Jun 7, 2021

Online Fundraising: The Beginner’s Guide for Nonprofits


Is your nonprofit brand new to online fundraising? Need to brush up on your knowledge? The Beginner’s Guide to Online Fundraising provides the comprehensive information you need to get on the road to fundraising success by showing you how to raise money online with less time and effort, faster than ever before.

What Is Online Fundraising

Online fundraising is the use of online and mobile technology and software to help organizations of all sizes improve both traditional and digital fundraising campaigns across multiple channels. It encompasses both the technical and creative elements required to improve results, drive donations, and increase cause awareness for potential donors.

For many organizations, online fundraising works as a major component in making sure your donors understand what your organization is and why they should donate to your cause. There are many aspects to online fundraising, from how you display your calls to action to the way your forms look across the web and on a mobile device.

But the best nonprofit online fundraising isn’t just about building a website and putting a donation form on it. It’s about making the entire online giving experience quick and easy. At GiveSmart we believe these principles go hand-in-hand.

This guide is designed to familiarize you with all areas of an online fundraising software platform—from collecting information from your donors to making sure your online giving forms are mobile-friendly, to building your donor database and marketing your cause to get donors to give. If you are confused about any of the above, you are not alone. That’s why we’re here to help show you how to raise money online quickly and easily.

Why does my nonprofit need online fundraising?

Donations made on the web through online fundraising continue to rise year after year. Although direct mail and in-person asks can be successful in generating donations for your organization, online donations are a much more efficient alternative. This is true across organization sizes and segments, from youth development services and education to animal welfare, healthcare, and just about anything else.

Many fundraising software platforms offer one or two solutions like donation forms and crowdfunding, or event fundraising. There are also end-to-end online fundraising platforms out there like GiveSmart that are built exclusively for nonprofits and include multiple solutions all in one easy-to-use interface, making it easy for donors to give in whichever way they prefer. If donors cannot find an easy way to give money to your organization through their preferred method, you miss out on incredible opportunities to drive donations to your nonprofit.

Statistics show that successful online fundraising can make (or break) an organization’s success. Investing in software to help you raise money online can have an exceptionally high rate of return compared to other types of cause marketing and promotion.

Will my donors be able to figure out online fundraising platforms?

Your donors are smart, but they still need help. That’s why organizations are always working to improve their calls to action and simplify the donation process for their supporters.

Fundraising platforms help organizations of all sizes do just that by making the process easier and easier year after year. The best online fundraising platform can net large amounts of donations and increased attention, but the wrong one can come with heavy costs and poor results—so choose yours wisely!

In addition to making the donation process more convenient for your donors, nonprofit online fundraising also helps boost outreach, meaning your content will be placed where your supporters will more readily find it.

Who is this guide for?

We wrote this guide for an audience of first-time fundraisers, seasoned fundraising professionals and organization members, and marketing managers in need of training resources. Most of all, we want you to walk away from this guide feeling confident about online fundraising strategies and best practices as well as how your organization can take advantage of its many beneficial features.

How much of this online fundraising guide should you read?

If you are serious about improving your online fundraising efforts and are unfamiliar with the solutions fundraising software provides, we recommend reading the whole thing! We’ve made our best efforts to make it brief and easy to understand with helpful tips along the way.

Each section of this guide is important in understanding the most effective fundraising and communication solutions available on the market today.


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What our clients say

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