Online Fundraising Site: How To Create A High-Performing Fundraising Website

Gia Chow
Gia Chow

Online fundraising sites are powerful tools to help you fundraise.

Take your fundraising game to the next level with a dedicated fundraising website. 

Fundraising websites are powerful tools to help you raise more money; it’s the rallying point for all of your planning and messaging.

These days, you don’t have to be tech-savvy to have a professional-looking campaign but you want to be sure that it makes a lasting impression and is effective at getting people to take action.

We know it’s daunting, so we put together a guide on the most important elements of a high-performing fundraising website.

See how CauseVox makes it easy for you to create an online fundraising site that helps you raise more with less effort.

1) Visual Storytelling

The best weapon against apathy is a compelling story. But it’s one thing to tell someone a story and another to show them. 

Consider this.

Our brains are wired for visual information; people process images 60,000 times faster than words. Also, our collective attention span is evolving. For the average person, it’s less than 8 seconds. 

When you put these two statements together, it’s a no-brainer. In order to maximize a short attention span, it makes sense to marry visual and written content.

Visual storytelling does exactly that. It allows you to win over your audience on an emotional level, which inspires them to take meaningful action. In fact, 80% of the top grossing campaigns through CauseVox use visual storytelling to showcase their cause and crush their fundraising goal.

Need some inspiration? Here’s a couple examples pulled from recent CauseVox campaigns. 

(Source: Neverthirst, Workout For Water)
(Source: Casa Congo, School for Conservation)

For a deeper dive into visual storytelling, be sure to download this free comprehensive guide on how to develop high-impact videos.

2) Personal & Team Fundraising Pages

Nonprofit development departments come in all shapes and sizes. Regardless of how small (or large) your development team is, fundraising can be a beast of a task. More often than not, you’re swamped and spread thin. 

To lighten your load, rally your support base to set up personal and team fundraising pages as part of a peer-to-peer fundraiser.

Peer-to-peer (p2p) is one of the best and fastest growing fundraising mechanisms with an even better ROI. Walkathons, marathons, and “birthday wish” campaigns are all common p2p types.

By recruiting a pool of passionate individuals to advocate on behalf of your cause, you’re able to meet new networks of donors and quickly scale your impact. 

At CauseVox, we see that organizations that use peer-to-peer fundraising tend to raise twice as much as those that don’t, so peer-to-peer fundraising offers you a huge advantage to raise more with less effort.


3) Content Marketing 

Content marketing is an excellent strategy for cultivating and retaining donors. It uses content as a way to engage, educate, and fundraise.

Here’s how it works.

With content marketing, you and your supporters can create and upload content (blog posts, photos, testimonials, etc.) to attract people to your campaign. 

If done right, quality content can build brand recognition, help you grow your donor pipeline, and keep donations rolling in consistently throughout your campaign

At some point after the initial excitement of a campaign wears off, you’ll probably experience the dreaded mid-campaign donation slump. Don’t worry, it doesn’t mean you’re doing a terrible job. It’s expected and happens to the best of us. 

Content marketing is an often-overlooked strategy to combat mid-campaign drop-offs. Consistent, relevant content is key to keeping your campaign top of mind for donors. 

Avoid boredom by diversifying the type of content that’s put out. If you’re scrambling for some ideas, here’s a couple to get you started:

  • Plot-driven stories. Never doubt the power of a story with a strong emotional draw. It’s easy to get bogged down by stats so make it relatable by designating an individual as the focal point and adding a personal, heartfelt narrative. Not sure where to start? Try fitting it into the Pixar Storytelling Framework.
  • Updates and news. Did you hit your fundraising goal with 10 days left to go? Are you hosting an event? Did you make progress on your campaign? Share those things! A win is a win no matter how small. 

Post regular updates that highlight your campaign milestones and successes. These updates can be easily distributed via email, social media, or as a link from your organization’s website. Just remember to strike a good balance between keeping your supporters in the loop and inundating (i.e. spamming) their inbox.

Here at CauseVox, we found that upping your content marketing game can increase your donations by 20%! For more information on how to best leverage and market your content, check this out. 

4) Branding & Customization

Your brand and personality matters online.

The Online Giving Study found that incorporating your personal brand makes a double-digit difference in the amount of donations you get.

Donors not only give 15% more to branded fundraising pages, but they give 38% more over time!

To start off, we recommend personalizing the colors, logo, call to action, and URL of your fundraising website to fit with your organization’s identity. 

With online platforms (like CauseVox), you can customize on the fly with our easy-to-use tools. Check out how Neverthirst used CauseVox to make their Workout for Water campaign their own:


Tip: If you want to share or track your campaign across social media, try incorporating a hashtag. Make it short, easy to remember, and encourage your followers to use it!

5) Fundraising Metrics

Data derived from key fundraising metrics is great for driving decisions at an organizational level but for the sake of simplicity here are two metrics you should include on any public-facing fundraising page:

Funds Raised

The most straightforward performance metric is the dollar amount raised. 

This metric should reflect both online and offline donations, ideally, as close to real-time as possible. This way, not only will donors be able to follow the success of your campaign, but you can use this to inform your fundraising strategy accordingly.

Impact Created

The second metric is the impact created by donors as part of the campaign. This is the true measure of success that ties tangible impact back to individual donations. 

To create an impact metric, think about what the impact is per donation unit. What can $50 do? What can $100 do? Will it feed a family for a week or provide clean water to a village? 

CauseVox’s automated impact metric quantifies your campaign’s impact in real-time as donations trickle in. It’s based on a unit of impact specified in your backend site settings. You can make it whatever you like, from “500 meals served” to “90 sets of happy horse hooves!”

By shifting your focus from the dollar amount raised to the real impact of the donations, you’ll inspire, engage, and retain supporters (beyond just a single campaign). 

These days, people don’t want to just make a donation, they want to join a movement. This rings true, particularly for younger generations. In fact, The Millennial Impact Report found that 78% of millennials will cease to donate if they don’t know how their gift has made an impact. 

impact metric

Set S.M.A.R.T Goals

If you’re wondering how to set yourself up for success, use S.M.A.R.T. goals. The S.M.A.R.T method is a tried-and-true goal setting acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timebound. It’s probably not a new term for you, but if you’re a little lost on where to start, here’s some guiding questions to consider: 

Specific – What do you want to accomplish? How much are you looking to raise? How many fundraisers are you looking to participate?

Measurable – How do you plan to track your progress and milestones?

Attainable – Is this doable? Make it challenging, not impossible.

Relevant – How does this align with your mission? Who’s impacted? Why’s it important?

Timebound – When do you plan to start and end your campaign?

A realistic S.M.A.R.T fundraising goal will depend and incorporate the answers to those questions.

Tip: Set a goal for the minimum amount of fundraisers you want to participate in your event. Then, set an amount you want each fundraiser to raise. Multiply the number of fundraisers by the individual fundraising goal from each to arrive at your attainable campaign goal

(i.e. 20 fundraisers x $2,000 minimum raise = $40,000 fundraising goal).

S.M.A.R.T goals help donors better understand how their donation makes and impact and ensures that donors aren’t intimidated – they want to feel like they play part of you achieving your goals!

On CauseVox, you’re able to edit your fundraising goal and end date anytime. So, if you happen to set a goal that is fulfilled quickly, you can always raise the goal and rally your community to keep going.

6) Gamification

Gamification is the use of game mechanics to influence your audience’s actions in non game-related situations. At its core, gamification is a strategy to engage more people.

Progress Bars

One of the most common gamification techniques is the progress bar. Progress bars are visual motivators that allow your donors to gauge how their donation makes a dent in the overall campaign goal.

It promotes a sense of urgency and achievement, especially for goal-oriented folks. As a best practice, we recommend including the progress bar on every page of your fundraising website.

Prize Incentives

Another fun and effective gamification technique appeals to our competitive nature. Try incorporating a leaderboard, raffle, gift package, badge, and other selective communication to encourage friendly competition and to recognize a job well done. 


Take Card Kingdom’s The Gauntlet campaign for example. This fundraiser has been around for a while but this year, the Gauntlet campaign raised over $116K for afterschool programming and academic support.

Structured as a team-based tournament, the funds raised by each team translates to certain advantages (or “power-ups”) they receive. The campaign culminates in a day of board games with the winning team hoisting the coveted gauntlet.

Raising funds for a good cause and having the opportunity to earn bragging rights and a trophy? Sounds like a good time to me.  

7) Matching Gifts

Having a gift matched is a win-win-win; your donors double their impact, you’re one step closer to your goal, and the population you serve benefits as a result. 

For small organizations, it’s a great way to get new projects funded and off the ground. Categorically, there are a couple types of matching gifts:

  • A corporate or employer match is when a company matches the amount that an employee gives to an eligible nonprofit. Traditionally, companies offer a 1:1 match ratio but some employers do a 1:2 or even a 1:3 match on all donations, up to a maximum amount. Keep in mind that each company sets their own policy.
  • A challenge match is when a major donor (or group of donors) agrees to match all incoming donations dollar for dollar. The nonprofit is then responsible for raising funds in order to get the match. Challenges are generally capped at a certain amount and have a time frame restriction.

Even if you can’t secure a large match that extends throughout the campaign, try adding in a match for a week, a day, or up to a specific dollar amount (ie: the next $5,000 we raise will be matched).

People are way more inclined to give if there’s a matching gift offer on the table. Let’s say a donor’s $50 gift was matched at 1:1 ratio. 

According to The Big Give Research Initiative, 1 in 3 donors indicated that they’d give a larger gift if matching is applied to their donation, with some sources claiming donors tend to donate 50% more if a match is in place. 

It’s always a good feeling knowing that your gift went twice (and maybe even three times) as far.

8) Social Media Integration

Your online fundraising website needs to be able to integrate with popular social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. This allows your fundraising website to reach your supporter’s extended networks seamlessly.

Social media integration can be as simple as ‘like’ and ‘tweet’ buttons or more complex with auto-posting and data analytics.

9) Call To Action

A fundraising website isn’t complete without a call to action (or CTA). It’s the “now what” of all of your planning, messaging, and rallying. Effective CTAs are defined and measurable actions designed to convert your target audience into donors.

A successful call to action will do three things:

  1. Provide a brief, one sentence summary of the fundraising website itself.
  2. Build in a sense of urgency so people take action now instead of later.
  3. Use active language such as (“click here”, “donate”, “share now”, “join us today”, etc.)

Need a refresher on how to craft a call to action? We got you.

Raise More With Less Effort Through Your Fundraising Website

Whether you’re looking to start a short-term or ongoing crowdfunding campaign, CauseVox helps you raise more donations with less complexity.
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