Characteristics to Look for in Online Fundraising Platforms for Nonprofits!
Posted on May 12, 2021
Digital is the “new normal” and nonprofits also need to adapt to digital means of operating. This means whether it is raising funds or hosting events, nonprofits will have to choose online methods. Fortunately, a plethora of online fundraising platforms is available to streamline the fundraising process for nonprofits!
The basic objective of all nonprofits is to raise funds through various events and campaigns. However, the difference lies in the specific methods each nonprofit uses to raise money online.
How nonprofits raise money online
This is a method of collecting donations directly through the nonprofit’s website. To facilitate online giving, the platform should be capable of creating branded donation pages for the nonprofit’s website. An online donation page makes it easy to donate gifts for specific campaigns. The donation page should also facilitate monthly or recurring donations.
Crowdfunding is an online fundraising strategy wherein a nonprofit creates a campaign on a third-party platform. These campaigns help raise funds for an urgent need of the nonprofit. Crowdfunding usually has small and mid-sized donations from numerous donors. Nonprofits that use crowdfunding as a fundraising option need an online platform that has the features that support it. For instance, it should support secure and easy payment methods, it should facilitate tracking fund generation over a fixed period, etc.
Peer to Peer Fundraising
Online peer-to-peer fundraising warrants platforms that enable individual supporters to create donation pages on behalf of the nonprofit. The donations solicited by these supporters through their pages are transferred directly to the nonprofit.
This is a corporate philanthropy program wherein the employers match the donation of their employees. The online platform that supports the matching gift program will promote a matching gift database on the donation page. So, when a donor lands on the donation page, he can use a search tool to find out the donation made by his employer and whether he can match it or not. If your budget is high, you can even think of an automated matching gift software. In an automated process, the donors get automatic reminders and are guided through the entire process.
If a nonprofit uses using auctions to raise funds online, then it will need a platform that engages the audience and streamlines the auction process. Online auctions do not require paper bids or a lengthy registration process. However, nonprofits that leverage online auction for fundraising need to ensure that they provide their users a mobile bidding app as well.
While these are some of the most popular online fundraising strategies used by nonprofits, your nonprofit may use some other methods. The most important factor for online fundraising is the choice of the fundraising platform. Hence, a nonprofit must ensure that it selects the right platform which serves its purpose.
But choosing the right one can be quite confusing!
Here’s a guide to selecting an online fundraising platform:
Step 1: Establish your Goals
The goal of any nonprofit is to raise funds using the fundraising platform it chooses. Online fundraising platforms offer umpteen features like collecting data about the donors, setting up recurring donations, help spread awareness about the nonprofit, and many more. However, each platform has a specific set of features. Hence, you need to choose one that is aligned with your goals.
Step 2: Ascertain if the Online Platform has the Essential Characteristics
Certain basic features are required in any online fundraising platform. So, when you are shortlisting platforms, ensure that they have those features.
Characteristics of fundraising platforms
When you look at different fundraising platforms, you might find that they have several attractive features that may be useful for you. However, you must make sure that the platform can be customized for your usage. In other words, you should be able to use the features you require according to your needs.
Responsive on Mobiles and Tablets
Make sure that you choose platforms that can be used on all devices such as desktops, mobiles, tablets, etc. This helps you reach a wider audience.
The platform should load quickly on all devices and the data buttons should be prominent and easy to click across devices. The page should not suffer in terms of quality when loading on different devices.
Some online fundraising platforms require technical knowledge for setting up and managing them while some others are less complicated. Choose a platform that is easy to set up. You can also check with the service provider if they offer training, customer support, etc.
Make sure that the online platform integrates seamlessly with your CRM. This will save your time and effort in transferring your existing data into the platform.
This will also simplify the process of running campaigns and planning fundraising strategies.
Ease of Payments
The purpose of any online fundraising platform is to facilitate donations. Hence, ensure that the platforms you shortlist have easy payment options. Check whether they allow credit card/debit card payments or not.
Also, make sure that the platform is a PCI complaint. PCI compliance is a must for any platform that accepts credit card payments. It helps keep secure the confidential data such as credit card details provided by the donors.
Virtual events are here to stay, at least in the near future. What this means is that you will need an online fundraising platform that offers comprehensive features for hosting virtual events to raise funds.
Select a platform that can cater to your future needs. In other words, don’t choose a platform that only satisfies your current requirements. For instance, if you want to add more types of fundraising options at a later date, your platform should be able to accommodate such changes. Flexibility and scalability are must-have features when selecting an online fundraising platform.
Step 3: Comparison
Once you have shortlisted some online fundraising platforms, you will need to compare them and decide on the one best suited to your needs.
You can compare different platforms based on the above characteristics. You can also check out if the platform offers any other features that you can customize according to your needs.
Step 4: Price Comparison
The last step to select an online platform is to compare their prices. It is recommended that you do a cost-benefit analysis before deciding on the online platform you will buy.
While comparing the prices of different online platforms, you must adhere to your nonprofit’s budgets. Keeping your budget in mind while choosing the platform will ensure that you do not spend more than the funds you raise!
The base price of a platform is usually quoted by the provider, you need to include any other additional costs for a realistic comparison.
Here’s a list of some costs you need to take into account:
- Base price
- Price of enhancements or additional features
- Expenses towards IT support
- Cost of training the in-house team for using the platform
- The number of users the platform can support.
- Processing fees of payment
There may be other expenses associated with the different online platforms you may have shortlisted. You must anticipate all such costs for each platform and then compare them.
Make sure that you ask the service provider for different options. This is because a software provider may provide options that include additional features.
If you are looking for a platform that offers all the features required for online fundraising, then make sure to connect with the experts at iConnectX! We have been in the field of philanthropy for several years and provide platforms that cater to all the needs of nonprofits for online fundraising!