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6 types of fundraising letters for nonprofits

6 Types of Fundraising Letters: Write Amazing Appeals! [2019 Update]

Sending out fundraising letters might seem like an old-fashioned way to ask for donations, but they can be extremely effective when written correctly!

If you’ve been looking for fundraising letters, look no further! We’ve got six of the most common fundraising letters that nonprofits should be sending out to their donors.

Here’s what we’ll be going over:

  1. Donation Request Letters
  2. Church Fundraising Letters
  3. Individual Fundraising Letters
  4. Matching Gift Fundraising Letters
  5. Sponsorship Letters
  6. Donor Thank-You Letters

Tools we mention to support fundraising letter campaigns:

  1. DonateKindly
  2. Fundly
  3. Double the Donation
  4. Fundraising Letters

Let’s jump right in!

1. Donation Request Letters

Fundraising Letters - donation request letters

What are donation request letters?

Donation request letters are nonprofit fundraising letters that charitable organizations send out to individual donors and/or prospects.

They can be sent on their own or included in a welcome packet that contains pamphlets, booklets, and additional information.

When should you use them?

Your nonprofit can use donation request letters at any time of the year! However, they are particularly effective toward the end of the calendar year when donors are determining their pre-tax season finances. People also tend to be more charitable in November and December, which means that your donation request letter has a better chance of encouraging a donation.

You can send out donation request letters to any of your donors, but these types of communications are better received by older generations. While millennials respond to digital donation appeals, the baby boomer generation overwhelmingly prefers direct mail.

Bonus: We suggest giving donors the option to reply to your letters by mailing a traditional check or directing them to give through your organization’s website. If you need to start accepting donations via your website quickly and don’t want to worry about fees, then we recommend a free and simple donation tool like DonateKindly.

Example letter


Date

Your Name
Your Organization’s Name
Street
City, State ZIP

Dear [Donor’s Name],

[Begin with an emotional appeal. A success story or a narrative that tugs on your donors’ heartstrings hooks your readers. Keep it short, though!]

Our community/nation/world is facing [problem(s) your organization is trying to fix]. While we are actively [insert current solutions your organization is attempting], we need your help to make our efforts go even further!

You can help us [solve the problem you’re trying to fix]. Your support is crucial to our efforts to [solve the problem].
If you’re able, we’d love it if you could make a donation of [amount] to help us achieve our mission and [solve problem].

Thank you in advance for your contribution. Your donation will go toward [insert effort, accomplishment, or project].

Here are the ways you can make a donation:

— Make a donation online at [URL to donation page or crowdfunding campaign page]
— Call us at [phone number]
— Send a check in the pre-stamped envelope we’ve included (no cash, please!)
— Text [keyword] to [text-to-give phone number]

Thank you again!
Sincerely,

[Signature of an organizational leader]
[Typed name of organizational leader]

P.S. [End with an update about an upcoming event, volunteer opportunity, or other information]

 



2. Church Fundraising Letters

Fundraising Letters - church fundraising letters

What are church fundraising letters?

Church fundraising letters can take many forms. They can be used to ask for general church-related contributions, but they can also be used for specific fundraising efforts such as:

  • Charity auction item requests.
  • Fundraising event donations.
  • Sponsorship requests.
  • Mission trip funding.
  • Church building funds.
  • Missionary support.

It’s common for churches to send out fundraising letters to notify congregants when church events or other fundraising initiatives are occurring. These types of fundraising letters can be used to share the details—date, time, location, etc.—of the event as well as encourage those who can’t attend to give in advance.

For our purposes, we’ll be talking about a generic church fundraising letter that you can use to ask for general contributions.

You can send church fundraising letters to members of your congregation or to community members, depending on your fundraising need.

When should you use them?

You can send out church letters whenever you have a fundraising need! Churches rely on the generosity of their congregants to keep the doors open and the lights on.

Of course, you shouldn’t send out too many church fundraising letters. Limit your letters to a few per year and rely on in-person appeals during a church service for the majority of your fundraising efforts.

Sample letter


Date

Your Name
Your Church’s Name
Street
City, State ZIP

Dear [Church Member’s Preferred Name],

Greetings! We hope this letter finds you well and that you’ve had a relaxing, blessed holiday season. Because you’re an important part of our church family, we thought you’d want to know about our big plans for this new year.

As you may know, our congregation is growing. Just like any family, the more members you have, the more room you need. We’re pleased to invite you to be an important part of this exciting process!

This Sunday afternoon, [your church’s name] is hosting a special event to raise money for the brand new sanctuary and bell tower. How blessed are we to have so many members like yourself that we need to build an entirely new structure?

It’s our greatest hope that you’ll be able to join us at [date and time] for a family fun carnival! Snacks and drinks will be provided for a small price. The only thing you need to bring is your sense of fun and adventure!

Admission is free, but of course, willing contributions of any size are always accepted.

If you have any questions about the event or the new sanctuary or bell tower, please feel free to reach out to our special projects coordinator, [name] at [phone number] or email her at [email address].

As always, have a blessed day. We hope to see you Sunday!

His Clay,

[Pastor’s Signature]

[Pastor’s Name]



3. Individual Fundraising Letters

Fundraising Letters - individual fundraising letters

What are individual fundraising letters?

Nonprofits aren’t the only ones who have fundraising needs! Sometimes individuals need to raise money for a cause, project, or life event.

If that’s the case, you can use individual fundraising letters to send out donation requests to members of your community and local businesses.

Whatever you’re raising money for, an individual fundraising letter can help you generate funds for your cause, project, or event!

When should you use them?

You can use an individual fundraising letter whenever you need to raise money for a cause or project that means a lot to you. Of course, you shouldn’t just rely on fundraising letters to raise money.

You can set up a crowdfunding campaign to supplement your fundraising efforts. You can also use your fundraising letter to direct people to your crowdfunding page to give them an easy way to make a donation.

Letter template


Date

Your Name
Street
City, State ZIP

Dear [Donor’s Name],

My name is [your name] and I am [describe your position/situation/background]. I am looking to raise [amount of money] to help me pay for [project/expense/cause/etc.].

[Include information about why the cause or project is important to you and how it could potentially impact the reader or those you serve].

I’m writing to ask you to support me and my [cause/project/etc.]. Just a small donation of [amount] can help me [accomplish task/reach a goal/etc.]

Your donation will go toward [describe exactly what the contribution will be used for].

[When possible, add a personal connection to tie the donor to the cause. For example, if you’re raising money to help build a school in a developing country and you’re writing to a teacher, emphasize the fact that everyone deserves a quality education].

Thank you in advance for your contribution. You have no idea how much it means to me to have your support.

Here are the ways you can make a donation:

— Make a donation online at [URL of your crowdfunding campaign]
— Send a check in the pre-stamped envelope I’ve included (no cash, please!)
— Come to my fundraising event on [date] at [location] [when applicable]

Thank you again!
Sincerely,

[Your signature]
[Your typed name]



4. Matching Gift Fundraising Emails or Letters

Fundraising Letters - matching gift fundraising letters

What are matching gift fundraising letters?

Matching gift fundraising letters are tangible letters (or emails) that nonprofits send out to donors to remind them to submit matching gift requests.

For those who don’t know, matching gifts are a type of corporate giving program. After an employee has made a charitable donation to an eligible nonprofit, they can submit paperwork to their company’s HR department. If the donation and the nonprofit meet the company’s requirements, the business will make a contribution to the nonprofit for the same amount.

However, many donors simply don’t know that their employer offers a matching gift program.

That’s where a matching gift fundraising letter comes in!

Your nonprofit should send out communications to remind donors that their contributions might be eligible to be doubled (and sometimes, even tripled!).

When should you use them?

The best time to promote matching gifts (besides during the donation process itself) is directly after a donation has been made.

Your nonprofit is still fresh in donors’ minds, and they’ll be more likely to submit a matching gift request.

As soon as a donor has made a contribution (regardless of how the donation was made), your nonprofit should send out an automatic email that:

  1. Thanks them for their donation, and
  2. Encourages them to submit a matching gift request.

You can also follow up a few days later with a matching gift fundraising letter if the donor hasn’t already submitted a matching gift request.

Example letter


Here is an example of a matching gift fundraising email:

Matching gift fundraising letters

This is an excellent example of a direct mail letter/postcard that promotes matching gifts:

Matching gift fundraising letters

Use these letters and emails in conjunction with one another to maximize your nonprofit’s matching gift potential!



5. Sponsorship Letters

Fundraising Letters - sponsorship letters

What are sponsorship letters?

Sponsorship letters are used by nonprofits that are looking to receive corporate sponsorship donations for a specific project or event.

Sponsorship letter packages include:

  • A sponsorship proposal cover letter.
  • A sponsorship levels document.
  • A sponsorship acknowledgement letter.

The proposal letter is the formal request for a sponsorship donation. It explains the nonprofit’s fundraising need and details how the funds will be used.

The sponsorship levels document is how companies decide how much they would like to give. This document lists out a few different sponsorship levels and the perks that come with each level. The higher the donation, the more perks the company receives.

The sponsorship acknowledgement letter is a thank-you to the company after they have made a donation. Your nonprofit can send out an acknowledgement immediately after a donation has been made and after the event has ended.

When should you use them?

Sponsorship letters should be sent out well in advance of your event or project. You want to give the company enough time to consider and respond to your donation request.

Sample letter


Date

Your Name
Your Organization’s Name
Street
City, State ZIP

Dear [CEO/CSR Manager/Business Owner/etc.],

[Open with a description of your organization. Give some brief background including your mission, vision, and how you serve your community.]

We are hosting our [event name] on [date] at [location]. Last year’s event was such a huge success that we decided to host the event again!

In the past, this event has raised [amount] and has [list out specific accomplishments using statistics and figures].

This year we’re hoping to raise even more! Our goal is [amount], and we were hoping that you could help us reach that goal.

By becoming one of our corporate sponsors, you’ll be able to [list out projects that corporate donations could help accomplish].
We’ve also listed out some of the incentives and perks that your company can enjoy should you decide to become one of our corporate sponsors (see attached Sponsorship Levels Document). Regardless of the amount you choose to give, your company name will be included in our event program and you’ll be included in the press release that we’ll publish on our website.

We’re accepting cash donations as well as in-kind donations of goods or services. Feel free to make a contribution that you’re comfortable with.

See the attached Sponsorship Levels Document to find the giving level that’s right for your company. If you’re ready to make a donation, please tear off the perforated section of the following document and send it back to us in the self-addressed envelope we’ve enclosed.

I’d like to thank you in advance for your generosity. Please don’t hesitate to contact me directly at [phone number] or [email] if you have any questions.

Sincerely/All the best/etc.,

[Your printed name]
[Your title]

[Your signature]



6. Donor Thank-You Letters

Fundraising Letters - donor thank you letters

What are donor thank-you letters?

Donor thank-you letter are pretty self-explanatory.

These letters (or emails!) are meant to be used after a donor has made a contribution of any kind, including:

  • Monetary contributions.
  • In-kind donations.
  • Volunteer time.
  • A matching gift from an employer.
  • And more!

When should you use them?

Your donor thank-you letters should be sent out as soon as you receive a contribution. Donors should receive an acknowledgement within two days of making a donation.

Feel free to send out an acknowledgement email as well as a direct mail letter. You can never be too appreciative of your donors!

Letter template


Date

Your Name
Your Organization’s Name
Street
City, State ZIP

Dear [Donor’s Preferred Name],

I can’t tell you how much all of us at [nonprofit name] appreciate your contribution to our cause. Thanks to your donation of [amount], we’ll be able to [list out specific goals, objectives, etc.].

I also wanted to let you know that we’ll be [hosting volunteer event, opening up our nonprofit’s doors for tours, holding a fundraising event, etc.]. We’d love to extend an invitation to you to participate in this opportunity! Our current donors have all enjoyed developing a stronger partnership with our organization, and I’m hoping you’ll do the same.

Thank you again!

[Your printed name]
[Your title]

[Your signature]


We hope that these six fundraising letter templates have given you some insight into how to write an amazing fundraising appeal. Which ones have you used in the past? Which letters have you had the most success with?

If you want to learn more valuable fundraising tips, check out these additional resources:

  1. Must-Know Nonprofit Software: Every nonprofit needs fundraising software if they want to raise money online. Learn about the top vendors providing nonprofits with top-notch tools to help you raise more donations.
  2. Online Fundraising Guide: Looking for more ways you can raise money online. You’re in luck! This extensive guide will lead you through everything you need to know about raising money online.
  3. 113+ Fundraising Ideas: Put your new fundraising letters to use by hosting a fundraiser. With our list of over one hundred ways to raise money, you’re bound to find an idea that will work perfectly for your nonprofit.
Check out these 11 online fundraising ideas to take your digital campaigns to the next level!

11 Online Fundraising Ideas: Raise Money in the Digital Age!

Note

Don’t forget to grab our Free Guide to the Top Fundraising Ideas.

We all know that online fundraising is quickly taking the nonprofit world by storm. More people than ever are making their charitable contributions via online avenues. That’s why we’ve compiled 11 of the best online fundraising ideas that can help your nonprofit raise more money in the digital age!

Here’s what we’ll be covering:

  1. Crowdfunding
  2. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising
  3. Matching Gift Drive
  4. T-Shirt Fundraising
  5. Online Donation Forms [Free or Paid]
  6. Online Giving Days
  7. Text-to-Give Campaign
  8. Online AuctionsAdvanced Styling
  9. Viral Fundraising Campaign
  10. Online Cashback Websites
  11. Donation for a Vote

Tools mentioned:

Let’s take a look at each of these online fundraising ideas in more detail.

Crowdfunding is an online fundraising idea that uses social sharing to raise money and awareness.

Online Fundraising Idea 1: Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is proving to be one of the most popular ways for nonprofits and individuals alike to raise money for causes, projects, or events that they care about.

For those new to the term, crowdfunding essentially makes use of a nonprofit’s or individual’s existing network of supporters, friends, family members, coworkers, peers, and even acquaintances.

Nonprofits and individuals can set up crowdfunding pages and then share those pages on social media sites and via email.

A typical nonprofit crowdfunding page looks like this:

Fundly's crowdfunding pages make online fundraising quick and simple.

Most crowdfunding platforms allow nonprofits to:

  • Upload images and videos.
  • Write a detailed description.
  • Post updates and comments.
  • Share the campaign across social media sites and email.
  • Set up giving levels or tiers.
  • Send out automatic acknowledgements to donors.
  • Track metrics like number of donors, average donation amount, and total amount raised.

If you want to make the most of your nonprofit’s crowdfunding campaign, follow these best practices:

  1. Interact with your supporters: Your donors want to know how your online fundraising campaign is going! Keep them in the loop by posting updates and responding to their comments on your crowdfunding page.
  2. Post at least 4 photos or videos: Media gives your donors some context and allows them to see exactly what they’re donating to. Make sure that your photos look professional and highlight the people, animals, or communities that your nonprofit serves.
  3. Set up giving levels: Including donation tiers or giving levels on your campaign page allows donors to select the one that they prefer. To create an even bigger impact, you can list out the specific actions that your nonprofit can accomplish with each donation amount.

Main Takeaway: Crowdfunding is one of the best online fundraising ideas for nonprofits. Most crowdfunding platforms enable you to get up and running in just a few minutes, and you can start raising money from your supporters in no time!

Bonus: Start your crowdfunding campaign today!

Peer-to-peer fundraising is an online fundraising idea that uses supporters to fundraise on your behalf.

Online Fundraising Idea 2: Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a type of crowdfunding that many nonprofits pair with fundraising events like walkathons, marathons, and cycling events.

Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns typically follow this structure:

  1. A nonprofit sets a goal, determines a timeline, and plans a peer-to-peer event.
  2. The nonprofit reaches out to loyal supporters and asks them if they want to participate in the fundraiser.
  3. If supporters are willing to participate, they then set up their own online fundraising pages (with the nonprofit’s help). These individual pages link up to the nonprofit’s main peer-to-peer fundraising page.
  4. Individuals reach out to their networks to ask for donations on the nonprofit’s behalf.
  5. Supporters’ friends and family members make donations via the individual’s peer-to-peer fundraising page.
  6. The nonprofit collects the donations, acknowledges and thanks supporters and donors, and hosts the (typically active) event.

Here’s an example of an individual’s peer-to-peer fundraising page:

Create a peer-to-peer page as an online fundraising idea.

This individual peer-to-peer fundraising page is linked to the nonprofit’s primary fundraising page.

This peer-to-peer campaign follows a few best practices that we’re a huge fan of:

  1. They include several images: Both the nonprofit’s main page and the individual’s campaign page have images and videos that allow supporters to see exactly what their donations are going toward.
  2. They describe what the contributions will help accomplish: Each page highlights the need for homes and volunteer time in Austin. Both pages have giving tiers that describe what a donation amount will be able to buy. For example, $300 will buy a stove, while $500 will buy a roof.
  3. Each description is detailed: A good peer-to-peer campaign description is the key to encouraging people to donate to your cause. Without it, people won’t know why you’re raising money! This campaign has listed out the reasons for fundraising and lets people know why building homes in Austin is important.

Main Takeaway: Peer-to-peer fundraising is a type of online fundraising that enables your nonprofit to raise more money and acquire more donors. As your supporters reach out to their networks, your nonprofit can introduce more people to your cause and mission.

Bonus: Check out the top 15 peer-to-peer fundraising platforms for nonprofits!

Organizations can hold matching gift drives to double the impact of their supporters.

Online Fundraising Idea 3: Matching Gift Drive

Take online giving one step further by encouraging your donors to search for the matching gift programs for which they might be eligible. Companies of all sizes will often match (or more than match) their employees’ donations to nonprofit organizations!

There are even useful tools you can embed directly onto your websites or campaign emails. Here’s how the National Audobon Society incorporated a user-friendly search tools directly into their ways to give page:

Check out how the National Audobon Society incorporated matching gifts tools into their site.

For a fundraising campaign, create some buzz by asking a local company or major donor to match donations made on a particular day. Time sensitive drive campaigns work well because they create urgency, a good motivator for supporters. Plus, since each donation goes twice as far, donors will be more likely to participate.

Best of all, and unlike ongoing corporate matching gift programs that apply to eligible employees, matching gift drives don’t have restrictions on who can participate!

The key to a prosperous matching gift drive is promotion. Get the most people to participate by sending emails to your donors on the days leading up to the event. 

Social media is also an effective place to promote your online fundraiser. If your museum is running a matching gift drive, for example, you can publish posts on Facebook and Twitter that tell donors any tickets purchased or contributions made during your drive will be doubled by your sponsor.

Also, let donors know about the many ways they can contribute. Provide your donors convenient ways to give, such as:

  • Donation pages.
  • Text-to-give.
  • Mobile-responsive forms.
  • Crowdfunding pages.

The more fundraising options donors have, the more likely they are to make a donation.

Additionally, if you’re hosting a giving day, but only accept donations through a form on your website, this limits the number of people that can contribute to your cause. 

Always ensure that you have a variety of ways to collect donations before launching your matching gift drive.

Main Takeaway: Knowing that their gifts will double for a limited time is a great motivator for donors. Use that knowledge to your advantage and host a matching gift drive.

Bonus:  For matching gifts year-round, check out another example of how Mercy Corps helps their supporters determine if their employer matches donations on their branded matching gifts page from Double the Donation.

Another online fundraising idea is a t-shirt fundraiser.

Online Fundraising Idea 4: T-Shirt Fundraising

Another effective way for nonprofits to fundraise online is by selling t-shirts. Your nonprofit can deisgn t-shirts as merchandise for your organization and sell them online to your supporters.

T-shirt fundraisers are a fun, engaging way to raise money for your nonprofit because they allow supporters to show their love for your organization while still getting something back in return.

For supporters who many not be able to donate as much as they would like due to financial limitations, t-shirt fundraisers offer them the opportunity to contribute to your cause without breaking the bank.

Your nonprofit can get started by promoting t-shirt sales in conjunction with different fundraising campaigns. For example, you might sell holiday-themed t-shirts during year-end giving to capitalize on the seasonal spirit.

Even further, the t-shirts you sell can double as marketing materials for your nonprofit’s brand. When people see their friends wearing your organization’s shirts, they may get inspired to start contributing to your nonprofit.

T-shirt fundraising is a great way to raise money quickly.

When choosing an online host for your t-shirt fundraising initiative, select one that:

  • Offers plenty of t-shirt customization options.
  • Allows you to upload original designs for your shirts.
  • Gives you the freedom to set your own t-shirt prices.
  • Charges a low-overhead fee so you can keep more of your profits.
  • Gives you the ability to customize your nonprofit’s t-shirt sales page.

As your organization starts selling t-shirts, remember that customization is key! Supporters are more likely to buy your organization’s shirts if they feel the product (and sales process) reflects the brand they have come to know and love.

Bonus: Learn more about selling t-shirts to raise money for your nonprofit with Bonfire!


Organizations should accept donations through online fundraising forms.

Online Fundraising Idea 5: Online Donation Forms

One of the most traditional ways to raise money online is through the tried-and-true online donation form. In many cases, donation forms allow you to brand your page and create special fields to capture specific, related information.

Best of all, online donation forms can be mobile-friendly so even more of your supporters have access. 

Since there are many customization capabilities available, your organization can create a form that is completely unique to your brand.

There are many vendors available that offer both free donation forms and paid donation forms.

Here is an example of what your online donation form could look like:

Optimized online donation forms are key to success in digital fundraising.

As you can see, the Water Project does a lot of great things with their donation form:

  • First, the donation form has preset giving buttons, making it easy for the donor to choose a gift amount.
  • Secondly, donors have the option to set recurring gifts.
  • Last, the option to share contributions on Facebook and Twitter is predominantly displayed.

All these features not only help boost your awareness and funds, but they also make the giving process convenient for your donors.

Of course, if your organization wants all of these features (and more!), you’ll have to choose an excellent fundraising software provider.

Look for a vendor that has a responsive technical support team and an easy-to-use interface; you shouldn’t have to be an expert in CSS and HTML to create a professional-looking form. With a simple donation form builder, your organization should be able to drag and drop the elements you want to use and customize them to fit your needs.

If you’re using a fully customizable platform, you’ll be able to create a form that is unique to your organization or recruit a technology consultant who can design a form catered to your needs.

When creating your online donation forms, be considerate of your donors’ time and keep your donations quick and simple.

Main Takeaway: Creating a convenient and beautifully designed donation page starts with finding the right software. Find a provider that offers the features that will make donating quick and easy.

A great fundraising idea for nonprofits is holding an online giving day.

Online Fundraising Idea 6: Online Giving Days

The most common online giving day is #GivingTuesday, a national day of charitable giving started a few years ago by the 92nd Street Y in New York.

While your nonprofit might already participate in #GivingTuesday, that doesn’t mean that you can’t organize your own online giving day for your supporters!

Just so we’re clear, an online giving day is a 24-hour period where a nonprofit tries to raise as much money as possible from its supporters.

An online giving day has to have a lot of digital promotion and advertising to make it effective. Reach out to your supporters:

  • With emails.
  • Over social media.
  • Via text message.
  • On your website.
  • With videos.

These digital outreach methods should contain information about your giving day such as the time, ways to donate, what the funds will go toward, and how supporters can get more involved.

Here’s an example of an animal nonprofit that promotes #GivingTuesday on Twitter:

Of course, Twitter has character limitations, so this tweet had to be short and sweet. Your other digital promotions for your giving day can go a bit more in-depth and include more specific information about your online fundraiser.

Whatever route you take, make sure that you explain what the funds are going toward and provide supporters with a link to your online donation page.

Main Takeaway: An online giving day can be an energetic and fast-paced way to raise money for your cause. Electrify your donor base with lots of digital promotions and encourage them to give as much as they can in just 24 hours!

Bonus: Take a look at these #GivingTuesday promotional resources.

Holding a text-to-give campaign is an excellent online fundraising idea.

Online Fundraising Idea 7: Text-to-Give Campaign

Text-to-give came on the scene as a digital fundraising method in 2010 when millions of dollars were donated to the American Red Cross to support victims of the Haiti earthquake.

Since then, text-to-give (or text-to-tithe for churches) has become a mainstream way to raise money for any organization or cause!

Today, text-to-give tends to work like this:

  1. A donor will text a keyword to a specific number that has been assigned to a nonprofit.
  2. The donor will receive a link as a text message.
  3. The link takes the donors to a mobile-responsive donation page where they can make a contribution.

It’s that easy!

When choosing a text-to-give tool, look for a provider that is PCI-compliant, which means the company follows strict rules to ensure a high level of security.

Ease of use and integration are also vital characteristics to look for in a text-to-give tool. You want the giving process to be quick and simple for donors as well as have a way to export data to your CRM.

Many nonprofits, schools, and churches use text-to-give technology as an online fundraising avenue throughout the year, but it’s also a popular donation method during fundraising events. One of your speakers can make a live appeal and ask people to give with their cellphones (all of your attendees will likely have their phones in their pockets or purses!).

Main Takeaway: Text-to-give is quickly becoming one of the most popular online fundraising ideas. Don’t get left behind by this fundraising trend!

Bonus: Check out the ultimate guide to text-to-give.

Online auctions are a great digital fundraising technique!

Online Fundraising Idea 8: Online Auctions

Online auctions are essentially digital silent auctions that are more cost-effective and are open to all your supporters, increasing fundraising potential even more.

For your digital venue, you can opt to use auction software or an online marketplace like eBay to host your online auction. 

Just like with any charity auction, you’ll need to procure items and experiences that excite your guests and encourage them to place bids.

Look for unique items that your guests won’t be able to find anywhere else. Look at the following suggestions to help you get started:

    • Sports memorabilia.
    • Backstage passes to a concert.
    • Tickets to an exclusive museum exhibit.
    • And so much more!

Generate excitement before your event by creating an auction catalog with images and a description of each item (or experience) and teach registered guests how to place bids to prepare them for the big day. Plus, with dedicated auction software (like OneCause) you can track the progress of your online auctions in real time:

Online charity auctions make it easy to engage your donors and raise funds.

Main Takeaway: Online auctions make it possible for supporters from all over the world to participate and are cost-effective so that you can raise the most money from your event.

Viral media campaigns are a very effective online fundraising idea.

Online Fundraising Idea 9: Viral Fundraising Campaign

You’ve likely heard of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but you may not know just how successful that particular viral fundraising campaign was.

In just a month and a half, the ALS Association was able to raise $115 million (and tons of awareness!) for ALS research by asking people to pour cold water on their heads.

Another example of a viral fundraising campaign is “Movember.” For this viral campaign, men grow out their facial hair during the month of November and make donations in support of men’s health.

These are just two of the many viral fundraising campaigns that nonprofits have started. Why not start your own?

Keep these tips in mind before trying to launch a viral fundraising campaign. And remember, it might take a few months or even more than a year for your campaign to go truly viral.

  1. Don’t ask for too much. You aren’t going to receive a ton of donations if you ask for $500 every time. Instead, ask people for small contributions like $5, $10, or $20. Once a campaign goes viral, all of those little donations will add up!
  2. Create a memorable hashtag. Hashtags help group your social media posts and make your nonprofit’s message easier to find on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Create a memorable and punchy hashtag. Use it in all of your social media posts and encourage your supporters to use it, as well!
  3. Get to the point. A viral campaign has to be focused and targeted. It’s not the time to explain every single detail of your nonprofit’s mission. Instead, boil down your vision to a few key points and use them interchangeably throughout the duration of your campaign.
  4. Make use of all of your digital channels. Post on Facebook. Tweet out a promotional message. Snap a picture and post it to Instagram. Start a Pinterest board. Send out emails. Use every digital communications channel at your disposal!

Main Takeaway: It might take time to get a viral fundraising campaign off the ground, but if you can do it, your nonprofit’s mission and vision will be made known to supporters across the country and even around the world!

Cashback websites are a great way to boost your online fundraising!

Online Fundraising Idea 10: Online Cashback Websites

Online cashback sites can be used by nonprofits as well as individuals who are looking to raise a little extra money while doing something that nearly everyone loves: shopping online!

Let’s break down how most online cashback websites work:

  1. Someone in your nonprofit needs to buy office supplies or something else online.
  2. The staff member begins their search for office supplies at an online cashback site.
  3. Once the items have been purchased, a percentage of the total amount is deposited into a cashback account.
  4. Your nonprofit can withdraw the cashback amount at regular intervals (typically monthly or quarterly).

Common cashback sites include:

In addition to these sites, Amazon, the largest online shopping marketplace, has created an affiliate program that enables nonprofits to receive a certain percentage of sales that originate on the nonprofit’s website.

With Amazon’s affiliate program, your nonprofit can place banners, images, and links on your website that will direct users to a page on Amazon’s site. If the user makes a purchase, your nonprofit gets a cut of the purchase from Amazon.

While cashback sites aren’t going to help your nonprofit break any fundraising records, they are an easy way to raise more money from online shopping. Signing up for most of these cashback sites is easy, and everyone in your nonprofit can participate!

Main Takeaway: Online cashback sites can supplement your existing fundraising efforts. If your staff does a lot of online shopping, sites like Ebates and Amazon can be an easy way to raise extra funds!

Donors love online voting campaigns!

Online Fundraising Idea 11: Donation for a Vote

The donation for a vote online fundraising idea gets your supporters engaged in a silly challenge in return for their contributions.

Here’s how this fundraiser works:

  1. Create a list of silly challenges that your staff or volunteers are willing to complete.
  2. Create a poll, asking your supporters to vote (with a donation) for the challenge they’d like to see your team complete.
  3. At the end of the poll, record your team completing whatever challenge received the most votes and post it on social media.

The challenges you pick should be interesting and if possible, related to your cause in some way.

In the video, thank your supporters for their contributions, and mention how the funds will be used to further your cause.

Supporters will get a kick out of seeing you do a silly task, and you’ll raise more money for your cause!

Not only will donors like seeing a hilarious video, but they’ll also appreciate that you want their opinion and input. Plus, supporters will encourage their peers to vote so they can see their favorite challenge win. 

Main Takeaway: Donation for a vote is a fun (and potentially viral) way to raise money for your cause. Makes sure to choose your challenges and continue to encourage your supporters to vote.


We hope that these 11 online fundraising ideas have inspired you to go out and try some different fundraising techniques.

For more ideas and tips, check out these helpful resources:

  • 80+ Fundraising IdeasCouldn’t find what you were looking for with our online fundraising ideas? Check out our full list of ideas. You’re sure to find the perfect fundraiser for your cause!
  • Church Fundraising IdeasIf you’re looking for ways to raise money for churches and other faith-based organizations, we’ve got a list of ideas that will help you reach your goals.
  • School Fundraising IdeasSchools need to find family-friendly ways to raise money and engage their students. Check out this list of top ideas from Fundly to get started!
  • Top Online Donation Tools. If you want to start fundraising online, you’ll need software to accept donations. Use this list of top tools to find online donation software for your organization!

Small Companies Matching Gifts

Companies that Match Donations to High Schools

Across the United States, there are more than 26,000 public high schools and 10,000 private high schools all looking to build on their existing fundraising ideas. At Double the Donation, we work with high schools and education foundations across the country to help them increase the amount of money they receive from corporate matching gift programs.

We know it can sometimes be tricky trying to navigate the complex policies surrounding each company’s matching gift program so we’ve created a number of resources to help organizations better understand employee giving programs. These include:

Since Double the Donation is committed to helping all segments of the nonprofit space optimize their fundraising with matching gift programs, we created this post on matching gift companies that match donations to high schools.

Matching Gifts and High Schools

After higher education, the most common matching gift category is K-12 schools.

Included in this grouping is high schools since many companies do not distinguish between elementary, middle, and high schools when it comes to match eligible organizations. Many of these companies will also match to PTA groups, after school organizations, education foundations. Most matching gift companies do not distinguish between public and private high schools, though specific eligibility does vary by company.

For high schools with a large donor base, whether it’s parents, alumni, or community supporters, be sure to market employee matching gifts as an easy way to double existing donations!

List of Companies with Matching Gift Programs for High Schools

To help schools navigate through the matching gift process we created a short list of companies that will match donations made to K-12 schools and educational programs. This list is by no means exhaustive, so if you aren’t seeing a company here, don’t rule it out just yet. And feel free to check out Double the Donation’s services to learn how we can make the matching gift process even easier.

IBMibm-matching-gifts

IBM is known to many schools for its generosity in donating software and computers to school systems.

An employee can have their donation matched on a 2:1 ratio with IBM products. Or a donation can be matched on a 1:1 basis for cash.

Read more about the IBM matching gift program.

Toys “R” Us

Toys”R”Us, Inc. partners with its team members to support causes that reflect their own personal interests and passions. The list of match eligible approved nonprofits includes to those that keep children safe and help them in times of need; organizations that support the research, treatment, prevention and cure of diseases or disorders that impact families and children; and educational institutions.

That means Toys “R” Us will match donations made by team members to high schools. Through the matching gift program, the company matches donations on a 1:1 basis and will double donations up to $1,000 per employee each year.

Read more about the Toys R Us matching gift program.

Wells Fargowells-fargo-matching

As one of the leading banks, it’s no surprise that many communities have a Wells Fargo presence. Employees of Wells Fargo can have their donations to high schools matched up to $6,500 each year.

Volunteer grants are also available for those who volunteer with educational organizations.

Read more about the Wells Fargo matching gift program.

Starbucksstarbucks-match-gifts

Starbucks Corporation will match up to $1,500 in donations made by an employee each year to high schools and many other organizations. All educational institutions are eligible for the program.

And if you have a volunteer opportunity coming up, be sure to mention it to your local barista since Starbucks also provides grants to organizations where employees volunteer.

Read more about the Starbucks matching gift program and volunteer grants.

Want to know more about corporate giving programs and how they can contribute to your high school’s fundraising efforts?