5 great online fundraising ideas

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Charities might be overlooking the power of the Internet to help them raise funds, according to a recent study by Barclays.

Their research into 301 UK-based charities with a minimum turnover of £3m showed that donations from under 30s are growing faster than ones from over 50s.
Kids online

Moreover, in spite of the fact that 85% of charities agreed that younger people preferred donating online, only 63% saw online fundraising as the way forward, while 20% charities still didn’t have any way to accept online donations, with 48% seeing a lack of a “computer savvy” donor base as a major barrier.

Are they justified in their beliefs? Recent data from the Office of National Statistics shows that internet usage more than tripled for those aged 65 and older between 2006 to 2014, with two-thirds of adults aged between 65-74 now regularly going online for banking, shopping, entertainment, healthcare and communications.

Even if those charities are right, and their target audience isn’t online, aren’t they missing a trick by excluding potential younger donors? Nearly 80% of the charities questioned believed that the number of people donating via the web would increase over the next three years, so isn’t it time all charities made their online presence felt?

Here are 5 great online fundraising ideas that will motivate digital donors:

1. Webinars

If your organisation has links to any celebrities, high profile authors, sports people or entrepreneurs, rope them in to participate in an online event. You can promote the webinar as an exclusive interview and Q&A session where attendees will be able to ask whatever they like, and either charge for tickets or ask for a donation.

It’s easy to host a webinar using YouTube’s free ‘Hangout on Air’ facility. All you need is a webcam and a computer and you can be ready to broadcast in a matter of minutes. Thanks to the live chat facility, viewers can ask questions and make comments in real time, which you will be able to moderate as they come in.


2. Crowdfunding

Sometimes donating to charity can feel like throwing pennies into a bottomless pit. You can make donations feel more meaningful by selecting one project, with a defined fundraising goal and promoting that.

Many nonprofit organisations are using crowdfunding platforms like Indiegogo to help them do this. Let’s say for example your charity is focused on supporting the families of children with life limiting illnesses – instead of asking for general donation, specify a piece of equipment you need to fund, like a specially adapted vehicle.

A time-limited fundraising campaign will motivate people to take action, while the donations ‘barometer’ graphic will show donors the impact of their contribution.

3. Charity auction

With an attractive selection of prizes on offer, a charity auction can be a really effective way to raise funds.

If you already have some solid corporate support, rally round to see if they would be willing to donate products or services. It is often easier for businesses to make donations in kind than in cash, so you may enjoy higher opt in.

You can easily promote and auction your prizes on eBay via the PayPal Giving Fund or, to integrate the auction into your own website, utilise a WordPress plugin like this or specialist auction software such as BiddingForGood.

Bake Off

4. Competition

If you find yourself with a really big prize being donated, why not think about running a competition instead? Create a campaign around it, challenging people to send in photos, make a video, write a poem or anything else you think will get them engaged.

If you’re an animal charity, for example, you might want to have a cutest pet competition, or maybe try a bake-off to beat bone cancer.

Charge for each entry or simply ask people to donate once they’ve entered. To gain more entries, make sure your competition entry form is integrated with social media and prompt users to post a message about the competition to their feed.

5. Viral campaign

The power of viral campaigns for charities has been demonstrated by the phenomenal success of the #nomakeupselfie hashtag and ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which raised £8m and £7m respectively for Cancer Research UK and the Motor Neurone Disease Association ($100m was raised for the US-based ALS Association).

It’s hard to predict what will capture the public imagination, but keep it fun and a little daring and it may well catch on in a big way.


There will always be a place for traditional fundraising alongside online, but charities that fail to embrace the web risk limiting their fundraising potential and could restrict future growth.

Canvassing for donations online can draw in younger donors who might not have given to charity before, as well as provide your existing supporters with more ways to give.



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