Online Fundraising, Perfectly

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Online fundraising is a tremendous opportunity for nonprofits of all sizes. These days, any organization with a website can woo donors and compete for scarce funding, wherever it may be hiding.

However, some organizations are just plain better at it. They have fundraising strategies, highly motivated staff, a compelling mission…you get the idea.

For the rest of us, there’s hope. An English economist claims to have found the formula for the “perfect ask” in online fundraising.

It comes down to two things:

According to the study*, those “fundraising on their own for individual events rather than mass charity-organised events attracted more donations and raised more money overall.”

The economist’s explanation is that donors feel a stronger connection to, and can empathize with, an individual’s cause, more easily than they can with a large, often faceless organization.

The study also found that setting a fundraising goal (i.e. to raise $10,000 by the end of the year), and sharing that goal publicly, was more effective in spurring larger donations. Contributors were anxious to help!

Ironically, once the goal is met, donors are less willing to give to the cause, as demonstrated by smaller contributions. While not a nonprofit, Reddit’s Daily Gold Goal is a prime example of this (with some classy discourse in the comments, as well).


Online Fundraising is more difficult than it appears.

It’s easy!…sort of…


So what does this mean for your organization?

It’s only a scientific study, so you decide! Ask yourself, “How does my organization approach online fundraising? Is it right for our mission, and plan for growth?”

Another thing to consider is compliance with each state’s charitable solicitation laws. Technically, online fundraising could be considered soliciting donations in every state (and nationally).

Before you add a “Donate Now” button to your website, or begin an online fundraising campaign, be sure to read up on Online Fundraising & the Charleston Principles. Noncompliant organizations can face penalties and fines for unregistered activities, so do your homework!

Once you’re compliant with state requirements, then you can go about creating your own perfect ask. With enough luck, you’ll have the success of your own #IceBucketChallenge on your hands!

If your organization fundraises online, and needs help understanding its compliance requirements, contact us. We’ll consult with you on your fundraising strategy, and register your organization in any state you need.


* You can read the full study here!