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The PayPal Official Insider Guide to Online Fundraising: A Wealth of Fundraising Options

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The innovators in online fundraising are an ambitious lot, always introducing new tools and websites to help nonprofits achieve their goals. They’re so good at it that you might think you’re leaving money on the table if you don’t pursue every avenue that pops up. But that’s not practical. One way to set priorities is to consider who or what you’re raising money for (a person? sports team? charity?) and choose the websites and services that fit your scenario. We’ll go through some of those options here.

Getting to Know the Online Neighborhoods

There are dozens, if not hundreds, of websites that cater to U.S. fundraisers by processing payments and perhaps providing research and advice, event planning resources, and marketing assistance. Many of them process donations only for registered 501(c)(3) organizations—the schools, churches, and welfare nonprofits that come to mind when we think of tax-exempt charities.

Other giving websites have no such restrictions, and make it dead simple to raise money not only for charities and people in need, but also for weddings, vacations, tattoos, removal of tattoos, and anything else people hit up their friends to pay for.

Nonprofits and individuals can establish or expand their online presence in a number of ways. These categories aren’t neat and tidy, and some of the terminology is still in flux, but here’s a rough breakdown of the online venues where nonprofits can set up shop:

  • Their own website, where supporters can give through donation pages and buttons.
  • Social giving websites such as FundRazr, Indiegogo, Crowdrise, and GoFundMe, also called peer-to-peer or crowdfunding sites. Nonprofits can set up campaigns on these websites, but the emphasis for some is on empowering the individual fundraiser. Anyone can quickly create a page for a cause and use social media to invite friends to contribute. (We’ll take an in-depth look at social fundraising in Chapter 9.)
  • Charity portals, such as Charity Navigator and GuideStar, which list and evaluate thousands of public charities. Visitors can research organizations and donate through the portals.
  • Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media websites. This is where fundraising is getting interesting and experimental, if not reliably lucrative (yet). Organizations can set up their own Facebook page and Twitter account to communicate with supporters—nothing new there—and their supporters can add apps and widgets (Causes, FundRazr) to their personal pages on behalf of their favorite charities. In another twist, HelpAttack! lets social media lovers pledge a small amount to a charity each time they tweet or update their Facebook status, or add a pin on Pinterest.
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