Choosing the Right Online Fundraising Platform for your Nonprofit
Nonprofit organizations have to evaluate the fundraising website or tool that is best for them. While we provide a document in our Resources that helps to evaluate different fundraising client options, we wanted to discuss how you should go about making this decision.
Do your homework
At most nonprofits, the staff or volunteers that will make the final decision on a fundraising client are often the individuals that have time scarcity. This is an important decision and one that shouldn’t be rushed. Don’t sign on with your previous fundraising website or the first new tool you look at because it is easier. Talk to friends in the nonprofit world. Set up meetings with various fundraising platforms and come up with detailed questions for each of them. Doing your homework will help your nonprofit increase online giving for years to come.
Evaluate your budget
Determining how much you can and want to spend on a fundraising tool is an important initial step to figuring out what might be the best fit for your organization. As you investigate clients, map out the long-term and short-term cost. Some fundraising websites have lower initial fees but charge more per donation. Other fundraising websites don’t include a credit card processing fee in their initial estimates but add on the cost later. Though the sticker price may be higher, you could end up spending much more long-term on another vehicle.
What is important to your organization?
Your fundraising website should help you achieve the short-term goal of enabling a volunteer to make a donation and the long-term plans that you have. This decision shouldn’t be made in a vacuum – think about the direction your organization is going. What are your long-term goals? What are going to be the most important initiatives your organization will undertake 3-5 years from now? Are you looking to increase mobile continuity on your website? These questions are critical for determining the depth of the fundraising tool.
What is important to your volunteers?
For some organizations this is a more critical question than what is important internally. The platform that you pick needs to match your current volunteer base and the volunteers that you want to attract. If you have a peer-to-peer fundraising event and 60% of your participants use a Yahoo email address, ensure you’re your fundraising platform allows Yahoo email users to upload their mailing list.
If you have the time to evaluate the results, ask your constituents what they would value most. Do they want to be able to create a page to fundraise on your behalf? If you have an event, do they want to be able to register multiple people at once? Don’t assume that you know what your volunteers needs are.
Read the fine print
When you think you’ve settled on a fundraising platform, ensure that you – or someone with a legal/contract background – review the contract to ensure that you’re not signing up for something that isn’t sustainable or might increase in cost. It is important to remember that there is a lot of turnover in the online fundraising business, so ensure you’ve reviewed your contract for contingencies in case the company you’re hiring is sold.
We hope these tips will help you find the right tool for your nonprofit organization.