shirts are an easy sell on social media, and allow your fundraiser to be open to creative ideas. Shirts are an easy promotion, with a low overhead and higher profits. Plus, any overflow of product can be used for other fundraisers or as gifts down the line.

  1. Online Giving Days

What it is: GivingTuesday is a longstanding giving day created for benefiting non-profits. Create your own online giving day to organize your supporters around your event. An online giving day is a 24-hour period where a non-profit attempts to raise as much money as possible from their supporters.

How to do it: It begins with a lot of online promotion. Emails, social media, text messages, website and video promotion makes it effective. All digital outreach should provide information about time, ways to donate, where to give funds, what funds will go toward and how to involve your supporters. 

Why it works for Online Fundraising: Online giving days are fast, energetic, and entirely centered around online networks. Through use of social media you can make your online giving day an event with its own hashtag and viral promotional materials. Galvanize your donor base with lots of digital promotion and encouragement!

  1. Text-to-Give Campaign

What it is: Text-to-give is a recently mainstream opportunity to raise money for a cause. It typically works via a donor texting a specific number associated with the fundraiser, the donor receiving a link as a text message, and then the link takes the donor to a mobile donation page.

How to do it: When choosing your text-to-give tool, look for a PCI-compliant provider, meaning a company that follows strict high level security rules. Integration and ease of use are also important characteristics to look for in your tool. You want the giving process to be quick, painless and simple for your donors.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: Many different nonprofits, schools, churches and organizations use text-to-give technology for the online fundraising avenue yearly. It’s a possible donation method for its ease of use, and is often used during fundraising events. You can make the number known via website, email, or social media.

  1. Online Auctions

What it is: These are digital silent auctions that are open to all of your supporters and less costly than other fundraising avenues, raising fundraising potential.

How to do it: Like any charity auction, you’ll need to make items and experiences available for auction that excite your guests and encourage them to make bids. Look for unique and interesting items that are typically unavailable anywhere else, such as memorabilia, signed items, and cool experiences.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: You can generate excitement for your online auction beforehand by posting available items through social media, emails, or your website. It’s also easier to make the fairness and anonymity of the auction available online.

  1. Viral Fundraising Campaign

What it is: Capitalize on viral marketing by making a fundraiser that takes advantage of social media spaces. Taking cues from popular viral events, you can put together a fundraising campaign that is immediately recognizable.

How to do it: While it can take some time for anything to become viral, there are a few ways to expedite the process. Create a memorable hashtag, post your information on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, make your viral campaign focused and targeted and make use of all of your available digital channels. Snap a picture to Snapchat, create a Pinterest board, send out emails, push your hashtag.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: Viral popularity is the cornerstone of online spaces. If you can make your fundraiser viral in any capacity, that generates free advertisement and widespread interest. 

  1. Donation For A Vote

What it is: This idea gets your supporters properly engaged in silly challenges that return their contributions. It’s an interesting, democratic method to make your patrons relate to your cause.

How to do it: Create a list of silly or fun challenges that your staff and volunteers are willing to compete. Create a poll that asks your supporters to vote via donation for the challenge they’d like to see you complete. At the end of the poll, keep track of your team and post the challenge that won the most votes on social media.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: Everyone needs a little fun and brevity, and everyone loves to watch silly online videos. Your donors will enjoy watching the hilarious video but will also appreciate the realization of their opinions and input. This also encourages peers to vote, and can attract others to your fundraiser.

  1. Movie and Documentary Watching

What it is: Consider hosting a digital movie event that is either enjoyable or informational for your community. You can set a time for everyone to watch the movie together via a virtual chat room, like Netflix Party.

How to do it: Similar to Donation For A Vote, have your donors vote via their donations for the movie you wish to watch together. Or, pick the movie or documentary yourself that supports your cause. Via an online sharing app, post a date and time to watch the movie together.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: You can create a unique landing page, feature the film through your website, design an email opportunity, or promote your watch party through social media. You can create a customizable donation page and enable hosting opportunities that might excite friends and new donors. 

  1. Virtual Walk or Run

What it is: One of the longtime most popular fundraising events is the run or walk, something akin to a 5k or Fun Run. Participants and donors get the chance to challenge themselves or see their donations realized into something that is for a good cause and promotes exercise.

How to do it: Hosting a virtual run is easier than it might seem. All you need to do is pick a date and time, set up registrations, and let your donors participate to raise the funds. You can livestream your ceremony and send your participants off to complete the run on their own time and terms, in their own parks and neighborhoods. They can submit their best times and create some friendly competition.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: Walks and runs are fun and enthusiastic, and we are all looking for reasons to get out of the house. Promote Covid safety via your social media channels as well as bring attention to your fundraiser. Donors and participants are challenged to get out there and walk, run or bike, then post their times online. 

  1. Virtual Gala

What it is: While this might not have the appeal of the real thing, you can still promote a night out for friends and donors and bring your community together in a virtual gala that keeps everyone engaged.

How to do it: Reach out to your community leaders, donors, participants and volunteers to host virtual gala tables and spread the word about your event. Using peer-to-peer fundraising tools, you can create table captains and then rally your networks to support the fun of your virtual gala.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: Similar to hosting a watch party or fun run, you can promote your fundraiser while also leaving much of the event to the whims of your participants. Create a party space, submit ideas for food or drinks, and use Zoom or other video sharing software to spruce up your event and make things feel communal. There are limitless ways to a virtual gala and you can also ask for votes or original ideas to come up with fun intricacies for the event.

  1. Virtual Online Shopping Sale

What it is: Designing a virtual fundraising event like this is a way to organize support for the creative communities and make available items that otherwise are not typically sold. This engaging online shopping experience is great for your supporter community and can be very fun.

How to do it: Bring your community together in support of both a good cause and creative members of your community. You can find items to sell yourself, or ask for support from your community to sell art pieces, clothes, gardening tools, classes, experiences, personal items and more. Get as creative as you want, either by asking your volunteers to come up with ideas or by driving traffic to your website via unique shopping items.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: Using your website or social media you can promote artists and creators in your community or showcase items that are otherwise hard to find. You can promote your fundraiser ahead of time via social media, such as Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest. Showcase your items and make the event fun and exciting!

  1. Virtual Discussions

What it is: Focus your community on a group of key issues to tackle, bringing them together for some healthy discussion. With more social isolation time, we all need some more togetherness time and have much to discuss.

How to do it: Using online virtual tools such as Zoom, you can make rooms for groups of discussions. Happily welcome everyone to your event and then make contribution requests via links, email or messaging.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: We’re all opinionated and desire safe spaces to discuss our worries and ideas. Via Zoom or messenger, your group and donors can discuss their virtual ideas, wage healthy arguments, and come together on positive issues. By keeping this event small or set to groups outside of social media you can better control the conversations and steer people into constructive discussions.

  1. TED Talk Event

What it is: Create a great hour of inspiring presentations and marvelous talks by hosting a livestream presentation for each speaker, where everyone can talk from the comfort of their own homes.

How to do it: You can host new speakers each week or create a singular event schedule of several speakers. Make things light and easy, allowing your speakers to contribute without the complication of a full presentation deck. Include links to actions and fundraising requests that are easily accessible from your website and social media accounts.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: This style of event is easy to promote and is interesting for a wide array of people. Your donors can post suggestions for speakers and topics, or you can make things centered around the subject of your fundraiser. It’s also easy to provide the links for your online donations and organization.

  1. Virtual Talent Show

What it is: Host an interesting and creative show for your community. If your organization is looking for something that centers the performing arts community, that’s even better. This is a great way to showcase great creative efforts and allow your team to bloom.

How to do it: Request registrations in advance using a registration app and then provide access to virtual tickets to access your talent show via a link through your website or social media. 

Why it works for Online Fundraising: This is a fun, creative way to bring people together as well as raise money via donations. Talent shows allow everyone to show off a little, and can create surprising opportunities for both your donors and volunteers. You can promote your virtual talent show via social media, and later post images and video to Twitter and Instagram that will promote future fundraisers.

  1. Virtual Open Mic Night

What it is: Utilize the knowledge and creative talents of your community by sharing them via camera and audio. Host a little performance and let people get loose.

How to do it: Host an Open Mic Night via Zoom or other video share media, where attendees can join in and then virtually raise their hands to ask to host the microphone. Choose an evening topic, bring in participants, and let people have fun.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: This event lets everyone come together in a virtual space while still having fun from the comforts of their homes. Promote the event via social media, choose the date and time and then let people have fun. This allows both donors and volunteers to get creative and will bring people back eagerly for your next fundraising event.

  1. Host A Creative Virtual Marathon Fundraiser

What it is: Different from the Virtual Walk, a marathon event is a great way to raise money. You can tap into your audience’s wants, strengths, and weaknesses. Use music, movies, cooking, art or anything else to turn a marathon fundraising event into a fun at-home evening. 

How to do it: Create a group marathon event via Zoom or other video share outlet and let people develop personal challenges. Vote for the marathon via your website or social media and then let the fun begin.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: You can structure your virtual fundraiser however you wish, and invite people in to use their own time and talents. Even if people don’t have money to offer, those volunteers can give their time, energy and abilities to making your event more robust and excellent. Create a landing page, promote it via social media, and let the fun begin from the comfort of everyone’s homes.

  1. Virtual Cooking Lessons Fundraiser

What it is: We’re all trapped at home right now, waiting for this pandemic to pass. Those of us that have extra time are eager to try new things and learn new skills. We can take advantage of this together through virtual cooking lessons and a fundraiser!

How to do it: This fundraiser isn’t truly limited to just cooking. You can choose cooking, art, or any other skill that your donors are interested in. If you decide to go the cooking route, host a knowledgeable cook over Zoom call and ask your viewers to join in and cook along with the host.

Why it works for an Online Fundraiser: Everyone loves cooking, and people are excited to learn new things while also supporting a cause. You can promote this event early via social media and talk about the cooking lesson, show what ingredients and tools are needed and even show off the finished product early so that everyone is eager to jump in. People are too often eager to buy services or order out, and you can promote this fundraiser by showing people how easy it is to cook good food at home themselves.

  1. Online Gaming Tournament Fundraiser

What it is: Tap into everyone’s love of video games but hosting a streaming party over Twitch, a platform that has hosted thousands of charities over the last five years. It’s a number that continues to grow and gaming’s popularity is never going to fade.

How to do it: Bring people together via a common interest and cause while also having a great time. Everyone wants to see their hobbies positively impact the world, and what better way than gaming from your own home. Figure out who in your network would like to play games for a good cause, host a time limit, and create a tournament. Or simply have people donate to watch someone marathon their favorite video game.

Why it works for an Online Fundraiser: After figuring out the date, time, and format, ask your participants which game they’d like to see played or which game they’d like to see hosted as a tournament. Have a volunteer play the selected game for a period of time and post donations, or host a tournament and have the donors match the outcome of the winner, via a betting pool. Create a custom online donation page and post the information on Twitter and Instagram.

  1. Virtual Paint or Craft Night Fundraiser

What it is: In a similar vein to the Virtual Cooking Class, this fundraiser is both fun and creative. Like a paint by numbers wind event where people paint in a studio while sipping drinks, let a host lead your donors through instructions to paint a picture or build a craft.

How to do it: Create a painting that reflects your cause or the theme you’re supporting, and watch as your participants craft their own beautiful pieces of art that reminds them of the great organization they’re helping. Seek out a volunteer that can host the Virtual Paint Night and let them guide your donors via Zoom call, allowing everyone to paint from the comfort of their homes (and maybe encourage a little wine drinking too).

Why it works for Online Fundraising: This is an event everyone can participate in. It’s fun, comfortable, and works as both a learning exercise and a beautiful example of your fundraiser. Although it will require some advanced registration as well as delivering some paint supplies to each participant, it’s an extremely memorable event that can be easily promoted afterward by posting the paintings and crafts on Instagram or your website.

  1. Birthday Challenge Virtual Fundraiser

What it is: While not a true fundraising event, this one can be a very successful fundraising strategy. Invite people to use their birthdays to raise money for your cause. 

How to do it: For example, if you’re turning 35, you can invite all your friends to make $35 donations to the Birthday Donations Page in place of gifts.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: This one is very easy to pull off and utilizes something we all have in common: birthdays. This is a form of peer-to-peer fundraising that is simple to promote on your website and social media, and it allows everyone to post different amounts of money while celebrating one another. You can even host a virtual birthday party event for folks that raise a certain amount of money before their birthday rolls around. This event relies on generosity and there are many low-cost ways to make this event work. Promote people’s birthdays via social media or even host this event around a favorite celebrity birthday and post donor amounts in their honor.

  1. Facebook Live Fundraising Event

What it is: Many people are using Facebook Live and other online platforms to host live entertainment events. Take advantage of everyone being stuck at home to create an exclusive online entertainment event. 

How to do it: Find someone in your network that you would love to engage with online and have them host this cool event. Look for a volunteer that can play music, do some comedy, or host similar events on Facebook Live.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: This is an event that’s easy for everyone to participate in, accessing Facebook Live via computer, phone or tablet. If you can, invite authors or profossors who know about your cause and can lead a question and answer segment. Invite people to attend and watch everyone enjoy themselves from the comfort of their own homes. Ask for participation, either through emoticon interaction of Facebook Live responses. A fun event is something that everyone will be eager to virtually attend.

  1. Free Digital Download With Donation

What it is: This is the virtual edition of a free tea mug or tote. The online donation process makes offering free digital downloads an easy process, and is very low cost to your organization.

How to do it: Offer something that everyone wants. Books, art, coupons, discount codes, music, games or other gifts in exchange for donations. You could even offer things that tie in to your future fundraising efforts.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: No matter what you offer, everyone likes free stuff (or in this case, a return for a kind donation). Offering a free video or music download, an ebook, or some other kind of gift is good promotion and easy to do across social media or through your website.

  1. Rubber Duckie Race Virtual Fundraiser

What it is: Like a boxcar race or sailboat race, this kind of fundraiser is another healthy competition that gets people excited and brings in donations.

How to do it: Choose a number of specific projects to fund that all cost about the same amount. Challenge your donors to offer you the project they like the most. The race is to see which of the projects everyone can fully fund first, creating a donation competition.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: You create a sense of urgency for your fundraiser. You can add smaller incentives such as additional gifts for those that fully fund the winning project. There are various ways to add unique twists and promote the competition through social media or your website.

  1. Virtual Raffle Fundraiser

What it is: A virtual raffle is something you can do anywhere, requires low cost and challenge, and just about any organization can host it. It works similar to a more traditional raffle, only everything happens online which makes it much easier to track donations.

How to do it: Mobilize a bunch of people at once by asking for small donation contributions that add up quickly. Everyone is familiar with charity raffles, so there will be little overall explanation. Set up a custom donation page for your raffle with small increment donations (such as $5). Each donation is an entry into the raffle. Broadcast the raffle, the prizes, and don’t forget to widely broadcast each winner on social media, such as Instagram.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: This is an exciting way to bring people together and fund a good cause while also giving everyone the opportunity to win something cool in exchange. Virtual raffles can show off your organization in a way that is immediately recognizable and understood by everyone. 

  1. One-Day Email Flash Fundraiser or Social Media Sharing Event

What it is: Email fundraising makes up a significant chunk of all online donations, and a one-day email fundraiser is a great way to hit a part of your donation pool that you may have overlooked.

How to do it: Choose a day, possibly one that’s important to you, your organization or your fundraiser. Send out a series of emails that request donations. Each email should include some kind of emotional hook or story. 

Why it works for Online Fundraising: Your audience will often respond to social media more positively than email, though it doesn’t hurt to make the effort. Leverage the platforms you have and ask for donations during a blitz event. Choose a day and encourage your donors through Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram. Set a dollar amount goal and post updates for your supporters, make a game out of how many donations you’ve pulled in.

  1. Event-Integrated Fundraiser

What it is: Boost the donations for your upcoming special fundraising event by creating a web page that centers around the fundraiser. We can’t attend in-person events right now, so an online page allows people to give a gift anytime.

How to do it: To showcase an upcoming fundraiser, market anticipation by creating a website or social media portal that integrates with an event. Whether it’s your Virtual Gala, Open Mic Night, Virtual Paint Night or Online Cooking Lessons, you can garnish support early on by allowing your donors to send early gifts.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: This fundraiser makes it easier to set the stage for upcoming events or tell your donors what needs your organization has. After creating a new web page or portal, direct your donors to it via Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Reward those who participate in upcoming events with future gifts or give them a say in other fundraisers or activities done by your organization.

  1. Bowl-A-Thon

What it is: While we can’t meet in person right now, a goal-focused event with healthy competition is fun for everyone. Create a similar game online (it doesn’t have to be bowling) that rewards every success with an equal donation.

How to do it: Host an online game, whether a video game or other virtual one, that has obvious goals set. You can even make this into a trivia night where donations are made by every correct answer or based on the collective points of a team. Set this up as a gift matching process (such as $5 per correct answer or $1 per point) and encourage participation and competition. 

Why it works for Online Fundraising: This sets the stage for another fun night of games and friendly competition. Announce your game(s) beforehand, and have donations matched by rewards, similar to a Fun Run. See if a local business might donate prizes to the event, and try and center the evening around your organization or fundraising goals. You can promote this via social media by asking people to submit their favorite games to play for the evening.

  1. Social Media Takeovers

What it is: Let a business take over your social media for a day to help bring awareness and create an enjoyable fundraiser.

How to do it: Ask a corporate sponsor or local business to participate in your fundraiser by donating their social media for a day or afternoon. Your team can post content that links to your organization’s web page or social media accounts. This is a win-win, increasing visibility for the hosted business and also making more people familiar with your organization.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: This one is pure online fodder, increasing visibility for you and all those involved. Participation is voluntary but you can strike up a deal that benefits both the local organization as well as your own. Continue to post promotions throughout the day and encourage participation on social media. 

  1. Birthday/Holiday Fundraiser

What it is: Using Facebook or another social media platform, create a fundraiser for a person’s birthday or holiday.

How to do it: Instead of gifts, ask contacts to set up personal fundraising pages where donors can give monetary donation gifts. 

Why it works for Online Fundraising: Facebook makes this easy, as the birthday fundraiser is a feature baked into the platform. Make your pitch, be transparent about your cause and promote the fundraiser in the week leading up to your birthday via social media.

  1. Email Campaign

What it is: A targeted, themed email campaign to your potential donors.

How to do it: While sending appealing emails is probably already a big part of your fundraising practice, a targeted email campaign is a low cost way of informing your community about immediate needs.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: The effect of an email can be impactful and far reaching, especially if it’s part of a larger fundraising effort. Keeping the mind of your audience, an email campaign is especially effective during this time of heightened virtual awareness. Make this email different from typical ones, keeping it concise and stressing the immediate need for fundraising action.

  1. Social Media Campaign

What it is: Social media continues to be the easiest outlet to reach people, so it’s an essential part of your organizing efforts that you reach people this way. Making good use of these channels, focus your fundraising efforts into a campaign.

How to do it: Create a meaningful engagement with your followers and generate clicks toward your website by focusing your efforts across united social media pages. Place specific advertisements that work in conjunction across Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and more. Make all the clicks come back to your website or donation page.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: Using social media is the most effective means of outreach, and a focused campaign that utilizes your entire library of platforms will be seen by the largest possible number of people. Plus, keeping a singular page (such as your website) the focus of the entire campaign will bring in people across various social media platforms.

  1. Social Media Challenge

What it is: Get your followers engaged in a special challenge presented across your social media platforms.

How to do it: In addition to your focused social media efforts, create a specific challenge (such as a challenging task, some impressive prompt, or a viral marketing effort) that your followers can engage in.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: Similar to the Social Media Campaign, this sort of challenge works because it unifies all your pages into a concerted effort that potential donors will see across the internet. Adding a challenge creates a fun, healthy competition.

  1. Amazon Smile

What it is: The Amazon Smile Program lets consistent Amazon shoppers donate 0.5% of the price of their purchases to a charity of their choice.

How to do it: Any nonprofit can register with Amazon Smile and then encourage their community to shop through the Smile portal the next time they do their Amazon shopping. It’s not an extra cost, but it’s easy to see the contributions add up over time.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: Millions of people already shop through Amazon, and having a concentrated Amazon Smile portal through your website or social media can generate a surprising amount of donations over time. Spread the word as much as possible across your social media pages and on your website.

  1. Partnership with an Online Business for Proceeds

What it is: Pair up with a brand to generate donations in exchange for free marketing.

How to do it: Teaming up with a business (local or otherwise) is a very effective win-win. Many online businesses will donate a portion or even the entirety of their proceeds to charity during a certain period of time in order to build their brand. Reach out to a business who mission aligns with yours and request this arrangement.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: Most organizations already have brands built across their social media accounts, and you can easily find out which ones align with your organization’s values. More and more people are online shopping every day, and this partnership works for both you and the partnered business.

  1. Partnership with an Online Business for a Donation at Checkout

What it is: Partner with an online business and ask them to include donations for your organization as a prompt at checkout.

How to do it: Similar to the other online partnership, reach out to a business whose values align with your own and ask them to feature a donation agenda for a certain amount of time. Even adding a dollar for a good cause can generate a large amount of donation proceeds over time.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: More people are shopping online now than ever, and adding a small donation at the end of checkout can make people feel good or involved in a cause for little effort.

  1. Partnership with a Social Media Influencer

What it is: Team up with an already established social media influencer and take advantage of many new potential donors.

How to do it: Reach out to an influencer that shares your goals and philosophies. Ask them if they’re interested in a partnership. They can make donations to your nonprofit or fundraiser and share the info with their followers, ask their followers to make donations or simply promote your fundraiser across their social media pages.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: Similar to the Social Media Takeover, this opportunity comes with an already established follower base and is a great way to reach potential donors. Ask the social media influencer to post the information on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and more, and look for ways to make the promotions both fun and informative.

  1. Google Ads

What it is: Drive more traffic to your website through Google Ads.

How to do it: Set up Google Ads for your nonprofit or fundraiser at no cost to you. Google offers a Google Ad Grant allowing you to promote your fundraiser without adding to your budget.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: Everyone has experience with ads, and this is a way to reach a wide number of potential donors that you may not have previously gained access to. This is a good way to promote your work in addition to your website and social media offerings.

  1. E-Cards

What it is: Create e-cards that donors can design and send to recipients.

How it works: Design a few e-cards (or ask your community or volunteers to help) and put them on your website or social media. Let people choose which designs they like, fill in the recipient email addresses, and add a special message. After their donation the e-card will be sent out.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: You can include your own branding and personal message on each card to help spread the word about your event, fundraiser, or work. You can inspire the recipients to send their own cards or encourage donations. This makes e-cards easy to promote on your website and social media channels.

  1. Live Streamed Event

What it is: Similar to the virtual gala, turn in-person activities into live streaming video that everyone can enjoy from home.

How it works: Host a speaker or movie via Zoom or other live-streaming site and have everyone watch from their homes. Promote it ahead of time and ask for donations that support the event.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: Like the other streaming events, you can promote this across your social media and website and turn any event into a fun live-stream party. Gather everyone together around something they enjoy and let your organization reach or exceed your fundraising goals without the costly budget of an in-person event.

  1. Fitness Challenge

What it is: Get your donors active while also raising funds by hosting a fitness challenge.

How it works: Create a series of workouts and challenges for your participants to tune into via a live-stream host over an afternoon or set period of days. You can even partner with a fitness coach or martial arts professional to grow a new audience.

Why it works for Online Fundraising: None of us are getting the exercise we need right now, and people are always looking for new ways to make exercising fun. When you exercise with dozens or even hundreds of others it is encouraging and fun. Through their own live-stream portal via computer or phone your donors can join in at their own pace.

  1. Game Night

What it is: Invite your community to a virtual evening of fun games.

How to do it: We all love gaming, and the possibilities are vast when organizing a game night. You can play video games, board games, do trivia, whatever comes to your mind. The Jackbox Party Pack is a fun mix of many different games. 

Why it works for Online Fundraising: Get your donors ready ahead of time through a registration and encourage participation for a few weeks before the game night. Encourage donors to spread the word to friends and family and to bring in new people. Promote your game night across social media and watch as you reach a whole new audience while doing something we all enjoy.

Online Fundraising Sites

Use these websites to find the right fit for your next fundraising source. The best fundraisers and donation drives are paired with fun, and the clarity of these websites will take away the anxiety of putting together your next event. Contact CityHUNT for further examples of how to put together your next exciting charity event.


Design your next favorite custom shirt at Bonfire! Via their Fundraising Portal your nonprofit organization can raise money risk free with an easy setup and no inventory required. Use their suite of fundraising tools and features for your next donation effort. Verified nonprofits that use Bonfire can enjoy drastically reduced processing fees and display their verified nonprofit badge.

Bonfire is good for startups because of its ease of use, speed, and value for your money. It has a sleek interface and hosts options with no hidden financial costs.

The Donation Fee option enables you to receive additional donations after checkout, where there is an 8% deduction for transaction fees and the other 92% to you. Domestic Shipping is $3.99 for the first product and an increase by $2.50 for each additional product in your campaign. International Shipping is $9.99 for the first product with an increase of $4.00 for each additional product in your campaign. 


This is a fast and easy crowdfunding website that has no raise requirements or startup fees. Peruse their fundraising ideas, pick the best fundraiser for your cause and raise money for your organization or nonprofit. Fundly hosts your photos and videos front and center and allows you to add rich posts and blog updates.

Fundly has overall positive feedback, and has raised over $330 million in the last 6 years for various causes and projects. It’s easy to navigate and hosts lots of editable features, and there are pre-made thank you cards alongside their easy to use blog template.

Fundly charges a 4.9% platform fee and credit card processing fee of 2.9% + $0.30.


Raise money for your school, team, group or classroom. EdCo claims that online fundraising can raise as much as three times more than traditional fundraising efforts. EdCo has free guides and a newsletter that present all the information you need to create a successful fundraiser. Build your page, start a fundraiser, invite your team members, promote from one place, and instantly access your funds and tax-deductible donations.

EdCo is featured in many Top Ten lists for best fundraising sites, and includes easy to use tools for everyone to make your next fundraiser a breeze. Students and parents can get in on the action with easy access to everything on the site. 

EdCo charges a 4.9% service fee and credit card processing fee of 2.9% + $0.30 per credit transaction.

Double The Donation

Widely considered the best gift-matching database, Double the Donation takes the uncertainty out of finding eligible donations by doing all research for you and offering you ways to get information to your donors easily. They offer personalized pages, fully customizable plugins, embeds, and other ways for you to let your donors maximize the impact of their donations.

Their database is frequently updated, undoing the worry of missing potential gift-matching opportunities. 

Double the Donation’s price points are listed here.


Perhaps the best equity fundraising website available, Crowdfunder is a wide network of over 12,000 angel investors at your disposal when you start a campaign. They offer many added benefits such as detailed analytics, newsletter templates, ad campaigns and more. These features will maximize your fundraising with additional revenue streams. Their fundraising coaches have experience in raising millions, and their team will bring success to your campaign without stress.

While Crowdfunder is good for seed companies and lets you keep whatever you raise, they have high monthly cost and limited customer support.

Crowdfunder’s fundraising website starts at $399 a month.


At over 650,000 projects on their site and 15 million visits every month, Indiegogo is the best fundraising website for creative projects. Your crowdfunding page will prominently display videos and photos that detail your project with eye-catching text that portends the importance of your effort. Indiegogo is certain to help you succeed with a team of 9 million backers to help your campaign.

Indiegogo offers a free crowdfunding field guide to help you learn how to build your campaign, craft strategies and gain the most from your available resources. They offer crowdfunding for both tech and creative projects and allow you to choose all-or-nothing funding or keep-it-all funding. You can run a Patreon-style ongoing campaign if your initial campaign is successful, and they have good customer support.

While an overall good fit, Indiegogo offers limited communication between campaigners and backers, promised rewards aren’t always fulfilled and there is less overall site traffic than Kickstarter.

There is no platform fee if you’re fundraising for a cause, only a 3% + $0.30 credit card fee. Entrepreneurial projects are a 5% platform fee and a 3% + $0.30 credit card fee.


The best micro-lending website, Kiva works in nearly 85 countries and has connected almost 2 million givers with important fundraising projects and causes. Kiva’s platform works via a microfinance organization loan system. As supporters donate to your cause, they’re actually giving you a loan that will be paid back, creating an incentive that encourages affluent giving. Kiva offers many categories for giving missions, such as health, agriculture, education and more.

Kiva is suitable for startups, has no interest rates or credit score requirements, or additional fees. Customer support is positive and there is no prepayment penalty. While Kiva is a great platform, they are unsuited for small businesses and have a lengthy application and funding process.

The only fees are the interest rates on your loans.


The best fundraising site for scientific research, Experiment is ideal for scientific projects. Offering several categories such as biology, anthropology, art, design, and more. Experiment seeks to “fund the next wave of scientific research.” With an all-or-nothing platform, Experiment requires your campaign reach its fundraising goal (similar to Kickstarter) in order for your donors’ pledges to be charged.

Experiment has funded hundreds of projects and has helped fund research projects for a variety of different purposes. 

It’s free to start any project on the site. When your campaign is fully funded, Experiment charges an 8% platform fee and a 3-5% payment processing fee.


A popular fundraising site for classrooms started by a Bronx public high school teacher, DonorsChoose is the best website for education fundraising. DonorsChoose allows you to post vivid photos while detailing exactly where each donation goes. Track your campaign’s success in perfect transparency. With nearly 3 million supporters, DonorsChoose has funded a million projects to improve education across nearly 30 million needy students. They believe that no school should be low on funds and no student should go without a proper, encouraged education.

DonorsChoose has received much praise over the years for their transparency, accountability and financial ability. Their organization is a trusted partner of GuideStar and have earned their Platinum Seal of Transparency by voluntarily sharing all measures of results in the pursuit of their mission.

DonorsChoose is free for teachers across America. If your goal isn’t met all pledgers can direct their donations to your next project.


The best fundraising software for events, DoJiggy offers a wide array of fundraising software and tools for school and nonprofits. Their patented software will help you raise money for your goals and causes while helping you streamline your administrative campaign work. They want their products to give you the time you need to establish and maintain your important donor relationships.

Their event products and fundraising software includes online donation management, event management, crowdfunding software, and online storefronts.

While DoJiggy offers flexibility and comprehensive ease of use, the documentation on their software could be a tad richer. 

Their pricing guide is outlined here.

Charity Scavenger Hunts With CityHUNT!

CityHUNT cares about charity and giving with the same great enthusiasm we give to each of our scavenger hunts and games. Our Charity Scavenger Hunts are designed with both concepts in mind: giving and fun! 

We have many charitable games, such as Grocery Raiders of the Lost Park, where we reward the efforts of gathering food supplies and teach participants about US food initiatives. All of our games facilitate conversation about giving and promote educated and charitable donation.

Contact us today to book a Scavenger Hunt, find out more about our games, or to partner with us for your next instance of charitable giving. Sign up for CityHUNT’s charity games to remove the stress from your next donation event and focus on the fun!

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