14 Innovative Online Fundraising Ideas For Nonprofits & Charities

Online fundraising is one of the most popular ways for nonprofits to raise money.

According to the M+R Benchmarks study, online giving grew 13% from 2014 to 2015, and monthly online giving increased by 32%. Online fundraising is a technique expected to continue growing well into the future.

Maybe your nonprofit hasn’t yet developed an online fundraising plan. Or, you do fundraise online, but are looking for a new, creative approach. Either way, here’s a list of some innovative online fundraising ideas that you can use to attract donors to your nonprofit.

Want more fundraising ideas? View our epic list of 101+ fundraising ideas that are proven to work.

1. Personal Fundraising Websites

Peer-to-peer fundraising accounts for ⅓ of all online donations, so it’s one of the best online fundraising ideas out there. Encourage your networks to set up personal fundraising pages and fundraise for your nonprofit.

Peer-to-peer fundraising

When your donors fundraise for you, they build credibility for your cause. In fact, 1 in 4 solicitation emails from peer-to-peer fundraisers result in donations, compared with 1 in 1,250 emails from a nonprofit.

“1 in 4 emails from peer-to-peer fundraisers result in donations, compared with 1 in 1,250 emails from a nonprofit…” tweet this

United Way Regina’s #Get2Grad initiative encouraged folks to set up their own personal fundraising websites to raise money for the cause. Each fundraiser’s site features a personal story and social sharing buttons, which are great ways to spread the word about the campaign.

online fundraising ideas

Encourage your networks to set up personal fundraising pages and fundraise for your nonprofit. You can easily setup a place for them to do this using our online fundraising software.

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

Email fundraising accounts for ⅓ of online donations, and while your nonprofit may have already held an email fundraiser this year, it may be a good idea to do a one-day email fundraising blitz.

Choose one day- a day that possibly has some symbol or importance to your organization (ex. Valentine’s Day for victims of domestic abuse). The day of the blitz, send out a series of emails requesting donations. The emails should include an emotional story, appropriate imagery, and a call to action that expresses urgency.

Bernie Sanders has had a very successful fundraising email campaign. Here’s one of the emails his team sent out during a one-day fundraising blitz.

email online fundraising ideas

If your audience is one that responds more positively to social media, then you might want to try a social media sharing blitz. As we all know, social media is a great place to fundraise, so use the power of these platforms to your advantage with a one-day social media sharing event. Choose a day and actively encourage donations and sharing through all your social media channels, such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Snapchat.

Many colleges and universities find that social media campaigns are a great way to raise funds. For some inspiration, check out this post on Wabash College’s success during their 24-hour campaign.

3. Donation Matching Drive

Build on that one-day email fundraising idea by securing a match from a company or major donor and advertise the match in your email campaign. Donors love to know that their money was leveraged, such as in the case with Grey2K. In fact, one of the main reasons why Millennials donate is because they know their gift will be matched.

Eaton Corporation, for example, provides their employees a 1 to 1 match for all donations up to $5,000. Check out Double the Donation to find more companies that will match donations to your organization.

4. Interactive Video Fundraiser

Do you remember how successful the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was? It was a viral hit that spread across the country over the summer of 2014 and raised an estimated 115 million dollars.

And while not every nonprofit will find the success that ALS did, it doesn’t mean that you can’t emulate the fundraiser.

Start your own interactive video challenge by asking your networks to upload and share videos of them doing an activity that represents your organization, or just doing something completely outrageous. Request that participants make a donation and nominate others to join in on the fun. You never know how far it’ll spread throughout the digital world.

5. Pinterest Boards

Pinterest is a very popular social media platform, especially for women. Pair that with the fact that 64% of all charitable donations are made by women, and Pinterest seems like one of the top online fundraising ideas – you have a recipe for success!

Try raising money through a Pinterest board. Upload infographics, quotes, and emotion-inducing images that are shareable and don’t forget to include a button that links directly to your website’s donation page. Here’s a great example by The Nature Conservancy.

pinterest online fundraising ideas

6. Amazon Smile

Amazon is the largest retailer in the world and they offer a great service to nonprofits through Amazon Smile. Ask your donors, volunteers, board members, staff, clients, etc. to link your organization up to their Amazon account. Each quarter, your nonprofit will receive 0.5% of all the transactions made that are connected with your organization.

Neverthirst, a nonprofit that uses CauseVox’s online fundraising software, advertises the Amazon Smile fundraiser directly on their website.

amazon smile online fundraising ideas

7. Online Auction/Yard Sale

Organize an auction, but instead of gathering up all the action prizes in a physical location to be bid on, host it online. After gathering prizes from donors and sponsors, use an online platform to advertise and manage the bids. It’s a win-win for bid winners and your nonprofit.

An online yard sale is similar to an online action, except that all of the items up for sale are usually second-hand items. It’s a great online fundraising idea for the spring because most people are in the midst of spring cleaning and are looking to clear their closets.

The results of an online auction may surprise you. For example, the Figawi Charity Ball exceeded its fundraising goal by 10% using a mobile action site.

8. Planned Giving Blitz

A recurring donation campaign is one of the top online fundraising ideas because recurring donors give 42% more over the course of the year than a one-time giver.

recurring donors give 42% more over the course of the year than a one-time giver…” tweet this

Encourage your donors to give recurring monthly or quarterly gifts through a planned giving email fundraising blitz. It’s a fundraiser that gives back all year long!

9. Apparel Sale

Do you have a clever slogan, interesting logo, or a quote that symbolizes your nonprofit that you think will make a good t-shirt or hat design? If so, host an online apparel sale. Better yet, ask your social media followers and email newsletter recipients to vote on their favorite design. That way, you’ll get the input and build momentum behind the fundraiser.

You’ll raise funds, and increase your brand’s recognition in one fell swoop just like the brand’s recognition in one fell swoop just like the MidAtlantic Pug Rescue or the Mustang, Oklahoma Fire Department.

apparel sale online fundraising ideas

10. Crowdfunding Incentives

Many crowdfunding campaigns use incentives to drive donors to their cause. Bands looking to fund their upcoming album offer donors a free digital copy in exchange for a donation. Startup businesses offer a stake in the company in exchange for an initial investment. And, while nonprofits oftentimes overlook incentives, your donors will respond positively if it’s the right one.

Try raffling off donated prizes like World Bicycle Relief did in this example.

crowdfunding perks online fundraising ideas

Or, instead of offering costly items as perks, try offering intangible incentives such as a tour of your building, access to informative online content, or the chance to meet the Executive Director.perks, try offering intangible incentives such as a tour of your building, access to informative online content, or the chance to meet the Executive Director.

11. Facebook Fundraising

The king of social media is Facebook, and chances are, your current and prospective donors are using this platform regularly. Fundraising with Facebook is one of the most untapped online fundraising ideas, and it’s really simple. Capitalize on Facebook’s popularity by fundraising directly on your nonprofit’s Facebook page. Currently, you can add a donate call to action button, which links to your nonprofit’s website. 

Check out this example from the United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County Facebook page.

facebook online fundraising ideas

In the near future, Facebook will begin offering fundraising capabilities and Donate buttons to charitable organizations. Follow this link to sign up for more information on the rollout of these features.

12. Contests

Entice donors to give more through your online fundraiser with a contest. Talk to a local business about donating a prize (it may be tax deductible for them!). To be eligible for entry, donors should give at a particular level.

contest online fundraising ideas

13. A Donation For A Vote

Try an online contest where your donors pay to vote to fund a dare or something equally as fun and engaging. You can really spice it up by asking a local celebrity to “donate” their hair and have donors vote on the color it should be dyed.

Go big and be silly, and you’ll definitely attract donors like those that supported the Dave Lichman Challenge!

14. Birthday/Holiday Fundraiser

Ask your networks to organize a fundraiser for their birthday or holiday. In lieu of gifts, your contacts can set up a personal fundraising page where gift givers can instead leave a donation.

 birthday online fundraising ideas

You can use CauseVox to setup a DIY fundraising site for your supporters to setup their own personalized birthday and holiday fundraisers. Learn how by booking a demo here.

“Here’s a list of online fundraising ideas that you can use to attract donors to your nonprofit …” tweet this

Try one or more of these innovative online fundraising ideas to reach your current and prospective donors, increase your reach, drive engagement, and drive donations to your nonprofit.

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