6 questions that will help you spot the right fundraising platform in any crowd

September 21, 2021
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As a charity, you can’t ignore the potential of online fundraising – but with so many platform choices, how do you find the one that’s right for you? Well, that depends entirely on you – specifically, your organisation’s unique situation, needs and goals.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, and many charities work with more than one platform, but a few well-chosen questions can help you make the smart choice – for you!

1. Where are your supporters?

Your support base might be local, national or even international. And wow – that’s a massive decider right there. Do you want to limit your campaign to a regional hotspot or throw it open wide?

If you regularly receive donations from overseas (or want to go next-level in your geographic reach), you’re going to need a platform that can handle cross-border donations. And more than that, can donors give in their own currency? The more they feel at home on your platform of choice, the more likely they are to give.

Enabling international donations may seem less crucial if you’re a local charity, but hey – you never know. Your supporters may be local, but consider the massive reach their friends or family anywhere in the world could give you. It’s part of the incredible power of online fundraising: people on opposite sides of the world can work together to make a difference.

2. Can they handle the volume you need?

Donations often come in spikes: think of big days of giving like Giving Tuesday or Mandela Day, or major events like the Boston Marathon. The latter event has raised $11 million US and counting in online donations alone this year. If you expect to raise a lot of money through online crowdfunding (and you absolutely should!), you need a platform that can process, distribute and manage (slice, dice and report on) large amounts all at once.

3. What do they offer beyond fundraising?

If you just need somewhere for your supporters to donate and fundraise for you (and that’s fine) you could use any fundraising platform. But many of the top platforms now give users new ways to supercharge their fundraising. Want some of what they’re having, for free? Think live stream fundraising, which became a thing during the pandemic when in-person events were cancelled. It makes great sense – giving supporters a way to fundraise directly from their favourite streaming service can be a huge boost, especially now that mass participation events are returning and experimenting with combining real-world and online participation.  

All these options matter, but so does the way you use them. Some crowdfunding platforms give charities the tools and then let them sink or swim, which can work great for established charities with dedicated marketing teams of their own. Others provide personalised white-glove service to give charities of all sizes a running start. If you want help developing custom campaigns or encouraging your supporters to fundraise, look for a platform that will work with you – one that puts you in touch with a real person, not an automated chatbot.

4. Can you count on the platform to last?

We’re all familiar with the big names in charity crowdfunding, but as BT MyDonate’s experience proved, not even the biggest ones are geared for longevity in the charity arena, which requires special and dedicated focus. Then there’s a dizzying selection of start-ups and challengers out there. It’s easy to find a new crowdfunding platform promising you everything, but betting on an unknown comes with a lot of risks – and if they fail, what happens to the money you have raised?

What you want is a tried and trusted fundraising platform with a strong track record showing dedication to charity fundraising.

But beware – age isn’t everything. Virgin Money Giving is closing after 12 years in operation, leaving hundreds of small charities in need of a new crowdfunding partner. And when a for-profit crowdfunding platform stops being profitable, or a non-profit platform struggles to meet its running costs, its owners can simply wind it up – whether it’s a first year start-up or an established company.

GivenGain is different, offering the assurance of a long-established track record, a dedicated focus on non-profits, and the permanence of a foundation. The platform and all the donations made through it are managed by the GivenGain Foundation, a charitable foundation registered in Switzerland. Under Swiss law, GivenGain can’t be sold or shut down.

5. How much will it cost?

Some fundraising platforms will try anything to make money. They may levy a fixed or variable fee on donations, or ask donors to “tip the platform”. They might charge money transfer fees. Or they might decide to place premium features behind a paywall. Figuring out how much a particular platform will cost can be tricky and will depend a lot on how you use it.

With GivenGain, you can put the calculator away. We charge a 5% fee on donations, which donors can offer to cover themselves – and more than 90% of them do. That’s it. No hidden fees, and everyone gets all the features. GivenGain is supported by its founders and the Humanstate Group with the objective of empowering global giving, so locking smaller or newer charities out of powerful fundraising features isn’t an option.

6. What do other charities say?

Platforms can promise a lot, but at the end of the day it’s how they make their users feel that really counts. Talk to other charity professionals. What do they say about the platforms they use? What do they like and dislike? Do they feel safe and valued? Because that’s everything – that and all those lovely donations to help those you care for!

GivenGain doesn’t try to be everything to everyone – that would be madness. But we do go above and beyond to make sure that the charities that use us and the ones in their care couldn’t be happier.

"GivenGain's easy-to-use tools enable fundraisers to take charge of their online fundraising while keeping administrative tasks to a minimum, allowing us to focus on what matters most."

Frederique Badin, Missing Children Europe

We hope that covers the most important questions, but if you have any more please contact Robyn (robyn@givengain.com) who is ready and waiting with the answers.