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ASU Lodestar Center Blog

Can online fundraising help sustain nonprofits?

online fundraising Lillian Finley

Online fundraising has become one of the leading products produced by a technology-based world. With the internet being one of the main sources of communication, the latest news, and so on, it was no surprise that the nonprofit sector began tailoring its fundraising to fit the ever-evolving world we live in.

Aside from that, online fundraising is not as new as many people would like to think. Online fundraising has been around for quite some time, but gained a massive amount of traction in the past five years, mainly due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Although online fundraising was not new when it gained traction, many were still skeptical due to it being a foreign way of receiving donations. As time has progressed online fundraising has become a go-to for many organizations but now the question has arisen, can online fundraising help sustain nonprofits in the long run?

Like any fundraising practice that is conducted in an organization, there are pros and cons to each side of it. When evaluating online fundraising there were several benefits found that can help sustain nonprofits. These benefits are:

  1. Donor relations and the ability to reach a broader audience
  2. Saving time and money
  3. Improved data collection and reporting

Each one of these benefits helps to stabilize and sustain nonprofit organizations in their own ways. Donor relations and reaching a broader audience helps by creating an environment to bring in donors from near and far to contribute to the mission of the organization. When it comes to saving time and money, online fundraising is helpful because it establishes a structure that eliminates the need for staff to be preoccupied with paperwork and receipts that would come with in-person fundraising. Lastly is the improvement of data collection and reporting. Technology-based fundraising helps improve data collection and reporting because as funds come in, the data is collected in a fast and precise way that shows the organization how funding comes in and helps the organization to better budget its finance for the day-to-day operation.

Where online fundraising has its benefits, it also has its disadvantages as well. One of the issues that have been brought to the forefront is the fact that with online fundraising, the ability to build meaningful and last relationships with donors has become difficult. It is true that online fundraising does generate chances to reach out to a broader audience base, but this isn’t helpful if nonprofit organizations are incapable of establishing relationships that create retention with donors. While this can be a drawback for some organizations, there are ways to combat this issue.

Three ways to build lasting, retainable relationships with donors are:

  • Create more in-person opportunities, such as quarterly meet and greets or annual picnics
  • Take time address the donor’s contribution
  • Personalize emails/ organizational updates

These three ways of building lasting retainable relationships with donors have the ability to improve the drawback of online fundraising. Overall, to answer the question, can online fundraising help sustain nonprofits? The answer would have to be yes!

Jasmine Gilbert is from the great city and state of Birmingham, Alabama.  She has worked within the nonprofit sector for over 13 years. She received her Bachelor of Science Degree from Alabama State University in Rehabilitation Services focusing on Addiction, and is a 2022 graduate of the Master of Nonprofit Leadership and Management program at Arizona State University.  Currently employed by the Addiction Prevention Coalition in Birmingham, AL, she serves in the position of Student Specialist. Jasmine is always looking for a way to make the world a better place.

Learn more with our Fundraising and Sustainable Financial Management Certificate

The Fundraising and Sustainable Financial Management Certificate is for individuals who wish to gain additional knowledge and skills in fundraising, strategic planning, board governance, financial management and more! Course content includes the most highly relevant topics needed to lead and manage the fundraising efforts for a nonprofit organization. This certificate program is sharply focused on these topics in order to offer the individual a deeply engaging and robust experience.

Illustration by Lillian Finley, ASU Lodestar Center.

Jasmine Gilbert headshot


ASU Lodestar Center Blog