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Fundraising

30+ Top online fundraising ideas for 2021 and beyond

Learn innovative ways to fundraise using virtual platforms and resources!

30+ Top Online Fundraising Ideas for 2021 and Beyond

Online giving grew by over 12% over the past year proving that online fundraising strategies and tactics are non-negotiable for organizations looking to grow and expand their missions. 

After undergoing a tumultuous year that rapidly transformed the way in which we live our lives, many organizations had to ask themselves how to sustain the growth they had prior to the pandemic. 

For many, the answer was creating online fundraisers to help organizations achieve their goals and continue the community work when it was needed most. 

At Mobilize, we’ve helped organizations of all sizes drive millions of supporter interactions. We know what it takes to attract, engage, and retain online supporters. Check out a few of our favorite ideas that will take your fundraising to the next level. 

Online Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofit Campaigns:

When it comes to fundraising, studies show that nonprofits of various sizes miss out on a lot of potential revenue. According to Double the Donation, as long as demographics change, corporate giving continues to grow, and mobile web browsing dominates, nonprofits need to make related considerations as they iterate on their fundraising strategies. 

These low-cost, time-saving online fundraising ideas for nonprofit campaigns will help donations flow in as you use the power of the web to expand your reach and expand your organization’s supporter base.

1. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising 

Peer-to-peer fundraising is just one tactic that is rising in popularity when it comes to charitable giving. But what is it? Peer-to-peer fundraising is individual crowdfunding organized and executed by your supporters. 

This method is effective because your supporters will execute fundraising campaigns on your organization’s behalf while tapping into their own networks and relationships. Nearly $400 was raised online per individual supporter who participated in peer-to-peer fundraising for organizations and causes. 

Be sure to encourage and motivate your supporters as they set up fundraising pages for your organization. Having themed peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns will help your supporters align on a common goal and motivate them to raise money in collaboration with your supporters.

The creation of such pages are simple and easy to integrate into your existing data set when you use platforms that offer fundraising features like Mobilize. 

2. Crowdfunding Campaigns

Another fundraising tactic that has become increasingly popular is virtual crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is a very efficient way to raise money with minimal set-up and effort. You are able to create a campaign around a specific need and share that message to the masses with the click of a button.

Social media promotion can be used to spread awareness about your organization or mission so you can get the attention of the public. The public can then be directed to contribute through donations using a virtual crowdfunding program, which provides a simple and easy process for individuals to donate funds to a campaign. 

Find some examples of successful nonprofit crowdfunding campaigns here.

3. Online Challenge Campaigns

Viral challenges have spread rapidly across social media channels over the years, garnering millions to billions of views and donations for mission-driven fundraisers. Challenges are highly engaging, as they ask the public to partake in a variety of activities in support of a particular movement or organization. 

These individuals can then donate money, share their participation on social media, and/or nominate their peers to participate in the challenge. If you’d like to join this ever-growing trend and tap into the resources that are offered by virtual visibility, think of creative challenges and launch a social media campaign. 

For example, you might launch a pushup challenge or an ice plunge. Get the word out, get people involved, and start fundraising!

4. Volunteer Grant Drives

Volunteer grants are corporate giving programs where corporations appropriate funds to nonprofit organizations based on their volunteer base and eligibility. Volunteers at your organization may be employed by organizations that participate in these programs!

Through this method of fundraising, the valuable time and effort that volunteers put into your nonprofit can be translated into beneficial funds for your organization. Spread awareness about corporate grants amongst your volunteer base, and encourage them to inquire about the resources offered by their corporations. 

This can all be done through internal and external campaigns where communications are sent to existing and potential volunteers. These can ask active and inquiring volunteers to consult with their employers about grant opportunities, and report back via survey. 

5. In-Kind Wishlist Drives

While various organizations require financial funds, there is a need for non-financial resources. In-Kind donations are non-cash donations made to nonprofit organizations by businesses, corporations, or individuals. The types of donations that can be made involve graphic design for a logo, event space, or even accounting services. 

Similar to cash fundraising drives, an organization can advertise its needs through social media campaigns and fundraising platforms. For example, an organization can develop an online pledge form, where individuals can pledge to contribute an advertised service or good. 

6. Online Auctions

An auction is a fun event that can be successfully applied to online platforms. It’s a fruitful and engaging event that has had great success for nonprofit, charity, and other organization’s fundraising goals. 

When planning an online auction, organizers can invite participants to join a live-streaming platform at a specific date and time. Similar to any auction held in-person, attendees can enjoy placing bids on items being showcased and do their part to contribute to the goals and wellbeing of your organization. 

7. Online “Buy Local” Sales

Local businesses are often one of the primary supporters of nonprofit organizations, thus forming sustainable partnerships between your organization and local businesses is crucial. One way to develop these mutually beneficial partnerships is through “Buy Local” Sales. 

Through partnerships, an organization can sell gift certificates for purchases at local businesses. In turn, local businesses will provide these certificates at a lower cost to organizations, so that they can raise funds, and these businesses will receive public recognition and advertising opportunities. 

Online Fundraising Ideas for Awareness and Giving Days 

Throughout the year, there are plenty of days that have been dedicated to spreading awareness for various important causes and events. These days are intended to attract the attention of the general public, inform them on the importance of a cause and what they can do to support it. 

From using existing days of awareness and giving, to launching a day-specific awareness campaign, there are various ways to virtually fundraise using strategic tactics. 

1. Social Media Campaigns and Contests

Social media is one of the biggest platforms for communication around the world. On Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, billions of people use social media to share and consume information. 

With the massive audience offered by social platforms, launching a social media campaign can be a simple and highly effective way to get your organization’s name out there. By posting creative content on social media that directs attention to the core mission of your organization and the support that it needs, viewers can be compelled to contribute to the cause and/or share the post with peers in order to reach even larger audiences.

Embedding contests within social media campaigns is a highly effective way to engage audiences, raise awareness, and generate funds. One example of a social media contest is a raffle. An organization can advertise a raffle contest, where participants are asked to share an awareness post and/or donate for a chance to win a prize. If you want to get started on organizing a social media contest, look for some more ideas on Wishpond!

2. Social Media Takeovers 

A social media takeover is a highly personal way to showcase the faces behind your organization’s work and those that advocate for the cause. When organizing a takeover, one must decide on the network and the people that will be featured. Various social media platforms, such as facebook and instagram, have live streaming and story capabilities, where employees and/or featured guests can share information with your organization’s audience. 

This is an opportunity for members of your organization to personally deliver messages and interact with audiences regarding awareness and fundraising through wide-reaching social media engagement.

3. Text-to-Give

In recent years, especially during the pandemic, methods of virtual giving have been increasingly used by organizations. A low-effort method of fundraising is Text-to-Give donations. Various platforms allow donors to text a dollar amount to a designated number and then receive a link which allows them to enter the financial information required to donate. 

Double the Donation has put together a list of Text-to-Give platforms that will give your organization a jumpstart on accepting donations through text.

4. Peer-to-Peer Recruiting 

Peer-to-Peer recruiting makes use of existing relationships to increase the size of donor networks. Your existing network is made up of people and organizations that you trust. You can trust them to recommend others to support your mission. To further the spread of awareness, you can advise current supporters to share your message with their friends, families, and peers. 

Many virtual platforms, such as Mobilize, offer features that allow those who sign up for an event to invite friends via sending a link. At critical moments in the event signup process, supporters are prompted to bring friends with them. 

More than 14% of registrations come from these automated prompts, and 22% of people who register in a month do so at least once from a bring-a-friend invite. This is a simple process that holds the potential to substantially increase your number of supporters without significant effort.

5. Pledge Drives

A pledge drive is a fundraising event that occurs over an extended period of time where supporters “pledge” or promise to donate a specific amount of money. For example, an individual may make a pledge to donate $10 per month over the course of 6 months to support your campaign. 

The drive can be created and promoted using virtual resources for advertising, communication, and fundraising transactions. Social media posts can get the message out, email and phone calls can be used to establish contact, and online fundraising platforms can be used to collect donations.

6. Email Blasts 

Direct communication through email is a great way to engage your supporters, especially when generating awareness around specific days or bringing attention to fundraising needs. When creating an email blast, it is important to craft emails in specific ways to fit certain audiences, also known as segmenting

One can organize email tiers according to supporter geographical location, giving status, program interest, and other classifications, in order to facilitate maximum engagement. Marketing studies have shown that segmented email practices tend to increase fundraising revenue. 

When developing a message, make sure your email and subject line is clear, concise, and engaging. That way, readers will immediately understand your desired message and what it is asking of them. 

7. Online Raffles

An online raffle gives your network the opportunity to purchase tickets for a chance to win prizes, while simultaneously helping to fund an organization that they advocate for and support. In the planning stages of organizing a raffle, various online platforms can be used to conduct raffles, which provide smooth and easy processes for both organizers and participants.

Figure out which platform works best for your organization, and make use of virtual channels of communication, such as social media and email, to spread awareness and inform potential participants on the details of the event. 

Online Fundraising Ideas for Ongoing Fundraising

Maintaining financial stability is crucial for any organization’s success and longevity. Establishing engaging fundraising methods for year-round revenue generation is one of the fundamental pathways to achieving steady supporter engagement and funding. Here are some ideas to spur successful and consistent fundraising activity at your organization.

1. Online Giving Pages 

Creating a giving page on your organization or campaign webpage can generate a passive flow of revenue through visitor donations. When designing this page, it is important to present all of the necessary information to the page’s visitors, such as your organization’s mission and what their donation goes towards. That way, potential donors are informed about the organization’s activity and how their contribution will benefit the overall mission.

The creation of an online giving page will give your organization or campaign the ability to accept donations consistently and passively throughout the years. Check out Personify for a detailed step-by-step guide on how to start your giving page.

Platforms such as Mobilize help bridge together the gap between your organization’s mission-driven activities (like volunteer work) and your fundraising activities. Check out our blog post about converting volunteers into donors here

2. Corporate Matching Gifts

Many corporations have established programs where they will match donations made by their employees to nonprofits. This can often increase the financial donation amount by 2x, making a positive impact on the wellbeing of organizations and allow for increased resources and overall potential. 

Awareness is key to accessing corporate matching gift programs, since your supporters may not know about the programs offered by their employers. To spark interest, send out communications, social media posts, or even start a campaign asking for supporters to inquire about matching gifts at their places of employment. Engaging with corporate matching programs allows for additional fundraising potential and strengthened partnerships between nonprofits and corporations.  

3. DIY Peer-to-Peer Fundraising 

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising involves supporters of an organization reaching out to their peers on its behalf. These individuals often seek friends, family, co-workers, and anyone that they may know in order to garner additional support. Peer-to-peer fundraising can occur in the form of supporters sharing social media posts, giving pages, or event registration information with their peers. 

Mobilize makes this process easy, as you can create social sharing options for supporters to share social media posts, links to webpages, and events! 

Nonprofit organizations and campaigns have made significant use of this particular fundraising method because of its proven effectiveness. With the expansive range of virtual communication and social media, peer-to-peer fundraising can generate an immense amount of funding from the networks of your existing supporters. 

4. Community Partnerships

Fostering healthy and valuable relationships with members of a community that share a common goal is an integral part of an organization’s or campaign’s success. Partnerships allow for the mutual expansion of support bases, collaboration on projects, and the sharing of information. 

Partnerships within the community can also serve to enhance an organization’s image and visibility, which can open the door for future benefits. Reach out in your community and find schools, churches, businesses, and other organizations that share your vision and goals in order to build together.

Helpful virtual tools include Mobilize’s cross-promotion feature, which allows you to promote another organization or business’ events on your feed and help to share their mission!

5. Merchandise Sales

Supporters are happy to represent your organization, and what better way is there than branded merchandise? There is room for creativity when designing merchandise. Your organization can make shirts, sweatshirts, water bottles, key chains, and a variety of other products that display the name, logo, or specific campaign. 

To sell these products, you can advertise to existing networks and post on social channels to get the word out. Adding a store to your organization’s website can offer a centralized place for those who are interested in purchasing their desired merchandise. Merchandise sales are great ways to raise funds, advertise your organization, and give your supporters something cool to wear or use!

6. Google Ad Grants 

Google Ad Grants essentially give your nonprofit free advertising money! For example, through the use of Google Ads, your organization’s web page can appear at the top of google search results which can generate between 200-300 online visitors per day. 

Under Google’s policy, nonprofits and charities are entitled to $10,000 worth of advertising per month, all at no cost. This free service can increase potential audience size, website traffic, and donations for your organization. To learn more about Google Ad Grants and marketing strategies, check out Jason Williams digital marketing. 

7. Membership of Recurring Donation Perks

Offering perks for membership or recurring donations to your organization / campaign can serve to incentivize consistent engagement and reward those who have given their support. Various inclusions can be add to your organization’s membership packages or contribution tiers that can garner interest and prompt people to make a commitment. 

Based on ability, perks can range from recurring newsletters and branded merchandise to discounts or gift cards for products and venues. Whether large or small, providing perks to members is a good way to demonstrate mutual gratitude.

Virtual-Friendly Online Fundraising Ideas

When organizations develop a consistent engagement strategy around their networks, financial and volunteer support skyrockets. Retaining a healthy supporter base is crucial in providing the resources necessary for the continuation of a mission. Through the productive and strategic use of virtual technology, your organization can source funds in innovative and engaging ways.

1. Virtual Galas and Celebrations

Hosting a virtual gala or celebration is a fun way to facilitate engagement and raise funds, as donors can participate from any location through the use of centralized, online platforms. In addition to reaching larger audiences, virtual galas have proven to be far more cost-effective than in-person events, as there is limited need to rent event space, purchase food and beverages, and other overhead costs.

Live streamed or pre-recorded video can be used to showcase presenters, beneficiaries, or board members to a respective audience. Create a virtual gala that engages supporters, advances goals, and brings everyone together to convene and contribute to and celebrate the efforts of your organization. Mobilize makes this process easy by integrating fundraising features into the event management platform so that donors can contribute directly to your next event!

2. Virtual Runs and Walkathons 

Virtual Runs and Walkathons are great ways to motivate people to get active while contributing to your organization’s cause. When organizing such an event, participant registration can be done using online platforms that offer fundraising features, such as Mobilize! Here are a few tips to make the most of the virtual event, create an enjoyable experience for participants, and raise funds. 

Within a registration fee, organizers can include a running gear package that contains event apparel, a reusable water bottle, snacks, bells or anything that participants will need to complete their race or motivate others. Keeping in mind that some individuals may not physically be able to participate, this package is an all encompassing way to get everyone involved and included.

3. Live-Stream Telethons 

While telethons have often been televised, live streaming capabilities offer a wide range of activities to occur from many different locations with ease. A telethon is a fundraising event that can involve live entertainment, prominent figure features, or beneficiary interviews, all aimed at identifying a certain cause and acquiring pledges for donations. 

With the massive outreach provided by virtual events and the efficiency of online fundraising features, organizing a telethon can be an effective and exciting method of fundraising for your organization / campaign.

4. Virtual Happy Hours 

Virtual Happy Hours can be fun, relationship-building activities that invite organizations and their supporters to convene and participate in discussion and activities, all while sharing beverages. These events can occur through the use of video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom or Webex.

The Happy Hour can easily be transformed into an engaging fundraising event with various incentivizing inclusions. For example, potential attendees can be prompted to purchase tickets as a donation for entry into the event. The event can even include cocktail tutorials or dish recipes to give back to participants and facilitate additional engagement and fun. Learn more about how to organize and run your own virtual happy hour even here!

5. Online Viewing Parties

An online viewing party can bring an organization’s supporters, donors, and volunteers together to watch any event such as an award ceremony, gala, or film. Organizers can create vibrant digital invitations, at-home food and cocktail recipes, and even a suggested dress code.

 As a fundraising event, the event can be treated as a trip to the movie theater, where potential attendees can be asked to pay an admission fee as a contribution. Such ideas can make attendees forget that the event is virtual and create a lively atmosphere surrounding its purpose and the overall mission. 

6. Community Roundtables

Community Roundtables involve structured conversations between designated speakers and audiences centered around a particular subject matter. This is an opportunity for important information to be relayed and questions to be answered regarding organizational activities, the current state of the community, and the pursuit of mutual goals. 

These discussions can occur seamlessly over virtual conferencing platforms, such as Zoom, with webinar features. This allows for speakers to address the audience and answer questions provided the Q&A features. 

To learn more about the capabilities of these virtual features, click here for information on webinars and here for information on the Zoom integration on Mobilize!

7. Virtual Game Tournaments

Fundraise with fun and competition by organizing a virtual game tournament! Event planning and ticket fundraising can be made simple using online platforms. Participants can use sporting facilities or gaming equipment in their local areas and homes. Choose a game/sport, whether physical or virtual, and establish a date for the event. 

Participants can form teams within their local bubbles and compete against each other in support of your organization’s cause. Portions of the tournament can be live-streamed for those who are not able to participate or those who want to stay up to date on who is topping the leaderboards! For additional information on e-sport events, check out Bravous.

8. Multi-Day Online Conferences 

Online conferences provide the opportunity for peer organizations, supporters, and the general public to interact with nonprofit or campaign leaders. They can provide industry news and insight on internal functions and current events. Topics covered during previous nonprofit conferences have involved fundraising, leadership, technology, and organizational prioritization. 

Such an event can foster partnerships between like-minded organizations and communities, which can be beneficial to future projects, such as fundraising and awareness campaigns! 

9. Virtual Book Club 

A book club is one way to gather and promote conversation among your network. Book clubs often involve planned group meetings where participants discuss books that are a part of a designated reading list. 

While in-person book clubs meet in designated locations, such as libraries or private homes, hosting such an event on a virtual platform allows for increased participation among members that may be in various geographic locations. This is an opportunity for applied creativity, as you can craft a booklist that aligns with your organization’s mission.

10. Online Lessons 

Those who support your organization are likely open to additional resources that can assist them with a range of things, from aspects of community organizing to community engagement. Offering virtual lessons is a highly engaging practice that can educate supporters and members of the community on a wide range of topics. 

Lessons can be centered around topics associated with your organization in order to provide additional clarity and understanding among participants. Class topics can include political activism, environmental conservation, urban planning, or anything that is deemed mutually valuable. Virtual classes are mutually beneficial, as participants are given learning opportunities and your organization maintains engagement with members near and far.

Online Fundraising Crash Course 

We’ve shared 30+ innovative ways to fundraise using virtual platforms. When putting these suggestions into practice, there are several elements that will make your fundraising efforts successful. Here is an outline of the necessary steps for creating a successful online fundraising campaign.

Planning & Development

Establish a concrete outline of the objectives of your fundraiser. This involves the promoted cause, the size of the fundraiser, and the overall financial goal. For example, a preliminary plan would entail an organization wanting to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer with a dedicated supporter base of 50,000 and a desired financial goal of $125,000.

Fundraising Method

Choose a fundraising idea that caters to the cause being promoted and the desired goals. Do you want to promote year-long engagement, raise awareness during a specific time frame, or reach audiences near and far? These are important details that need to be considered when making a decision about the form of your fundraiser. Pick from the list of ideas that we have provided, or brainstorm other creative ways! 

Virtual Platforms & Marketing

The virtual world has plenty of platforms to facilitate your online fundraising effort, from online conferencing technology to social media outreach. With capabilities such as registration, promotion, donations, and more, today’s online platforms have made it easier for you to run your events more efficiently and effectively. Mobilize’s centralized platform is constantly adding features to improve the success of your organization. To learn more about how you can use Mobilize to create your next fundraising event, get a demo today!


For additional resources and tips on event management, fundraising, and all things associated with virtual engagement, explore the Mobilize blog.

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