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Recent data gives a thumbs up to online fundraising

online fundraising

The advantages of online fundraising over the traditional ones has often been theorized in the popular literature. Be it in terms of the unimaginably large number of people one could reach, spread across large geographical distances or the relatively easy access to finance which is not dependent on a few big investors.

According to recent data released by Blackbaud Index (which tracks $20 billion in U.S. charitable giving month to month), overall giving for the three months ending in August was down 0.8 per cent as compared to the same three-month period of 2016.

Conversely, online giving saw a rise of 9.8 per cent when the two periods are compared, reinforcing our point, on the upper hand of online fundraising over traditional ones.

This disparity between overall fundraising and online fundraising is present at the sub sector level too. Arts organizations saw a decrease of 0.9 in overall fundraising, while its online fundraising saw an increase of 16.5 per cent, which was the second highest of all sectors.

Human service organizations saw a 0.6 per cent overall decrease but the third largest online increase at 14 per cent.

Healthcare organizations saw an overall increase of 3.1 per cent and an online increase of 8.1 per cent. Public society benefit organizations which were the biggest gainers in overall fundraising at 5 per cent were also the biggest gainers when it came to online fundraising at 18.7 per cent.

International affairs and education are two sectors which underwent an overall contraction when it comes to overall fundraising but saw an increase when it comes to online fundraising.

Now, coming to organization level data, large organizations, those with a revenue of $10 million or more struggled the most overall, seeing a decline of 2.4 per cent but were the biggest gainers online, with a rise of 11.5 per cent.

Small organizations which are defined as those with revenue of $1 million or less, were on the opposite end of the spectrum and witnessed an overall growth of 2.4 per cent and an online growth of 4.4 per cent. Medium sized organizations saw an increase of 0.4 per cent overall and a growth of 9.3 per cent online.

Looking at all the recent data and figures, together with the sectoral and the organizational break up, we could safely concur on the fact that online fundraising is the way to go. It is not only an attractive option in terms of raising funds but also a tested community building exercise where you form deeper bonds with the people contributing to your cause by keeping them in the loop all along.

Steps for Safer Online Giving Experience

Steps for Safer Online Giving Experience

Donating money to your intended cause has never been easier. There was a time when you could donate money only when someone representing the cause came knocking on your door, or you had to walk down to a local centre.

The internet has given nonprofit fundraising a renewed hope. E-giving is easy, convenient, and by a general consensus, safer too. That is not to say that risks aren’t involved. As is common with all good things, there are a few people who are determined to spoil this experience for everyone. Let this not scare you though.

GiveCentral understands the risks involved and we are determined to make sure this doesn’t deter your goodwill. So, read on! And with the tips we’re giving you, you’ll never have to think twice before deciding to give online.

  1. Know you cause.

This is true regardless of risks involved. But the risks make it all the more important for you to know the cause for which you’re contributing to. Research the cause and the means through which you’re trying to donate to the cause. Learn the particulars and the important dates regarding the cause. With this information, you can be an informed donor.

  1. Know where your money will reach.

It is important to learn details about your recipient. This is not limited to the name and location of the organization you’re donating to, but also includes knowing more about their account details. Make sure you’re donating to a bank account registered to an organization as opposed to a bank account registered to a person. As a general rule of thumb, a bank account registered to a person is something you’re supposed to stay away from.

  1. Practice safe e-giving.

Make sure you don’t enter your card details any other place than required. Don’t send over card details to a third party handler if he or she tells you that they’ll take care of it.

Make sure that when you enter the payment portal, the portal is secured with a “https” encryption. Just observe the URL of the payment page and see if there’s a “https” at the beginning. And if there is, you’re mostly good to go and if there isn’t, you should contact the organization and ask them why their payment portal isn’t secured.

  1. Obtain adequate contact information.

Make sure you know the contact details of the concerned persons at the organization you’re donating to. Write down the name, address, email ID, and other contact details in a safe place before donating money. Establish contact and make sure you know them well enough before you’re comfortable enough to donate.

  1. Be wary of spam emails.

Spam solicitations are very commonplace. And more often than not, spam emails asking for money are scamsters and fraudsters. That is not to say that all of them are. After all, email solicitation are still one of the most ways to ask for money. So when you receive a spam email asking for money, make sure you do the proper research before even responding to the email.

  1. Store receipts.

Once you’ve donated money to your intended cause, your job is mostly done. But there’s one last thing you must keep in mind. Make sure you store a copy of the payment receipt of your contribution, either in digital form or a printout. Make sure you store these receipts in a safe place. You never know when you might need them.

With these tips in mind, GiveCentral hopes you’ll have a pleasant e-giving experience.

How to Let Parishioners Know You’re Fundraising Online

parish_online

So you’ve set up an account with GiveCentral—our web-based donation tool that consolidates all collection, fundraising, and communication activities in one place—and you’re feeling pretty good. You’ve got your systems set up, your goals written out, and you’re ready to start accepting electronic donations. There’s just one simple problem. Your parishioners have no idea that you’re doing, well, any of it.

First things first, don’t panic. You’ve done a great thing by hopping on the online fundraising train. Research into charitable giving in 2016 found that giving increased 1% overall last year, but that online giving increased faster than the average, up 7.9% from the year before. If you build it—and let them know about it—they will come. Here’s how to let your parishioners know that you’re online and ready to receive donations.

Turn to social media

First things first, it’s time to craft a social media blast to let the parishioners that follow you on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram know that your GiveCentral platform is ready to roll. No need to agonize about this; think short, informative, and to-the-point. If you’re stuck, try something like this:

Tired of writing paper checks? We’re thrilled to let you know that you can now donate to [your parish’s name here] online! It’s quick, easy, and secure. Click the link below for more information.

Don’t forget about other forms of social media, like YouTube and Pinterest. If your parish already uses them, be sure to advertise your GiveCentral account there, too.

Go old-school

Of course, not all your parishioners are going to be on Twitter. That’s why it’s important to announce your GiveCentral presence in more traditional ways—i.e., on paper. Put a notice in your bulletin, print out an announcement and tack it to your bulletin board, and include a mention in your parish newsletter. By announcing it both online and off, you stand a better chance at catching the attention of all your parishioners.

Make your website donor-friendly

If you hop over to any major non-profit’s website, from the ACLU to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to the St. Raymond de Penafor Parish (a GiveCentral user!), you’ll find that they make it very, very easy for you to donate. Whether it’s a pop-up, a large “Donate” button, clean graphics, or all of the above, it’s immediately clear that donating to their cause is the primary way a website visitor can help.

Draw inspiration from these huge nonprofits and make sure your website directs visitors to your GiveCentral platform. It doesn’t have to be fancy; no pop-ups or .gifs required. Just make sure the information is on your front page—and easy to read.

Use social proof

The concept of “social proof” is a useful one for parishes to remember when they’re working on fundraising. Broadly, social proof is what happens when you buy a product based on your friend’s recommendation, or watch a video because everyone in your Twitter feed is recommending it. When it comes to fundraising, capitalize on the power of social proof by letting potential donors know that other donors are already contributing. Also, consider letting your parishioners know how these donations are being used. This could take the form of a photo posted on social media, a paragraph in your newsletter, or even a tasteful announcement from the pulpit, if that feels appropriate. The idea is to let your community know that people are supporting your cause and that, if they want to do so too, they simply need to hop online.

The good news is that none of these tips and tricks should take you very long, and the payoff is large! The better news is that we’re here to help. If you are looking to improve your fundraising and make the process much more efficient and far less stressful, GiveCentral may just be the product for you. We’ve got the lowest processing fees in the marketplace—and the passion and knowledge to help you exceed your fundraising goals. Ready to hear more? Reach out to us today.

How To Evaluate Your Online Giving Solutions

Every year we get a little close to going digital. Just think of it – media is digital, cameras are digital and so is the retail. According to the most recent survey by the Giving Institute more and more donors give online. So, it is important for churches to adapt to these changes too and give their members the option of .

Online payment process

As you think giving an online options for your donors try these three electronic payment types, see what your church members think:

  1. Through their credit card
  2. Electronic Fund Transfer for recurring donation
  3. Automated Clearing House

Evaluating an e-giving solution

As there are numerous programs that offer the service of online-giving, a church should be cautious as to what solution they choose for their congregation.

Here are a few points to remember as you choose the right program:

  1. The frequency of giving: Is the program able to give multiple options for fund transfers? Are there any schedules for recurring donations? The donor should be capable of linking their bank accounts for donation capability with weekly, biweekly or monthly automatic fund deduction capability. Donating frequently should be made easy.
  2. Easy to pledge options: Will the donor be able to pledge an amount for donation and then the payment for the pledge is scheduled over a certain period of time? Can the donor make a down payment on the pledge? Will he/she be able to make a down payment from one account and then charge the rest to another account?
  3. Confidentiality preference: Will a donor be able to remain anonymous?
  4. The process of transaction: What is the duration of the process of fund transfer? How much time does it take for the money to go from donor’s account to bank’s account? How much time does the application processing take these data? And what and how much fee is charged for the process?
  5. Security: Does the program comply with the guidelines of a safe transaction?
  6. PCI compliance
  7. 128-bit secure browser connection for safe data handling
  8. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) for information encryption.
  9. End to end data management. Donor’s card details and account information should be discreet. There should be no third party involved in handling the fund transfer.
  10. Price: When buying any product or service the top concern is the cost. Many service providers give unrealistic promises of the increase in the number of online participants in given number of year. But such predictions hardly meet their promise and are very misleading. Much of their charging fees is unexpected and can greatly hamper the collection capability of a church. Fees that are related to the size of the church or factors like how many already are giving and how many will readily switch to online giving, all these matters greatly when you are choosing a software solution. Hidden fees can bury the church in expenses that will make the service exorbitant.
  11. Advertising: Will the vendor also provide the service of promotion? Often the staff at church is not ready to encourage people to donate beyond the walls of the church. So asking the church members to become interested in the new online giving method will require some assistance. You will need a service provider who will help in launching and promoting the program. Many a time the participation in online giving can see a sudden spike but then slows and falls down gradually. The program should be capable analyse giving habits and advise long-term strategies for donation collection.

Online giving should be promoted in every way possible even to members who aren’t that frequent to church. Promoting online giving can be a hard task if the attendance lays low throughout the year. Integration with any social platform can greatly boost exposure of the new giving habit to other members. Attracting potential donors has to be a constant effort. It is imperative to look into expenses of these promotions before you decide on a service provider.

  1. Information: Will the reports of online contribution be available, and in what form? Will the integration of information be automated to enable transfer of data to donation management software? An efficient bookkeeper tracks the donor by funds donated to measure the effective way of using a program. But if the data handling is too complicated a person can falter and margin of error becomes bigger. Also, it shouldn’t be too overwhelming so as to teach a new staff member. The service provider should offer teaching tools and train to help the church staff in organizing data in the most efficient way.
  2. Updates: The vendor should provide frequent updates to keep pace with the changing habits of the donors and to sync with the collection strategies of the churches. The program should be up-to-date and have the most contemporary functionalities. If the application for mobile phones is available then it should provide flexible payment methods and easy donation process. As more people are using smartphones these days, online finance option is now steadily being used by people. Every detail ranging from likeability and functionality of the application to the security provided should be updated as frequently as possible to adhere to changes in need and demand. This will help in maximizing participation in online giving.

Just like you would go to a store to get your groceries, so should you go online to reach your donors for charitable giving.  By going where your donors are you are increasing the likelihood of engaging them not just for that collection, but for recurring long-term charitable relationship. Online giving should be a top priority on your long list of things to do. But remember, we are here to help make your fundraising effort easier. Talk to us by leaving a comment below!

charitable giving by religion

The #GivingTuesday Countdown

#GivingTuesday

– the global philanthropic movement celebrating and encouraging a national day of charitable giving – is one week away.  How are you celebrating it this year?  

Ideally, your planning is in the final “finishing touches” stage with your communications ready to roll and your online/mobile giving site ready to accept donations.  For some, however, we know that despite the best intentions your #GivingTuesday plans may still be in the works.  

With that in mind, we developed this quick-and-easy last minute #GivingTuesday Checklist to help you capitalize on this big day of giving and pull together a successful #GivingTuesday campaign:

  • Determine Your Campaign Theme and Goal

The first step is to figure out what you are raising money for and how much you aim to raise.  To make things easy, if you already have a holiday or end-of-year campaign in place, simply tie #GivingTuesday to that campaign.  It’s a great way to bolster the campaign and increase support.

If not, create a specific campaign goal that will resonate with your supporters.  Donors want to know what their donations support so be specific – i.e. raising $50,000 for a scholarship fund or $10,000 for sprucing up a local family shelter.  You may even want to consider taking a menu approach:  allowing donors to direct funds to multiple ongoing projects you  support.  

  • Craft Your Communications.

Compelling communications are the backbone of your #GivingTuesday fundraising campaign.  Donors are more likely to give if they know how their dollars help.  Be sure to craft stories that demonstrate the impact donations have on your campaign.  Use strong visuals to help bring your story to life and be sure to make it easy to give by including a link to your online giving page in every communication.  Your communications need to inspire and breakthrough the clutter of the day.  

Time won’t allow for a full donation page overhaul, but at the very least make sure your donation page references your #GivingTuesday effort and the donation options mirror your campaign.  And, be sure to add the highly recognizable #GivingTuesday logo to your page.   

  • Get Social

#GivingTuesday expertly leverages social media to encourage giving.  Be sure you create social content that is not only compelling but easily sharable.  Invite your supporters to share your story – and link!  

You can still make the most of #GivingTuesday but you have to act fast!  Happy fundraising.    

Duck Race Fundraiser

Tips on Inspiring Year-Round Giving

Spring is (finally) in the air and with the blooming of spring comes the season for marquee nonprofit fundraising events. From grand galas to spring fling festivities, these cornerstone events are an important part of the fundraising mix, often raising significant funds.

While extra emphasis is rightfully put on these annual high-profile and revenue-producing events, don’t take your eye off the eight ball. Year-round giving is critical to your long-term viability and is the engine that drives your mission. Steady, recurring gifts add up and are foundational elements to your fundraising success.

The most successful nonprofit organizations integrate traditional fundraising activities such as annual galas with online giving options and ongoing donor communications. Electronic giving is an effective tool to not only facilitate donations, but also deepen donor engagement which results in increased year-round giving. When adding GiveCentral to their fundraising tool kit, our clients report a growth of up to 50 percent in total donations.

You can inspire year-round giving by deploying the latest fundraising technology and creating meaningful donor touch points throughout the year.

Try these proven GiveCentral tips: (more…)

closeup of a red saddle blanket with a large number 1 on a horse with its rider going to the derby

Drawing Lessons From The Kentucky Derby

Were you one of the millions of Americans who tuned into the Kentucky Derby this past weekend? I’ve always wanted to go and take in the action at Churchill Downs. While the Kentucky Derby is synonymous with mint juleps and big hats, as I watched the fastest two minutes in sports, I couldn’t help but draw analogies to fundraising.There are so many horses in the fundraising race. Donors are bombarded with messages and pleas for support from a wide array of organizations supporting a vast assortment of causes. How do you make your horse stand out? Here are a few “training tips” to help you take the lead and stay on a winning track:

Strong Storyline

Electronic Donations

Every horse has a backstory and the same goes for your organization. You’ve got to come out of the gates with a compelling reason for donors to “bet on” – or support – your mission. You need a clear, crystallized mission and a detailed plan on how you are going to tell it. Donors want to know the impact their donations are making in your organization, so be sure to tell them…and often! (more…)

increase fundraising

Make a Resolution for Your Best Fundraising Year Ever

The new year is upon us, and we’re all ready for a fresh start. How’s your plan for 2016? Now’s the time to make a resolution to have your best fundraising year ever.We’ve prepared a quick, 10-step checklist to help you make sure you’ve got the pieces in place for a fantastic year of giving in 2016.

1. Our donate button is easy to find on our website.

a screen shot of St. Margaret Mary's home page featuring Christmas messaging and a donation button
In December, St. Margaret Mary Church was ready for Christmas giving, with a DONATE NOW button right near the top of the page and a slider highlighting their Christmas events.

2. We have included recurring giving options on most, if not all, of our online giving events.

screen shot of a giving page with Annual giving selected
The Church of Holy Apostles lets you set up your Christmas gift for multiple years at once. You can do this for any holiday or annual event!

3. Our email messages have catchy subject lines that invite donors to open them.

screen shot of a Google inbox with messages from St. Josaphat Church
St. Josaphat keeps things interesting by varying email subject lines for special events while maintaining their regular newsletter.

4. Our outreach is focused on our donors, not us.

an older couple in warm clothes, turned around with one arm over the back of a bench
These are the folks you want to impress. Not your board, not your boss… focus on the DONORS.

5. We include a compelling image in each message.

screen shot of the Office for Peace and Justice home page with an image of a refugee child
The Office for Peace and Justice illustrates their need with one strong image to indicate what your donation will support.

6. Our emails tell a story, but are short enough to be reasonably read on a smartphone.

closeup of a man's hand holding a mobile phone
People are busy! Make a resolution to make your emails easy to read on the go.

7. We are utilizing our social media channels daily to bolster our message of giving.

a screen shot of St. John Berchmans Twitter account
Interspersing charitable and mission-based messages, St. John Berchmans led into the Christmas season with something for everyone.

8. We have planned a day-before giving message with a sense of urgency and a clear call to action.

a calendar with Christmas Day circled in pencil
Your target is that one special event on a particular day, but your plan starts now.

9. We have a plan in place to thank our donors, and to follow up with them to share the results of their gifts.

a fountain pen next to the words "Thank you" written in script
Thank you notes were important at Christmas, certainly, but make a resolution to follow up again throughout the new year.

10. We have started a fundraising plan for 2016!

hands writing in a date-planner book
A resolution of better planning will ensure an even better fiscal year. Start with an outline and build from there.
Online Giving

Online Giving: Why Haven’t Churches Made the Switch?

Online giving has been on a significant upswing in just the past five years, but churches are lagging behind. A recent Dunham + Company/Campbell Rinker survey shows that while 70 percent of nonprofit organizations offer opportunities to donate online, just 42 percent of churches give their parishioners that chance. That number is even lower for small churches (under 200 attendees), at only 29 percent.As an example of how online giving has grown for nonprofits, just under half (48 percent) of donors had given through a charity’s website in 2010. Today, 60 percent say they have given an online gift. That’s incredible growth that should catch the attention of any stewardship director, so what is it that churches aren’t seeing about the benefits of online giving?In my time working at a church as well as here at GiveCentral, I’ve heard more than a few arguments against making the switch to online giving. The thing is, it’s not a switch at all! Offering an online giving option to your parishioners lets them choose one more way they can give.Here are a few more commonly-heard arguments, and why I don’t think they hold water:

Argument 1:

We’ve always done things this way, it’s hard to make a change

The church is the cornerstone of the community, and it’s been a presence in our lives for as long as we can remember. But when was the last time your church made a change in the way they do things? We understand that there’s a lot of tradition in the church and you know what works best. However, as you notice your offertory on the decline or less participation in your ministries, perhaps it’s time to take a look at how your community is changing and adapt with them.

Argument 2:

Our older donors don’t understand computers, they don’t want to give online

Your older donors may not agree with your assessment of their abilities. Back in 2010, 29 percent of those 65 and older said they’d made a charitable donation online. Today, that number has grown to 59 percent, on par with younger donors. And boomers are a vibrant and generous demographic, and they’re not about to let new technology stand in the way of supporting the causes they love.

Argument 3:

We don’t have to be online, we see our donors every week

But do you want to be asking people for donations every week? Can your appeal compete with the socializing happening in the entryway, the family discussion in the parking lot, the rush to get to brunch, or the bustle to get a cranky child home? With online giving, donors can set up recurring gifts and pledges whenever they have a free moment, right from home. Those gifts can be scheduled and automatically deducted with ease, granting your parishioners (and your staff!) a few more minutes of precious free time.


Churches simply must respond to changes in their attendees’ preferences. People of all ages are becoming more and more comfortable in the online world, whether for socializing, shopping, reading, and more. Why not meet your donors where they’re already spending their time? See how GiveCentral can help.

Fundraising Success

Are You Integrating Your Giving Options?

Why Integrating Offline and Online Giving Will Be Key to Your Fundraising Success

The evolving role of offline and online giving and how it affects your mission

by Jordan GoodWe’re living in a time of nearly unparalleled technical innovation. Software and devices that would have seemed unthinkable 5 or 10 years ago are now essential parts of our daily lives. At the forefront of innovation is the Internet. Who would have thought so much of our lives would be intertwined with cloud-based services, websites and software? For nonprofit organizations, technical innovation in software and technical solutions is revolutionizing how we operate, and integrating new technologies into your existing giving programs is crucial.Is online giving a part of your organization’s fundraising strategy? In our 2015 survey report: Predictions for Nonprofit Giving, 48% of respondents received online donations, while 58% received paper check donations. As more donors look for ways to simplify giving and make tracking their donations easier, online giving will become less of a convenience and more of a necessity for nonprofit organizations. Here are just a few of the ways integrating your offline and online giving will be essential to your fundraising success:

  1. It will save you considerable time (so you can focus on your mission). I used to work for a church, and I know that often times there are multiple systems for managing payments —one for automated clearing house (ACH), one for checks and cash, one for credit cards…you get the idea. With integrated giving solutions such as GiveCentral, your organization can manage all of these giving options in one place. Plus, it will save all data about your donors in one place—perhaps a donor makes a cash donation at one event, but makes a credit card donation for your annual giving campaign. All donation records are saved and available in one place.You save time by not having to enter data into multiple systems, or not having to pull and compare that data at tax time or to reconcile accounting. With the security and capabilities of integrated giving solutions like GiveCentral, the process becomes so much simpler, your staff or volunteers are able to focus their time on more mission-critical tasks.
  2. It can help you provide better service to your donors. When all of your donation data is in one place, running reports or sending donor communications is made much Today, donors want and expect to see detailed reporting on their giving, especially at tax time. When they receive one, simple and easy-to-understand communication without any mistakes, they’re able to easily take that document for their tax preparation. You make your donors’ lives easier, and make it easier to give in the future. Plus, by leaving a positive impression with donors, they’re more likely to spread the word about your organization to their family and friends.
  3. It will make “now” easier, while preparing you for the future. When was the last time you wrote a check at the grocery store? Have you noticed you carry less cash and are using a credit card more often? This is the shift that’s happening across the US today—people are using traditional payment methods like cash and checks less, and are leaning more toward credit cards, online and mobile giving. Entering accounting data into two, three or even four systems for all these giving methods takes time and can lead to errors.With GiveCentral, you enter data for all donations in one place, and once a donor record is set up, that donor is tracked for all donations and communication. You won’t have to integrate data across systems or spreadsheets in order to pull accurate reports— all the information you need is in one system (plus, using one system like GiveCentral versus multiple systems for each reduces costs, saving time and making accounting easier). Accounting right now becomes simpler by integrating your offline and online giving. And when the inevitable happens—people simply stop using cash and checks to donate—you’ll have the infrastructure in place to not miss a beat.Your donors will be happy because they can continue giving in the way that’s most convenient for them, and your employees and volunteers will be happy that they don’t have to change how they input and manage donations. Everyone is happier, and you have more time and energy to focus on your mission.

I love helping nonprofit organizations with GiveCentral. I get to see firsthand how it helps them operate more efficiently, save money and have more time to focus on mission-critical tasks.Time Savings in ActionOne organization had an employee who spent a significant amount of time processing donations—she was regularly processing more than 100 checks at a time. Manually inputting that data was incredibly time consuming—she reported that literally half of her time was spent on just this one task. GiveCentral can scan checks and automatically input the data into your records. And for repeat donors, the system will automatically recognize when a check comes from that same person, reducing time even further so you don’t have to re-enter their information. The system automatically adds the latest donation to their profile. When the leader of this organization realized they could free up half of an employee’s time to work on more mission-critical tasks, their eyes lit up. Just this one functionality of an integrated offline and online giving solution changed their operations dramatically. Yet there really is so much more.Our website provides many resources and information, or you can call me directly at (312) 929-2306. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have or help you understand how integrating your offline and online giving will boost your fundraising efforts.