Online fundraising has evolved over the years, and this evolution has resulted in new types of software and resources that nonprofits can use to further their progress. But with these advancements come some challenges.

Online fundraising is an easy and convenient way to gather donations for your organization’s cause, but it’s important to meet the challenges associated with it head-on. From engaging donors on the move to finding the right software, there are many avenues you can take to be successful.

In this article, we’ll discuss the following challenges you may face as well as how to overcome them:

  1. Finding the right platform.
  2. Telling your story.
  3. Asking for donations.
  4. Finding new donors.
  5. Reaching a standstill.
  6. Making donors feel appreciated.

Keeping up with the evolution of online fundraising is important. Once you have the resources to push past the obstacles that come with online fundraising, you’ll be set! Read on to explore each one in more detail.

Challenge #1: Finding the right platform.

The first big online fundraising challenge you’ll encounter involves investing in the right platform. The tools you incorporate into your fundraising strategy can impact your results, so it’s essential to take a look at the options available to you.

When searching for the right platform, you should:

  • Do your research. Think about safety, PCI-compliance, and customer service. Does the platform you’re considering keep donor information safe? Does it offer helpful support and training to your staff? Make sure you have a responsive support team that can help troubleshoot any issues and a platform that keeps information secure.
  • Find one that fits your needs. What features does your organization need? If you’re looking to plan an online auction, want multiple donation forms, or intend to run a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign, be sure your platform supports those strategies.

Putting in sufficient research and thinking about what your organization needs in its platform will help you overcome this first challenge. For some help to get you started, check out Qgiv’s list of top online donation tools.

Challenge #2: Telling your story.

Online fundraising campaigns are not compelling unless they’re based on a great story. Telling your organization’s story in a way that appeals to donors’ emotions and shows the impact they can make is the key to a successful campaign. Humans are naturally inspired to be generous when they read heartfelt stories, and stories make them more likely become more invested in your cause long term. Give your donors what they want by:

  • Talking about your organization’s goals. What can they achieve by donating to you? What have past donors already achieved? How can your supporters make an impact in the future?
  • Using visuals. Humans are also driven by visuals. Create a compelling video to highlight the work your organization does. Display a photo gallery on your website and on your social media pages showing volunteers working hard and the beneficiaries you’re helping.
  • Being honest. People are more likely to give to nonprofits and their causes when they are given specific information about how their gift will be used and how past gifts have made a difference. Offer as much information as you can to appeal to your viewers’ empathy so that they fully understand the importance of joining you in your work.

By being open with your supporters and explaining the good they can achieve by giving, you can overcome the obstacle of connecting with your donors on a deeper level. The more genuine your stories are, the more successful your fundraiser will be.

Challenge #3: Asking for donations.

Explicitly asking for donations is one of the biggest challenges of online fundraising. Making asks can feel awkward or self-promotional, but actually asking is an absolute must if you’re going to raise the funds that you need to work toward your mission. If you bury your requests in your content or if you’re not clear about what you’re asking donors to do, your fundraising will suffer.

Keep these strategies in mind when asking for donations:

  • Think about the recipients. Rather than tell donors about your organization’s needs, tell them about your clients’ needs. They are the beneficiaries of your cause and should be the focus of your campaign.
  • Make donors feel good about giving. Show your donors how their contributions will make a difference. This will make them feel good about giving and help them understand the impact their gifts can make.
  • Optimize your donation form. Make your donation form easy to use. Limit the number of fields in the form itself so donors don’t have to spend too much time on it (otherwise, they may abandon the form altogether). Make sure it reflects your organization’s brand, which will help instill trust in your supporters, and that it’s mobile responsive. This way, your donors can easily access the form from any device.

One of the simplest ways to steward donors is to optimize your donation process. Offering options on your donation form like recurring giving and suggested gift amounts often encourages donors to give more than they initially intended. 

If you make the giving process convenient and simple, donors are more likely to interact with your nonprofit and give in larger amounts.

Challenge #4: Finding new donors.

While an easy donation process can encourage your current donors to give, you also need to keep in mind the potential donors you haven’t reached. Finding new donors is a true challenge for many organizations! But, with the right tools and resources, you can overcome this issue.

When attempting to find new donors, consider these avenues:

  • Peer-to-peer fundraising. Peer-to-peer fundraising is a powerful social giving method where nonprofits recruit their supporters to fundraise on their behalf. Through this approach, you can expand your donor circle to include new audiences through your supporters’ personal networks. For more information on this fundraising strategy, check out Qgiv’s guide to peer-to-peer fundraising.
  • Social media. Keep your social media pages updated with information about your organization, ways to give, and other engagement opportunities. This can inspire supporters to share your content to their own feeds, which results in further outreach to new supporters.
  • Events. Host engaging events to attract both current supporters and their friends! Events like walkathons, auctions, and other fundraisers can be a great way to mingle, meet new supporters, and form long-term relationships with your constituents.

With the right platform, you can create a peer-to-peer fundraiser that expands your outreach by more than you thought was possible. Through events and social media, you’ll be able to build more awareness around your online fundraising campaigns and keep people involved in your cause.

All it takes to overcome the challenge of finding new donors is being consistent in your approach and outreach. Forge those connections and find new supporters for life!

Challenge #5: Reaching a standstill.

Even after you’ve gotten your online fundraising campaign started and have raised funds for a certain amount of time, there’s always the chance that your campaign will come to a standstill. How can you overcome this (or even better, avoid it completely)?

Try the following:

  • Post consistent updates. Post updates on your fundraiser as often as you can to keep people engaged. Make sure your reports include impact statements about what donors have achieved so far! This could even inspire follow-up donations if you communicate that you’re nearing your goal.
  • Use gamification. Running a campaign like a peer-to-peer fundraiser can be enhanced with gamification tools. For example, fundraising thermometers are a great tool to use that motivate people to participate and donate in order to reach the top goal.
  • Make your asks engaging. You can do this by segmenting your donor database and personalizing your outreach based on their giving history and your relationship with them. As mentioned earlier, asking for donations can be difficult, so re-engaging your supporters with the right type of communication can make a huge difference.

Reaching a standstill with your online fundraiser may feel discouraging, but there are ways to re-engage your supporters and keep the momentum going. Be sure to keep everyone updated on your progress, report their impact, and show them how close you are to reaching your goal!

Challenge #6: Making donors feel appreciated.

A little appreciation goes a long way, but nonprofits often neglect personally thanking their donors for their contribution. Don’t fall into that trap! Thanking donors effectively is the #1 way to keep them engaged and earn future gifts. Keep your relationships strong by making them feel appreciated and showing them the impact they’ve made in their community.

For example, you can:

  • Publicize your thanks on social media. Give your supporters a shout-out on your social media pages! People love being recognized for their generosity, so make it public. If you do this, make sure your donors are okay with it, first!
  • Thank them immediately. Your supporters should quickly receive a thank-you message from your nonprofit. This can be automatically triggered via email and mail merge tools. However, sending a handwritten note as a follow-up goes a long way to show your appreciation.
  • Show them what their gift accomplished. Donors don’t give because they love your organization; they give because they want to make a difference. If you want to earn future gifts from your donors, make sure you show them that supporting you is an effective way to help their community.

The little things mean a lot, and going the extra mile to personally thank your donors is a great way to keep your donors involved with your organization in the future. From there, you’ll be on your way to forming great relationships and successfully working with your donors to further your mission!

You may encounter these challenges when you fundraise online. In fact, you probably will! But once you have the tools and resources to overcome them, you’ll be ready to take on anything. Start with finding the right platform, and then dive deeper into each step you need to take.

If you’re looking for some of the top fundraising software to help you get started, check out this list.

About the Author

Photo of Abby JarvisAbby Jarvis is the Nonprofit Education Manager for Qgiv, an online fundraising service provider. Qgiv offers industry-leading online giving and peer to peer fundraising tools for nonprofit, faith-based, and political organizations of all sizes. When she’s not working at Qgiv, Abby can usually be found writing for local magazines, catching up on her favorite blogs, or binge-watching sci-fi shows on Netflix.