Online Donations – 5 Factors Your Nonprofit Needs to Know

online-donationsToday most nonprofit organizations have integrated some type of online payment processing to collect donations on their website.  Yet, collecting online donations isn’t just as simple as putting a “donate now” button on your home page. With so many different options available, how does your nonprofit know which one to choose?

Below we highlight five factors your organization will want to consider if you wish to collect online donations.

1. Functionality. What exactly do you want your donation website to do? Are you looking to simply process online donations for a fundraising campaign? Or are you looking for enhanced capabilities?  Perhaps you want the ability for people to set up recurring payments so they can automatically make payments every month or quarter. Or what if someone wants to make a donation in honor of another person? Perhaps you are interested in highlighting top donors or selling sponsorship spaces to businesses?  Or perhaps you are looking for the ability to set up multiple personal fundraising pages where individual participants can collect online donations (this is often the case for pledge fundraising campaigns such as walk-a-thons). Write down your goals. Include all the capabilities you’d like your donation software to manage. This will help you narrow down your choices right from the start.

2. Ease of Implementation. While some organizations choose to develop their own online donations form, this can end up being very time consuming and costly for your organization. In order to easily collect donations and mange your donor details, you’ll probably want to implement some kind of donation software. There are many reputable companies that do this day in and day out – why reinvent the wheel when you can benefit from their expertize?

3. Company Reputation & Security.  Be sure to work with someone credible (after all, they’ll be responsible for managing all the funds for your campaign). How long has the company been in business? What clients do they have? What is their customer service like? Are they PCI compliant and knowledgeable about internet security issues? Keep in mind that whichever vendor you do choose, you’ll be working with throughout the duration of your fundraising campaign (and possibly into the future) so work with someone you like. Someone that is helpful, responsive…and perhaps a company that doesn’t charge extra for support.

4. Pricing & Fees. Of course pricing is a factor of any decision for a nonprofit. Your organization will need to investigate how much the company you choose to work with will charge for the donations you raise. Keep in mind that you aren’t always be comparing apples to apples.  So if a company offers a “free donation website” – what exactly does that mean? Does it result in higher than normal transaction fees?  Most companies will charge some type of transaction fee (meaning the company is taking a percentage of the donations you raise). But, this can range from 3%-9% (which is a huge difference)! Example: If your goal is to raise $20,000 – A company that takes 3% will receive $600 of that, where a company that takes 9% will receive $1,800. There are some companies that don’t take any transaction fees at all and only charge a flat-fee for a donation website. In this scenario, your organization would be responsible for managing the intake of your own money via the payment processor you choose.

5. Ease of Use for Your Donors. A very important factor to look at is just how easy it will be for a donor to make a donation. First, you’ll want to consider what the donation website will look like. Does your donation website have the same look and feel of your organization’s website, providing a seamless user-experience. You also want to consider how many clicks a donor must make to complete the transaction (and keep in mind that many online donors abandon mission if there are too many steps). Is there a simple “Donate Now” button that takes donors to a form that they can easily fill out & hit submit? A big consideration is also whether or not the donation processing form “lives” on your website. (i.e. one disadvantage of processing payment via PayPal is that donors are taken away from your site. Some people are leery of this)



Environmental Fundraising – Boulder Bird Day

Environment for the Americas is holding a series of free, bird-focused programs for youth (ages 6-9) this summer. On Friday, June 27, Boulder Bird Day commences with a nature hike entitled “Birds Abound Around You” during which the children will enjoy learning about how to observe birds and discuss bird behaviors.


This special environmental fundraising event holds a second activity for the kids “Bird Identification: Getting Started” on July 12 focused on learning the basics of bird identification based on their silhouettes or beaks, along with learning how to properly use binoculars. And the third activity “Birds Around your Home: How Can You Help Birds?” will get the kids involved in making bird feeders, cleaning them and making bird-friendly glass designs for their windows.

Registration was made easy for each family via the Boulder Bird Day fundraising website. Sumptuous photos of nature were added to this site along with a full description of each Jr. Birder Program. Advertising for this unique event happened by email and the Internet presence of their beautifully designed website.

Environment for the Americas is an environmental non-profit located in Boulder. “We connect people to nature through birds and bird conservation.  As the home of the largest hemispheric celebration of birds, International Migratory Bird Day, we work from Canada to Argentina with participants of all ages.”

Environmental fundraising events can be fully managed through event management software complete with event registration and management features.  Walk-a-thons and bike-a-thons are also popular fundraising events for the environment in getting people out to see the ecologically important lands and waters they wish to protect.




Young Heroes Aids Fundraising Bike-a-Thon

The Young Heroes Foundation held their 5th annual aids fundraising bike-a-thon last week, cycling border to border across the beautiful kingdom of Swaziland, Africa. Not many visitors to Africa end up appearing onstage at a festival that both MTV and CNN rate as one of the best in the world – unless those visitors are taking part in Young Heroes’ Swazi Cycle.

swazi2“This year, Swazi Cycle proved to be the most successful yet. With the help of our DoJiggy fundraising website, 14 participants raised over $99,000 from people who pledged to support their efforts.” Steve Kallaugher, President at Young Heroes.

At the end of the bike-a-thon every year, Swazi Cyclists are honored guests who appear onstage at the fabulous MTN Bushfire Festival. The festival donates all of its profits each year to Young Heroes, so its producers want to acknowledge the participants and thank them in a very public way for their extraordinary efforts on behalf of some of the poorest children on earth.

Each of the 14 Swazi Cycle event participants created and managed their personalized pledge page and invited friends and family to support Young Heroes through secure, online donations. But the event isn’t just for serious cyclists: While seven intrepid bikers made their way along the dusty roads and paths of the kingdom, another seven travelers joined Young Heroes’ staff in visiting rural communities to enroll new families in the program. In just five days of enrollment, the volunteers signed up over 350 more children who will now become eligible for help for the first time in their lives.

Young Heroes Foundation supports families of orphans in Swaziland, the nation with the world’s highest rate of HIV/AIDS. Launched in 2006, the organization now supports just over 1,000 children with monthly stipends for necessities such as food and clothing; medical care; and vocational training for those who age out of monthly sponsorship when they turn 19.

Free fundraising resources are available online for aids walks and bike-a-thons to help organizers plan and manage a walk-a-thon fundraisers from start to finish.

Zumba Fundraiser – A Unique Fundraising Event

Are you looking for a unique fundraising idea? How about a zumba fundraiser? Zumba is a fun Latin-inspired fitness dance that’s been gaining popularity in many gyms and fitness centers. Zumba fundraisers have become a fun and lucrative fundraising event.

IntroPic_ZumbaBenefits of a Zumba Fundraiser

  • It’s fun and unique fundraising event idea – a great way to differentiate your fundraiser
  • Encourages health and fitness as people exercise while raising money for your cause
  • Relatively easy to plan with low overhead costs
  • the Zumba dance can be customized to satisfy a variety of age groups and fitness levels, and works for both large and small groups
  • Potential to raise a lot of money through registrations, online donations and other “add-on” activities (i.e. fundraising raffle, silent auction, etc.)

How to Plan a Zumba Fundraiser?

A zumba fundraiser is not too difficult to plan. The basic premise of a Zumba fundraiser is for an organization to host a Zumba class, (or party as it is sometimes called), where the money raised goes to support a particular charity or cause. Participants pay money to participate in the event, which can last for an hour, or longer in the case of zumba-thon.

In order to host a Zumba Fundraiser, you’ll want to consider the following steps:

1. Choose A venue - Try to host your zumba fundraiser at a location that is free (perhaps your local YMCA, school gymnasium, church cafeteria, or even a park). If you do find a “paid location” (such as a gym or dance studio) – Try to negotiate -Explain the benefits the location will also receive by hosting the event there (i.e. hosting the fundraiser at their location brings new possible members to their location!) You’ll want the location to have enough space for people to move around, and make sure it’s not too stuffy as there will be lots of movement! if you intend to have food, beverages or other entertainment, a large location such as a community park may be a good choice.

2. Find Instructor(s) -  Try to find some certified Zumba instructor/s (perhaps those who are well known) who would be willing to help your cause by donating their time to teach the class.  If they lead zumba classes locally, they may be excited about the opportunity to be introduced to some new people who may want to take future classes. You may want to find multiple instructors if you intend on having a large group or hosting a zumba-thon. Be sure to ask instructors to help promote the event! They likely have students already attending their classes, and might be willing to post announcements where they currently teach.

3. Plan & Manage Your Event - Set up a fundraising website where you can educate people about the benefiting cause, share details about the upcoming event (i.e. date/time, instructor info, event location maps and other details: possible raffle prizes and entertainment, etc.) Your fundraising website not only shares information about your event, but also provides an easy way for people to register and/or make online donations. With all this information tracked in one place, administrators are easily able to update information, track real-time fundraising progress, communicate with participants, and generate reports.

4. Promote the Event – In order for the event to be successful, you need people to participate and donate! Participants can be members of the organization/charity, students and faculty (if hosting a school fundraiser), friends and family, or the general public. And donors can be virtually anyone living anywhere – you just need to send them to your fundraising website! In order to attract participants and donors, you’ll need to spread the word. Post announcements on your website, send a press release, send emails to your organization’s database, reach out to local businesses for sponsorship and support, and ask participants to share information with family and friends via social media, etc.


A great example of an upcoming Zumba-Thon is hosted by the Coalition for Hispanic Family Services on June 22, 2014 from 12 – 4 pm.  This fun-filled afternoon features great music, raffles, silent auctions, and food/drink for purchase. Click the banner above for more information.


School Fundraising – McDade Classical School Walk-a-thon

On May 28 the McDade Classical School Walk-A-Thon 2014 was held to promote physical activity and raise funds for classroom computers, Promethean boards, and iPads. Their fundraising goal was exceeded, which is a great beginning since this was their first annual walk-a-thon fundraiser!

mcdadeclassicalschoolGrades K-3rd started the school walk-a-thon at 9:00, and grades 4th-6th walked at 12:15 allowing the kids to enjoy the walk among their peers within their own age group. Strategies that engage the children in school fundraising and keep them motivated are important details to a successful event. And some awesome prizes appealing to the kids added to this momentum with the McDade Classical School Walk. The top student fundraiser received a $500 Visa gift card, the class who raised the most funds was awarded with a fun field trip, and the class in which 80% of the students raised at least $100 received a pizza party.

Many of their sponsors were families such as Friends and Family of Joelle Robertson. A long list of families supported this event through sponsorships which is another great strategy in school fundraising cultivated by the McDade School event managers. Families were able to purchase sponsorship packages in order to receive recognition for the important cause of their children’s education. They were also able to share the link of the fundraising website so donors could safely make online donations using a secure payment processing gateway.

McDade Classical School is ranked as #9 out of all Illinois elementary schools according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Their mission is to enrich and stimulate the minds of students, the potential leaders of the 21st century, to foster excellence in scholarship and character and to promote within students: abilities, talents, creativity and self esteem. Their vision is to prepare and develop a community of learners who are: active, responsible, self motivating and self evaluating, too develop life-long learners who think critically and problem solve, too enhance students’ development to communicate effectively and to respect themselves and others.

Elementary school fundraising is a great way to raise extra dollars to support development of educational and extracurricular programs, sports, music, arts, technology and more. Elementary school fundraising is also a great way to teach children about teamwork and working to accomplish a goal. With hard work and cooperation, anything is possible.