We know that raising money for your school is vital. Events such as fairs and sponsored walks can help but require high attendance levels. Fundraising sites offer an opportunity to create ongoing campaigns that can attract a wider audience of donors.
Fortunately, there are a lot of giving and fundraising platforms you can choose from. These websites make your campaign more accessible to the community and are easy to use. You can also keep them active for weeks at a time to increase exposure.
In this article, we’ll go over the basics of fundraising websites and why your school may want to consider using one. We’ll then look at the key features yours should include.
Understanding the Basics of Fundraising Sites
Fundraising websites are hubs for campaigns to raise money for your school. These platforms provide all the tools you need to set up an online donation portal and fundraising target. They also take care of the financial aspects such as accepting donations and sending them to your school.
While these features are the basis of all fundraising websites, some are better than others when it comes to school fundraisers. As you may already know, there are two primary ways schools raise money:
- Donation-based campaigns. Focus on asking for small amounts of money from a large number of people.
- Reward-based campaigns. Offer some kind of incentive for people to donate. For example, donors may receive ‘free’ T-shirts, or you could offer a prize to the top three contributors.
A fundraising platform that is ideal for schools will focus on these models. For instance, Edco enables anyone at your school to set up a campaign.
DonorsChoose is for teachers who are looking to collect supplies or raise money for their schools. Fundly is also geared towards non-profits, schools, and similar organizations. It enables you to create fundraising campaigns without startup fees.
All three provide a range of campaigns focused on helping schools with supplies and other needs.
We’ll share more details on what to look for in a school fundraising website later in this article. Once you select a platform, you’ll need to set up your campaign, including your goals as well as a description of what you plan to use the money for tol encourage people to donate.
Once your campaign is live, you should promote it throughout your school and on social media. The right platform will be able to help with this. You can also track the progress of your fundraiser and thank all your donors for their contributions.
The Benefits of Using a Fundraising Site for Your School
All schools need to raise additional funds from time to time. You might need to pay for an educational trip, for a school club to attend a competition, or to decorate for a student event. Traditional, in-person fundraisers can help, but online campaigns have a greater reach.
The online nature of fundraising websites also enables you to take advantage of social media to spread the word about your campaign. This takes your message beyond the confines of your school or local community. The amount of publicity your campaign generates will depend on how you share it.
Online fundraising campaigns can also last longer than traditional fundraising events. While in-person fundraising relies on students, parents, and community members being able to attend your event at a specific time, they can donate online whenever it’s convenient for them.
Finally, online fundraising platforms can make collecting donations much easier. You don’t have to worry about setting up your own system. You also won’t have to worry about being able to accept multiple types of payments. Your fundraising campaign can be up and running within minutes instead of days or weeks.
6 Key Features of School Giving and Fundraising Sites
Knowing what features to look for in a school fundraising website can help you choose the right platform to host your campaign. Here are six to keep an eye out for.
1. Easy Donation Campaign Creation
To attract donors for your school’s online fundraiser, you need to plan and execute a campaign. There are several elements you’ll need to account for in this process, including:
- Setting up an online donation form and payment system
- Writing a clear description of your fundraiser and what you hope to achieve
- Promoting your campaign on social media and other channels
School fundraising websites include tools designed to make it easy to create your campaign. By walking you through the process, these platforms can help you avoid forgetting any elements you need to make your fundraiser successful.
Additionally, many fundraising websites will enable you to easily create your donation form without having to deal with code or other technical aspects. They can also streamline the process of connecting popular payment gateways such as Stripe and PayPal with your account so that you can accept donations.
Fundraising websites can also link your campaign to social media by providing sharing buttons for your campaign page. This enables you to promote your campaign, and for students, parents, faculty, and others to spread the word on their own profiles, too:
Finally, many fundraising websites also enable anonymous donations. There are many reasons why someone might choose to donate this way, and facilitating the process can increase your campaign’s overall success.
2. Multiple Donation Methods
If you host an in-person fundraising event, you are generally limited when it comes to donation methods. Taking cash contributions is simple, but setting up other payment options can be a challenge. This is where online fundraising can make your job easier.
Fundraising websites typically enable you to provide many ways for people to donate. You can take credit cards, use online payment services, and more.
Providing multiple donation methods enables people to contribute in the ways they feel most comfortable doing so. This might increase the number of donations you receive:
When looking at donation options, you might also want to consider alternatives to monetary contributions. “In-kind donations” of physical items to your school can be just as helpful but are often harder to get.
Most fundraising websites don’t offer an option for in-kind donations, which is why you might want to look into a specialized service such as Donation Match.
This platform enables you to apply for donations from corporations. If you’re accepted, you’ll fill out details about your school’s needs. Companies can then choose to contribute to your campaign.
If you’re using a different platform, you can share details on your campaign page about how you plan to use the money you raise.
Alternatively, you could mention in your campaign’s story section that you’re also accepting in-kind donations at your school. Just make sure to check the terms and conditions of your platform to ensure it allows this first.
3. Clear and Comprehensive Fundraising Reports
Reports are a particularly important part of fundraising. They let you know how your campaign is doing and your average donation amount. You can also see how many people have donated and who your donors are.
All fundraising websites provide basic reports via your campaign dashboard:
The best thing about this feature is that you do not have to take any extra steps. Reports are automatically generated, and many provide real-time data.
You can also list your fundraiser’s statistics on your campaign page where students, faculty, and donors can see them. For example, displaying your progress can help encourage more donations to help you reach your goal.
Generally speaking, fundraising websites will enable you to choose which metrics to share publicly so you can display the information you think will be most effective with your audience.
4. Shareable Fundraising Campaigns
One of the key features of fundraising websites is the ability to create shareable campaigns. Being able to easily promote your fundraiser on social media can lead to more donations if done correctly.
Many fundraising platforms enable you to embed social sharing buttons on your campaign page. These buttons allow visitors to share your fundraiser with others on Facebook, Twitter, and other networks.
However, this is not the only way you can promote your campaign. You might also publicize it on your website using buttons or other features provided by your fundraising platform.
Most fundraising websites allow you to embed a campaign card, a donate button, or a donation form on your own site by copying and pasting a bit of code.
It’s also smart to utilize email to promote your fundraising campaign. Some platforms will enable donors to sign up to receive updates on your efforts.
This can lead to repeat donations and further sharing via email.
5. The Ability to Showcase Results on Your Website
Online fundraising campaigns often last much longer than offline ones, and it can be hard to keep people motivated and invested in helping you reach your goal. Real-time showcasing of your results on your website is one way to help maintain interest.
This is something that school fundraising websites can usually help with. We already discussed how you can display reports and progress on your campaign page. Using your platform’s embed feature, you can also show that data on your school website.
To add this real-time information to your website, you will need to copy and paste the proper embed code provided by your fundraising platform. If you’re using WordPress, you can then navigate to Appearance > Widgets in your dashboard and paste this code into a Custom HTML widget.
This will enable you to display your campaign’s progress throughout your site in your sidebar or another widget area. Once you save your widget, your campaign progress meter should appear on your website and update automatically as donations come in.
6. Low Fundraising Fees
It can be easy to overlook the fees fundraising websites charge. All websites will charge a fee, but some are lower than others. It’s important to pay attention to those of the platform you’re using, and to account for them when setting your fundraising goals.
The types of fees charged will vary depending on the website. Popular school fundraising websites such as DonorsChoose and Edco charge fees per donation. This covers their costs for processing payments through third-party systems such as PayPal and Stripe.
Other websites may charge a fee for creating a new campaign.
Ideally, you should try to find the platform that offers the lowest possible fees while still providing the other key features you need. DonorsChoose is a solid option as it charges just 1.5 percent of each of your donations.
Fundly is also a relatively affordable option. It has no startup fees but deducts 4.9 percent of each donation and has an additional three percent fee for credit card payments. However, there are discounts available for larger campaigns.
Raising money for your school can be a challenge. However, school fundraising websites can make it easier by helping you to promote your cause, collect donations through multiple digital channels, then share the results with the generous people who have given to your school.
In this blog post, we have provided six key features that school fundraising websites can provide to boost your donation efforts, while increasing efficiencies for all of those involved. To recap, fundraising websites can:
- Help you create campaigns quickly and ensure your fundraiser is launched with all the necessary elements.
- Provide multiple donation methods so people can use their preferred option to contribute.
- Produce clear fundraising reports so you can stay up to date on your campaign progress.
- Allow you to share campaigns to help promote your goals.
- Give you the ability to showcase your results on your website and keep people invested in your campaign.
- Cost less than traditional fundraising by providing fees that keep your campaign affordable.
Do you have any questions about school giving and fundraising websites? Get in touch!
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