Use different types of online fundraising to attract more donors to your cause and keep returning donors interested.

When it comes to fundraising, there is no shortage of in-person event ideas. So online fundraising may feel more challenging. Every donation form can start to feel the same, but it doesn’t have to be that way. If you want to host fun, heartfelt, and dynamic online fundraisers, consider one of these five kinds of campaigns for your website.

Vote for a Cause

Why not spice up your fundraising by creating a fun online competition? GiveWP’s Form Grid allows you to have more than one campaign on a page. Add a goal bar and now you’ve got a way for donors to “vote” for a campaign with their donations!

School classrooms might compete for a special prize, like a pizza party or longer recess. A Chamber of Commerce could have donors vote on which community space would get a new flower bed. A community choir might ask  donors to vote on which new uniform they’ll purchase.

There are three ways to “win” this kind of competition.

  • By form donations: Each form should be set to the same goal. Whichever form reaches that goal first, wins.
  • By total donations: Use GiveWP’s total goal bar and when the goal is reached, the form with the most donations wins.
  • By deadline: At the deadline, the form with the most donations wins.

How to Set up an Online Competition Fundraiser

  1. Create a form for each contestant (i.e. classrooms, community spaces, uniform selections). Set different featured images with photos that represent each entry.
  2. Enable a goal bar on each form.
  3. Set up your fundraiser landing page with a donation form grid.
  4. Write a description for donors telling them how they can vote as well as what their vote means.
  5. Send out an email blast to your email list.
  6. Ask social media influencers to get involved and spread the word about your campaign.
  7. Schedule social media posts leading up to the end of the fundraiser.
  8. Follow up with social media posts and email blasts to donors. Include the results and a sincere “thank you.”
  9. Write up a recap on your website of how the vote went and post to social media.

A great example of this in action is PAWS of Coronado Mayoral Election. In this campaign, local dog owners submitted their pets for the “Mayor of Coronado” election. All funds went to help their rescued pets with special medical needs.

PAWS set up a form grid and donors voted for their selection via donations. At the end of the fundraiser, Coronado ended up with Mayor Gus!

A happy smiling Mayor Gus loves laying on the beach in Coronado, California.
Gus H

The “Your Cause” Challenge

Remember the success of the “Ice Bucket Challenge?” It was one of the most viral fundraisers to hit the internet since… well, since ever. This fundraiser was successful because of a few things:

  • It was something fun/funny to do.
  • It allowed you to not just participate, but to challenge others to do it also.
  • It was for a good cause.

Why not issue a challenge of your own that drives donors back to your donation form? Encourage challenge recipients to complete a wacky challenge. Your challenge can be something simple like reciting the alphabet backward. Or, something more daring like standing on their heard or hula hooping. Make sure you ask them to donate, too!

How to Set up a Challenge Fundraiser

  1. For this fundraiser you need GiveWP’s Tributes add-on.
  2. Create your donation form.
  3. Customize the Tributes function for this form:
    1. Tribute Title: “Challenge a Friend to Stand on Their Head and Match Your Donation”
    2. Fieldset Title: “Challenge a Friend to Stand on Their Head and Match Your Donation”
    3. Tribute Prepended Label: “Who Will You Challenge?”
  4. Set up your E-card
  5. Enable eCards in the Tribute settings.
    1. Change your eCard Email Subject to: “{donor_name} just challenged you to stand on your head and match or exceed their {amount} donation!”
    2. Edit the text of the eCard:
      Dear {notify_name},A donation of {amount} has been made to our organization by {donor_fullname}. They want to challenge you to stand on your head and meet or exceed that donation to help us reach our goal! Will you help us meet our goal and challenge someone else to help, too? Click here to make a donation: {add your form link here}.{donor_message}With our thanks,
      {sitename}

You can add a photo, logo, or fun image to your eCard, too. Now, when anybody makes a contribution, they can challenge someone else to join them in helping you meet your goal!

Make sure to spread this throughout your social media! Encourage participants to make a video of them doing the challenge and post to Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook using your hashtag!

Add a WooCommerce Store and Sell Swag

Everyone loves some swag. And getting your logo on T-shirts and other items also helps share your brand. So why not sell some swag and ask for a donation at the same time? Selling your cause on a shirt has many benefits, including loyalty to your organization and brand awareness.

We’ve seen this done really well on a wide range of GiveWP customer websites. You just need some strong brand swag. If you don’t have the budget to print, store, and ship, look into a service like Printful. There are companies that will help you design, create, print, and ship your swag to your supporters.

How to Collect Donations in your WooCommerce Store

  1. If you don’t already have an online store, set it up using WooCommerce, a free WordPress plugin.
  2. Add Donation Upsells for WooCommerce. (Setup help is in our documentation.)
  3. Announce your store and the addition of donations when you make a purchase to your email list and social media followers. Encourage a donation at the time of purchase – right in your store checkout!
  4. Make sure your store link is in your main menu, distributed on social media, and sent to your email lists.
  5. Get some social media influencers, or micro influencers, to wear and use your swag with your campaign hashtag.
  6. Follow up with a thank you note in their purchase shipment.

Now your donors not only love wearing your swag, but feel even better when they do because they also made a donation. To see this kind of fundraiser in action, look no further than Learning Plunge!

The Geo Plunge and History Plunge games help both kids and adults learn.
Learning Plunge allows you to add a donation to your purchase of their games in their WooCommerce Store.

Create a Club!

People want to feel like they belong, it’s a basic human desire. Belonging to an elite group feels even better! That’s one of the reasons that museums and zoos have memberships. It creates recurring revenue and makes the donor feel like they belong in a more meaningful way. They might even feel like they represent your nonprofit through their membership. Memberships create loyalty.

How to Set Up a Club Or Membership Fundraiser

  1. This fundraiser requires the GiveWP Recurring Donations addon. (You will also need to use a payment gateway that supports recurring donations like PayPal, Stripe, Authorize.Net, and others. You can see a list of gateways that allow recurring payments on our Recurring Donations page.
  2. Set your membership levels. If there’s only one level, set the amount of the donation to that amount.
  3. Create your form with your recurring period set to “yearly,” or however often your membership dues are paid.
  4. On the Form Display tab, set your Guest Donations to “disabled” and Registration to “registration and login.”

To make membership even more enticing, you can use a membership plugin with GiveWP to restrict certain web pages to members only.

To see this fundraiser in action, visit San Diego’s Museum of Man, where they accept donations through GiveWP and use GiveWP’s form grid for various membership levels.

Make Something Fun Happen!

Another great type of fundraising is to do something fun publicly once you’ve reached your donation goal. Or you can do a different activity at different goal markers.

Maybe your school’s principal (or your CEO) will take a pie to the face if you make your goal. You could even set up an opportunity where you organization’s director delivers the weather with the morning news on TV. Encourage a celebrity to take up the cause and do something for you if you meet your goal, like volunteer for your organization or create a video for social media. Be creative and come up with something people will want to donate toward.

How to Set up a Goal-Based Activity Fundraiser

  1. Create your GiveWP form, and set the goal amount on the Goal Bar.
  2. Schedule social media to get the word out. Build the suspense.
  3. Send out your newsletter with this fundraiser as the main focus.
  4. Once the goal has been met, show off your activity on social media or an in-person event! Or, both.

Whatever you do, you can build the momentum on this fundraiser to hit your goals. Get your director to take a polar plunge. Make the student with the highest grades principal for a day. Get a local (or global?) celebrity to interact with the public on your behalf.

What Types of Fundraising Are You Using?

If you have implemented one of these fundraisers, or something different and fun, we want to know about it! Let us know all the creative ways you’ve used GiveWP for online fundraising in the comments.

If you want to know what more GiveWP can do for your cause, we’re happy to help. Book a demo with Customer Success to see how our fundraising plugin can fit your cause specifically.

Book a Demo

Michelle Frechette

Michelle Frechette is the Head of Customer Success at Give. She is the founding organizer of WordCamp Rochester, co-organizer of WordCamp Buffalo, organizer for WordCamp US, and coordinator for the WordPress Rochester Meetups. Michelle is the podcast barista at WPCoffeeTalk where she interviews people in the WordPress community all over the world.

One response to “5 Unique Types of Fundraising for Online Donations

  1. These forms are so interesting. I simply think of fundraising as an event in which everyone comes and donates. But it’s quite hard to build another “Ice Bucket Challenge”. Sometimes great ideas can’t reach the target for many reasons.

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