As charities are forced to adapt to social distancing and reduced fundraising streams, digital platforms can be good options to quickly and effectively take donations
With losses from cancelled fundraising events like the London Marathon (which brought charities a record-breaking £66.4m last year) expected to hit the sector hard, many charities will need to explore digital fundraising strategies to diversify their income and reach more supporters.
So what are charities doing to bring their fundraising online? Luckily, the last few years have seen an explosion in options for raising money quickly and effectively.
A number of charities have set up Coronavirus hardship fund campaigns through online fundraising platforms, either to help with beneficiaries dealing with the financial consequences of the lockdown, to help frontline healthcare response, or to help charities continue their essential services under these difficult circumstances. This NHS Charities urgent appeal page on Virgin Money Giving is an excellent example.
Below, we explore a couple of the leading platforms for creating online fundraising campaigns, what charities get for the cost of set up, and how to get started.
Both platforms that we talk about in this article (JustGiving and Virgin Money Giving) have very similar features, letting charities set up online campaigns in minutes and start raising money towards a specific project or appeal.
While there are a few differences, which we’ll explain, with both of these platforms people can donate directly to your charity’s campaign page or individual fundraisers can link their own fundraising pages to it. Anything raised on individual fundraising pages adds to your campaign page’s total.
Donors also get listed on the campaign page, with the choice to remain anonymous. Charities even have the option to add a link to a regular monthly donation form.
There are also buttons for supporters to easily share the page on their social media feeds, and with Virgin Money Giving you can include an embed of your charity’s Twitter feed, keeping potential supporters in the loop about how the campaign is going and encouraging them to retweet and spread the word.
As one of the earliest and biggest online fundraising platforms, JustGiving’s draw is its large audience. The platform has collected over £4 billion for charities since its launch in 2001, and says it helps charities add momentum to their campaigns by putting them in front of its enormous supporter community.
The platform charges a 5% fee for its Gift Aid Service, which is taken from the amount of Gift Aid claimed on a donation, along with a payment processing fee of 1.9% + 20p per donation.
For setting up campaign pages, the platform charges under monthly plans starting at £15 per month +VAT.
It also has a free, basic option for campaign pages, however, this is less customisable to your brand and doesn’t include a fundraise button for people to link their own individual fundraising pages to your charity’s. The free plan also doesn’t include data and reporting so you have less insight into how well your campaign is performing and the tweaks to make to drive more funds.
Virgin Money Giving is the second-largest fundraising platform in the UK, having helped raise over £685 million for 14,000 charities since its launch in 2009.
Unlike with JustGiving, there is just the one price plan for all campaign pages and charities can get all the same features as a paid-for JustGiving campaign plan.
There are no monthly charges, but a one-off membership fee of £150, and a 2% processing fee on donations.
However, in a feature introduced last year, anyone donating to a campaign page can choose to cover the payment processing fees as well as the platform fees.
These type of campaign pages are ideal for charities that want to fundraise around an awareness week, towards a specific beneficiary such as a person or animal, a project or a needed item. Being as specific as possible helps people understand exactly what they’re being asked to give towards.
Once you’ve filled in your online application form, set up your campaign page to include a target amount- JustGiving highly recommends this as their metrics say charity campaigns with clear targets are more successful. Including a deadline also adds a sense of urgency that spurs donors into action.
It’s also recommended that charities give options for donation asks and payment types, such as Credit/Debit card, with digital payments like PayPal and Apple Pay.
Add a gallery of relevant photos, along with either your charity’s logo or a campaign logo, and remember to choose a strong cover photo – preferably an authentic image, not a stock image.
You should also use the text space on the campaign page to tell a compelling story about your cause – take a look through some examples of great campaign pages to inspire you. You can even include videos and quotes, and links to campaign resources like fundraising guides and printable materials for your fundraisers. Don’t forget to include an obvious link for fundraisers to sign up and make their own pages.
Finally, make sure you link to your campaign page from your website and from social media channels (both platforms offer options for a button which can be included on charity websites linking back to the campaign), and be as proactive as possible in using social media and email marketing to put the word out – don’t wait for donors and fundraisers to come to you.
JustGiving’s free webinar includes tips on making your campaign page a success.