Choosing the right online fundraising platform for your charity

Following Virgin Money’s announcement last week that their charity fundraising website, Virgin Money Giving, will close for donations on 30th November 2021, many charities are now having to re-consider which online fundraising partners to work with.

But with so many online fundraising platforms to choose from, how do you find the right one for your cause? Here are 10 questions to ask when comparing and reviewing the different options:

1. Will your donations be safe?

Every online fundraising platform will have a process for transferring funds to charities. Be sure to have a look at what that process is and whether they keep the donations in a protected fund. This means that if something were to happen to that company, your money would be safe.

At JustGiving we have measures in place to protect all donations made through the site and we ring-fence all donations in a safeguarding account, passing these on to your charity within days of a donation being made.

Trust and security are important to us, and we’re proud that JustGiving was the first fundraising platform in the UK to be an Approved Payment Institution (API), regulated by The FCA, giving you and your supporters peace of mind that your donations are safeguarded by the highest industry standards.

2. Do their goals and values align with yours?

Or put another way, why do they exist? If their ultimate goal is more aligned with their own CSR goals than maximising the amount of funds you raise, then it’s unlikely they’re a long-term partner..

We believe the world will be a better place when good takes over. Helping people raise more online for the causes they care about is all we do.

3. Is this platform new to the market?

When researching which platform to register with, it’s important to look at their history as a business as well as their reputation. How long have they been operating for? Are they well established or are they new and potentially carry more risk? Can people give anywhere in the world?

Back in 2000, JustGiving was established with one single purpose – to help all charities make good things happen by helping them raise more online. 20 years later, we’re still doing what we do best and we love what we do.

4. Are they trusted by other charities?

Take a look at how many and which charities are already registered and using the platform. This will give you a good idea of whether the platform meets the needs of a wide range of charities, both in size and in type. Choose a handful of charities to contact and ask them about their experience of the platform and whether they would recommend it. Most platforms will have case studies on their website that you can read and information about any industry awards they have won. Over 45,000 charities worldwide have used JustGiving since 2001 to enable people to show they care for good causes.

5. Will you get a good return investment (ROI)?

Most online fundraising platforms charge a fee in some form or another, which is important in order for them to be a sustainable business and partner you can rely on. What’s key is whether you get a a good return on those fees. For everyone penny you invest in your tech partner, how much more are they helping you raise? Will your fundraisers raise more? Is it easier for your donors to give so gift conversion is higher? And don’t forget saving time and reducing costs – how many hours a week could you save with the right reporting tools?

We recommend posting in forums like Fundraising Chat or in the Fundraising Everywhere community to get other charties’ experiences of fundraising platforms and which ones have saved them time, reduced costs and helped them raise more. All this leads to a cracking ROI.

6. Does their business model encourage innovation?

Whilst cost is a consideration, it’s just as important to look at their business model. What does the company do with those fees? Do they reinvest it into their platform and constantly innovate? How often do they update their platform and release new products and tools to help you grow?

We regularly update charities we work with here on the JustGiving blog and also hold regular webinars to keep you up-to-speed on our latest improvements and innovations.

7. Do you have {insert important feature that matters to YOU}?

It can feel a little overwhelming seeing ALL the options that different fundraising platforms can offer you. And whilst it’s great that they have all these features, all that matters is whether they have the features that are valuable to your organisation. We recommend that you make a list of features, decide which ones are essential vs nice-to-have, and tick off whether the fundraising partner you’re evaluating does what YOU need it to do.

If their website doesn’t have the info you need to do that (sorry if that’s us – eek), book a call, join a webinar or ask on social media to find out. Share your wishlist with us and we’ll fill it in.

8. Do your supporters know and trust them?

When choosing an online fundraising platform, it’s important to weigh up whether you want a white label solution, or a website that is a well-known brand and its own following. Like JustGiving, and Virgin Money Giving, this option will attract new people to fundraise online for your cause, and give donors confident to give online. Check-out their TrustPilot score, find out how many fans they have on Facebook and how many followers they have on Twitter. It will give you a good indication as to whether they are known and trusted by your supporters. It’s also worth testing the experience people will have on the platform and see what features they have to help your supporters raise more money.

9. How robust is their platform?

Make sure your preferred fundraising platform can handle big spikes in traffic at a moment’s notice, so you don’t miss out on donations. How many donations per second can they handle? Can they increase their server infrastructure at a moment’s notice? At JustGiving, we have supported many fundraising campaigns that have seen exponential growth within a few hours, such as Captain Tom’ 100th birthday fundraiser last year.

“JustGiving has played a key role in enabling so many people to donate to Stephen’s Story. To date, over 166,000 donations have been made with many thousands happening at the same time. JustGiving increased their server infrastructure to unprecedented levels to keep the site up and running. They have done this seamlessly and we are enormously grateful for their support. Our own online systems are not built to cope with such incredibly high volumes of donations.” Siobhan Dunn, Teenage Cancer Trust CEO

10. What value do they add beyond the technology?

It’s worth considering what they do for the charity sector as a whole. Do they sponsor and attend conferences or hold training events of their own? Do they share fundraising tips and insights to help all charities? For us, the answer to this last question is an important one and something we’re passionate about. We regularly share advice, tips and success stories to help all charities, big and small, raise more online.

Transitioning from Virgin Money Giving to JustGiving

We’re here to help and have lots of experience making it smooth and easy for charities to migrate to JustGiving. Visit www.justgiving.com/for-charities/virginmoneygiving to find out more and get in touch.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in March 2015 and has been revamped and updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

The post Choosing the right online fundraising platform for your charity first appeared on JustGiving Blog.

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