You may have seen the recent ABC article titled “Charities turn to round-up apps to plug massive fundraising gap”. The article calls out what everyone in the charity and not-for-profit sector knows; there is a massive financial downturn this year which started before Covid-19 with the bushfires.
Donor capacity to contribute to other charities was already challenged and with many organisations unable to run revenue-generating activities due to public health restrictions coupled with the most significant economic conditions seen since the great depression, the sector is facing its greatest challenge.
ABC’s article advised a number of charities are turning to technology to help make up a massive funding shortfall; as we recommended in our May 2020 article “Why Not-for-profits need an Online Presence”. Round-up applications and digital tools, such as FlyBuys, are suggested as avenues for charities to explore.
With limited and stretched resources, and not all charity administrators having technology experience, we understand this may seem too difficult. However, if your financial position is continuing to decline you may not be able to afford to put off exploring all options for much longer.
To assist with the investigation we have reviewed some of the online donation platforms you may want to consider. We do not know any of these organisations so we are not in a position to recommend any of them; make your choice based on your own investigation. Our selection includes only Australian based organisations who provide online donation solutions and these are listed in alphabetical order only.
Based in Surry Hills in Sydney this organisation states it is used by charities such as Amnesty International, Legacy, Oxfam, RSPCA, Unicef and many more. They also state they work with companies such as Kellogg’s, Fuji Xerox and Johnson & Johnson all up suggesting your profile will be shared with 150 businesses and 35,000 people.
Located at Sydney’s co-working space Fishburners, plus an office in the United Kingdom, this organisation states they have no platform fees and 100% of what you raise you receive.
Based in Sydney this organisation advises it has been endorsed by former NSW Premier Mike Baird and former Prime Ministers Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott. Their home page includes a section for featured charities and options to set up a campaign for a specific goal amount.
Another organisation based in Sydney who facilitates donations for charities and workplace giving. In addition they offer free e-learning on “all things digital”. No information on the specifics is available without joining.
One of the more well-known platforms in Australia, this one has an annual membership fee for charities to join plus a fee per donation.
GiveEasy is based in Bondi Junction in Sydney this charity offers simple drag and drop donation page designs which are mobile friendly. Their website states they offer SMS donations, giving days, donation pages,pre-filled email giving, crowdfunding and peer to peer and social media support.
Melbourne based GiveNow has three plan options for charities. If your charity wants to raise less than $10,000 they advise they have a free platform which has no set up, monthly or annual fees but credit card fees apply. For those needing to raise more funds there is a basic and pro plan to choose from.
Head office is noted as Rushcutters Bay in Sydney with additional offices in Auckland and New York. The platform enables charities to have a “cause page” which can accept unlimited donations with auto receipting. You can set up fundraising events and receive fortnightly financial reports. This organisation also states they offer free training and webinars.
It is difficult to tell if this organisation started in Australia or overseas but they note a North Sydney address in addition to the United Kingdom and United States. Limited information about costs and options are available without registering on their website.
This organisation states they have raised over $100 million and have 302,657 members and 68,553 causes. They provide services for charities and not-for-profits and state they are 100% Australian owned and operated, have zero platform fees and have more than 4,500 charity partners. They offer PR and media support. Mobile friendly platforms and the opportunity to fundraise for multiple causes on one campaign.
Based in Sydney this organisation states they give away$200,000 in grants each year based on public votes for charities on their website. There are several grants rounds during the year which are open to charities,not-for-profit or community groups. Organisations must register for free on their website to be in the running for a grant and raise donations. Supporters can vote each week and donate to your charity with an extra vote added for every dollar donated.
Melbourne based Raisely states they build fundraising websites to grow your donations for free. They take online donations, run fundraising campaign and nurture your supporters through personalised messages and experiences. They state they are used by organisations such as Greenpeace,Variety and the Starlight Children’s Foundation. Their website states they have no set-up or hosting fees.
There are also options to “do-it-yourself” on your website such as setting up a PayPal account, or online credit card solution such as Stripe, linked to an automated contact solution for the provision of receipts.
For those running WordPress websites there are also a number of plugins available which allow you to set up specific campaigns, goals and track results. You can link your payment gateway (such as PayPal) and set up the donation receipt email within the plugin. Some of these solutions also offer the option to set up recurring donations for any benefactors who wish to contribute regularly. Some of the plugins even have the option to add a fee-relief extension so you can ask donors to pay the payment gateway processing fee in addition to their donation so you receive the full amount.
Your web developer will be able to provide guidance on options for you or you can search yourself from the PlugIn library in WordPress. To give you an idea of these options there is a plugin developed in the Northern Territory called WPCharitable which is an Australian developed solution.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission has prepared a great guide on what you should look for when considering crowdfunding solutions.The recommendations point out that the responsible persons of your charity need to take the time to read the details of any solution you are considering to ensure you do not create a reputational or financial risk for your organisation.
Each website should have terms and conditions, privacy policies and details of fees. You will also want to consider how funds flow to you and whether they sit with a third party for any period of time before flowing to you.
Fundraising is regulated in Australia so compliance with both Australian law and each state and territory legislation will be important.Responsible persons must ensure they are making informed decisions regarding any activities as whilst processes can be outsourced the ultimate responsibilities sit with those individuals on behalf of their organisation.
There are numerous opportunities to raise funds online but not everyone will be right for your organisation. Some factors to consider, in addition to those outlined above, are the amount of traffic you have to your website and social media pages. If you traffic is limited the likelihood of raising the funds you need will also be limited.
In this situation it is worth exploring several options including engaging a digital marketer, or Search Engine Optimisation specialist, to help improve your website traffic. In addition to this approach,which should deliver benefits over the longer term, you should consider multiple touchpoints. Once you have narrowed down the solutions you intend to use,consider whether you should only choose one or choose several including adding donation functionality to your website.
With most online solutions offering free set-up and only charging a clip per donation your organisation could consider going on multiple platforms. If you choose this path you will need to understand the administration impact and how best o manage that process.