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13 Innovative Online Fundraising Ideas For Nonprofits & Charities

Online virtual fundraising is one of the most popular ways for nonprofits to raise money. With the majority of daily activities taking place over the web, it’s no surprise that we’ve also observed a rise in virtual fundraising.

According to the M+R Benchmarks study, online giving increased 23% from 2016 to 2017 and has been steadily on the rise, while monthly online giving has increased by 40%. With the exploding popularity of online fundraising, we anticipate that it will only continue to grow well into the future.

Maybe your nonprofit hasn’t yet developed an online fundraising plan. Or, you do fundraise online, but are looking for some fresh, innovative approaches. Either way, it’s time to brush up on your peer-to-peer fundraising chops and check out some online fundraising ideas that you can use to attract donors to your nonprofit.

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

1. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising (one of the big things you can do on our fundraising platform) 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 through CauseVox and fundraise for your nonprofit.

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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

Pensacola Habitat For Humanity’s Women Build initiative encouraged folks to set up their own personal fundraising websites to raise money for the cause. Each fundraiser’s site features a personal appeal and social sharing buttons, which are great ways to spread the word about the campaign.

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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.

Tip: Schedule a demo with our team on how you can quickly start a peer to peer fundraising campaign for your virtual fundraising event.

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

Email fundraising make up for ⅓ of online donations, and while your nonprofit may have already held an email fundraiser this year, it may behoove you 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). On 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.

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 leverage the power of these platforms 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. 

Remember to set a dollar amount goal and periodically post updates throughout the day to let your supporters know how much you’ve raised (and how close you are to your goal).

Giving Tuesday is a common example of a one-day flash fundraiser and probably top-of-mind for fundraisers, especially with the holiday season just around the corner. For some inspiration, check out our post on how to plan a successful Giving Tuesday 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, and with matching gifts, they’re essentially giving two gifts for the price of one. In fact, one of the main reasons why Millennials donate is because they know their gift will be matched.

Matching gifts are also a great way to boost donations mid-campaign. If you notice that donations are starting to taper off mid-day, try to introduce a matching gift to keep the excitement and momentum going. You can promote a match through all your frequent channels of communication whether it be social media, email, or a newsletter. 

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To secure a matching gift, start with your closest supporters: your board. Ask them to see if they’d be able to pitch in for a matching gift, or leverage their relationships with businesses to ask potential partners to contribute to the match.

Tip: Leverage existing matching gifts from your donor’s employers as well. You can add these into your virtual fundraising campaign site on CauseVox as an offline donation to showcase fundraising progress!

4. Event-Integrated Fundraiser

Have a special fundraising event or gala coming up? Boost donations using technology by creating an online fundraising page. For one reason or another, some of your biggest supporters may not be able to attend in-person. Don’t miss out on their gifts by creating an online donation page on CauseVox that allows them to give anywhere and at anytime. 

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Take TOAST 2019 hosted by the Museum of Stupid Cancer for example. TOAST celebrates adolescent and young adult cancer survivors with a traditional live gala but by incorporating an online donation page, they have the opportunity to capture donations from supporters who can’t make it.

Some organizations have even taken this a step further by hosting their event entirely online using the “UnGala” fundraising approach. The “UnGala” is a new, trending fundraising style where instead of spending so much time and effort on a big fancy event, it’s basically just an online peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. An UnGala frees up your organization and staff, helping you focus your energy where needed most and raise a lot quickly, with a higher ROI.

Tip: Schedule a demo with our team on how you can quickly start a campaign site for your virtual fundraising event.

5. Games Tournament

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Create a series of challenges that test team skills, endurance, and aptitude with a games tournament. Teams can register to compete in different challenges with the top scorers winning a prize! Get local businesses involved for prize sponsorships, and make it a public, fun event that everyone can come and watch. 

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Considerations: have an impartial umpire or judge for the games so that its a fair contest for all.

6. Online Auction/Yard Sale

Take your auction to the next level by hosting it online using a virtual platform that advertises the items and manages the bids. Online auctions are great because it eliminates the need for things like bid sheets, can be tracked with a click of a button, and individuals can bid from ANYWHERE. It’s a win-win for bidders and your nonprofit.

An online yard sale is similar to an online auction, 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.

7. 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.

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!

8. Paint and Sip Night

Paint and sip events are fantastic because they can be adapted for any type of organization and occasion. For this fundraising event, you’ll need to team up with a local paint and sip store like Pinot’s Palette or Painting with a Twist that’s willing to donate a percentage of the night’s proceeds to your cause. 

If there isn’t a paint and sip establishment in your area, consider securing a location to host your own paint and sip night. Reach out to a talented volunteer or local artist to lead the class, and purchases the necessary supplies. 

To make the registration and payment process seamless, set up an online fundraising page on CauseVox to track who’s signed up and to rake in any additional donations.

9. Crowdfunding Incentives

Many crowdfunding campaigns on CauseVox 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.

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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 have lunch with the Executive Director. 

10. Bowl-A-Thon

Bowl-a-Thons are about more than throwing strikes. It is about coming together as a community for a fun night and a game that crosses generations. This is a great one for the workplace, and can be an excellent team builder since it gets all your colleagues together to compete on teams.

Tip: See if your local bowling alley will donate free games to your charity so that all money raised can go towards your cause.

11. Social Media Takeovers

Orchestrate a social media takeover by asking a corporate sponsor or local community partner if they would be willing to “donate their social media” to you one day of the year. With a takeover, your team can post content throughout the day that links back to your organization’s website or social media pages. This method can help increase brand visibility to an audience that might not be familiar with your organization. If you’re currently running a campaign, this is a great way to promote!

Tip: Have your high-quality images and posts written ahead of time so you can make the most of the takeover!

12. Birthday/Holiday Fundraiser

The king of social media is Facebook, and chances are, your supporters have used it to host or donate to something like a birthday fundraiser. Fundraising with Facebook is really simple but birthday fundraisers don’t have to be limited to this platform.

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This year, 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. Check out how Ranan Lustman raised over $24,000 for schools supplies for kids in Buwumba with his Bar Mitzvah campaign:

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

13. Corporate Partner Crowdfunding Or Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Corporate crowdfunding involves engaging employees to fundraise on an organization’s behalf but it does a lot more than just raise funds. Workplace campaigns can help establish or strengthen ties between employees and your organization.

From chili cook-offs and dress-down days to auctioning off a coveted parking spot, starting a corporate crowdfunding campaign can be a lot of fun. To get your campaign off on the right foot, ask your fundraiser to consider hosting an employee kick-off party. A kick-off party provides an opportunity to announce the campaign goal and let employees learn more about your organization. 

Tip: Check to see if the company hosting the campaign has a qualifying employee matching grant.

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(Source: KPMG campaign raising funds for North Texas Food Bank.)

Raise More With CauseVox.

If you’re wanting to try one or more of these innovative online fundraising ideas to reach your current and prospective donors, increase your reach, and drive engagement, CauseVox is here for you. From donation forms to peer-to-peer for virtual fundraising, our clunk-free, fully-customizable digital fundraising platform is here to help you raise more with way less effort.

Learn more about running your virtual fundraising with CauseVox.

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

This post was originally posted in 2016 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness in 2020.

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