A Guide to Online Fundraising for Small Charities

online fundraising guide

Welcome to our ‘how to’ guide on how to make online fundraising a creditable revenue stream for your charity.

Now, we’re pretty new to the third sector and appreciate many of you guys have been fundraising for years. But we’re also specialists in generating business online and we know how to build a business up from an idea and a website wireframe to an organisation that’s fulfilling its objectives and more.

For small charities, success with online fundraising depends on resources – or more specifically, your ability to leverage your resources and maximise what’s available to you.

So sit back and enjoy our getting started guide to making online fundraising work for you, without the need for financial investment.

1.Getting your house in order for ‘online’

So you’ve been ambling along online for a while – posting a few tweets and writing a few blogs and news stories – but nothing is really happening.

Your online traffic isn’t going up or down, and you’re still not getting much in the way of online donations.

Ask yourself; in your organisation, who is taking responsibility for what?

Now is the time to stand back, take stock, and take a look at who’s doing what for your charity.

Conduct a Skill SWOT.

This will allow you to identify any gaps in your team’s skill set and to best assign the right person to the right job. We’ve broken down the SWOT into three mini steps:

Step 1

Revisit your org chart and jazz it up a little.

Create a profile around each of your employees and volunteers so you know what kind of person they are, what they’re good at and what interests them.

For example:

  • Name
  • Job Role
  • Belbin
  • Interests
  • Skills / Strengths
  • Weaknesses

Step 2

Next, conduct a ‘gap analysis’ and work out which online skills – such as technical website infrastructure knowledge, content marketing, social media, design – you’re lacking in the team, and where certain people’s skills and interests could make them perfect candidates for learning these new skills.

You don’t need to tick every box – we know that budgets can’t always stretch to hiring for experts in all areas. But there are plenty of free online tools available to help relevant team members broaden their knowledge and subsequently their responsibilities.

Position this as an opportunity for your employees and volunteers. After all, work should be challenging and if you’re not learning, you’re not growing!

Once you’ve decided which team members will self-teach which skills, update their employee profile and make sure everyone can see where everyone stands and where they’re focusing their efforts.

Step 3

Allocate a certain day or time for your nominated team members to start their online training. Empower them to take time out of their own week to learn and practice new skills.

Here are three resources we use to help our team upskill and keep up to date with the latest online trends:

  1. Udemyhttps://www.udemy.com/ – a combination of free and really cheap courses in pretty much every area imaginable.
  2. Hubpot – https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing – these guys are experts in inbound marketing and their blog is awesome.
  3. Mozhttps://moz.com/blog – these guys are technical web and SEO experts and their blog should be your first port of call for answers to most SEO questions.

2.Harness the power of your online communities

Are your employees and volunteers on board?

Online fundraising – just like any online commodity – demands an organisation-wide approach and employee buy in to ensure that everyone understands what you’re trying to do and why. As advocates of your charity, your employees and volunteers should always feel ‘at one’ with your goals and objectives. This united front will also guarantee your charity an aligned social reputation – as like it or not, people talk, and it’s important that you’re all on the same page.

You know how important your volunteers are but does the rest of the world truly appreciate their selfless good deeds?

Why not ask your volunteers to document parts of their day by taking and sharing pictures, comments and success stories online? If your charity or sector permits this kind of transparency and openness, celebrate it.

Are your trustees engaged?

We all respond positively to positive leadership and respect value-adding expertise. The people with influence and decision making power in your charity need to be seen to be leading from the front, and making their presence known both inside and outside of your organisation.

People engage with people and you of course want potential donators and your employees and volunteers to feel compelled to engage with your charity because of the values you promote and the good causes you stand for.

Try holding events and talks with your trustees. Document any discussions, presentations and organisational successes on your website and on social media, and ensure that the world can see how you’re tackling important issues.

Are your trustees on Facebook, Twitter or Linked In? Why not ask them to write a small piece on recent industry developments or your charity’s progress and share it themselves?

People buy in to people; and transparency in the third sector has recently been hailed as one of the most poignant donation drivers in a UK fundraising survey by Savoo. People want to know more about who they’re donating to, who is distributing the support and how their money is being spent.

Get your trustees out there and don’t be afraid to share news and views online.

Are you making the most out of your partnerships?

A partnership is about collaboration, alliance and affiliation. We pick our partners wisely in life because we know that we only want to be associated with the best, and we want to partner with people or organisations that make us better.

So harness the power of your partnerships!

You all have social media accounts, no doubt, and you all have similar interests – of course. So why not join forces and run concurrent competitions and campaigns?! Get involved and help to promote each other’s cause. Ask your partners to help you raise awareness about special days that mean something to you and your charity, and offer to do the same for them.

Don’t be afraid to ask the favour – you’ve got nothing to lose. And just a little collaboration can have impactful results for both you and your partners. Plus you’ll get to learn more about the types of content and stories your online audience is most interested in through the amount of engagement your posts receive.

3.Use the right online channels in the right ways

All success online is about targeting, timing and context. To boost your online donations, you’ll need to leverage the skills you have in-house, find a way to introduce the ones you don’t, and empower your communities to help you raise awareness of the fantastic work you do.

It’s all about raising your profile with the aim of boosting community fundraising on the right online channels.

But which channel to choose? What is each channel good for? And when should you be using them?

Facebook and Twitter

Facebook and Twitter are great for engaging new supporters and funnelling them towards your donation site.

Remember not to flood your channels with too many posts but also remember that garnering donations through these channels is a long term strategy. You won’t be inundated with website traffic and donations immediately and posting too much will likely lose you followers rather than boost engagement.

It’s up to you to find the right balance and discover what volume of social interaction works for you.

Savoo posts once or twice a day on Facebook, and up to five times per day on Twitter – not including retweets or engagement with third party posts which is fundamental to nurturing an online community of supporters. Remember it’s important to listen and respond to the interests and needs of others rather than just talk about what you want people to know about you.

One of the greatest things about these channels is that if someone likes your charity on Facebook, for example, it could encourage their friends to like it too, or sponsor an event or donate to your cause. We are all influenced by our friends more than we realise.


We should all be blogging! And when it comes to this enjoyable expression of personality, remember quality is far more important than quantity.

Savoo posts one or two blogs a week which gives us plenty of time to promote our posts. There’s no point spending all week writing and having no time to tell anyone your post is out there!

Remember a blog is not an opportunity to overtly promote your cause or ask for anything. Yes, you can discuss campaigns that you are running or events you have held by all means; but the focus should be on information sharing first, and possible sign ups and donations second. If people like your content enough they’ll support you.

If you’ve not got a content person in-house, why not set up a rota that allocates all employees and volunteers a week each in which to write about anything they want – whether its ‘a day in the life’ diary about their role, a case study about something that’s moved them, a write-up about a specific sector awareness date or a subtle promotion about an event or success story in house. If you choose this method it may be wise to nominate somebody grammatically confident to give the posts a quick once-over to check for any mistakes and ensure a degree of tonal consistency before each post goes live.

Once each post is up, don’t forget to share on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and Google + and ask your fellow employees and volunteers to share with their own family and friends.

Use free online tools and platforms

Institute of Fundraising’s digital media manager, Tom Lodziac recommends that small charities take advantage of the plethora of low cost, secure online fundraising tools, and Savoo agrees.

But be beware of any time consuming ‘partnerships’ or involvement with tricky online support platforms that promise to drive donations but demand significant involvement from your charity.

Check what is involved before you sign up for any multi-posting tools or online fundraising platforms. Your time is precious and you want to invest in something that frees up more time whilst driving donations rather than something that takes away from your precious existing time.

For more information on the benefits of online fundraising platforms check out Fundraising.co.uk

If you’d like to discuss online fundraising in more detail, get in touch with a Savoo expert on 0203 005 7500.

If you’d like to find out more about signing up to free online fundraising tools, find out how Savoo works for charities.

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