With around 40% of the world’s population now having an internet connection (it was less than 1% in 1995), enabling people to give or raise money online for your charity is no longer a nice-to-have. It’s essential. But with a number of online fundraising and crowdfunding platforms to choose from, how do you find the right one for your cause? Here are seven questions to ask when comparing and reviewing the different options:
1. Will your donations be safe?
Every online fundraising platform will have a process for transferring funds to charities. Be sure to have a look at what that process is and whether they keep the donations in a protected fund. This means that if something were to happen to that company, your money would be safe.
At JustGiving we have safeguards in place to protect all donations made through the site and, uniquely, we ring-fence all donations in a separate trust account, passing these on to your charity within days of a donation being made.
2. Is this platform new to the market?
When researching which platform to register with, it’s important to look at their history as a business as well as their reputation. How long have they been operating for? Are they well established or are they new and potentially carry more risk? Are they global? Can people give anywhere in the world? When we launched back in 2001, JustGiving was the world’s first online fundraising platform. We’ve been operating for over 10 years now and have helped over 22 million people from 164 countries raise money online for the causes they care about.
3. Are they trusted by other charities?
Take a look at how many and which charities are already registered and using the platform. This will give you a good idea of whether the platform meets the needs of a wide range of charities, both in size and in type. Choose a handful of charities to contact and ask them about their experience of the platform and whether they would recommend it. Most platforms will have case studies on their website that you can read and information about any industry awards they have won. Over 20,000 charities have used JustGiving since 2001 to enable people to show they care for good causes.
4. Does their business model encourage innovation?
Most online fundraising platforms charge a fee. Whilst cost is a consideration, it’s just as important to look at their business model. What does the company do with those fees? Do they reinvest it into their platform and constantly innovate? How often do they update their platform and release new products and tools to help you grow? We are an independent, tech for good company and charge a fee, all of which is re-invested into building innovative new tools for the causes we serve. We think of ourselves as your R&D team. That means everything we do is focused on building cutting edge technology that helps connect causes to people who care. We keep testing, learning and improving all the time.
5. Will they help you reach new supporters?
When choosing an online fundraising platform, it’s important to weigh up whether you want a white-label solution or a website that has a brand in its own right that could help you attract new donors. Find out how many fans they have on Facebook and how many followers they have on Twitter. It will give you a good indication as to whether they are known and trusted by your supporters. It’s also worth testing the experience people will have on the platform and see what features they have to help your supporters raise more money.
On JustGiving we have a Feed that helps people discover what their friends are doing for the causes they love. We use Social Notifications to raise awareness of your cause and let someone know when a friend has started fundraising. And we have Like and Tweet buttons in all the right places, so it’s easy for people to share their fundraising stories on social media.
6. How robust is their platform?
With the rise of social media, fundraising can go viral, quickly. #nomakeupselfie and the #icebucketchallenge generated unprecedented amounts of online giving for large and small charities alike. Make sure your preferred fundraising platform can handle big spikes in traffic at a moment’s notice, so you don’t miss out on donations. How many donations per second can they handle? Can they increase their server infrastructure at a moment’s notice?
“JustGiving has played a key role in enabling so many people to donate to Stephen’s Story. To date, over 166,000 donations have been made with many thousands happening at the same time. JustGiving increased their server infrastructure to unprecedented levels to keep the site up and running. They have done this seamlessly and we are enormously grateful for their support. Our own online systems are not built to cope with such incredibly high volumes of donations.” Siobhan Dunn, Teenage Cancer Trust CEO
7. What value do they add beyond the technology?
Finally, it’s worth considering what they do for the charity sector as a whole. Do they sponsor and attend conferences or hold training events of their own? Do they share fundraising tips and insights to help all charities? For us, the answer to this last question is an important one and something we’re passionate about. We want to make sure that no great cause goes unfunded, so we regularly share advice, tips and success stories to help all charities, big and small, raise more online. Check out our latest guide to fundraising on social media.
So, if you are looking for an online fundraising platform or looking to move from one platform to another, be sure to ask these seven questions before making a decision. And if you’d like to know more about how we can help your cause to get started fundraising online visit www.justgiving.com/charities