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Online Donation Platforms | What to Know & 12 Top Picks

Online donation platforms, what you need to know.

As a nonprofit professional, you recognize how crucial fundraising is for driving your mission forward and making an impact in your community. Fundraising provides your organization with resources to implement programming and outreach. Your online donation platform is at the center of managing these funds, and it is crucial to your achievements.

In the current COVID-19 era, most fundraising is conducted in the digital space. At Snowball, we’ve seen online strategies become the main focus in nonprofit fundraising. It’s now required that your team turns their focus to your digital fundraising efforts and presence, and to do this, you need an online donation platform.

During 2021 and beyond, online fundraising software will always be an essential tool for your nonprofit’s success. Let’s dive into the best practices regarding your online donation platform. Here’s what you’ll need to know to get started:

With these items, your nonprofit organization will be able to choose the best online donation platform for your team. Let’s get started!

What are online donation platforms?

What Are Online Donation Platforms?

Online donation software allows nonprofits to accept and process donations through their online channels. Most importantly, this software equips your organization with the necessary tools to build efficient and professional online donation forms.

Though functionality varies by provider, the right software can give your nonprofit access to the following features that will help drive your mission forward:

  • Custom donation pages
  • Automated donor data collection,
  • Payment processor integration

It’s crucial that your organization has these items in your toolkit, as your donors are highly likely to be interacting with your cause online.

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What are the main types of online donation platforms?

What Are the Main Types of Online Donation Platforms?

Online Donation Forms

The most fundamental element of online fundraising is the online donation page which houses your donation form. Simply put, a donation form is a designated area on your website where donors enter their giving information (like basic contact and payment data) so you can accept their donations.

You can include whatever additional questions you’d like (such as employer information). However, the most effective forms are straightforward and concise.

Ensure your donation form is as user-friendly as possible by limiting required fields and cutting out any distractions. You’ll also want to brand your donation page and form to match the look and feel of the rest of your website.

Mobile Giving

Mobile giving platforms make it possible for donors to donate using smartphones, tablets, or other mobile devices whenever and wherever they’d like. Leveraging mobile giving can be as simple as ensuring your donation page is mobile-optimized, meaning it functions just as well on a smartphone as it does on a laptop.

You can also utilize dedicated mobile giving methods, like text-to-give services. Different software providers offer various methods for making mobile donations, so find a provider that fits your goals.

Email Donation Buttons

Nonprofits can also request and accept donations through email giving. Email giving strategies typically incorporate buttons with pre-set giving amounts. These buttons direct the donor to a web page where they can complete the donation process or enable the donor to confirm the donation entirely through email.
Donation buttons make a great addition to your nonprofit newsletters. You can inspire supporters with updates and enable them to donate all in one place.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising consists of your supporters raising funds on your behalf with individual or team campaign pages. They’ll promote their fundraising pages to their own networks to raise money for your organization. The best peer-to-peer fundraising platforms make it easy for individuals to create their own personalized donation pages and to track and report their progress.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is a fundraising technique that involves obtaining smaller donations from a large public audience. This method is a kind of crowdsourcing when individuals or organizations get a service from an open group, typically online users. This is typically done online through a dedicated crowdfunding site and leverages social media promotion to raise money for a cause.

The benefits of online donation platforms

What Are the Benefits of Online Giving Platforms?

Benefits for Nonprofits

Because they are extremely accessible to the general online public, online giving platforms offer a host of benefits for nonprofit organizations like yours. Here are some of the ways they can help your organization:

Automated Donor Data Collection

When your donation pages are seamlessly integrated with your other fundraising tools, all of your data will be centralized and accessible across all platforms. This way, your team avoids common issues associated with manually entering data. For example, your team can avoid duplicate donor profiles or misinformation across your profiles. This will ensure more accurate insights from your CRM.

Increased Fundraising Revenue

Online donation platforms make donating possible with just a few clicks. The tool’s simplicity helps donors overcome giving barriers such as a complicated user journey and the lack of security when sending money in the mail. With ease and simplicity offered by online giving platforms, your organization can start to raise more funds to reach its goals.

Lower Donor Abandonment Rates

Having intuitive, user-friendly online donation software will reduce the number of donors that abandon the donation process midway. Don’t lose out on a precious donation due to an inconvenient giving process! Reasons why potential donors may abandon giving include the following obstacles:

  • The donation form takes too much time to fill out
  • It’s not intuitive how to give online
  • They don’t know how much to give

With your online giving platform, your team can work to combat these common barriers to giving, benefitting the user-friendliness of the transaction, and expanding your donor base.

Benefits for Donors

Online donation software doesn’t just benefit nonprofit organizations; it also works for the end-user as well. These are our favorite benefits offered to donors:

Multiple Ways to Donate

Online giving allows your supporters to make contributions in a way that’s convenient for them on their preferred digital devices. Common platforms include:

  • Text-to-give
  • Link on social media
  • Email
  • Directly through your webpage

With your online giving platform, you meet donors where they are online by providing multiple ways to give to your cause.

Streamlined Donation Process

Online donations make it easy for donors to contribute because it doesn’t require many steps, and donors can give wherever they are. There are a few simple steps to the donation process via an online giving platform:

  •  Fundraising outreach online attracts donor
  • Donor clicks included link
  • Donation form is filled out with important information
  • Money is contributed!

That’s all there is to the donor journey with an online giving platform; it’s easy and intuitive for both your donor and organization.

Secure Fundraising System

As a nonprofit professional, you know that a data leak can ruin the reputation of your organization in the long run, and put your supporters at risk. Therefore, with your chosen online donation software, both your team and your donors can be confident that sensitive financial and personal information is safe and secure when they go through the giving process.

What to look for in an online donation platform

What Do I Look For In An Online Donation Platform?

What to Consider Before You Buy

Your online donation platform will integrate well with the rest of your existing software, for example, your payment processor. Here are a few items that your team should pay attention to when selecting your platform:

Included Software Features

As you start to compare different online donation software, it’s important to know what features you want. We suggest prioritizing the following attributes in an online donation software:

  • Customizable donation pages
  • Seamless integration with existing software
  • High data security measures
  • Personalized assistance

Your organization’s needs are paramount but consider your donor’s needs as well. For example, does your donor base use their cellphones often? If so, consider investing in a software platform with a text-to-give option.

Ease of Use

Find online donation software that is easy to use for your nonprofit and the donor. As you look for an intuitive platform, make sure you can view a demo or try the software before buying.

The steps you find confusing will probably confuse your donors too. If the vendor can’t simplify the process, you should consider choosing another provider.

Level of Customization

The amount of customization software allows is an important factor to consider. For one thing, you should have a donation page and form that matches your brand so donors don’t question if they’re in the right place.
On a more detailed level, you might want to look for open-source software that allows you to build out a system of integrated solutions. Online donation software with fewer limitations gives your nonprofit the freedom to create a donation process that meets all of your needs.

Payment Processing

Payment processing software providers offer variations in processing fees, security, overall user experience, and the amount of time it takes to receive funds.

Before you pick any online donation software, your nonprofit should go through payment processing steps to make sure the process, features, and fees are within your needs.

Pricing and Fees

Look for online donation software that has a no-cost to get started option. From this base program, you’re able to invest further into additional features for your organization’s needs.

What is the best online donation platform for your nonprofit?

What Is The Best Online Donation Platform Software?

We’ve compiled a list of some of our most popular picks for online donation software. Be sure to consider each option before making a final decision!

Snowball

Snowball is an online donation software that features streamlined donation pages, event management tools, and text-to-give services.

While providing a straightforward platform for collecting donations, we process donations quickly. This way, your nonprofit can use contributions in no time!

Online Donation Platform Features

Snowball’s essential plan includes a comprehensive suite of tools. These include:

  • An online donation page
  • Recurring gifts options
  • Access to transaction and donor data
  • Unlimited administrator access
  • Effective online support

This means all of your fundraising tools will be in one centralized location, and you can avoid the trouble of transferring data from one system to another! If your team is looking to upgrade to premium features, Snowball offers a variety of options such as:

  • Event integrations, like ticketing services
  • Text-to-give
  • Social sharing
  • After hours support… and more!

Snowball offers four levels of features, so depending on your specific needs, refer to this guide for comprehensive feature information.

Pricing

Our essential plan is completely free to start using with a standard processing fee of just 2.9% + 30¢ per donation. We do, however, give users the option of leaving a tip to support our free service!

If you decide later to upgrade your plan to include text-to-give software and other additional services, the Snowball Premium plan is available as an inexpensive annual subscription.

Fundly online donation platform

Fundly

Fundly is a crowdfunding platform that offers a personalized online donation page option. Fundly allows users to update your sites with a variety of multimedia options to engage supporters further.

Online Donation Platform Features

Crowdfunding relies heavily on sharing your fundraising information online. Fundly has:

  • Facebook Open Graph Actions integration
  • Pages optimized for mobile giving
  • Customizable donation pages

Your donors and their networks will be able to promote and engage with your fundraiser online when using Fundly.

Pricing

Getting started with Fundly is free. This provider charges a platform fee of 4.9%, in addition to a standard credit card processing fee of 2.9% + 30¢ per transaction for donors.

Double the donation online donation platform

Double the Donation

Double the Donation is a popular fundraising tool for matching gifts. Double the Donation helps market matching gifts to supporters and provides easy ways to request gift matches from their employers.

Online Donation Platform Features

Double the Donation’s extensive database offers nonprofits crucial data regarding the matching gift programs of thousands of corporations—and the database is constantly being updated with the most current data! Popular premium features include:

  • A simple setup process
  • An embeddable plugin for your site
  • Increased earnings due to matching

If you’re ready to earn matching gift revenue, be sure to check out Double the Donation’s options.

Pricing

Double the Donation charges $299/year for a matching gift page that can help raise multiple times that amount with little work. If you’re weighing your options, Double the Donation allows for a free 14-day trial.

ABC Fundraising online donation platform

ABC Fundraising

ABC Fundraising is a fundraising tool that helps nonprofit organizations implement profitable fundraising products. With its large host of fundraising ideas, this platform can help your team drive funds to your organization.

Online Donation Platform Features

While ABC Fundraising is not a direct donation platform, this takes the work out of coming up with ways to select a successful fundraiser. Here’s what it can offer for your fundraising strategy:

  • High-profit product fundraisers
  • Proactive customer support
  • An expansive resource for fundraising event ideas of all kinds

Pricing

ABC Fundraising offers a free information kit regarding pricing and its steps to get started with their software.

Bonfire online donation platform

Bonfire

Bonfire specializes in custom products for nonprofits and individuals. These popular items include t-shirts, hoodies, and tank tops branded to your organization. When supporters purchase your items, you receive a profit. If your team opts to use Bonfire, your team will be able to set up your fundraising page to help direct interested donors to your custom customized product page.

Online Donation Platform Features

Hosting a fundraising campaign with Bonfire helps your team raise money and gives your donors a gift with your organization’s name on it. This method of fundraising can help spread awareness about your cause worldwide. Here’s how:

  • A free online store for your products
  • Easily customizable tees and items
  • Hands-on customer support
  • Availability to ship your items worldwide

Consider creating items branded with your nonprofit to gain these benefits.

Pricing

Bonfire handles merchandise financing, eliminating issues regarding potentially wasted inventory. This platform is free to use and only deducts an 8% fee from donations when supporters buy your product. Additionally, they offer a flat $5 shipping fee to anywhere in the U.S.

Donately online donation platform

Donately

Donately is a comprehensive online fundraising solution that works to help organizations of all sizes. If your team you’re looking for a donation-form builder, peer-to-peer fundraising software, or on-site fundraising tools, they’re able to help.

Online Donation Platform Features

Donately helps create effective donation forms. Your team can use this free software to build giving forms that fit your nonprofit’s brand. Once you create these forms, you’re able to embed them on your organization’s website or launch a giving page for easy access! Here’s how:

  • Customizable donation page features
  • Options for recurring donations
  • Text messaging capability to communicate with supporters

With these options and more, you’ll be bale to create an efficient and easy-to-use donation experience for your supporters

Pricing

Donately requires no up-front fees and simply begins to charge only when you start seeing fundraising success. For your first $100k in fundraising revenue, there is a 3% fee— which continues to decrease as your nonprofit’s fundraising revenue increases.

CharityEngine online donation platform

CharityEngine

CharityEngine is considered an “all-in-one” nonprofit solution with various tool options to supplement the centralized donor database. This CRM database can house data regarding each step of the donor journey.

Online Donation Platform Features

In addition to their CRM function, CharityEngine also offers various fundraising tools such as :

  • Peer-to-peer fundraising pages
  • Online stores
  • Advocacy campaigns
  • Email templates and more

These attributes are extremely helpful when it comes to collecting funds online through various outreach methods.

Pricing

Contact CharityEngine to learn more about their pricing structure and book a demo.

Handbid online donation platform

Handbid

Handbid helps nonprofits add powerful fundraising apps to their toolkit, specifically for crowdfunding and peer-to-peer campaigns. They also specialize in helping nonprofits run auctions seamlessly with an app and site payment option. Donors can easily use Handbid’s web-based platform or app to browse and bid on auction items.

Online Donation Platform Features

When your team uses Handbid, you can drive fundraising further with these features:

With these features, your nonprofit can leverage Handbid for a variety of fundraising efforts.

Pricing

Handbid offers various pricing packages, which you can customize for your specific fundraising needs. Their packages start at $695 per year.

iATS Payments online donation platform

iATS Payments

iATS Payments is the only dedicated payment processor on the market made for nonprofit organizations. Many rely on this platform to securely process payments from donors to help drive fundraising causes forward.

Online Donation Platform Features

  • Secure credit card processing: iATS Payments software offers customized fraud protection tools to protect your data.
  • Accepts direct debit & ACH: This platform can receive one-time or recurring donations directly from the supporter’s bank account.
  • PCI compliant: Level 1 Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliant.

With iATS Payments, your donors can be assured that their data and payments will be secure. Your team can rest easily knowing that your data is encrypted and safe.

Pricing

Contact iATS Payments for specific pricing offerings.

OneCause online donation platform

OneCause

OneCause is a comprehensive fundraising software that functions to help nonprofits easily facilitate online giving. You can use this software to create branded giving pages and customized forms, plan events, and sell tickets.

Online Donation Platform Features

  • Helps you manage silent, live, and online auctions.
  • Seamlessly captures guest info.
  • Securely processes credit cards during check out.
  • Empowers attendees with bids on their mobile phones.
  • Provides instantaneous checkout and automated receipts.

Pricing

Contact OneCause for more information about available pricing packages for your organization.

Soapbox Engage online donation platform

Soapbox Engage

Soapbox Engage offers online engagement tools that can help you make a substantial fundraising impact. With this platform, you can streamline event registration and ticketing, accept donations, create surveys, and facilitate an online shop.

Online Donation Platform Features

Soapbox Engage is scalable for nonprofits of any size. Some important features include:

  • Seamless Salesforce app integration
  • Effective event hosting features
  • Information sessions for organizations

Pricing

Start with a free trial and a demo from Soapbox. Here’s where to request these introductory features.

Qgiv online donation platform

Qgiv

Qgiv’s solution helps nonprofits seamlessly collect online donations. Through this provider, your team can launch online campaigns with standard donation forms, peer-to-peer fundraising pages, text-to-give numbers, and auctions.

Online Donation Platform Features

Qgiv helps organizations create customizable donation forms. You can even incorporate your organization’s brand colors, logo, fonts, and other details to ensure that your donation pages match your website’s overall look and feel.

Pricing

Qgiv charges a small 3.95% + $0.30 transaction fee per donation. As you increase your package type, you receive more helpful tools. They also offer quarterly and monthly payment options for your nonprofit to choose from.

Salsa online donation platform

Salsa

Salsa offers donor software that enables organizations to manage relationships, reach their supporters, and host advocacy and fundraising campaigns.

Salsa offers donor profiles, custom reports, and data dashboards along with marketing software and fundraising pages that you’ll need to collect data and raise funds.

Online Donation Platform Features

  • SmartEngagement technology to back the donor software
  • A hub for data collection and reporting
  • Easy contact with supporters on multiple platforms

With these features, you’ll be able to effectively reach out to the right people at the right time to give to your campaign.

Pricing

Contact Salsa’s support team to learn more about their pricing.

Any of these online donation platform options are fantastic ways to raise money for your organization. Be sure to consider the specific needs of your nonprofit and which software best can serve your team.

Purchasing and implementing your online donation platform.

Purchasing and Implementing Your Online Donation Platform

You’ve reviewed your options carefully and have picked the perfect online donation software for your team. Now, all you have to do is take some steps to prepare your team for implementing your new tool.

1. Contact the Vendor

After you’ve done your research and narrowed your search down to one or two providers, it’s time to reach out! Contact your potential vendors directly either through their website or by calling their office. They’ll typically follow up with your initial contact to find out more about your organization’s needs and how their software might fit in.

If you have any questions or apprehensions, now is a good time to speak one-on-one with a representative from the vendor’s team and find out even more about the tools they offer.

2. Request a Demo

Once you’ve gotten in contact with the vendor, schedule a demo so you can see the software in action. A demo is a perfect opportunity to learn how the product’s features actually work and grasp the software’s user-friendliness.

Even if the product seems perfect on paper, a demo can help you get a feel for what using these tools will be like for your staff (and donors) daily. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your provider about specific tools, too!

3. Select a Plan

If you feel confident that this is the product for you, it’s time to get specific about the tools and features you want access to. Most providers offer multiple product packages at different price points. While smaller nonprofits may only need access to the most basic functions, a larger organization may want to take advantage of a premium package with additional tools. Ensure that you’re clear on the differences at each level and that the products you need fit within your budget.

4. Get the Buy-In

When you’ve found the right product and are ready to make it official, there’s only one last hurdle to jump: getting the thumbs-up from your organization’s stakeholders!

Before you sign any contracts or submit any payments, double-check that your entire team is on board with such a purchase. Software is a major investment, so take the time to go over the new product with your staff and board.

Once everyone is on the same page with your purchase, the next step is easy: read and sign the contract your vendor has provided, and get started with your awesome new software!

5. Train Your Team On Using the Software

The most important step for using your new online donation software is to ensure that your team is on the same page with its functionality. When your group is well-versed in your product, you’re able to answer any questions or concerns from supporters that may arise during the giving process. Depending on your product, some providers offer training resources while others might let your team take your own steps to implement your product.

6. Explain the Process to Donors

Online giving may not be intuitive to every donor. Once your team learns the ins and outs of your chosen software, be sure to provide ways to contact your organization with any questions. Consider including basic steps (and graphics) in your email, direct mail, and social media fundraising appeals.

7. Continue to Track Online Donation Metrics

Your online donation software provides the capabilities to track your donor’s essential data, as well as the progress of your fundraising efforts. With the right platform, your team can learn the following essential data points:

  • Who your donors are
  • Which outreach drove them to your donation page
  • Which communications platforms were most effective in driving donations
  • What you can improve on for your next fundraising push

With these metrics and more, your team can create future strategies based on your donors’ most current fundraising analytics


Wrapping Up

In 2021, it’s essential your team has an online donation platform in place. The prevalence of online giving continues to grow, and by meeting your supporters where they are in the digital space, you can provide an easy way for users to give to your organization.

By recognizing which online donation platform features can best benefit your organization, choosing one will be easy. Luckily there are a variety of excellent options available, such as the ones recommended above. Be sure to do your research and happy fundraising!

Additional Resources

Text-To-Give Complete Guide: A form of online giving, a text-to-give campaign helps donors easily contribute to your cause with a keyword and number. Find out more about how to implement this into your fundraising strategy.

Virtual Fundraising: The Complete Guide For 2020 & Beyond: Virtual fundraisers are popular now, especially during the COVID era. Find out how to host a successful online event.

Virtual Fundraising Ideas: 60+ Campaigns for Online Success: If your organization is set on hosting a virtual event to encourage online giving, we have a guide of tried-and-true virtual fundraising ideas.

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