How to Collect Money Online for Your Nonprofit - dummies

How to Collect Money Online for Your Nonprofit

By Stan Hutton, Frances Phillips

A key first step to raising money for your nonprofit through the Internet is to add a “donate now” button to your organization’s website. If you have good technology support and a website that includes a system for securely collecting money, you can insert your own “donate now” button.

However, many nonprofits find it easier to contract with a “donate now” service. The number of options available can be daunting. Idealware’s website is a good place to start for helpful, updated articles about choosing online donation and credit-card processing tools.

If you hire a marketing service to develop and maintain your organization’s website, consider the breadth of the services you’re purchasing. Will the agency design your website for you? Will it thank your donors? Will it manage a donor database for your online contributions?

Also, look carefully at how and for what an agency charges fees. Most online contribution services charge a setup fee, a monthly fee, and a per-contribution fee. Sometimes you can avoid the monthly fee, but when you do, you often pay a higher fee for each contribution you receive.

Some less-expensive nonprofit technology services charge lower fees but send you your contributions in a lump sum, so you only receive the money, not the donor records. On the other hand, some services charge for keeping the donor records or for allowing you to upload them onto your computers.

If your organization is sending fundraising appeal letters by e-mail, you should know that the federal CAN-SPAM Act makes it unlawful to send unsolicited commercial e-mails unless the e-mails contain a “clear and conspicuous identification that the message is an advertisement or solicitation” (this information doesn’t necessarily have to appear in the subject line), an ability to opt out of future e-mails, and the valid postal address of the sender.

How to find financial support from a crowd

A new method of raising money online, called crowd funding or crowd sourcing, involves seeking donations from people who may have no connection to your organization but are willing to support its mission.

Online crowd-funding platforms provide individuals and enterprises with tools to conduct focused, time-sensitive campaigns to raise money. Someone seeking contributions must name a specific amount to be raised and a specific project to be launched or completed. Some sites are “all or nothing,” meaning fundraisers don’t receive any of the pledged gifts until they meet their goal.

Crowd funding isn’t exclusively for nonprofit organizations, but platforms that include nonprofits among their clients are Fundly, Indiegogo, Kickstarter (for creative projects), and Weeve.

Distribute your fundraising through volunteers

Technology provides novel ways for your organization’s supporters to help raise money. In distributed fundraising, an individual supporter creates an online donation account for your organization, and through that account speaks directly to friends and family about your organization’s work, urging them to contribute or volunteer. This is a great thing to ask your board members or tech-savvy volunteers to do for you.

As is true with your organization’s website, a “donate now” button can be added to a distributed fundraising site. However, the volunteer fundraiser often uses an existing service to set up the page and collect contributions. Some of these services are Network for Good,, Changing the Present, FirstGiving, and Facebook Causes. Your volunteer should pay attention to the comparable setup fees and percentages of contributions collected by these services.