Fundraising platforms – 5 tips for what to consider when making your choice
Posted on: October 20, 2021
With Virgin Money Giving closing at the end of this month, many charities have been considering their options.
There are numerous fundraising platforms on offer, supporting everything from crowdfunding, to fundraising through online quizzes and mass participation events, so what makes a good choice? Essentially, Bradley French, Fundraising Innovation Manager at Donr says:
“A good fundraising platform should equip your charity with easy-to-use technology, which enables you to increase donations and improve supporter engagement.”
Of course, there are a few other things to consider too – everything from cost, to how easy it is to switch over, and who owns the supporter data. Here’s a list of five.
Firstly, and quite simply, what are your requirements? Elliot Green, CMO at Wonderful says it sounds obvious but that it’s important to look inward and review your charity’s existing and planned fundraising activities to ensure there’s clarity on what’s needed.
“What does your fundraising activity look like and how will the platform support it? Do you need individual, team fundraising pages, official charity events, or event ticketing functionality? Today there are lots of platforms available and each has a slightly different focus. Start with your charity’s unique requirements and ask the platform how they can support your needs.”
And there are other perhaps obvious sounding but important questions to tick off surrounding requirements too. French adds:
“When considering a fundraising platform, you may wish to ask yourself some of these questions. Will this technology help us to fundraise? Is it easy to use for charities and supporters? Are there examples of other charities using it successfully?”
A major consideration of course will be cost – and fees, as well as how they’re presented, can vary. Some also ask donors if they would like to ‘tip’ the platform to cover costs. This is where research will help to ensure a platform is cost-effective to take on, says Neil Poynton, Head of Charities at CAF:
“Some platforms charge processing fees, some charge platform fees, while others charge a single combined fee. Different platform models will be cost effective for different charities.”
Charities might also want to consider whether a platform is a good fit with their organisation.
“As a charity, you’re all about giving back and making a positive difference, but does your fundraising platform exist for the same reasons? Who founded it and why? Charity trustees, fundraisers and donors can all have strong feelings about this and it’s important to consider.”
As well as aligning with your charity’s ethos and aims, this also means checking a platform is a strategic fit. Poynton adds:
“Is the platform geared towards particular causes or does it offer benefits that align with organisational goals? By choosing platforms strategically, charities can access benefits which suit them.”
Of course, with a fundraising platform, supporter data will go to that platform, rather than the charity directly, so looking at data ownership as well as data protection compliancy is also essential.
Chester Mojay-Sinclare, CEO & Founder at Enthuse, cautions:
“Charities should also be quizzing platform providers on who owns the data because these are relationships that charities need to be owning. Being able to communicate with supporters directly will help to develop long-term donor relationships. With that in mind, selecting a fundraising platform that ensures all data is accessible, fully transparent, and GDPR compliant is a must. Charities should also seek assurance that these vendors will not retarget donors with communications for other campaigns, bombarding people at a time when they may already be overwhelmed with requests to give.”
And the last tip – if looking for a replacement for an existing platform whether it’s Virgin Money Giving or another one, being able to make an easy switch should also be a top consideration.
On this, Mojay-Sinclare adds:
“Given the unfortunate news of Virgin Money Giving’s imminent closure, ensuring the platform makes it easy for donors and fundraisers to switch should also be front of mind. The ability to move ongoing fundraisers over is crucial. Ideally the platform should be able to transfer the fundraiser’s existing fundraising target and progress so far onto their platform. Helping supporters to seamlessly set up new recurring donations is also key.”
Of course, there is much more to consider and questions to ask in the decision making process. Clarity on these five essential areas however will help to ensure a good start.