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Third Party Fundraising Websites: Are They Worth It?

By: J.A.J Aaronson - Updated: 7 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Fundraising Third Party Websites

There has been an explosion in online fundraising services in recent years. Literally hundreds of sites have been set up offering help to those trying to raise money for their cause. But, while some of these third-party fundraising sites can be useful, others simply replicate tasks that you could perform yourself. So are they really worth it?

What are third-party fundraising websites?

There is a range of sites designed specifically for use by fundraisers. The most common are the type that allows you to write a few paragraphs about your cause, set a fundraising target, then take donations online.

Others offer a broader service, for example enabling you to set up a full fundraising website. They will then often take on the administrative work associated with payment processing if you want to take donations online.

How can they help me?

Third-party fundraising websites can significantly reduce the administrative work you need to do. They can also help you achieve things you would not otherwise be able to manage without specialist help – for example target-setting.

Many sites of this sort also operate as rudimentary social networks. For example, sites like the very popular JustGiving allow individual fundraisers to share their cause and target with their friends, and interact on their personal page. This can help you to boost interest in your cause – and, by extension, encourage more donations.

What are the downsides?

It is important to note that many of these third-party sites are operated by profit-making companies. As such, the services often come at a price.

Depending on the organisation you choose, the fee might be taken from your donations or from the charity you are raising money for. For example, JustGiving currently charges charities a flat fee of £15 per month, plus 5 per cent plus VAT of each and every donation made through the site. As you can see, this can take a significant chunk out of the money you raise. Similarly, some charities will not be prepared to pay the monthly fee, and you will therefore have to find an alternative.

Can I do it myself?

This depends. What exactly is it that you want to achieve? If you simply want to take donations online, you can actually manage this quite easily – and with relatively little prior knowledge. Services like Paypal allow you to manage credit and debit card payments with very little work, and at comparatively low cost.

You may, however, struggle to implement some of the other services that these third-party sites provide. The social networking aspect, for example, would take some know-how, and optimising your site for search engines may also be a struggle. But you should think carefully about how necessary these are.

The purpose of your fundraising is, of course, to ensure that as much cash as possible goes straight to the relevant cause. As such, you should be thinking of ways to keep your expenditure down – and if you can complete the tasks that these sites perform yourself, you may well wish to do this. On the other hand, though, if the use of a third-party fundraising site would help you to get your fundraising efforts off the ground more quickly, and manage them more effectively, they are well worth considering.

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