The Complete Guide to Nonprofit Online Fundraising

12 Mins read

Nonprofit online fundraising may sound simple to some and daunting to others. Just like the internet itself, online fundraising options are vast. To help you determine how online fundraising can help your nonprofit reach its fundraising goals, we’ve compiled the Complete Guide to Online Fundraising, including detailed overviews and tips for creating and executing successful online fundraising campaigns. 

  1. What is Online Fundraising?
  2. Types of Online Fundraising
    1. Webpage Donations
    2. Campaign/Event Pages
    3. Direct Online Solicitations (Email, SMS)
    4. Peer-to-Peer/Team Giving
    5. Crowdfunding
    6. Auctions
    7. Social Media Giving
  3. Additional Online Fundraising Opportunities
    1. Cryptocurrency
    2. Corporate Matching Programs

What is Online Fundraising?

Nonprofit online fundraising is any fundraising done via the internet. This may sound obvious, but it includes many options, including donations made on websites and through apps. 

Online fundraising helps nonprofits reach more donors and quickly and securely collect donations. Online fundraising also creates opportunities to personalize and scale fundraising initiatives, providing tools to measure and track fundraising efforts.

Most nonprofits do some form of online fundraising. It’s essential to select the type of online fundraising that’s most conducive to reaching your nonprofit’s goals.  

Types of Online Fundraising

Webpage Donations

Webpage donations are donations collected when a donor visits a nonprofit’s website and makes a donation, typically through a “donate” button or pop-up donate box. Donate buttons and popups navigate to a page with a checkout web form where donors input identifying and billing information to make their contribution. 

TIP: Not only are donation checkout forms used for processing donations quickly and securely, but you can strategically customize the fields to turn a one-time donation into a recurring donation, inquire about corporate matching, provide the option to dedicate the donation, select to cover the processing fees or opt into a mailing list. Be sure to balance the length and process of the transaction with the needs of your nonprofit. The longer or more complex you make your donation process, the higher the risk of losing your donor’s attention.

Many nonprofits maintain a “Donate” button on their homepage or global navigation bar to encourage donations and for easy navigation. This type of webpage donation call to action can be viewed as passive fundraising. However, most webpage donations are typically the result of a marketing campaign sending traffic to a webpage.

Depending on your website and team’s expertise, adding donation buttons and checkout forms may be simple or require a web developer’s help. When nonprofits use Giveffect, customizable webpages and checkout web forms are easy to create. A web developer is unnecessary. Any trained team member can update.

Here is an example from Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity.

Following the above “Donate Now” button is the corresponding donation page from Kalamazoo Valley Habitat for Humanity

Campaign/Event Pages

Campaign or event pages take webpage page donations a step further. Campaign and event pages are web pages added to a nonprofit’s website dedicated to one particular campaign or event. These web pages share detailed information about the impact and needs of the specific campaign or event and encourage actions such as donating or purchasing tickets. In this one-stop location, potential donors or supporters learn everything they need to know about a campaign and donate.  

Unlike more “evergreen” donation webpages, campaign or event pages typically have a start and end date and time. These pages may include deadlines and fundraising targets, sections featuring sponsors, a list of donors, and images or videos sharing a narrative. These pages may also have a community message board to ask questions or create an opportunity for discussion. An example of a great campaign page is this page for a Veteran’s Memorial at Moncus Park.

Similar to webpage donations detailed in the previous section, campaign or event pages include a call to action such as a button to donate or purchase tickets. These buttons also navigate to the checkout web form to collect contact information and billing information to process the donation or ticket. As previously recommended, you can strategically customize fields on the form to suggest and set up recurring donations and offer the option to dedicate the gift.

TIP: Because these pages focus on a specific campaign, the checkout process can benefit from being simpler and more targeted to the particular ask. Now that you know that this donor is connected to this campaign, you can make assumptions about their interests. Be sure to note this donation and tie it to the particular campaign or event in your CRM, such as Giveffect. Collecting, organizing, and tagging such information can help you target and personalize future communication with your supporters. 

Emails, SMS text messages, and social media drive awareness and traffic to campaign and event pages. We’ll cover direct solicitation in the next section. Measure the success of campaigns by tracking the traffic to the page and the number or amount of completed donations. 

Creating campaign or event pages with checkout webforms for each new initiative can be simple or complex, depending on your website or your team’s expertise. For nonprofits using Giveffect, creating a new event or campaign page using the provided templates is quite simple. Add the details about your event or campaign into the template and publish your event in just a few clicks. 

TIP: If your nonprofit software systems are connected, such as with Giveffect, when you receive a donation through your campaign or event page, the donation details are automatically stored and added to your donor database. By collecting your data and having all of your systems talk to each other, you’ll be able to pull reports and analyze your campaign data to help you further improve your campaign performance.

Direct Online Solicitation

Another common form of nonprofit online fundraising is Direct Online Solicitation. This means that a nonprofit directly asks individuals to donate through online communication. Email is the top channel for communication; however, many nonprofits also use SMS texts and app notifications. 

One significant advantage of direct solicitation is that you can personalize the ask to each person. Online tools such as CRMs can help track donor interests, past donations, and communication or engagement touchpoints. Personalize the ask by discussing an issue or idea that supporters have expressed interest in during a prior engagement. For example, you may have a list of attendees from a previous event. Use this list to ask for future attendance or a donation related to the event’s topic. Directly link the ask in an email or SMS text to a campaign or event page, so the supporter can easily donate. 

TIP: The more targeted or personalized you can make your asks, the more successful they will be. Knowing what your audience likes and dislikes is a significant first step in effectively communicating with them. 

This type of targeted campaign can lead to far better results than a more general campaign. Another idea is to use direct online solicitation for greater efforts like Giving Tuesday. 

Email marketing is an integral part of direct online solicitation. Nonprofits may have one person on the team who specializes in email marketing, or one who wears many hats may take on email marketing by default. 

TIP: While there are many different email marketing tool options, selecting an email marketing platform that speaks to your CRM is best. Giveffect, for example, includes a CRM and an email marketing tool (in addition to 8 other nonprofit software). Create emails with simple drag-and-drop templates within Giveffect’s email marketing tool. Then, select your contacts to add to the email list with just one click. Building email lists and tracking touchpoints along the donor journey within one technology suite eliminates extra steps that take time and can cause frustration. 

Peer-to-Peer and Team Giving

Peer-to-peer and team giving is a practice that empowers individual supporters to fundraise on a nonprofit’s behalf. This type of giving uses the power of numbers to amplify efforts, which can be quite lucrative. 

The way it works is that an organization’s supporters reach out to the people they know to ask them to give to a cause close to their heart, and often for the greater good of the community. Peer-to-peer fundraising and team giving are great opportunities for nonprofits to acquire new donors. 

Just like other types of nonprofit online fundraising, peer-to-peer fundraising efforts are supported by online fundraising. Gone are the days of manual sheets to track promises and donations. Fundraisers work with a nonprofit to create a personalized webpage to share their story, the reasons they are fundraising, and a button to donate. 

Fundraisers can easily share a link to this page with their friends and colleagues to garner donations. In most cases, the more personalized the fundraiser can make their fundraising page, the more their network is willing to donate. 

Peer-to-peer and team giving creates camaraderie and even friendly competition to raise funds as part of a large campaign or towards a larger goal for a nonprofit. 

TIP: Much like the event pages, Giveffect makes it easy to create and publish a peer-to-peer or team page. Automated systems automatically track the number and amount of donations, so individuals and teams can instantly check the website to find the current status of the fundraising goal, check each other’s progress, and share tips and experiences.


Crowdfunding takes peer-to-peer giving to the next level of nonprofit online fundraising by introducing wider online sharing. Beyond just asking your friends and community, crowdfunding fundraisers look to gain small amounts of capital from a large number of people from across the internet.

Crowdfunding is a way to raise funds for a person’s personal goal, cause, or venture. Crowdfunding, like peer-to-peer, uses a web page to share the fundraiser’s story and impact. Because crowdfunding uses a wider net to garner contributions for a campaign, it is more common for a contributor not to have a close relationship with the individual or group raising funds. Crowdfunding campaigns can be discoverable by just being a part of a specific crowdfunding platform. For example, the big name in crowdfunding is GoFundMe

TIP: Encouraging your fundraising volunteers to share their crowdfunding (or peer-to-peer and team giving) web page on social media and asking their networks to donate and share is a great way to spread the word.

Crowdfunding pages typically use a simplified donation checkout page to make the donation process simple and fast, often with minimal personal information and donating billing information. Giveffect makes these checkout pages easy to set up and it’s easy for donors to use, learn more:


Auctions are an excellent way for nonprofits to raise funds. Most nonprofits that do in-person events use auctions as part of their nonprofit online fundraising efforts. Auctions can also be held online or in a hybrid model to allow in-person and online supporters to bid and win items and packages. 

The benefit of online and hybrid auctions over solely in-person auctions is that they can increase the number of people bidding and the winning bid’s value. The higher the winning bid, the more money nonprofits can raise.

Any nonprofit can host an online or hybrid auction, but such auctions require resources to create and execute. Let’s look at two types of auctions:

Fully Online Auction: Fully online auctions are a great way to raise funds from supporters worldwide. Like in-person auctions, supporters place bids on items, and the highest bidder is the winner. 

There are a couple of formats to execute a fully online auction. One such option is a silent auction where supporters visit the online auction during a set time period and place bids on items or packages they would like to win. Of course, it’s important to remind your supporters to check back periodically to ensure they have the top bid and, if not, place a higher bid. 

Alternatively, auctions can be live and still entirely online. For example, live streaming events and auctions took off due to many events transitioning to online events during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

To conduct a successful online auction, create a webpage supported by an online bidding and auction management platform. This page should include the auction items, a way to place bids and collect bidder information (including payment information), and quickly identify and notify the winner. There are a variety of such platforms on the market with different features. Giveffect, for example, offers a very robust but easy-to-use auction management tool that can be added to any of your fundraising or volunteering campaigns. This video shows the auction functionality and how easy it is to set up in Giveffect.

TIP: With Giveffect, nonprofits can easily track each item with its own bidding page, including features such as countdown timer, reserve price, Buy-it-Now, bid extensions, and processing costs. Winners are automatically notified with instructions on completing online or offline payments using your customized message templates.

Hybrid Auction: Hybrid auctions are a very popular type of auction that allows organizations to host an in-person auction and take bids from online supporters who couldn’t be there in person.  Event organizers are also able to track the auction’s progress online. Those at the event and those online can place bids from any device, and when the bidding period ends, the highest bidder wins. 

This type of auction requires a webpage and the ability to take bids from a variety of devices. The advantage of a hybrid auction is that you can have an engaging in-person bidding experience and access to bidders worldwide. Hybrid auctions maximize your chances of reaching fundraising goals. It is important to note that just like fully online auctions, hybrid auctions require an auction bidding and management platform.

TIP: To connect the online and in-person experience so that it feels like one event instead of two, utilize Giveffect’s auction management software’s live event broadcast feature to project the Auction status at your Gala Events in real-time. The Giveffect scoreboard display will keep everyone in the loop to create a truly engaged hybrid experience.

Social Media Giving

Social media can bring together like-minded individuals and organizations. It is an excellent channel to spread awareness, strengthen relationships with supporters and find new donors. Nonprofits can create accounts on many social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Tik Tok, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Nonprofits can share posts and videos on their social media accounts at no cost. Posts and videos can create awareness for fundraising campaigns by including links to campaign or event webpages. In this scenario, a nonprofit supporter navigates from a social media platform to the nonprofit’s website. 

TIP: Potential supporters on social media favor reading short posts. To ensure that your supporters don’t miss the link to navigate to your donation page, put the donation link at the beginning of the post and then the copy.

Certain social media platforms also have special features to help nonprofits fundraise within the platform. For example, Facebook offers the ability to register as a nonprofit. Once your nonprofit is registered, you can create a fundraiser or add a donation button to the top of your profile page. Facebook covers all payment processing fees for donations made to nonprofits on the platform.

Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube all have similar features that allow nonprofits to go “live” on video and add a donation button. This is a great way to engage with supporters in real-time and create excitement around the call to action to donate. Alternatively, you can post a pre-recorded video and display a donate button next to the video. Like Facebook, Google covers fees, so nonprofits receive the maximum funds raised.

TIP: Be wary of creating too many different “landing pages” for a singular fundraiser, for example, on Facebook and a website. It can confuse donors and lead to them avoiding donating, fearing it may be in the wrong place. 

TIP: Learn about how to take advantage of each platform by taking courses offered by each platform. Meta provides a course on How to Start Fundraising on Facebook, and Youtube offers documentation on how to Set up a YouTube Giving Fundraiser.

Additional Online Giving Opportunities


Cryptocurrency has been a hot topic of conversation over the last few years as it has experienced massive fluctuations in value. For example, over the past year, Bitcoin has seen a  low value of $18,000 and a high of around $65,000. However, one of the biggest challenges in nonprofit online fundraising is that many people don’t fully understand what it is.

Cryptocurrency uses cryptography (or a complex encoding, blockchain) to create a digital currency. Cryptocurrency transactions are verified, and records are maintained by a decentralized system rather than a centralized authority such as the US government. To put it simply, cryptocurrency is a digital asset that functions like currency.

While many consider cryptocurrency a currency, the IRS considers it property and donating it a nontaxable event. This means that donors don’t have to recognize capital gains. If they itemize their deductions, they may be able to deduct up to the donated asset’s fair market value (FMV). 

Even though the value fluctuates, many people have appreciated coins with not many places to use them. Because online currencies can be difficult to manage, many nonprofits don’t accept cryptocurrencies. In fact, less than 1% of nonprofits accept cryptocurrency donations, according to Giveffect partner The Giving Block, an online website that works with cryptocurrency for nonprofits. However, accepting cryptocurrency donations doesn’t need to be difficult and can open up the opportunity for donations from new supporters.

Accepting a crypto donation through a processor such as The Giving Block will instantly convert crypto donations into U.S. dollars, leaving no risk to your organization. You receive the value of the cryptocurrency the moment it is donated. 

TIP: Don’t leave potential donations on the table by not accepting them. Work with experts in the space to determine the right way to accept such donations for your organization.

Corporate Matching Gift Programs

Corporate matching gift programs are a type of philanthropy in which companies match donations their employees make to nonprofit organizations. Companies typically match employee donations as a 1:1 ratio. However, some companies may match at a higher ratio. Employee giving with corporate matching can be a substantial amount of money. According to a study by Giveffecr partner Double the Donation, more than $4 to $7 billion in matching gift revenue is left on the table each year by donors who qualify for a match. 

So why is this funding going unclaimed? Donors don’t submit matching gift requests because they don’t know they’re eligible, the process seems complicated, or they forget to follow through.

As part of your nonprofit online fundraising efforts, make it easy for donors to complete the necessary steps with their employers.

TIP: Find ways to automate most of the work. For example, as part of the integration between Giveffect and Double the Donation, nonprofits can fully automate emails to deliver matching gift forms and instructions directly to your donor to submit matching gift requests.

For more information on the tools to help your nonprofit leverage online fundraising, schedule your Giveffect demo here.

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