Money. Your organization needs it, and charitable giving trends show that adopting an online platform for collecting it is, well, the move to make. In fact, online giving grew 21% in 2020, and these numbers show no signs of stopping.
But with so many different types of fundraising tools available, it can be tricky to navigate which one’s right for your organization.
Big Sea’s here to help. With over 17 years of helping nonprofits leverage online fundraising, we know exactly what steps to take — and avoid — when choosing software, monitoring multi-channel campaigns (think: a Facebook and programmatic advertising campaign driving to your website’s donation page), and exactly which tools to use.
Let’s dive in.
13 Best Nonprofit Fundraising Platforms
There’s no shortage of nonprofit tools that help streamline the giving process and keep you connected with donors. Here are some of the most effective fundraising platforms our nonprofit clients are using:
1. Fundraise Up
Pricing Model: Transaction Fees, No Monthly Subscription
Transaction Fee: 4%
Special feature: Machine Learning
Fundraise Up is a fantastic platform for nonprofit fundraising. With outstanding campaign pages, top-notch security features, great customer support, and easy integration into a number of other platforms, Fundraise Up simplifies and centralizes processes across a number of different fundraising activities. This includes any fundraising you do on your website, over the phone, through telethons, during events, and much more. Plus, Fundraise Up uses powerful machine learning technology to optimize your fundraising efforts.
Bonus: Integrate with HubSpot
We recommend HubSpot as a powerful CRM for our nonprofit clients, and with access to Fundraise Up as an integration, it can help supercharge your fundraising efforts. HubSpot allows you to collect and understand data about your community, created targeted marketing materials, automating your marketing efforts, and producing powerful web pages that convert. Fundraise Up can be found in the app store on HubSpot.
Pricing Model: Annual subscription + Platform Fee + Transaction Fee for Credit Cards
Annual Subscription: $3,600
Platform Fee: 3%
Credit Card Transaction Fees: 2.4% + $0.30 for PayPay/Venmo
Special Feature: Crowdfunding Campaigns
Classy is a powerful fundraising platform that maximizes impact through world-class fundraising tools that make it easier for donors to give — and generously at that. The innovators behind this platform work to modernize the giving experience and accelerate social impact for worthy causes by creating an engaging and intuitive user experience that encourages loyalty and ongoing support.
While Classy allows you to create a number of different kinds of fundraising materials such as webpages and event ticketing, the crowdfunding campaign option is especially notable. You can use Classy to tap into this powerful form of giving that is especially popular with younger donors and Gen-Z.
3. PayPal Giving Fund
Pricing Model: Transaction Fees
Transaction Fee: PayPal Covers Fees for the Giving Fund (except off-platform)
Special Feature: Ubiquity
PayPal is a great option for fundraising because it’s a powerful transaction tool that is universally recognized and trusted. It’s also great for crowdfunding campaigns, and they do offer features like campaign pages, though they do not has as many options as some other platforms listed here.
The primary drawback for the Giving Fund is that PayPal is the ultimate arbiter of donation distribution. That means that even if someone selects your organization, you may not necessarily receive those funds. However, the Giving Fund is still a great way for organizations to collection donations, provided you do not make it your sole source of income.
Pricing Model: Tiered plans with monthly fees + Platform Fees
Pricing: Pro plan at $139 a month with a 1.5% Platform Fee
Special Feature: Crypto and Stock Donations
Donorbox offers a lot of unique, modern options for connecting with your donors. Features like Text-to-Give, which allow community members to donate easily via smartphone, and crypto/stock donations provide donors with a wide variety of ways to support your cause. They help you establish a donor portal as well, allowing your members to see and interact with their giving history.
Donorbox also offers a huge catalog of resources for nonprofits to learn more about fundraising and the tools associated with it. Donorbox academy, for instance, offers free classes to upskill your organization in fundraising strategy.
5. Blackbaud (Raiser’s Edge)
Pricing model: Annual Subscription
Price: $6,000 per year
Special feature: Full website builder/CRM platform
A fully-comprehensive, cloud-based fundraising platform? The future is here, and BlackBaud’s Raiser’s Edge platform is leading the way. With multiple giving programs, flexible online donation forms, and a variety of payment options, this CRM platform helps you manage donations, donor relationships and more. They boast end-to-end gift management, AI-driven donation suggestions, and custom analytics.
6. Harness Giving
Pricing Monthly: Monthly Subscription + Donation Fees
Price: $99 a month + 1% Donation Fee for the Premier Plan
Special Feature: Impact Calculator
All-in-one fundraising platforms might sound too good to be true, but with over 2,000 clients, Harness Giving touts an easy-to-use platform for all parties involved. With a unique Impact Calculator, Harness Giving helps nonprofits connect with their stakeholders by quite literally showing them the numbers: just how much of an impact their donation has had on the community.
Pricing Model: Free
Special Feature: Social media fundraising
Facebook fundraiser is a great, no-cost tool that nonprofits can use to streamline their donation process through social media.
With the fundraising option integrated right into Facebook, users can both engage with a powerful story and donate using whatever platform they choose, including Facebook Payment, Network for Good, Paypal Giving Fund, and Razor Pay. They’re already scrolling through Facebook — so catch them where they are.
8. Google Pay
Pricing model: Free
Special Feature: Familiarity
Bringing in donations is the Big Win. But accessing those funds — and quick — is key. Google Pay is the way to go for streamlining a one-click donation process.
While it’s less of an integrated platform than, say Harness Giving or Blackbaud, it’s still a great way to collect donations. It’s particularly useful for donors that are browsing for different charities to support. You want yours to be in there. Like PayPal and Facebook, GPay is a great platform to add in order to meet as many potential donors as possible on the platforms they use the most.
Pricing Model: Free
Special Feature: Crowdfunding
The major advantage is right there in the name: it’s free. For the fundraiser, at least. FreeFunder donors are asked (but not required) to make a donation to the platform itself at check-out. Still a lesser-known platform, FreeFunder’s bread and butter is personal causes like medical treatments, but it works just as well for nonprofits — particularly smaller and community-based organizations. Features like text-to-donate, team member management, email distribution, and embedded fundraiser widgets make it easier to use than some platforms.
Pricing Model: Donations are integrated within a platform of your choice (PayPal, Stripe, etc.)
Price: 2.90% + $0.30 per transaction for Stripe (see the pricing page for info about other platforms)
RaiseDonors is an online fundraising platform that allows you to create webpages and integrate with the payment processing platform and CMS of your choice. If you’re already set up for payments through a platform like Virtuous Payments or Stripe, you can use RaiseDonors to create pages or forms to provide your online visitors with a great donation experience.
Pricing Model: Monthly Subscription + Transaction Fees
Price: $119/month for the Standard Plan. 2.90% + $0.30 Transaction Fee for Credit Cards and 1% + $0.30 for ACH
Special Feature: Full CRM
If you’re looking for a full customer relationship management platform that specializes in nonprofit fundraising, and that is especially suited for email marketing, look no further than Bloomerang. A newer player on the digital fundraising stage, Bloomerang has debuted with a bang by offering a full service CRM that includes donor databases, powerful analytics tools, and great options for personalized marketing campaigns and engagement.
Pricing model: Monthly or Quarterly Subscription + Transaction Fees
Price: $25/Month (or $60/quarter) with the Giving Essentials plan & 1.95% per Transaction + Merchant’s Fees
Special Feature: Auction Fundraising
Qgiv’s platform offers a lot of options for managing different kinds of fundraising campaigns, from the standard donation forms and pages to specialized options like peer-to-peer fundraising and text-to-donate. They also have support for silent auctions and mobile bidding. With Qgiv, you use a merchant such as WorldPay to collect online donations, so their pricing model will reflect Qgiv’s 1.95% transaction fee plus whatever the merchant charges as well.
Pricing Model: Free to open a store + Processing Fees for donations
Price: 8% Processing Fee
Special Feature: Merchandising
Bonfire is a unique platform that allows nonprofits to start selling merchandise such as t-shirts, hats, totes, and much more. It’s also completely free to start a store, and there are no monthly fees either. If you add a donation option to your store, they do charge an 8% processing fee. They also offer integration with Classy so you can add apparel to your peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns.
How to choose the best nonprofit fundraising platform for you
When thinking about fundraising tools you need to consider 3 audiences.
1. The donor
What makes them care about your mission?
How can you make the donation process easy and engaging?
How can you guarantee loyalty and return visits?
2. Your internal team that will use the tool
Campaign ideas are fun and all, but the tools you adopt should be:
- easy to set up, and
- connected with the other systems you’re using to promote and manage the campaign.
3. Your community
What’s the community you’re serving? Keeping them front and center keeps the why in mind for your organization and your potential donors.
What stories are you telling, to whom, and how can your fundraising tool help you share it more widely?
Our nonprofit fundraising experts recommend looking for tools that are under iterative improvement cycles. You want to know that the tool you choose is being tested and improved on a regular basis. If it’s not working for you, try something that does.
Small updates to user experience and workflow can make a huge difference in your donation totals, so learn about each tool’s roadmap and landing page conversion rates before you commit.
There are dozens of amazing software platforms that all have very specific use-cases and strengths, but how do they all work together, and how do you know you’re getting the most out of your tech investment?
A MarTech assessment is the answer, and it should be a regular part of your marketing investment analysis. The data can give you ideas of how to unlock better functionality and more automation within the tools you’re already using.
Nonprofit fundraising platform FAQs
Why do nonprofits need an online fundraising platform?
As the world increasingly moves online, you need to meet donors exactly where they are. With the ability to connect organizations to a wider audience, optimize campaigns, and track progress and impact, digital fundraising tools can make it easier to do just that — and more.
Leveraging technology in fundraising allows nonprofits to cast a wider net and reach more potential donors. With online donation platforms, social media, and email marketing, nonprofits can reach donors anywhere in the world with just a few clicks.
Even better, by using fundraising tools that leverage both targeted advertising and personalized messaging, nonprofits can make sure their message is reaching potential donors.
As an added bonus, online donation platforms make it easy for donors to give without having to go through the hassle of mailing a check or visiting a website.
Finally, these platforms can help nonprofits optimize their fundraising campaigns and better track their progress and impact. By using data analytics tools, nonprofits can see which appeals are working and which ones aren’t. And by tracking donor activity over time, nonprofits can identify trends and patterns that will help them make more informed decisions about their fundraising efforts and tweak their strategy.
Is GoFundMe the best nonprofit fundraising platform?
If you’ve spent any time online recently, chances are that you’ve seen someone post a GoFundMe for crowdfunding purposes.
With a simple platform that allows you to tell stories and easily track your fundraising goals, it’s no wonder this affordable platform is so popular. GoFundMe makes it easy for donors to share your cause with others through social media and make a more publicly visible impact. Turnaround is quick and they have a funding guarantee. Unlike Kickstarter, there are no deadlines or goals you must meet to get your money.
Whether it’s “the best” platform comes down to your needs. It’s a good option for nonprofits thanks to its GoFundMe Charity platform, which allows enhanced custom widget creation, fundraising data collection, flexible fee models, and custom campaign creation. During check-out, donors have the option of covering the GoFundMe processing fees.
What are the disadvantages of using GoFundMe?
While having an account is free, there are costs associated with collecting funds. GoFundMe takes a percentage cut (typically around 2.2%) and a cost-per-donation cut (around $0.30), even from nonprofit organizers. Only certain people can withdraw money from the platform, since GoFundMe requires an ITIN or SSN, a U.S. mailing address, and phone number, and a bank account that matches those things. Many countries are not yet supported by the platform. While donors can remain anonymous from public view, their information will always be visible by the campaign organizer, which could adversely affect donations.
Trust a marketing agency that specializes in nonprofits
At Big Sea, we’ve helped boost online donations for countless nonprofit organizations, and we can do the same for you. From grassroots community programs to cultural organizations to big national brands — we’ve raised hundreds of thousands.
With one look at our results, you’ll see why.