How to Start a Fundraiser & Run a Successful Online Fundraising Campaign

Your nonprofit will require a fundraising campaign every now and then to ensure that you can raise money for your programs, upcoming events, and emergency relief campaigns, during the end of the year, and for buying land or building a new facility. And many other reasons to be able to further your mission. This guide will help you start a fundraising campaign and run it successfully!

9 minutes read
How to Start a Fundraiser & Run a Successful Online Fundraising Campaign

More than half of all high-wealth donors who give over $200,000 prefer giving online. It is easy, effective, and secure – and if your organization isn’t running an online fundraising campaign, you could be missing out big time.

There are many types of online fundraising campaigns ranging from Giving Tuesday, capital campaigns, peer-to-peer fundraising, crowdfunding, text giving, and beyond. The donors that each campaign targets are equally varied and finding the right donors for each campaign is half the battle.

This article will give you a breakdown of the different types of online fundraising campaigns and how you can successfully run them.

What is a Fundraising Campaign?

Fundraising campaigns are a significant part of a nonprofit’s strategic plan. They are initiatives with specific goals, sometimes fundraising for a certain cause or issue. For example, a year-end fundraising campaign might have a goal of $10,000, but a less specific cause or issue in mind. A capital campaign might have an even larger monetary goal, but a specific cause – to purchase land or a new building.

Ultimately, a campaign is a project launched to raise money for a nonprofit. How you choose to launch your campaign is entirely up to you!

Types of Nonprofit Fundraising Campaigns

First, we’ll look at the many different types of fundraising campaigns. With online giving quickly becoming most donors’ preference, there are more options for fundraising campaigns than there used to be!

1. Capital campaigns

Capital campaigns fundraise for specific causes or projects, like building a new location. Those that are most successful target an organization’s major donors to raise enough funds in a short amount of time. These campaigns are huge undertakings and often require significant planning and strategy, along with robust tools to help you make the most of your campaign.

Check out how Marian Homes is using Donorbox to raise funds for their capital campaign! We love how they use a goal meter to illustrate how close they are to their goal.

Example of an organization using a Donorbox donation page to raise funds for their capital campaign.

Launch Your Campaign Today!


2. Giving Tuesday campaigns

Giving Tuesday is a giving event that takes place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving in the U.S.

Using online resources and promoting your Giving Tuesday campaign in advance will help your nonprofit get the most out of it. Giving Tuesday has a website with tons of resources and a hashtag that enables nonprofits to promote their organization to millions of people outside their donor base.

3. Year-end campaigns

Many organizations take advantage of the charitable feelings at the end of the year – and the last-minute tax donations – with robust year-end campaigns.

These campaigns typically include an appeal letter, mailed or sent via email, with multiple easy ways to give.

4. Text-to-give campaigns

Text-to-give campaigns are increasingly popular. While a donor may be less likely to carry cash these days, they almost always have their smartphone! With text-to-give, donors simply text a number to receive a link to an online giving campaign. Then they can quickly give online.

Donorbox Text-to-Give is easy and effective!  We have two plans to fit your needs. All your donors need to do is send your campaign ID to 1 855 575 7888 (basic plan) or a custom keyword to 801801 (short code plan). Once your donors send the campaign ID, Donorbox will send them your mobile-friendly campaign link and there they can make donations using a variety of payment methods, including digital wallets like Google Pay and Apple Pay. With our repeat donation feature, your donors can quickly repeat this donation in the future without having to fill out any forms.

Here’s a quick video that will help you understand this easy mobile-giving feature better!

5. Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a great way to get your biggest supporters personally involved in the work of your organization. This type of campaign involves your supporters creating their own fundraising pages to raise money on your behalf.

Donorbox Peer-to-Peer allows you to either invite supporters via email or allow anyone to sign up to fundraise on your behalf. They’ll receive an email guiding them through the process of setting up their donation page that’s linked to your campaign, so any funds they raise automatically flow to your Donorbox account.

This is a great way to boost the reach of any campaign and interact with new donors!

6. Crowdfunding campaigns

Crowdfunding is an incredibly powerful type of fundraising – and it’s very popular, too. In these types of campaigns, you harness the power of the crowd to make a big impact. Several people coming together to give five dollars can help you smash your fundraising goals!

Donorbox Crowdfunding offers a ton of features to keep the momentum going. Post regular updates, enable a donor wall to build social proof, and allow easy social media sharing buttons.

Black Girls Code used Donorbox to raise over $480,000 with 1,963 donations. We love how they included a compelling video on their campaign to boost participation!

Example of an organization using Donorbox Crowdfunding.

Build Your Crowdfunding Campaign

How to Start a Fundraiser & Plan a Successful Nonprofit Fundraising Campaign

1. Decide what your organization needs

Will your campaign be raising funds for a specific initiative or project? Or are you trying to close the gap in your contributed income with a robust year-end campaign?

Understanding exactly what your organization needs is a great way to start your campaign planning. It will guide your messaging, goal-setting, and fundraising methods.


2. Set a fundraising goal

Setting a fundraising goal, and keeping donors informed about how close you are to reaching it, will excite your donors. It will also increase the chance of more donations as you get closer to that goal.
Download our free SMART Goal Setting Worksheet to help you set realistic, attainable fundraising goals.

3. Set a campaign timeline

It is human nature to wait until the last minute to get something done. Waiting to donate is no different. Successful campaigns include a limited time to give. Keeping donors aware of how little time they have to make a difference will drive donations.

This will also help you plan your outreach schedule – and you can always extend the deadline to get more of those last-minute donations.

4. Come up with a compelling story

Why does Ayesha need money to go to school? Do other girls in her community get an education? How do women in her community live without an education? What inspired her to want to become a doctor?

The answer to these questions is how you convince donors to give. Telling this one girl’s story is a doorway to thousands of other people’s lives. Your donors will want to learn more about Ayesha and more about the other girls in her community. The more stories you tell, the more they will want to give.

Need some help crafting the perfect fundraising story for your campaign? Check out this blog!

5. Identify key marketing channels

Which marketing channel has performed well for you in the past? Consider the following channels and try to pull data to analyze the effectiveness of each one:

  • Social media (and each social media platform)
  • Website
  • Email
  • Direct mail

A great fundraising campaign should be shared on all available marketing channels, but understanding how each has performed for you in the past can help you determine how to divide your campaign resources.

6. Write your copy

Once you have found out how your donors give and split them into subgroups, you can start writing emails, appeal letters, or social media posts. The way you tell your story will need to be different for each of these groups and communication channels.

Social media campaigns can find great success with videos. Donor letters and cards can have a personal touch. Emails can quickly connect your donors to online donation forms.

13 Tips for Running a Successful Nonprofit Fundraising Campaign

As you plan your next fundraising campaign, there are ways to reach more people and raise more funds. If you are still having trouble increasing your campaign donations after writing a compelling story, here are a few more tips and tricks to help.

1. Make it easy to donate online

How many times have you given up buying an item because their online system was too complicated? Too many nonprofits have antiquated online systems and are losing money without knowing it.

Donorbox makes donating online easy for every size organization. With pop-up donation forms and donor pages, you can customize to match your organization’s branding. Your supporters can donate online easier than ever before.

2. Enable recurring donations

Instead of soliciting donations every month from your donors, you can ask them to give the same amount every month and automatically charge their credit cards.

Donors love this option because it gives them extra satisfaction for no extra work. Nonprofits love this option because they can depend on this money and add it to their budget when planning for the year.

Your donors may want to become recurring donors but do not know where to start. Donorbox includes monthly, annual, and weekly recurring donations with only one click. Donorbox does not store any card information and has a fraud detection system so donors can trust that their financial information is safe.

donation tiers

3. Showcase the impact of donation

Your organization’s mission is the end goal, but you will reach smaller goals as the years go on. When your organization reaches one of these goals, like building a new school or reaching a donation goal, send a celebration email or card and invite your supporters to celebrate with you.

4. Create a campaign video

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so just imagine what a video is worth. As more people donate online and learn about organizations through Facebook and other social media, videos can be one of your most potent donation tools. You do not even have to use professional videographers in all cases. Send these videos by email, social media posts, or buy a few ads online to reach an entirely new audience.

5. Leverage text-to-give

The appeal of text-to-give campaigns is how easy it is to encourage a second or third donation. Donorbox has its own text-to-give service that works for any organization willing to give this campaign style a try. Our system connects seamlessly with your online campaign page for your donor’s first donation. From then on, they can quickly donate the same amount via text whenever you reach out to them.

6. Run a soft launch

When organizing a fundraising campaign, planning for your success is crucial. Before you start your campaign, send an email to your strongest supporters to let them know how they can help. Find jobs for your donors and see how you can include them in your fundraising campaign instead of waiting for their donation. Do you have followers with large communities of their own? Would your major donors be willing to match the gifts of your other supporters? Contact these supporters during your soft launch and ensure the success of your campaign.

7. Send segmented emails

Your donors have different interests in your organization. They also have different financial abilities and the ways they communicate. When you speak to your donors, you cannot talk to them as if they are one person.

Instead, it is best to include each donor’s interests and donor ability in your database. You should also include how they want to be contacted and how they wish to donate. Donorbox Donation Notes and Donor Notes is an easy way to track all the information you need about each of your donors.

8. Enable crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is another way to include donors in your fundraising campaign. Nonprofits generally use crowdfunding to highlight specific projects or events. By sharing powerful stories and successes of your project on a separate crowdfunding page, you can continue to inform and excite your supporters. We have written more on Donorbox crowdfunding features here.

9. Declare a matching period

Do you have major donors that give regularly give larger amounts? Why not work with them to see if they will match the donations of your other donors? This way, you can excite your major donors and entice other donors to give more. Learn more about how you can double your donation with Donorbox integrations.

If you want to learn about the matching gifts program & how you can enable them to increase your donations, read our in-depth blog post on the Matching Gifts Program.

10. Create a sense of urgency

Any marketing professional will tell you the best campaigns that happen when you create a sense of urgency.

For a Limited Time or One Day, Only are time-honored copies used in commercials of for-profit companies. Nonprofit marketing is not any different. Your supporters do not want to miss out on making a difference with your organization, but it is human nature to wait until the last minute.

With a donation thermometer on your campaign page, you can show your donors how close you are to reaching your goal. You can also remind them they only have a limited time to be a part of it! Learn more about How to Use a Fundraising Thermometer of your own.


11. Integrate online and offline sources

Some donors like to receive personalized notes in the mail. Some of your donors would rather get an email. More and more of your donors are replying to social media posts and ads. Regardless of how you contact your donors, you will want to send all your supporters to your campaign’s donate page and tell your story in as many ways as possible. Make sure you include the link to your donate page in all mail and emails you send out.

12. Promote on social media

Has an ad on Facebook or YouTube ever caught your eye and encouraged you to visit their website? Did you know that 55% of people that connect with nonprofits on social media end up either donating or volunteering? Those are some great numbers! It should also encourage you to connect with your followers and others on social media too.

Using social media means more than just posting during your fundraising campaign. It also means more than just asking for money. Social media is a success because of the conversation it starts. It is a way to connect with friends and family that you may have lost touch with. For nonprofits, social media is a chance to share your story in different ways.

Social media apps, like Facebook, have made donating to nonprofits even easier with donate buttons.

13. Use Social Proof

Using social proof is another way nonprofit organizations can learn from for-profit companies. Customer testimonials are more powerful than high-priced ads any day. They tend to cut through hesitations faster than anything else.

Nonprofits can get the same effect with testimonials from beneficiaries or donors. Ask your donors who have seen the work you do in-person to share their stories online. Publish their testimonies on your campaign’s donate page, mailings, social media channels, and emails.


There are several ways to find success with your next fundraising campaign. Whether you continue with your annual mailing campaign or focus on using more online resources, the tips and tricks we have shared will help you raise more funds.

Learn more about what Donorbox has to offer and read more ways to strengthen your next fundraising campaign on our blog.

Avatar photo

Raviraj heads the sales and marketing team at Donorbox. His growth-hacking abilities have helped Donorbox boost fundraising efforts for thousands of nonprofit organizations.

  • facebook
  • twitter
  • instagram
  • linkedin
  • tumblr

Join the fundraising movement!

Subscribe to our e-newsletter to receive the latest blogs, news, and more in your inbox.

Take your donor experience to the next level!
Join the 50,000+ nonprofits already raising funds online.
Join Our Newsletter
Get a monthly curated round-up of our best posts and feature updates. (You can unsubscribe anytime.)
Join Our Newsletter
Get a monthly curated round-up of our best posts and feature updates. (You can unsubscribe anytime.)
Join a 30min Demo to see how Donorbox can help you reach your fundraising goals!
Join a 30min Live Demo to see how Donorbox can help you reach your fundraising goals!