How to raise money to support your favorite cause
Target audience: Nonprofits, social change organizations, cause supporters, businesses
By Vivian Ramirez and J.D. Lasica
In the old days — before 2005, remember? — we would solicit our friends to raise funds through walk-a-thons, cake raffles and similar homespun events. If you were raising money for a favorite cause, you’d look to your immediate friends, family and co-workers.
Today, social media has changed the game. With the surge of Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, you can reach a much wider audience to raise money for your cause. The success of such online efforts varies widely: 30,000 runners in the Flora London Marathon raised $7.3 million through the online fundraising platform Justgiving. On a smaller scale, the Trail of Tails Pet Walk and Festival raised $41,000 for the Jacksonville, Fla., Humane Society using social media tools. And New York dancer Amanda Gravel raised $988 using the widget ChipIn for the campaign against breast cancer.
How did it work for them? Social tools now make it easy to solicit donations using fundraising widgets or badges, social networks like Twitter and Causes (
part of integrated with Facebook). With Network for Good or PayPal usually handling the transaction, the solicitors can concentrate on sharpening their message and targeting the right recipients. Not all take the same approach: Some let you add advertising to your site, or create personal webpages, as a way to support your cause instead of ponying up dinero.
Depending on the size of your campaign and budget, cause advocates and small nonprofits now have lots of tools to choose from — further down, we’ll tell you about the ones for mid-size and large nonprofits. (See last month’s 10 mobile apps for social good for ideas on how to donate or volunteer using mobile devices.)
Here are 24 tried-and-true tools for online fundraising. Have we used them all? No. But if you’ve used some of these, add your observations. And we know there’s a 25th out there, so tell us your favorites in the comments below.
ChipIn: The easy way to collect money
1ChipIn is the most popular widget used by fundraisers today for distributed fundraising. It’s a simple tool you can place on your website or on a Facebook profile page. It amounts to a donate button that comes with a thermometer that measures the campaign’s progress. If you don’t have a site, you can subscribe to ChipIn and they’ll host your campaign for free. Subscribing to ChipIn is free, but you’ll need to set up a PayPal account to process donations. Every monetary contribution made through ChipIn is charged at a rate beginning at 2.5 percent of the amount donated.
GlobalGiving: Donate to grassroots projects
2GlobalGiving is an online marketplace for philanthropy where anyone can post an idea and get it funded. The nonprofit connects donors with community-based projects that need support in the United States and abroad. You select the projects you want to support, make a tax-deductible contribution and get regular progress updates — so you can see your impact. The organization sustains itself with a 15 percent optional fee you can add so that 100 percent of your donation goes directly to the project.
Change.org: Empowering people to take action
3A social enterprise, Change.org helps to raise awareness about important social causes and to empower people to take action, chiefly through partnerships with leading nonprofits. Actions might range from joining an organization and making a personal pledge to signing an online petition or calling a congressperson’s office about an issue like homelessness or sustainable food. In addition to signing petitions or leaving comments, you can raise funds by creating a page with photos, videos, logos and supporting materials. Change.org’s fundraising pages use donation widgets with progress thermometers that track the amount raised. Basic membership is free; it costs $20 a month for those who want customized pages. Donation processing fee: 4.75 percent for every transaction.
ChangingThePresent: Make the world a better place
4ChangingThePresent is a nonprofit that connects you with more than 1,500 meaningful if nontraditional charitable gifts — for instance, “stop global warming for $20″ or “adopt a tiger for $40.” Browse by cause or nonprofit to find a gift for friends or for your own charitable giving. The service also encourages donors to make simple donations of any amount through their home pages. A premium profile costs $100 per year. Donation processing fee: 3 percent of each donation plus 30 cents.
Razoo: Experience the joy of giving
5Razoo is a new way to donate and raise money online. Whether you want to donate money, run a fundraiser for your favorite nonprofit or raise money as a nonprofit, Razoo offers simple, secure tools to achieve your goals. A nonprofit based in Washington, DC, Razoo helps donors find inspiring giving opportunities and helps nonprofits and volunteers with fundraising pages, social media tools and donation processing.
Causes: Empowering anyone to impact the world
6Causes is a wonderful way to gain attention for a cause. Co-founded by Sean Parker, an early member of Facebook’s executive team, Causes allows fundraisers to solicit donations from their own contacts and recruit volunteers who want to participate on behalf of a cause. People who use the site as a way to socialize can also participate in fundraising ideas by posting Cause profiles on their Facebook page. Donation processing fee: 4.75 percent through Network for Good;
only Facebook members anyone can donate.
givezooks!: Support a cause in minutes
7givezooks!, an online fundraising platform, lets individuals, nonprofits, foundations and companies create an account and start raising funds for a cause. It’s new givezooks!eventslets nonprofits create and publish events online, create, send and track email invitations and reminders, promote causes through Facebook and Twitter, sell tickets and manage RSVPs. Transaction fee for events: 2.5 percent per ticket purchased or donation received (up to a maximum of $19.95/per ticket). For online campaigns for nonprofits, monthly subscription fees start at $129/month with no transaction fee.
FirstGiving: Tools to benefit charitable causes
8FirstGiving is a U.S. subsidiary of U.K.-based JustGiving. The site provides easy-to-use tools to benefit charities. Subscribers are able to fundraise through their own Web pages on the site. The basic platform of is free. For those who want to customize their pages and to link them back to their own sites, the annual fee is $300. Donation processing fee: 5 percent plus 2 percent for credit card processing.
SixDegrees: Spread a ripple of good
9SixDegrees.org, an affiliate of Network for Good, enables social networking with a social conscience. Through the site, you can support your favorite charities by donating or creating fundraising badges — as well as check out the favorite causes of other people, including celebrities. Through tools such as donation widgets, which can be posted in places around the Web, people are encouraged to give to causes easily. The badges provided by SixDegrees can be customized by adding photos, videos and other narratives. Progress is tracked at the top of the badge, though the badges do not have thermometers. Donation processing fee: 4.75 percent with no setup costs.
RT2Give: Retweet a worthy cause, give $10
10RT2Give is Twitpay‘s fundraising solution for nonprofits that handles secure processing of donations over social networks such as Twitter. Last month on World Malaria Day, three organizations teamed up for a week and used RT2Give to raise money for disease-preventing bed nets. (Each $10 donation was matched by the Case Foundation up to $25,000.) Twitter itself used the TwitPay platform for donations to its Hope140 campaign to #EndMalaria. The site can use some copy editing: It says “pay with bank account,” but then asks for your credit card number. Expect to see a lot more of these campaigns on Twitter (note: Twitter-based Tipjoy bit the dust last year).
JustGive: Removing barriers to charitable giving
11By setting up a fundraising page on JustGive, nonprofits can solicit donations and set up a Donate Now button that they can use on their own sites. Donation processing fee: 3 percent with no set-up costs or monthly fees.
Crowdrise: Using social networks to raise funds
12Crowdrise is a new service that gives cause supporters an easy way to crowd-source fundraising. Whether you’re running a marathon, volunteering or have causes that you care deeply about, create your own fundraising pages, choose from over a million charities to raise money for and then share them on social networks. Crowdrise provides incentives to users by awarding bonus points toward prizes.
YourCause: Fundraising through personal Web pages
13 The mission of YourCause is to empower individuals to change our world — leveraging your own voices, networks and spheres of influence to improve the lives of others. The dedicated and accomplished YourCause team is committed to supporting and facilitating the efforts of a caring member community and the causes they champion so passionately.
Better The World: Raise money for causes by surfing
14Better The World is a platform that lets you raise money for your cause simply by surfing the Web — and downloading a sidebar that will be used to display relevant ads on the pages you visit. Charities spanning the whole world have partnered with the company to give users everywhere many options to choose from.
Pifworld: Play it forward
15The letters PIF in Pifworld stand for “play it forward.” Playing it forward is donating online to a charity project and inviting friends to do the same. The Amsterdam-based site launched in March 2009 and currently has over 45 charity projects on the platform. By mobilizing communities, together we can create positive change and eventually help wildlife, save a rainforest or build a school.
PincGiving: A platform for online fundraising
16PincGiving helps corporations and charities with their philanthropic goals. Donate to the charity of your choice in the USA, Canada, UK and Australia; enable fundraising on your organization’s website; create a peer to peer fundraising campaign or access millions of dollars in grant money, all in the currency of your choice.
Universal Giving: Donate or volunteer for global causes
17Universal Giving is a marketplace that allows people to give and volunteer with top-performing projects all over the world. The organization passes along 100 percent of the donations you make to the nonprofit of your choice.
SocialVibe: Partnering with brands to support charity
18SocialVibe is a micro-fundraising social media utility that connects nonprofits and individuals with brands, empowering them to engage with sponsors and share branded content with their social graph to benefit their causes. SocialVibe has raised over $700,000 for more than 40 nonprofits by getting corporate partners to engage in a more interactive means of advertising. Users of the site don’t have to donate money at all as corporate sponsors do all the donating. Individuals are simply encouraged to donate ad space on their social network sites by adding the SocialVibe widget to their MySpace, Facebook or other networking pages or blogs.
Giving Impact: Empowering supporters through sharing
19Giving Impact, a Web-based service from Minds on Design, describes itself as “an online fundraising platform for nonprofits that empowers supporters through sharing and offers organizations flexibility to run multiple campaigns with a custom donation experience at an affordable price.” Like any new venture, proceed with caution, but we wish them well. Giving Impact charges a monthly fee of $30 with a $1 transaction fee for donations
under above $20; donations are handled through PayPal.
Tools for larger fundraising efforts
Nonprofits looking to launch much wider campaigns that entail more sophisticated outreach and monitoring may want to look into higher-end fundraising packages. Depending on your needs, these solutions may provide better support for long-running or large-scale campaigns. In general, these services may cost from a few hundred dollars a month to thousands of dollars or more for a campaign. This is not a comprehensive list of fundraising solutions but rather a few that struck a chord with us:
Artez: Turn supporters into fundraisers
20Artez Interactive provides a suite of online fundraising tools that let you tailor a campaign to your nonprofit’s specific needs. Supporters can easily make donations and purchase tickets to an event. Artez also make it easy for you to extend your event or cause’s brand into the realm of social media, and it provides customers with a rich set of reporting tools.
Convio: Converting fans into lasting donors
21Convio provides marketing, fundraising, advocacy and donor database tools to nonprofits. Its TeamRaiser for Special Events module allows users to translate their mission into online or integrated marketing programs that can acquire, engage and convert individuals into becoming lasting supporters. Users are able to set up individual and team fundraising pages with measurement and reporting capabilities. Constituent360, an online constituent database, is included as part of TeamRaiser.
Care2: Access to a huge community of social activists
22Care2 doubles as both an online community with more than 12 million people who actively involve themselves in both social and environmental causes and as a platform for activism and fundraising. By bringing together nonprofits, individuals and socially responsible businesses, it is able to help nonprofits and companies find new supporters for their causes and in the process help them grow targeted email lists of supporters, activists and potential donors. About 500 large and mid-size nonprofits have used Care2’s social networking strategies, which include its click-to-donate races, email strategies, online petitions, healthy living solutions, eco-shopping and e-cards. Campaign fees start at about $5,000.
Donor Perfect: Helping cultivate donor relationships and achieving terrific fundraising results
23Donor Perfect comes in packages for small and growing nonprofits and packages for mid-size and large nonprofits. Depending on the size of your organization, Donor Perfect offers an online software solution to encourage giving among your supporters. Smaller packages are priced at $39 and $119 per month and the premier package costs $199 per month.
Kintera: Supporting your organization’s walkathon and other “team” fundraising events.
24Kintera’s Friends Asking Friends is being used by larger nonprofits such as Amnesty International USA. Since it allows the creation of sophisticated and customized distributed campaigns for fundraisers with multiple pages, it has become a convenient tool for many large-scale campaigns. With the use of this software, administration can be centralized no matter how many the supporters and volunteers there are or how many pages had been set up for the charity’s purposes. Setup fee for Friends Asking Friends is $1,400, plus a percentage of each donation solicited.
Determining which tool is best for your organization requires planning and research. Look around and know what other organizations are using and how it works for them. If you’re planning to purchase software, compare prices and see if the price is worth the potential payoff. Consider whether your staff is equipped with the technical skill to run the software. If not, are you willing to spend a bit more for technical support?
If you’re an individual supporting a cause or a small nonprofit, you should try out some of the free online tools. Go ahead, start supporting your cause!
Do you use other tools for online fundraising? What has worked for you? Tell us #25!
• Behind the success of 10 top Causes (Socialbrite)
• 10 mobile apps for social good (Socialbrite)
• A directory of top cause organizations (Socialbrite)
• Social bookmarks of fundraising tools and cause platforms (compiled by JD Lasica on Delicious)