Five Ways Charities Can Maximise Donations Online

(originally published in ProBono)

Australians are givers. It’s estimated that a whopping 14.9 million Australian adults (80.8 per cent of the population) gave $12.5 billion to charities and not-for-profit organisations in 2015-16. So if we live in a country where so many people want to be charitable and see value in supporting social causes, how do we make the most of it?

Social media and online presence is fast becoming a vital way in garnering donations. When people are engaged with your mission online, they are primed to invest in your cause and help get those much deserved dollars through the door.

A phrase that is commonly heard in the space these days is “donation potential”. Your donation potential online is giving your followers, who often love to “lurk” in the background, a reason to donate. Think about it this way, if you have 1,000 followers, and they all donated $10, that’s $10,000 in your bank account.

Here are a few ideas that your organisation could employ to increase your donation potential.

Where does my money go?

Make it clear, or give an indication, as to where that money will go.

Try to avoid vague phrases like “continuing awareness around our issue”. The success of charities like World Vision is their ability to give the donor a tangible item they are purchasing for someone. Your organisation may not be providing a goat for a family, but what are you providing? Are you building an online knowledge hub? Helping to build a treatment centre? Do you provide goods or services to less fortunate communities? Are you funding medical research? Try to quantify a product or project to give your donor something to hold onto.

Make it easy!

Right, so someone has decided to donate. Great! But, where is the donation portal? When someone has made the decision to give you money, don’t make it hard for them to find out how to do it. A clear link off the front page of your website would suffice. Make the donations page user-friendly and have multiple options in your payment system (debit, credit, Paypal, etc.). The more types of money you can accept, the more donations you will get.

And, always provide a receipt.

Target when to ask.

Sure, have your donations page accessible all day, every day. But don’t ask all the time. Target your donations and tie them to specific events, campaigns or key dates. Consider special dates in the normal calendar, like Christmas Day or Mother’s Day, and pose your organisation as an alternate gift option. A smart option would be upon getting followers to subscribe to your community, ask them for their date of birth, and two or so weeks beforehand, send a reminder email that your cause is as good as any to ask for a donation to be placed in their name from a loved one.

Humanitarian donations are very popular these days, as many people love giving, and receiving, left-of-centre gifts. Make yours an option.

Tax Deductibility.

One thing that a lot of charities throw into their donation drives is “tax deductibility”. Great, because yes, anything two dollars or above with no material gift received, is tax deductible! But how can you market this effectively next financial year?

Step one, ensure your charity has tax deductibility status.

Step two, how about make a quick 30 second video with your CEO or Founder, asking for people to donate. Make it simple and positive. “Hi I’m _____ from ______, we’re asking for people to donate to _____ this tax time so we can continue to __x__, __y__ and __z__. Remember, your donation is tax deductible!”

Statistics on tax deductibility always help, and to let people know of your tax deductibility status should be included in any donation campaign or drive.

Give an incentive or a reward.

Everyone loves free things, however that doesn’t mean you have to pay anything to give out these gifts. One of the things that makes humanitarian donations so rewarding is the piece of paper, or appreciation card that you receive in the mail or in your inbox afterwards.

Provide a letter of acknowledgement with the amount and name, with a nice message, create a competition around donating, or, say, give a birthday card if it’s a birthday gift. These things would take a small amount of time and effort to put together, but would make a world of difference in the amount and frequency of donations.


Above all, donating is successful when the process is clear, it’s inviting, and it’s rewarding for the donor to do so. Have a reason that people should donate, make the process simple, and make them feel good about donating.

If these things are achieved, get ready to see your donation potential go up and up (and up).

About the author: Nicholas Soraghan is the co-founder of Content For A Cause: a social media and content marketing company exclusively for the non-profit sector. They are the agency of choice for charities to grow their online community.

– Content Team