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Online Fundraising: It’s Not About the Money! (part 1)

Well, online fundraising is about the money, sort of…

But it should be much more than that.  Money should be the least important reason why your organization jumps into the online fundraising game.  This is the first of a 4 part blog series on why your organization should be doing online fundraising.

At GiveGab, we’ve had the opportunity to talk with lots of nonprofits over the past year about online fundraising – how often they do it, what types of fundraising they do, is it team or peer-to-peer based, etc.  More often than not, the simple answer we hear is, “No, we haven’t done it. But we need to.”  But doesn’t everyone run online fundraising campaigns, you may ask?  No they don’t. Most nonprofits simply don’t.  And if you ask them why they think they need to, many respond that they see it as a trend and need to do it because others are doing it.

It’s critical that nonprofits recognize that times are “a-changin” for the better.  Online fundraising is no longer the hot trend, but rather it needs to be seen as a critical aspect in the overall annual development budget planning exercise, and here’s why (in descending priority):

  1. Engagement

  2. New Donor Acquisition

  3. Generational Pre-Requisite

  4. Money

In this blog post, I’m going to focus in on reason #1 – Engagement.  To understand this, let’s talk about how nonprofits build their strategic fundraising plan for the year.

Many nonprofit’s annual development planning goes something like this:

  1. Set annual fund goal – slightly higher than last years of course
  2. Do we have any capital improvements that we need a separate campaign for?
  3. Take last year’s calendar of events such as galas, walks, runs, golf tournaments, etc – copy and paste, assign people, engage volunteers for events
  4. Any publicly driven giving events to participate in?

So, let’s say they end up with something like this:


I’m not saying this is bad… I think this is a good plan, an effective plan, one that has worked in the past and will again – it’s tried and true.  However, I think there is lost opportunity to engage and complement key fundraising efforts and events – and that’s in the areas of blue highlight below.  Nonprofits should consider filling these “engagement gaps” with online fundraising.


Traditionally, engagement is often thought about from a volunteering, interactive, or knowledge sharing perspective – essentially in a non-monetary way.  You are trying to keep your supporters passionately engaged with your organization through various means as a way to keep them inspired and thus in turn contribute in a meaningful fashion with one of the major end-goals being increasing financial contributions.

You want to do this though without creating donor or “engagement” fatigue… but here’s the trick, providing people with smaller, meaningful, ways to financially contribute followed up with proper stewardship, is engagement.  It builds long-term, fulfilling relationships with your organization.

Financial contributions from your supporters are emotional commitments to your organization.  Small, purposeful, projects that they can self-choose to fund are great ways to engage those supporters.  They know exactly where their money is going and they know they can see their impact.  From the organization’s perspective, stewardship is easy… it’s very focused and very clear where their money went and specifically how it helped.  Smaller project-focused campaigns are easily reportable back to the donors and highly engaging.

Online fundraising is perfect for this. Try to fund that small project that you thought no one would give to. Be diverse in ways people can contribute, and segment those you target.  Set your goals low and test.  Don’t be afraid to fail, but also make sure to push hard to the finish.  As long as you are performing proper stewardship, you can run increasing numbers and even some in parallel.

So fill those engagement gaps with online fundraising – not only will you see more involvement from your supporters, you’ll likely see a revival of past donors and an overall increase in repeat giving throughout your overall annual fundraising plan.

Now, check out Part II, where I talk about how online fundraising should be seen as a highly effective tool for new donor acquisition and I’ll provide a framework to think about it with.