One of the more welcome consequences of the current pandemic is that more of us have learnt to use digital platforms than ever before. Unfortunately, converting fundraising to digital channels, is not so easily done. But as many of our potential supporters are stuck at home with their digital media, now could be the best time to dip your toe into the digital fundraising pool.

The good news for those of you who are looking to replace your real-life fundraising events with digital, is that there are a wealth of resources, advice and guides available to help you get started. We have put together links to some of the more useful resources in a quick step by step guide to digital fundraising.

According to a recent Charities Aid Foundation poll, a quarter of charities cannot take digital donations and the 2019 Charity Digital Skills report tells us that over half UK charities have no digital strategy (52%) and even less have good digital expertise in the board room or on their management committees. So, there are no clues for guessing what our first step is!



Many of the groups we work with are highly skilled at asking people to support them through the traditional methods such as events, raffles, auctions and company donations and are now even using social media to help spread the word but most of the skills required for traditional fundraising are transferable skills. Digital however, needs at least a basic level of digital skills and just as importantly a basic understanding of marketing processes.

You may be lucky enough to have these skills on your committee already but if not, you have three options:


If you have the time and budget, formal training offered through the Institute of Fundraising or Directory of Social Change is an option, but if not, you can tap into the wealth of information provided by digital service providers. No costs involved but there may be a few extra emails in your inbox. You usually have to sign up to download their content, but you can always unsubscribe. Some will be referred to in this article such as Reason Digital and, Charity Digital. You can also check out free digital marketing skills training options through the Google Digital Garage


Recruiting trustees of committee members with digital marketing and fundraising skills to work towards incorporating digital techniques into your overall strategy would be ideal but starting by recruiting volunteers (particularly volunteers who were brought up on digital media) to help you create and trial an initial campaign could be a quicker option. You can talk to your local LCVS or VCS office us about volunteer or trustee recruitment.


Digital marketing agencies large and small are all around and particularly if COVID-19 has reduced their workload, may be looking to partner with a local charity to donate their time and showcase their digital skills for a good cause. It is worth asking.



The next step is to investigate the different options available to you. Take look at Matt Haworth’s guide on Digital Fundraising for Small Charities (In a hurry), this gives a great overview of how you can ask people to donate digitally:

  • Single donations (websites or external pages e.g. justgiving)
  • Regular donations
  • Text donations
  • Matched giving (e.g. through corporate sponsors)
  • Crowdfunding
  • Competitions and lotteries
  • Selling
  • Traditional sponsorship routes (currently not available for events etc.)
  • Novel sponsorship methods (e.g. 2.6 campaign)
  • Social media giving

The guide can be downloaded here: Digital Fundraising for Small Charities (In a hurry). Their more detailed guide called the Digital Fundraising Book has also been made available for free download.


Now you have reviewed the options, choose one to research more thoroughly. Matt Haworth’s guide goes on to give further details on all these activities. You could for example, start with social media and begin by registering with Facebook to post appeals and encourage your Facebook users to support you too. This link tells you how . (For some reason they need the name and date of birth of your organisation’s CEO or executive director!).

This guide also goes through the process of setting up a COVID-19 campaign page on an external site such as Justgiving (See page 21 of the guide). Charity Digital’s article also reviews the features and costs of some of the main fundraising platforms (14 in total) including : Justgiving, Virgin Money Giving, GoFundMe and Crowdfunder and what they can achieve for you

To see what you can achieve, check out some of the local COVID-19 fundraising initiatives:

The Serendipity Initiative at the Priory Hotel, Louth:

Paul Hugill at The Serendipity Initiative set up a campaign to support their COVID-19 Neighbours Kitchen in Louth.


Headway Lincolnshire’s:

Ann-Marie Smith at Headway Lincolnshire has been using her creative flair to take their fundraising online since the lockdown. Check out their #HatsforHeadway campaign.

Tips from Ann-Marie are

“Engage in National Campaigns and encourage your supporters to set up their own personal online fundraising pages that they can then email to friends, family and colleagues. Eg 2.6 Challenge that was recently set up by the organisers of the London Marathon. We had supporters walking 26 miles, cycling 26 miles, and giving online Pilates classes for 26 minutes.

Choose one day, a day that possibly has some symbol or importance to your organisation. We are focusing on our Hats at Home for Headway Day. Prior to the day, send out a series of emails requesting donations to those that have signed up to hear from you. The emails should include an emotional story, appropriate imagery, and a call to action that expresses urgency.

Do not be afraid to tell people why you are fundraising, and what could happen if your charity doesn’t get the funds that it needs to provide your services and support especially in today’s challenging times. Headway Lincolnshire anticipates a loss of approx. £10,000 due to cancelled fundraising events, which is a huge loss to a charity as small as ours. So, we are busy online fundraising to try and recoup some of the losses that we have incurred.”

Here are some other examples raising from individuals raising a

The DIY PPE initiative:

Boston College are raising funds for foodbanks:

University of Lincoln’s campaign to raise £100,000 or Safety Equipment for Lincoln County Hospital



In their recent article The 6 Biggest Digital Fundraising Mistakes to Avoid Charity Digital highlight the common pitfalls. It is always good to learn from the mistakes of others. This takes you through the following:

  • Not segmenting your audience
  • Forgetting to thank donors
  • Having an unclear user journey
  • Ignoring mobile
  • Failing to show your impact
  • Not suggesting donation amounts

Mistakes are often linked to not using your marketing head. It can seem quite alien for many charitable groups to talk about segmenting and client journeys but these phrases mean simply switching the focus from what you need to raise money for and why – which are still important – to looking at the reasons different people might want to donate to you campaign – which is what will make it successful. Knowing your audience is the most important part of any digital fundraising activity. Take a read of the article; marketing speak aside, it has lots of tips on making the most of your digital fundraising efforts.


After you have trialled your first campaign, why not look at how you can use digital to improve other areas of your work such as: communications, management, research and planning. And take advantage of the free stuff! These articles provide more good links to resources available specifically to charities:

Digital Fundraising, Digital Marketing, Digital Leadership, Home Working

Essential Resources, Charities get free marketing support from Google, Charitable support from other major digital marketing brands, How to get started with a charitable digital marketing campaign, Websites, Charities using Social Media, SEO for Charities

Reaching a National or International Audience, The Importance of Mobile Marketing for Charities, Mobile Apps for Charities

By LCVS & VCS Funding Ready Team

See also: Check list for COVID-19 Grant Funding Success


Your area officers at Lincolnshire Community and Voluntary Services and Voluntary Centre Services are here to help you with:

  • Recruiting volunteers and trustees
  • Partnerships through Employer Supported Volunteering
  • Signposting to fundraising platforms (also part of Funding Ready Workshop 1: Getting Started)
  • Support with identifying audiences & creating campaign ideas

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