How to Start a Fundraiser & Run Successful Online Fundraising Campaign

How to Start a Fundraiser & Run Successful Online Fundraising Campaign

In 2020, online giving increased by 23%. Online monthly giving revenue grew by 40% as recurring donations became increasingly popular with online donors. These numbers are simply to say, online giving is growing, and it does not look like it is going to stop. Fundraising campaigns are well-known in the nonprofit community; their popularity has grown with social media and the development of crowdfunding.

The range of online campaigns ranges from Giving Tuesday and Capital Campaigns to peer-to-peer fundraising, crowdfunding, and text giving. 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. When raising funds for any organization, it is essential to plan out the best way to reach donors. Fundraising campaigns are a great way to target specific donors for each financial need.

Depending on the age, background, donation history, and program interest, donors can be broken down into several separate subgroups. Talking to each of these subgroups is important. The way you reach out to them is equally vital.

Once you have created your subgroups, you will want to develop powerful campaigns to reach each of these groups and contact them in a way that appeals to them.

The best way to reach your donors is different for each organization, but overall, the trust in donating online has grown. Your nonprofit needs to take advantage of this trust.

Types of Nonprofit Fundraising Campaigns

As more and more people grow comfortable donating online, the option for fundraising campaigns grows. Several online campaign types have been successful for many organizations.

1. Capital campaigns

Capital Campaigns are 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.

2. Giving Tuesday campaigns

Giving Tuesday is a global event that takes place on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. It is also a great way to start off your year-end campaign.

Using the online resources available and promoting your Giving Tuesday campaign in advance will help your nonprofit get the most out of this campaign. Giving Tuesday has its own website and hashtag and enables nonprofits to promote their organization to millions of people outside their own donor base.

3. Text-to-give campaigns

Text-to-give campaigns are still relatively new, but their popularity is growing. Donors can give by text using just their cell phones. The simplicity of this type of campaign appeals more to younger donors.

A lot of Donorbox users are using text-to-give to raise donations for their cause. With our effective features, it’s quite easy. Your donors need to send your campaign ID to 1 855 575 7888 (basic plan) or the keyword “GIVE” to 801801 (short code plan). While the choice is yours, the shorter number is much easier to remember and type in. Plus, you can choose a custom keyword in this plan. Once your donors send the campaign ID, Donorbox will send them your mobile-friendly campaign link and there they can make donations. 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 of Donorbox better.

4. Online fundraising campaigns

Online fundraising campaigns only take place on the internet. Emails, social media, website, Google, and social media ads are all used for these campaigns.

Here’s how Online SOS nonprofit is raising funds via an online donation form.

SOS Online Donorbox Squarespace Donation Form

5. Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a great way to get your donors personally involved in the work of your organization. It is best to find the donors who will have the most success with this. Those with the most success are not always your major donors.

After finding the right donors for this campaign, you need to help them tell the organization’s story to their friends and family. Social media is crucial for this type of campaign. Donorbox helps you create peer-to-peer campaigns and invite your supporters to raise funds for you. It’s easy, takes only a couple of minutes to get started, automated, and customized. Turn your supporters into advocates for your cause, acquire new donors, boost fundraising, and more in no time!

Watch this quick video here to know about Donorbox Peer-to-Peer fundraising.

6. Crowdfunding campaigns

Crowdfunding has become common recently, thanks to social media. It is hard to miss the stories of families asking for help with medical expenses or other catastrophes that show up on your Facebook page.

This type of campaign is so popular because people can make a big difference with a small donation. By joining with other people in the crowd, a $5 or $10 donation can help someone afford what may have seemed impossible in the past.

Here’s an example of a nonprofit using Crowdfunding to fundraise online.

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

There are a few critical steps to finding success with your fundraising campaign. Creating a powerful story and clear guidelines are essential.

1. Identify the beneficiary

“Your donation of $100 will allow Ayesha to attend the class for the first time and help her reach her dream of becoming a doctor.”

Would you rather give to Ayesha or a faceless organization? Most people are inspired to give to real people with compelling stories. By telling a beneficiary’s story and adding a few pictures or a video, you can bring to life the work your organization is doing.

When you solicit donors, do not just tell them the number of people that are impacted by their donations. Show them a life they can change.

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.

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.

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.

5. Identify key marketing channels

Do your donors give more online or by mail? Have you tried and succeeded in reaching an audience using social media?

The answers to these questions are different for each organization, but more people choose to donate online every year. Even more, would rather be sent information from nonprofits via social media or email rather than by mail.

As a nonprofit, you will want to know how your donors are giving and the best way to reach them.

6. Write your copy

Once you have found out how your donors give and split them into subgroups, you can start writing emails, donor 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.

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

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