Tips for Launching a Successful Online Fundraiser

Want to learn how to fundraise? Not sure how to ask for support? Following these steps will ensure your success.

Make the first donation

Other people are more likely to donate to your page when they see that someone has already contributed. Donating some of your own money also demonstrates to potential supporters that you are serious about helping the cause.

Personalize your fundraising page

Add your own text, pictures, or video. Making a recording of yourself will allow friends and family to connect directly to the cause, and would be a particularly powerful way to project your message. Remember, your potential donors will be interested in the cause, but they are primarily interested in you. Make sure you tell them why you are getting involved and what your connection to the cause is (it doesn't have to be long).

Get personal

Direct, personal messages, emails, and in-person asks are key. You can even try sending personalized, 1-minute videos to friends and family.

There’s a common psychological phenomenon called the “bystander effect” that happens when a group of people collectively fails to help someone in need. The problem is that the people passing by tend to think, “It’s not a big deal if I don’t help, there are so many other people here that someone inevitably will.” With everyone thinking this way, no one winds up helping. Therefore, your general appeal to the public should be complemented with direct asks.

Frame your ask

Start by explaining your connection to the cause and why it's important to you. Describing how the cause has touched your life is probably the most important element of your message.

  • In a sentence or two explain the good work the organization is doing to advance the cause. This helps potential supporters understand where their money would be going and what it would be used to accomplish.

  • Be clear to potential supporters about what you are looking for; make a direct ask for financial support

  • Include a link to your fundraising page.

  • Thank your contacts for their time and support.

Gage your audience. If a one line message is going to work, go ahead and do that. If a longer personal message will work best, do that.

Order matters

Send individual messages to your five closest contacts and ask them for donations first. Getting your "inner circle" to donate to your page will help you build up some momentum. Studies show that as you make progress towards your fundraising goal people become more and more likely to donate to you (success breeds success!).

Think about your fundraising strategy like peeling an onion from the inside out. The best fundraisers start by asking their closest contacts first (the core) and progressively working outward to more distant contacts (the outer skin).

Provide updates

Harness the power of social media and post on Facebook, Instagram, and/or Twitter and use a relevant hashtag to reach a broader audience. To be most effective, post an update every 2-3 days.

Don't make every post an "ask". Share inspiring news stories or other positive anecdotes about the cause or your progress too! Issue regular fundraising progress updates through your social media accounts. When you pair this approach with weekly fundraising goals, you can really start to improve your social fundraising results.

When people tune into your regular progress updates, on some level they begin to follow your “fundraising story.” They become more interested in your success or failure. Instead of repeatedly asking them for money, you are documenting your progress for those involved in your life to see. Framing things this way helps people feel connected to your efforts and can lead people who wouldn’t otherwise contribute to get involved.

Thank and tag your donors

When you tag someone your post gets shared in your activity feed and the other person's activity feed too. This also sets the frame that people are already donating to your page (remember success breeds success!). As your friends see you recognizing more and more donors (people that they likely also know) they will be pushed more and more to get involved. 

Follow up with people who don't respond initially
Don’t be afraid to reach back out to non-responders. Remember people can easily miss or skip over your initial outreach!

  • Include progress updates in your follow up messages and consider including any inspiring stories or personal anecdotes you have about the cause.

  • Remember to continue using social media! Social media is a softer medium for communicating with your contacts and it's more acceptable to frequently post updates in those channels.

Complement your contribution page with a Facebook fundraiser

Through Facebook, people can donate in just a few clicks without leaving Facebook. Connect friends to your cause and gain supporters across Facebook. You can invite friends to contribute to the fundraiser, similar to inviting friends to a Facebook event. To get your Facebook fundraiser started, click on this link here.

Note: Donation and fundraising features on Facebook aren't available in every area.

Use your birthday

One way to honor your day of birth is to host a birthday fundraiser (create a Facebook birthday fundraiser here). Forego gifts and ask people to donate money to your fundraiser. In addition to dates from your own life, you can also tie your fundraiser into public dates such as Giving Tuesday (after Thanksgiving) or other awareness campaigns.

Offer an incentive

Consider offering levels of rewards for various backers. This works especially well when the gifts are personal to the fundraiser. Gifts that require the fundraiser’s particular skills or services tend to inspire more donations because they demonstrate the participant’s commitment to the cause.

Run an offline fundraiser 

Host a dinner, run a bake sale, or share your story at an event. People will be touched by how much you care. You might be surprised at how much you enjoy the process!

Ready to try your hand at fundraising?

Our pre-written campaign pages tell the story for you.