Which Online Fundraising Platform?

Maximise your donations

Online fundraising platforms are an indispensable tool for charities as part of a Digital Fundraising strategy. When every penny counts, it's important to maximise donations by choosing the best online platform for your charity.

From our analysis we would say there is no 'one-size-fits-all' answer to which fundraising platform to choose, as each platform has a slightly different approach. For example, by making different services and tools available or reaching different funding audiences. However, we can help you to think about your options and narrow down which ones would work best for you.

Factors to Consider

When we're advising new clients on choosing a fundraising platform, these are some of the factors we consider before making a recommendation:

By this, we mean things like:
  • How transparent is the platform about their fees, terms & conditions?
  • Is the website built well? Will your charity & your donors' data be secure? What does the platform do with that data?
  • Are they regulated in any way, such as by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)?
  • Will your donors feel confident and comfortable using the platform?
  • Do you know any other charities with experience of using the platform who can give you honest feedback?

Some platforms have ratings on Trustpilot or other ratings sites, but these reviews can often be skewed to reflect the donor experience, as many more donors submit reviews than charities. While it is very important to consider the donor experience, these ratings do not necessarily reflect the experience of charities setting up and administering their account on the platform.

There are very few online fundraising platforms which are completely free for charities to use, so the amount of money the charity will actually receive from any donations is undoubtedly an important factor to consider. Because of this, the default order in which the platforms are presented in our table is by how much a charity would actually receive from a £10 donation, plus Gift Aid, made using a debit card.

Broadly, there are 3 types of fee that we look at (excluding Gift Aid which is covered later):

1. Membership Fee
There are a handful of platforms who charge a one-off joining fee or an annual/monthly fee for the use of their site. These fees need to be factored in, in addition to the cost per donation. Don't immediately discount these sites as there may be some particular features or functionality which make the platform worth including in your shortlist, despite the additional fee.
2. Platform Fee
Most sites charge a platform fee per donation. This is most commonly a percentage of the donation and is essentially an administration fee to cover the running costs of the site. Some platforms allow the donor to cover this cost, in addition to their donation.
3. Payment Processing Fee
Most platforms pass on the charges they incur for processing the payments made by donors. Again, this is most commonly a percentage of the donation and is likely to vary slightly, depending on the method of payment chosen. Debit cards usually incur the lowest payment processing fee.
What payment methods are your donors likely to prefer? Debit and credit cards are very common options across all platforms, however do you need to make other payment methods available, such as Direct Debit, Paypal or even Apple-Pay & Google-Pay? It is also worth checking how this affects the payment processing fees levied on the platform.
Platforms tend to offer one of the following solutions for Gift Aid;
  1. Relevant data is collected, allowing the charity to make their own Gift Aid submissions.
  2. Gift Aid processing is included as a free service.
  3. Gift Aid is processed at a percentage fee per transaction.
Consider:
  • Are you registered for Gift Aid?
  • Do you need your chosen platform to process and collect Gift Aid for you?
  • Is the charity in a position to be able to make the Gift Aid submissions themselves?

Most, but not all, online fundraising platforms provide the ability to take one-off donations.

In addition to this, there are a number of other types of fundraising which platforms may support. For example:

  • Regular giving
  • Fundraising events e.g. sponsorship for an individual taking part
  • Team fundraisers
  • In Memory giving
  • Raffles
  • Events (e.g. tickets for admission)
  • Membership
  • Auctions
  • Lottery
  • Crowd funding

This is by no means an exhaustive list!

You should also consider whether you prefer to use a single platform to manage all your needs or if you could take a mix & match approach.

  • Do you need to link to or integrate into the charity website?
  • Do you need your own branding?
  • What reporting and donor management functionality do you need?
  • Do you need to integrate with any other software the charity uses (e.g. finance systems)?
  • Do you need to split donations between more than one charity or more than one project?

Fundraising Platform Comparison

Now that you have a good understanding of all the factors to consider, use the table below to compare the costs and benefits of each platform.

If you are interested in customised analysis and recommendations for your organisation, please get in touch to discuss our services. Alternatively, jump straight to our standard recommendations.

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✝ When paid by debit card

Note: Organisations do change their fees, and while we endevour to keep our data up-to-date you should double check the platforms' website directly for the most up-to-date details before making any commitment. Please do let us know if you spot any information which needs correcting or have any feedback for additional information or features you would like to see here.

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Our Platform Recommendations

By now your head may be spinning with all the different options available and various different factors to consider. If you are interested in more customised analysis and recommendations for your organisation please get in touch to discuss our services.

Otherwise, here are a few of our top choices:

Best for One-off donations
Paypal Giving Fund

Paypal Giving Fund will process one-off donations, including Gift Aid and pass on 100% of the funds to the charity, with reporting data available to download as a CSV file. You can use a donate button on the charity website to link to the Paypal Giving site. A Paypal Giving Fund account also allows charities to receive funds raised via Ebay, Humble Bundle, GoFundMe and Facebook.

Best for Features
Peoples Fundraising

With reasonably low platform and transaction fees, Peoples Fundraising is a good choice of platform for charities to receive one-off and regular donations.

However, the platform also offers charities a whole host of other interesting fundraising features, such as:

  • In memory donations
  • Team fundraising
  • Raffles
  • Events
  • Memberships
  • Auctions
  • Lottery
  • Ability to share donations between different charities or between different projects within the same charirty

Best for small clubs & associations
Localgiving

Most platforms will only take applications from registered charities, however Localgiving facilitate fundraising for local charities and unregistered community groups. The site does charge an annual fee of £96 per year, in addition to platform, payment processing and Gift Aid fees, however they are also able to process and collect Gift Aid on behalf of organisations who are not registered to collect Gift Aid themselves. This makes them a good option to consider for small local charities and unregistered groups who would not otherwise be able to access online fundraising platforms and Gift Aid income.

They also offer matched funding campaigns every 2-3 months, crowd-funding and access to apply for 'Magic Little Grants'.

One to watch
Wonderful

We have been eagerly awaiting the reopening of Wonderful. It re-opened in 2021, after its unfortunate closure on 1st April 2020, and has been split into two:

  • Wonderful.org
  • Wonderful Payments

Wonderful.org will support fundraising events, passing on 100% of funds raised to charities with costs covered by Wonderful's corporate sponsors. If their model operates in the same way as before it closed (this is currently unclear), they will collect Gift Aid data, allowing charities to make their own submissions. Unfortunately the site was somewhat short-lived last time, so we are hoping this model is more successful for them, as it has the potential to cut out platform and payment processing fees for a lot of charities.

Wonderful Payments is also a good option for charities to accept one-off donations. With a flat rate fee of 10p per transaction, it makes it easier for charities to assess the fees they will incur and essentially this makes Wonderful Payments cheaper to use, the larger the donations you receive.

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A Little Note About Us

We are not affiliated with or receiving any compensation from any of these fundraising platforms. The above advice and information is provided on a best-effort basis, to help charities choose the most cost-effective and suitable solution(s) for their needs.

If you have found this information useful and would like to help us continue providing, updating and expanding these details, please consider supporting our work.

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