May 14, 2020

10 Outstanding Online Fundraising Ideas

online fundraising ideas

Fundraising online in 2020 might seem intensified because of the situation we find ourselves in this spring, however, we’ve been giving online for years. Now, we can be more creative in doing so. Here are 10 outstanding online fundraising ideas: 

1. Peer-to-peer fundraising

Your supporters and volunteers are your biggest advocates, no doubt. Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns allow your biggest supporters to shine by setting goals for them each to reach throughout the campaign. Peer-to-peer campaigns are a lighter lift for development teams and a great way to increase exposure beyond your current donor base. 

Here’s our extended peer-to-peer fundraising guide. 

2. Silent auctions

Whether your silent auction is happening in-person or online, donors can bid in your auction directly from their phones. Silent auctions are an exciting way to get donors to give when there are items that they’re keen to bid on. When you’re procuring your auction items, think about unique items or experiences that donors can’t find elsewhere, which ultimately leads to higher bids. Often there are experiences created just for charity auctions that are a one-time opportunity 

Our Ultimate Silent Auction Study has more on which items work best, depending on your region of the United States. 

3. Matching gifts

Partnering with a corporate sponsor for a certain length of time for matching gifts is an easy and accessible online campaign option. Whichever way you decide to collect online donations, ask a corporate sponsor to match whatever comes in between two predetermined dates. It entices donors to give when they know their contribution will be worth twice as much to the organization they wish to support. 

4. Recurring giving 

Recurring giving, whether it’s monthly, weekly, or quarterly, is a consistent, low-barrier way to garner support from donors. Recurring giving campaigns should include two branches of communications: one to annual donors and the other to those who already give on a recurring basis. You can encourage those who give sporadically to enroll in recurring giving. Allowing donors to pick their price point puts less pressure on the donor while adding to the pot of stable funding for your organization. Those who already give on a recurring basis can be encouraged to increase their recurring donation by $5, $10, $20, depending on the initiative at hand, how much they give, and how long they’ve been giving. We recommend pushing for a recurring giving increase each year. 

5. Social media

Using a social media campaign to encourage followers to donate through Facebook or LinkedIn is a free, easy, and social online fundraising idea that brings in donations. Know that donations through these platforms don’t always turn over to your bank account immediately.  

6. Open mic night or showcase

Ask participants for a donation to participate and ask viewers for a donation to watch! Open mic nights are a fun way for some to be entertained, and for others to experiment with putting their latest work out into the world. Depending on your donor base, this open mic night might be open to a variety of work, or perhaps it’s more niche and showcases painting, string instruments, ceramic pieces, singing, opera, dance…the list could go on! Think about what interests your donors so that they would tune in, and what they would be interested in sharing with others. Not sure? Ask them via email surveys or social polls. 

7. Online shopping

Leftover swag or merchandise? Set up an online store and encourage supporters to purchase items! This could be set up like a school store or giving out tote bags with donations that come through. 

8. Virtual classes or workshops

Chances are that your mission is tied to something unique. You can use this topic and experts in the field to host virtual classes and workshops for supporters or anyone who is interested in the topic at hand. Depending on your donor base and level of interest, you could charge a set amount for the courses, or you can ask for a donation – the choice is up to you! 

9. Gaming tournament

Virtual gaming tournament. I’m talking about video games. Online video game tournaments have been a thing for years and the gaming community is built on connecting virtually. See if there is an interest in a gaming tournament within your community, or among their teenagers. If not, this could be an interesting way to find potential new donors. You could partner with a local high school or university to host the tournament, or if you’re lucky, a specific game, which would give you access to all their fans. More details on the logistics of a gaming tournament here. 

10. Celebrity FaceTime or virtual hang

No need for A-list celebrities here if you have local celebs or spokespeople who support your organization. This type of “event” can be set up so that the highest bidder wins, or you can set it up like a raffle where donations are made, and a name is randomly selected. Then, the winner is guaranteed some one-on-one FaceTime (via Facetime, Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom, etc.) with the celebrity for a set period. Depending on your celebrity, this could be promoted as a dinner, happy hour, a private lesson or session. 

These online fundraising ideas are a great place to get started. If you want to continue the fundraising all year round, here are other Creative Campaign Ideas.


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We needed a platform to make sales online and to track and display ads for our sponsors. GiveSmart was perfect. We ended up making close to $15,000 more than we had hoped for. Definite better ROI than we anticipated. The interface is easy to use and provides plenty of options to get help if needed.

Michelle M.

The Rotary Club of South Whidbey Island

Using GS has created ease in auction bookkeeping, payments, and generating post-event thank you/tax letters. While we were online during COVID, our interactions with our GiveSmart via phone, email, and zoom were seamless. A representative always got back to us within the day. I would recommend GiveSmart to anyone doing a large online event.

Julie G.

MicroFinancing Partners in Africa

GiveSmart is highly flexible - you can use it for [a] simple registration and check-in, to full-scale galas with complex order forms, onsite upsells, live auctions, seating management, and more.

Jamie F.

Hope Chest for Breast Cancer

GiveSmart is easy to use and ideal for virtual events and can be used for in-person events to manage the silent auction, seating charts, and check-in to the event. Being able to use the platform for unlimited events within the contract year is very useful and being able to add other users and volunteers for different levels of access is helpful as well.

Dawn L.

Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County