Online Fundraising: Best Tools & Practices for Nonprofits

September 17, 2015

Online Fundraising: Best Tools & Practices for Nonprofits

According to, charitable giving grew by 4.9% in 2013 due to online giving. Another even more telling statistic is that millennials are reported to give an average of $481 to charitable causes annually, most choosing the option to give via their mobile phones on social media.

More nonprofits are embracing the idea of engaging supporters online for charitable donations to their organization. There are many proven tools nonprofits utilize to aid in their online fundraising efforts with great results. Here are 4 key online tools nonprofits should be using, as well as some best practices for fundraising success!

#1 Tool: Your Website and Social Media Network

Best Practice: Create a “donate” button on every branded page  of your organization’s website. Website and social media networks are powerful hubs when used wisely and can attract significant donations for an organization. Engage supporters on social media by consistently updating website content and sharing the information on available social media outlets.

Example: Facebook’s recently unveiled “Donate Now” call-to-action button for nonprofit brand pages.

#2 Tool: Text to Donate Services

Best Practice: Remember, millennials spend an average of $481 per year on charitable giving from mobile devices. Text to Donate is a tool best used when your organization is creating a fund-raising campaign that typically requests small dollar amounts from  donors.

Example: The American Red Cross’ Text to Donate campaign for Haiti Relief in 2010

#3 Tool: E-mail Marketing

Best Practice: Get Personal! E-mail marketing is probably the most important tool for any nonprofit.  Ever successful nonprofit fund-raising effort has a quarterly newsletter sent via e-mail (and additional versions in a .pdf and .jpg format to maximize sharing) to a mailing list of supporters and donors. Newsletter highlights about donors coupled with tributes are highly impactful. Let donors know about all the great work accomplished with their donated dollars! Be sure to include a “Donate” call-to-action  within each newsletter and encourage existing donors to give even more!

Example: MailChimp for Nonprofits is the preferred e-mail marketing client for over 200,000 nonprofit organizations. The platform is simple, user and mobile friendly. MailChimp offers free and paid (discounted) plans for nonprofits. Another great option is Constant Contact, which offers up to a 30% discount for nonprofits with a prepay plan.

#4 Tool: E-Commerce

Best Practice: Another great way to raise money online is by offering clever merchandise. Create a great product(s) related to your cause that supporters will enjoy and which generates a buzz that fuels giving. Merchandise sales can be a great fundraising campaign on its own or done in conjunction with other functions and fundraising efforts.

Example: is a site that allows you to design and sell your nonprofit merchandise with no upfront cost.

Whatever your methods to encourage giving, always remember to be consistent in message, grateful for any size donation, and open to new ideas for reaching willing donors.

Content presented by First Nonprofit Group, the leading provider of state unemployment insurance solutions for 501(c)(3) nonprofit employers

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CCSCT was approached by First NonProfit to discuss its Unemployment Savings Program and ways the program could significantly reduce the amount of unemployment taxes we were paying. At the time, our agency was paying approximately $80,000 per year. First NonProfit conducted an analysis to determine if making the switch would be in our best interest, and it clearly was based on our circumstances. The first year on the program, CCSCT saw a 70% reduction in its unemployment costs and each year, continues to experience further reductions as a result of having minimal claims. Some additional benefits of the program including having a fixed annual cost, an interest-baring reserve account, professional unemployment claims management and representation at all unemployment hearings. This has been one of the best decisions we have made.

Community Council of South Central Texas, Inc., Seguin, TX

We first started using First Nonprofit’s Unemployment Savings Program when we were a small startup nonprofit.  We didn’t have an HR department and needed expertise in the event that an unemployment claim was made.  We knew we were eligible to be a reimbursing employer, but weren’t sure how to navigate that process.  They made it easy to set things up, plan for, and then manage claims when they came at a very reasonable cost. The amount of time and stress they’ve saved us dealing with all this has been worth way more than the cost.  We’ve now grown to a large nonprofit and do have an HR department but have no plans to stop using their services.  I highly recommend them to every nonprofit I come into contact with!


Throughout our membership in the Unemployment Savings Program, First Nonprofit understood our demands, community dynamics, and the importance of seamless services; that allowed us to serve our constituents better.

Prevent Blindness America, Chicago, IL

Because INCS advocates for the operating conditions that allow charter public schools to provide high quality public education, partnering with First Nonprofit was an easy decision. First Nonprofit’s unemployment programs provide our member schools two operating elements crucial to their ability to provide high quality public education: savings and budget certainty. Capable, committed teachers are the key to student success. By participating in the unemployment insurance savings plan, charter public schools gain peace of mind and are able to invest more money in their teachers.

Illinois Network of Charter Schools, Chicago, IL

It has been our sincere pleasure to maintain a strong, vibrant business partnership with First Nonprofit. We greatly admire their strong industry knowledge, technical expertise, constant professionalism, knowledgeable and dedicated staff. They are always extremely responsive, personable and provide us with the necessary guidance and recommendations on a numerous variety of employment scenarios.

Thresholds, Chicago, IL

NYCON members who use First Nonprofit’s programs enjoy enduring savings and improved efficiency. Our association knows that success, because from the beginning, we achieved the same great benefits. Great savings, seamless technology, and responsive service. NYCON highly recommends First Nonprofit’s remarkable unemployment solutions.

New York Council of Nonprofits, Albany, NY

Visually Impaired Preschool Services has been a client of First Non-Profit since it was first offered as a benefit of VisionServe Alliance. We completed a thorough evaluation of cash savings to our agency before taking advantage of this wonderful benefit and it has been a very wise decision. Our experience with the processes from accounting to claims have been professional, expeditious and easy.

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Neurologic Music Therapy Services of Arizona, Phoenix, AZ