Fundraising is crucial to any nonprofit’s success, but this labor of love can be exhausting at times. We've compiled our picks for the top five tools that make fundraising easy, effective, economic, and even enjoyable.
With more than a billion actions taken by more than 153 million people in 142 countries, Causes.com is perhaps the most recognized and widely used fundraising website and community. Working primarily as a Facebook app, Causes automatically publishes any user’s interaction on their friends’ newsfeed, spreading awareness with each "like," "share," donation, or petition signature, or if they’ve joined the cause.
Causes has pioneered some unique Facebook tools too, including the popular "wish" application, with which users can encourage their Facebook friends to donate to a particular cause in honor of a specific occasion such as a birthday, holiday, wedding, or charity run/walk/ride.
Additionally, Causes has an excellent (free) toolbox that includes an email management system, making outreach to your supporters organized and simple. Aside from all that, the site itself is a great place to spend time — the interface is very comprehensive and easy to use, and browsing through the thousands of causes is a great way to find inspiration and reach out for help within the community.
Causes uses a credit card processor company called Network for Good to process donations; Network for Good charges a 4.75 percent transaction fee for each donation. There are no other costs to you.
Overall: The site is easy to use, formidable in terms of social media outreach, and, aside from the processing fee, free. Projects do expire with deadlines.
Supporting more than 100,000 nonprofits, Network for Good provides an aggregation of resources including expert communications and fundraising training as well as webinars, e-books, and a wealth of how-to literature on everything nonprofit, all for free. Network for Good is a great place to learn for beginner fundraisers and veterans alike.
In addition to its thorough and useful free resources, Network for Good also offers three different fundraising packages at various price points ranging from $30 to $200 per month.
It provides services that include social media tools like donation widgets and email marketing services. It does its own credit card processing at a fee of 4.75 percent per donation, which can either be added to or subtracted from the donation; Network for Good gives the proceeds from the those fees to the charity of its choice.
Overall: If you are new to fundraising and want both the tools AND the training, you can get all the resources you need for relatively cheap.
Razoo is ideal for charities. With a 2.9 percent donation fee, it is one of the most inexpensive fundraising sites available. Razoo prides itself on bringing together charities and donors on its website and boasts a vast array of tools and widgets that can be embedded on your charity’s home page.
Every Razoo page is built to share on Facebook, Twitter, and email, making it easier for fundraisers to reach their networks of family and friends. Razoo's interface is user-friendly, and progress is easily monitored — Razoo provides every account with a downloadable Excel sheet that traces every single incoming dollar, including what page it came through.
In addition to a stellar web interface, Razoo offers an iPhone app that allows you to receive push notifications whenever you get a donation. For donors, Razoo is equally convenient — donors receive a receipt in their inbox the moment they donate. Razoo also makes "giving cards" that are ideal gifts for someone who’s passionate about a number of causes, the person who has everything, or just a last-minute gift that won’t need to be returned.
Overall: One of the cheapest fundraising options available, a great user interface, convenience for both donors and teams, and projects do not expire with a deadline.
Crowdrise is a lot like a social media site in and of itself — users create their own profile, add friends, message people, and comment on other friends’ pages. What’s unique is that users compete for points with which they can earn prizes.
Users can win points by having others vote for them, by raising money (i.e. encouraging others to donate), by giving to charity, and by advertising the site personally (for example, by wearing Crowdrise apparel or holding a flag).
Most importantly for nonprofits, Crowdrise’s redeemable-points system gives donors an incentive to stick around, which equals more fundraising opportunities. Users can redeem points for prizes donated by Crowdrise business partners.
It's a fun and edgy interface to work with (their slogan is "If you don’t give back, no one will like you") — a sense of humor that is not without value in the overworked world of nonprofits.
Though there is no cost to start a project, there is a 5 percent transaction fee for all donations, plus a $1 transaction fee for donations under $25 and a $2.50 transaction fee for donations $25 and over, making Crowdrise slightly more expensive than sites like Razoo or Causes.
Overall: A very popular site with lots of press (Edward Norton is one of its founders), a fun environment to work with, and a simple user interface (they boast a 20-second ticket time to start a project). Though Crowdrise has a slightly more expensive transaction fee than other fundraising sites, it boasts unique perks like the points system that's designed to incentivize donors to continue giving.
mGive is an SMS donation system that allows donors to contribute via text message in increments of $5 – $10. When the earthquake struck in Haiti in 2010, mGive’s services helped to raise upwards of $37 million in three weeks, proving their efficacy.
If you sign up for a plan with mGive, you will get a custom keyword as well as a number for donors to text to. When the donor texts the keyword and increment to that number, their donations are applied to their phone bill.
The advantage here is spontaneity — donors do not need to fill out credit card or other information, making it convenient for the donor and minimizing time for "buyer’s remorse." mGive’s packages also include donation widgets for Facebook, Myspace, blogs, and more, where users can simply type their phone number into a data field and make a donation.
You can keep track of your incoming donations with real-time online reporting. Flat application fees amount to about $500; the basic plan starts at $349 per month. Successful transaction fees are $0.35 (for your service provider) plus 3.5 percent (for mGive).
Though more expensive than web-based fundraising sites, what you are really paying for is the ability to elicit donations instantaneously with a quick impression in the real world and online; with mGive, you can powerfully advertise with traditional media, even with homemade flyers, which significantly increases your outreach.
Overall: mGive is a powerful tool, but given its price, is not ideal for nonprofits in the early seed stages of funding. Additionally, since donations go through a middleman (the donor’s service provider), donations do not reach your nonprofit for 90 days after the text message is sent. Once your nonprofit is funded stably enough, SMS donations companies like mGive are a great way to take your fundraising to the next level.
Remember, many donors are willing and able to give time and again, especially if treated with sincere appreciation.
Though all donations should be recognized in some way, what’s your favorite way to say "thank you" to your more generous donors?
This post was authored by Mobile Beacon, a TechSoup donor partner. Read part 1 of the series here. You can also read more posts like this on their new blog, 4 Your Mission.
This work is published under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 International License.
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