Online Fundraising for Nonprofits - No Matter Where You Are!

Whether you are just starting out with online fundraising or if you are ready for more advanced tips, we have you covered.


Ready to raise money for your nonprofit online? Great! Let’s get you set up.

First, Accept Online Donations on Your Website

When supporters come to your website to donate, they expect to make a secure transaction online with a credit card. They do not expect a mailing address and a request to send a check. So your nonprofit needs a service that will process credit card donations. The good news is there are dozens of online donation services to choose from. Google: “online donation tools” and start comparing rates and features to see which service suits your needs.

Then Get Your Website Ready

  • Install a clear, prominent, eye-catching Donate button “above the fold” on your website
  • Name this button “Donate.” Not “Contribute.” Not “How You Can Help.” Name it “Donate.” That is the word donors are looking for when they come to donate.
  • Make sure this “Donate” button appears on every page of your website

Now, How’s Your Email List Going?

Email is by far the most effective way to solicit donations online. It should be your primary driver for online donations. Click here for to learn more about Email Marketing.

The theme here is, “Ask.”

Ask For Donations Via Email

Most people give because they were asked. The same holds true for online fundraising. Send email appeals several times a year - 6-12 at a minimum. The more you email, the more you raise.

Ask For Donations Via Social Media

Don’t expect an avalanche of giving via social media channels. Social giving is growing slowly, and some nonprofits do succeed in these channels. The successful ones invest time and other resources into making it work. Post a fundraising ask on your social media channels about as often as you ask via email, and coordinate them to get a nice 1-2 punch. Definitely use these channels to show donor impact, and to thank and celebrate your supporters.

Ask For Donations In Your E-newsletter

This could be a small feature box or at least a Donate link in your header and/or footer graphic.

Ask for Online Donations In Your Direct Mail Newsletter.

Make sure your direct mail subscribers know that they can make a convenient, secure online donation on your website.

These are tactics mature fundraising organizations use to boost fundraising results.

Optimize Your Landing Page

Make sure your donation page is clear, focused, and contains as few fields as necessary to obtain the donation.

  • Keep the form to one page
  • Include some short, passionate fundraising copy at the top of the form
  • Display your charity credentials from the Better Business Bureau, Charity Navigator, et. al.
  • Include a prominent security badge
  • Experiment with gift strings (the suggested gift amounts)
  • Make sure your form displays well on mobile devices
  • Do not link to YouTube videos, reports, blog posts or other media that can take people off of your donate page.

Plan A Campaign

Move from a single appeal to a multi-channel, multi-email campaign. A brief outline of a campaign looks like this:

  • GOAL (how much do you want to raise and by when)
  • NARRATIVE ARC (what stories are you going to tell)
  • CHANNELS (map out how you will deploy your campaign in email, website, social, direct mail, search, telemarketing, etc.)
  • SCHEDULE (when are you sending what)

Begin A/B Testing

Want to know what works? Don’t just go with your gut. Test. The best campaigners relentlessly test and refine as they go. Test one thing at a time. Google “A/B fundraising testing.” A few ideas:

  • Subject lines
  • Call to action, i.e. the words you hyperlink to entice the click
  • Graphic
  • Button color
  • Short vs. long content
  • Who the email is “from,” i.e. your executive director or just your nonprofit name
  • Premiums (things you give away to people who donate)

Segment Your List
Don’t treat all subscribers and donors the same! Segment your list. For example, build one list consisting of volunteers only and another for donors. This allows you to create messages that are more targeted and relevant, which means they are more likely to be opened, read, and acted upon.


Multi-Channel Fundraising Campaign Worksheet

Use this 11-page worksheet to help you plan your next online fundraising campaign.

This download is located in our Free Learning Center. Learn more and get your Customized Training Plan!