There is an incredible amount of diversity in the vast number of businesses throughout the modern world, but there’s one thing that’s certain and true for every single one of them: they need money. After all, that’s the whole point of running a business, right? Whether you run a non-profit organization or a corporate retail store, you need money to keep the business going. Even if you’re working out of the goodness of your heart, you’ll still need cash to fund support efforts for your cause.

Well, the good news, especially for non-profits, is that charitable giving is undoubtedly on the rise. According to this handy and clickable infographic about non-profit email marketing, online fundraising grew by more than 15 percent between 2011 and 2012. That’s no small number.

And it’s no wonder that online fundraising has seen such growth in the past few years. As amateur fundraisers discover crowdfunding websites like Kickstarter and GoGetFunding, and established non-profits seek out new ways to tap donations with social media and email marketing, there seems to be an ever-increasing number of ways to raise money online these days.

But, all online fundraisers are certainly not created equal. Today, we’re going to show you exactly why you should be fundraising online and talk about the most successful ways to go about doing it.

Why NOT Fundraise Online?

We could list hundreds of good reasons why you should be fundraising online, but we don’t want to waste your time with small talk. Here’s the gist: in 2012 alone, non-profit organizations received 7 percent of their donations online (a number that’s increasing quickly). In addition, 47 percent of Americans reportedly discovered charitable causes through online media.

As a non-profit entity or other business looking to raise funds, can you afford to ignore numbers like that? We didn’t think so!

There are a number of different ways to go about raising money online. Usually, the approach you take to online fundraising will depend on 3 very specific questions:

  1. How big is your business?
  • Is your business for profit?
  • Do you have a fundraising budget?

A fundraising budget may seem like an oxymoron at first, but it makes perfect sense. Why? Because the most important thing you can do for your business to encourage giving (non-profit or otherwise) is to have and promote a website where people can easily donate.

Funny thing about that is it takes money to build a website where you can direct people to donate online.

From the Bottom Up

Let’s start from the bottom and work our way up. For established businesses who already have a fundraising budget, building a website is a great idea. But for those of you who are just starting out and haven’t a penny to pinch, you’ll need a work-around. That’s where a handy fundraising portal comes in.

Believe it or not, there are websites that exist wholly for the purpose of giving you a space to start your own fundraiser. This helpful service gives fundraisers who want to raise money for an established cause a central place online where they can refer potential donors.

But watch out! You’ll want to make sure the fundraising portal is reputable and ensure your donors’ money is actually going to the charity you’re supporting.

The nice thing about websites like Crowdrise is they give you plenty of examples to work from. You can browse through other campaigns and check out what they could be doing better, or get ideas on what you need to work on yourself.

Their “Featured Fundraisers” should give you a good idea of what a compelling campaign looks like.

Surfing the Fundraising Wave

It seems as though the wave of online fundraising has come crashing down upon us, what with all the relatively new crowdfunding sites that are around right now. But crowdfunding isn’t exactly the same as regular fundraising. While fundraising usually refers to raising money for an established charitable (non-profit) cause, crowdfunding usually tends to be a little more on the for-profit side of things.

Check out sites like Kickstarter or Indiegogo to get an idea of what we’re talking about. While some of the campaigns may be for relief efforts or charity, many of them are devoted to individual undertakings, like art projects or other personal creations.

You’re still “fundraising” in the grand scheme of things when you crowdfund, because you’re raising money for a greater purpose, and not just for your own use.

Back to Business

For businesses who are in the business of engendering donations, like non-profits, we’ve already talked about why you should have a website where people can easily donate to your cause. A website is a MUST. But what else should you be doing? There are almost endless ways you can inspire donations from your market online.

Let’s start with the basics: email marketing. In 2012, direct email campaigns generated 35 percent of non-profit organizations’ online revenue. What are you waiting for? Start writing those donor-friendly emails!

Consider your timing, however (December is by far the most popular month to give). You should also consider partnering with an already-successful campaign if it’s your first go-around at fundraising.

And finally, boosting your presence online via social media is almost a no-brainer. How’s that? Well, why wouldn’t you want more people discussing your business, cause or the like?

Having a presence on social media can only help your fundraising business because it will help you spread the word, and ultimately, that’s exactly what fundraising is all about.

Image via Shutterstock

Read more: Social Media Influencers For Fundraising