Online giving has consistently been on the rise for years, increasing the demand for online fundraising solutions. The result has been an overload of donation software, website integrations, and more.

Each of the options available to anyone looking to raise money for themselves, a cause, or a business venture, all have pros and cons. Here we’ll cover a variety of online fundraising solutions to show you why people are turning to WordPress to raise money online.

Why Use Online Fundraising?

First, why would you need to ask for donations? There are a variety of reasons someone might start a fundraiser, but here we list the top 10.

Top 10 Reasons You Might Need an Online Fundraising Solution:

    1. Accepting nonprofit donations
    2. Crowdfunding a business
    3. Raising money for a friend
    4. Losing your home in a natural disaster
    5. Starting a blog or eMagazine
    6. Your podcast is really popular
    7. College tuition is expensive
    8. Your last paycheck was yesterday
    9. You or someone you love has a medical emergency
    10. You want to raise money for a nonprofit you love

Whether you’re looking to start a nonprofit or raise money for a personal need, online giving is where you should focus. The number of internet users worldwide grows each year, as does the amount of people who donate money over the internet.

Over half of the people in the world use the internet daily, which makes it a great place to fundraise. But how? The number of solutions available is almost immeasurable.

Using Third-Party and SaaS Fundraising Solutions

There are many “all-in-one” solutions available to help nonprofits and individuals raise money. Websites like GoFundMe, Crowdrise, Donately, Kickstarter, Fundly, Funraise, Classy, etc. all appeal to different groups of people. You can even raise money through YouTube and Facebook donations now. However, these options are often limited in the following 5 ways.

How much does fundraising cost? Some platforms charge a fee, others take a percentage of each donation, some do both. The range of fees for online donation platforms is anywhere between free with no transaction fees to transaction fees of 5% and/or a monthly or annual fee. GoFundMe and DonorBox (if you raise less than $1,000 per month) are at the lowest end of the spectrum with no fees, followed closely by WordPress. The only fees involved in setting up a WordPress website with a free donation plugin are the domain and hosting. After WordPress, the other platforms get increasingly more expensive in the following order: DonorBox (if you raise more than $1,000 per month), Donately, Fundly, Kickstarter, Crowdrise, Patreon, Funraise, and Classy. Why owns your donor data? There are three categories. WordPress is the only platform listed under complete membership, while GoFundMe is the only one listed under no ownership. Shared ownership is more common for third-party donation platforms with the following listed: Classy, Kickstarter, Fundraise, Crowdrise, Patreon, fundly, Network for Good. What are the restrictions? Nonprofit status means that organizations must maintain legal nonprofit status. It is required by Classy, Funraise, Crowdrise, and Network for Good. Some platforms just ask that you abide by their rules with a strict set of guidelines. These are websites like Patreon and Kickstarter where creation is required and charity is not allowed. GoFundMe and Fundly also have rules and keep an eye on their users, but their platform is more open. This section is called “Big Brother is Watching” because they have the ability to take down a campaign at any time. Lastly, smooth sailing means that anyone can do as they wish as long as its legal. So you can raise money with WordPress, DonorBox and Donately for any reason of your choice. How easy and flexible is the design? If all of the platforms are plotted on a chart with a scale of easiest to hardest on the

1) You Pay a Fee to Use Them

Most third-party platforms require a fee to use and sometimes it’s a pretty hefty one. The most common platform fee is 5% of donations in addition to payment processing fees.

Some platforms have even higher fees. For example, Classy starts at $299 per month plus a 3% fee. Just one or two months of Classy fees would pay for a year of using Give’s Plus Bundle. Plus, the core version of Give is free to use so you can start for free. We’ll talk more about that below.

There are some third-party platforms with no fees, like GoFundMe, Facebook and YouTube. But those platforms also limit you to fundraising directly on their website. They control nearly every aspect of each donation and fundraising ask.

When you use these platforms, you’re also dependent on their timeline to get your donation funds. For example, one of our customers waited two months to get their funds from GoFundMe. With WordPress, you’re generally only dependent on your credit card processor for funds transfer, which is anywhere from a few days to two weeks, depending on your accounting systems.

2) They Own Your Donor Data and Your Content

One of the biggest downsides to third-party fundraising platforms is maintaining ownership of your donor data. Even if you gain access to the donor data collected through most platforms, chances are the third-party you choose will still maintain ownership of both your data and your donors’ information.

This provides the opportunity, in some cases, to target both you and your donors with unwanted advertising. Now that certain third parties know who your donors are and that they actively give, they might be badgered to give to other causes. Too many asks lead to donor fatigue and might cause your donors to stop giving through the third-party platform you chose. They might even eventually stop giving altogether.

Not only do these companies own your donor information, but many also include in their terms and conditions that you give up your rights to your own content posted to their platform. In most cases, your photos and videos can be used openly anywhere on the internet or sold by the company who built your online fundraising platform. Especially for those looking to collect donations for their content, like a writer or a photographer, this is not an ideal situation.

3) They Have Legal Nonprofit Status & Business Venture Requirements

The restrictions on many platforms don’t allow for personal fundraisers. Kickstarter doesn’t let you raise money for charity or for yourself. Instead, you get paid to create something, which is similar to Patreon. Other platforms require legal nonprofit status to use them, like Funraise and Crowdrise. The restrictions depend on the platform, but all third-party platforms are limited in one way or another.

The restrictions on each platform mean that you would need a different solution for a variety of types of fundraisers. If you’re only looking at third-party solutions, for personal fundraisers you might need to use GoFundMe, but for your nonprofit, you might decide to use DonorBox. Each starts off free, but a nonprofit would want to gain access to their donor emails, something you cannot do with GoFundMe.

4) Design Limitations

Most of the third-party online fundraising platforms are also highly limited in their design. Though some might be easier to use than WordPress, there are many that require you to stick to a standard template and style. Some even require you to use the color scheme of the platform’s website, like those on GoFundMe.

The design limitations take away any sort of personal touch or branding, decreasing the overall appeal of your cause to donors. On these kinds of platforms, you will blend in with all the others who are also asking for donations in the same place. If you’re a business or nonprofit, you really want donors to make donations on your website where they know and trust you and your organization, not through a faceless third party.

5) Onsite Donations and Friction

Lastly, if you’re directing your donors off-site to make a donation, it causes more friction. Friction generally deters donors from donating and will decrease your overall income in the end. Many third-party platforms don’t allow for on-site donations. Instead, you have to link to your donation page on their platform.

Once a donor is redirected, your control over their experience is gone. It’s important to maintain control and provide a smooth experience. Allowing your donors to make the donation on your site provides a better experience and attracts more donations.

Why Use WordPress for Online Fundraising?

First and most importantly, using WordPress gives you the ability to allow for on-site donations. It can eliminate a big part of donor hesitation. Secondly, it is the most popular way to build a website right now. It’s well-documented and surrounded by an entire community of users.

WordPress is also the number one content management system on the internet. It powers 33% of the internet and 60% of all content management systems. In comparison, no other content management systems are growing as quickly and some even lost market share last year.
Kinsta

1) WordPress is Free to Use

It is completely free to use WordPress. You need to buy a domain and purchase hosting, but those costs are as low as under $100 per year depending on who you decide to use as your host. Plus, a lot of the software you need to take donations on WordPress is also free, like Give.

Learn More About Give

2) WordPress is Flexible and Easy to Use

There is a good reason that WordPress is the most used content management system on the internet: It’s easy to use. With the new Gutenberg editor, it’s even easier to use than it ever has been.

On WordPress, you can customize your website with themes and plugins. You also dictate the layout, colors, and entire style of your entire website. WordPress allows you to tell your story how you want to and control the experience for the people you’re asking to donate.

3) WordPress is Mobile-Friendly

As a bonus, mobile responsiveness is also easy to set up with WordPress. This is important because most online donations are made through mobile devices now. Your fundraiser can be hosted on your WordPress site allowing people use their phones to give.

The trick is finding the right plugins and themes to create donation forms that work well on mobile devices. Give is an example of a donation plugin that works great with responsive themes. Try it out on your site to test it.

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You can also create your own mobile fundraising app without any knowledge of code. So rather than hope your donors return to your site, your site lives in the palm of their hand, right on the home screen.

4) WordPress is Your Domain

Most importantly, you own everything you put on your own website. No one else gets access to your donor data (unless you integrate a platform that does) and you own the content. This prevents others from using your photos and videos as well as sending SPAM your donors. It gives you the ability to manage your donor information, content, and design however is needed.

5) WordPress is Surrounded by Community

The best part about WordPress is the Community. The people that surround it are the number one reason people use WordPress for fundraising. You will never find a community more supportive of each other, bloggers, creatives, entrepreneurs, and nonprofits.

If you need help, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of groups online to ask. There are also WordCamps all over the world where you can meet many from the community in person. WordCamps are a great place to learn new WordPress skills and discover new technology.

If you’re still not convinced that WordPress is the best fundraising solution for you, take a look at the comparison we provided in the infographic above again. We put together data from the top online fundraising platforms and compared them to using WordPress. You can get all the data from our downloadable PDF, available at the bottom of this post.

Comparing Online Donation Plugins for WordPress

Now that you’re convinced WordPress is the right fundraising platform for you, it’s time to choose how to accept donations through your website. There are a surprising number of ways to configure a fundraiser on WordPress. However, there is only one solution that provides everything you need for online fundraising at the best price with the best support.

When plotted on a graph with number of 5-star reviews on the Y-axis and number of active installations on the x-axis, GiveWP is on the top right with the most 5-star reviews and active installs, by far. The next closest in 5-star reviews is WP Charitable, but they only have about 10,000 active installations, whereas Give has 60,000. Underneath Charitable is Seamless donations with the same installs and less 5-star reviews. Then PayPal Donations has more installs, but less great reviews and Smart Donations has the least in both categories. On a chart with free versus paid features, GiveWP is the only one that has free custom form content, progress bars, donor management, donor comments, and a donation form grid. Its paid features include recurring donations, marketing integrations, fee recovery, and an integration with WooCommerce. The next closest plugin is WP Charitable with free custom form content, progress bars, and donor management. They do not support a donation form grid and you have to pay for donor comments, recurring donations, marketing integrations, fee recovery, and their integration with Easy Digital Downloads. Smart donations only allows for free donations through a PayPal link that takes donors off-site. You can pay to add custom form content, progress goal bars, donor comments, and recurring donations. The rest of the features are unavailable. Seamless donations allows for free recurring donation as well as paid progress goal bars and donor comments. The rest of the features are not available for this plugin. PayPal Donations provides a simple donation button for off-site donations through PayPal. There are no additional features available.

The most well-known WordPress donation solution is to simply add a PayPal donate button. But that creates donor friction and you won’t capture any of their information on your website. There are better solutions to ask for the information you might need and keep your donors on your site while they donate.

To keep donors on their websites, some use eCommerce plugins like WooCommerce or Easy Digital Downloads. But these make it hard to add custom form fields, which is an issue for some types of fundraisers. You might need a custom field to ask your donors for specific information, leave comments, or upload a file.

For the purpose of creating detailed donation forms, one popular solution is to turn to a form builder. Some of the available builders have add-ons that might allow you to take donations, but they still aren’t the best for fundraising. Often it’s hard to set them up for donations so you might even need the help of a developer.

A donation plugin that has a form builder, donor management, reporting, and a beautiful front-end display is the best solution for online fundraising. You might also want a donation plugin that allows you to:

  • Add custom form fields.
  • Add donors to your email list when they give.
  • Ask donors to cover the credit card processing fees.
  • Accept recurring donations.
  • Enable the ability for donors to switch between currencies.
  • Send PDF receipts.
  • Give donors access to annual receipts.
  • Add a donation upsell to your WooCommerce Cart or Checkout.
  • Connect website donations to Google Analytics.
  • Use multiple payment gateways.
  • Enter manual donations.
  • Integrate with Zapier.
  • Allow donors to give in honor of their loved ones.

If you haven’t guessed yet, we are talking about Give. We stand by our product and to show you just how much we believe in it, we’ve shown you exactly how we stand up to alternative WordPress donation plugins.

Why is WordPress + Give the Best Choice for Online Fundraising?

We truly believe that Give is the best online fundraising solution for anyone looking to raise money online. You can get started for free, we don’t collect your donor data, and you get many robust features with the free version. With Give Core you have everything you need to build beautiful forms on your website.

Try it now at no cost and see if you like it. You can also book a demo with our Customer Success Team to get a personalized demonstration of how Give can fit your online fundraising needs.

Download Give Free || Book a Demo

Download a PDF with the pricing and feature comparison data used in this article. It’s the perfect way to weigh your options or present them to your board. Enter your email below and we’ll send it your way.

Platform comparison PDF.
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Information is subject to change. Last Updated: May 2019.

Taylor Waldon

Taylor is the Content Writer for GiveWP, a WordPress enthusiast, an avid world traveler, an adventurous hiker, and a dog-mom to a German Shepherd (Legedu) and Mini Blue Heeler (Pepper).

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