Charitable fundraising can be conducted online in numerous ways. A charity can conduct a fundraising campaign through its website, social media pages, emails, or it can use a third-party fundraising platform to crowdfund a specific project or campaign; a charity’s supporters can fundraise through emails, social media, or by initiating a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign through a fundraising platform; or donors can search for charities pre-listed on fundraising platforms and make a donation without the involvement of the charity.
No matter how charitable dollars are raised online, charities should keep these tips in mind:
- PROTECT YOUR BRAND! Defend your charity’s reputation, brand, and fundraising strategy.
- Your charity has the right to control the use of its name and brand. Your charity may want to establish a policy as to who can fundraise on its behalf and the process to receive authorization.
- In a majority of states, an individual supporter must get written consent from a charity before he or she uses its name when fundraising. If your charity gives consent, follow up with the supporter to verify that your charity received all donations.
- Research your charity’s online fundraising presence. It may be more extensive than you know:
- Third-party fundraising platform websites provide charities an opportunity to connect with donors and fundraise online, and allow individual supporters to raise funds for their favorite causes through peer-to-peer fundraising.
- Some fundraising platforms acquire a database of all tax-exempt charities and allow supporters to initiate peer-to-peer fundraising, even without the charities’ knowledge. Find out who is fundraising for your charity and what information and representations they are making on your behalf.
- If your charity wants to receive funds from a fundraising platform that has your charity pre-listed in its database, contact the fundraising platform and claim ownership of your charity’s presence on that website, so the site has the correct contact and bank account information.
- If your charity does not want to be associated with a fundraising platform, contact them to request that they remove your charity from the website.
- When deciding to use a fundraising platform website, a charity should research the following issues:
- What fees will the website deduct from each contribution?
- Will a charity be provided with its donors’ information?
- When will contributions be deposited into a charity’s bank account/mailed to the charity? Solicitation laws in some states require funds to be deposited in the charity’s bank account within a few business days.
- What happens to contributions that don’t meet a certain threshold amount?
- What steps are being taken by the website to prevent solicitation fraud?
- What kind of accounting will the website provide to a charity? If questions arise, what procedures are available for the charity to challenge the accounting?
- Contact the fundraising platform and the Nebraska Attorney General’s Office if you suspect any solicitation fraud.
By following these tips, your charity can fundraise smartly and safely online.
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