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FirstGiving, Online fundraising, fundraising websites, peer-to-peer fundraisingFirstGiving, Online fundraising, fundraising websites, peer-to-peer fundraisingFirstGiving, Online fundraising, fundraising websites, peer-to-peer fundraisingFirstGiving, Online fundraising, fundraising websites, peer-to-peer fundraising 

FirstGiving, Online fundraising, fundraising websites, peer-to-peer fundraising

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How is the Internet changing the way nonprofits fundraise? (Survey Results)


BiddingForGood, FirstGiving

FirstGiving and BiddingForGood recently surveyed nonprofit organizations to better understand the impact internet fundraising is having on their promotional and soliciting activities. After receiving 500 responses, we’re able to conclude that organizations are using the Internet for a variety of activities and are planning on expanding its use in the future. In fact, three of the top four tactics nonprofits will use for the first time next year are completely internet based including online auctions, crowd-funding, and peer-to-peer fundraising.

The opportunity keeps growing

Although the use of the internet is growing, the three most common tactics nonprofits are using to fund their annual budgets are the more traditional methods of direct appeal, galas and events, and silent or live auctions. The online approaches of peer-to-peer, crowd funding and online auctions fell to fifth, eighth, and ninth place. When asked which of those tactics were the top three contributors to reaching annual goals, direct appeals, galas and events, peer-to-peer and golf tournaments were cited most often as being one of the top three contributors.

Develop your development team

Before looking externally to begin the fundraising process, organizations must first look internally to their development teams. While the majority (63%) of nonprofits have only one to two individuals working in development, the most successful organizations have larger teams. 41% of organizations have between six and fifteen people on the team and 12% of the larger organizations have over fifty people aiding the process. A clear patterns emerges - those who invest in development, earn more for their mission.

Questioning social media’s effectiveness

With the explosion of social media and its varying platforms, fundraisers have tapped into these available resources to connect better with current supporters as well as attract new donors. Despite their efforts, surprisingly, only Facebook has proved to be effective with 84% effectiveness stemming from a use rate of 97%. According to responders, all other channels were considered to be highly ineffective scoring less than 6% effectivity.

There are four key points that we can grasp from this survey:

  1. Through the internet, fundraising is more accessible, efficient and more effective than ever, allowing nonprofits to reach new networks. Peer-to-peer fundraising, crowd funding and online auctions will become more frequent to create the basis by which an organization reaches out electronically.

  2. Social media has been embraced by nonprofits across the board, yet, surprisingly, there are doubts in their marketing ability.

  3. Having a diversity of fundraising activities is essential. The most successful organizations use a widespread approach of both hands on, face-to-face events to less formal internet channels to diversify donations for their cause.

  4. Above all others, fundraisers claim that finding new supporters is their biggest challenge.

Fundraisers are busy individuals using every means at their disposal to raise funds for their cause. All the traditional means of fundraising are still widely used. Direct appeals top the list and organizations of every size, from every cause group, often run events and galas. Nonetheless, the use of the Internet is increasingly aiding charities in their efforts to make a difference in the world around them.

Download the full survey!

Team Captains - your most valuable segment of fundraisers


FirstGiving, peer-to-peer fundraising, nonprofit solution image credit

Did you know? According to a studyTeam Captains represent the smallest percent of the participant population, but account for a large portion of fundraising revenue. They send more emails, receive more donations and larger gifts, and in many cases, raise more than the average individual and team member combined.

Team Captains are by far the most important and valuable segment of fundraisers. These highly motivated and engaged participants are not only successful fundraisers, they also recruit others to participate. Remember, peer-to-peer fundraising is a team sport.

This is the very reason why we made those exciting updates to FirstGiving Team Captains a few days ago! We know firsthand how important it is to support and nurture your Team Captains.

Take another look at our new Team Captain functionality!

Sample matching gift letters for your nonprofit and peer-to-peer fundraisers


Did you know many companies will match employee donations, dollar for dollar, to eligible nonprofits and their charitable fundraising events? However, many donors simply lack the awareness of these matching programs. This lack of awareness costs nonprofit organizations to leave behind billions of dollars in corporate matching gifts every year. 

While corporations create the programs, there are a number of workplace giving pitfalls that result in low employee participation. As a nonprofit organization, it's your responsibility to ensure your constituents are aware of corporate matching gift programs, and encourage participation!

We previously discussed different ways to maximize your matching gift revenue, including donor acknowledgement letters. This time, let’s go a bit more in depth.


Here are two sample letters that promote matching gifts to existing and potential donors:

1. Donor Acknowledgement Letter from a Nonprofit Organization

Dear [Donor],

Thank you for your [$XX] donation to [organization name]!

Your generosity helps further our mission to [...].

Did you know that it may be possible to double your donation, doubling the impact of your gift to [organization name]? Many companies match employee donations, dollar for dollar, to nonprofit organizations like ours. Please consider checking with your company to see if it offers a matching gift program! 

If you have any questions about matching gifts and how they work, please email us at [organization's MG email address].

Your donation to [organization name] demonstrates your passion for and commitment to our mission. To learn about other ways to get involved, you can:

  1. Sign up for our [weekly/monthly/etc.] newsletter.
  2. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linked In, etc.
  3. Volunteer for [upcoming event]

Thank you again for your generous support!


[Your Name]

Contribution Information:

  • [Donor Name]
  • [Employer]
  • [Donor Address]
  • [Contribution Amount]

Please keep this letter as a receipt of your donation. All donations are tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law. No goods or services were provided for this contribution. [Organization Name] is a charitable corporation with 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status in the United States.

U.S. Tax Exempt Number: [XX-XXXXXXX]

2. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Letter

Dear [Friend],

As you may or may not know, I am participating in the upcoming [event], hosted by [organization name], which I am really excited about!

This event aims to [mission of the event].

Many of you know the reason I passionately support this cause, but here's my story in case you don't: [participant's story].

I'm writing to you in hopes that you will consider supporting me by making a tax-deductible donation to the cause. Any donation, however small, is a step in the right direction!

If you decide to donate, might I ask you to take another few minutes to see if your employer will match that donation? Thousands of companies around the country will match employee donations, dollar for dollar, to eligible causes such as this one. It should only take a few minutes of your time, and it can literally double your donation, thereby doubling the impact of your gift!

If you have questions about matching gifts and how they work, you can send an email to [organization name]: [MG email]

Thank you so much in advance for your time and consideration! 

See you at [event name]!


[Participant's Name]


Adam Weinger is the President of Double the Donation, a company focused on helping nonprofits increase the amount of money they raise from corporate matching gift and volunteer grant programs. Follow Double the Donation on Twitter or LinkedIn. 

Download free fundraising resources

You're invited to the FrontStream Philanthropy Solutions Conference!

Untitled 1

FrontStream would like to invite you to the 2014 FrontStream Philanthropy Solutions Conference, a user conference for our family of nonprofit solutions:

Join us in Charleston as we bring together our new and experienced users to learn, network and share ideas with peers and industry experts.

Conference speakers include Ted Hart, Claire Kerr, Jon Moore, Nina Vellayan, and other nonprofit industry leaders!

Visit the FSCon14 site

7 Tips on Tax Deductions for Charitable Contributions


Giving your time and/or money to a cause is a wonderful thing. You're making the world a better place, one person or community at a time - and the Federal Government agrees. Whether it's old furniture for The Salvation Army, volunteering at a homeless shelter, or donating through FirstGiving, Uncle Sam encourages charitable giving through income tax deductions. The rules, however, can seem complex. If you find yourself driven to give to those in need, and want to take advantage of tax benefits, follow these seven tips.

1. All Donations Must Be Made to IRS-Approved Organizations
Be careful who you give to, the IRS only accepts donations made to qualifying organizations. You can find out which charities qualify by utilizing the Exempt Organization Select Check Tool on the IRS website. Donations to specific individuals are not tax-deductible.

2. You Can't Deduct Your Contributions Unless You Itemize
You must itemize your deductions in order to write off your charitable contributions. If you use an online tax preparation program - such as H&R Block, TaxACT, or TurboTax - just answer the prompts and let the program take you to the appropriate page. If you file your return manually, however, you're going to have a few more forms to fill out.

3. Value Your Non-Cash Donations Effectively
Don't get greedy. Either value your items according to thrift shop resale worth or use an online calculator. If you use tax prep software, it can assist you in valuation, as well. Invest in a professional appraisal for expensive items and keep a modest mindset for everything else. You never want to have to justify a $100 donation for an old computer printer.

4. Maintain Accurate Records
The IRS requires that you have a receipt or statement for any individual contribution of $250 or more - but you do not need records for donations under that threshold. If your total non-cash donations come to more than $500 you need to complete and submit Form 8283.

Regardless of the amount, though, keep bulletproof records of your donations. These should include the name of the organization, the date of the donation, and a detailed explanation of the items given (if not cash). Hang onto your credit card statements and cancelled checks as well.

5. Your Time Is Not Tax Deductible
Let's say you donate a week's worth of time at a soup kitchen, for example. The value of that time is not tax-deductible even though you could have been out earning money. However, if you spend money during that time on transportation, such as gas or parking fees, those expenses are deductible.

6. There Are Limits to What You Can Write Off
If you give a lot, don't assume that it can all be written off, even if you follow the above guidelines. In many cases you are limited to deducting 50% of your adjusted gross income, although this percentage may be lower depending on the type of organization you donate to.

7. Donations Are Not Fully Tax Deductible if You Receive Something in Return
The rules are designed to encourage you to donate. That means that if you benefit from making a particular contribution, Uncle Sam thinks that should factor into the tax implications. If, for example, you give $500 in cash or goods to a qualified organization and receive a gift in return valued at $50, you can only take a $450 deduction on your return.

If you still have any questions or concerns, consult IRS publication 526 or call 1-800-829-1040, Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. local time. Taking deductions for your charitable contributions helps those in need and can significantly reduce your tax costs - just be sure to approach the process properly. The last thing you want to do is raise a red flag and have to deal with an audit.

What tips do you have for taking tax deductions on charitable contributions? 

Download free fundraising resources

Nick Owens is an online editor who covers tax management, lifestyle, and volunteerism.

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FirstGiving Data Secure Against Heartbleed Vulnerability



Recently, the development community was made aware of a vulnerability in the OpenSSL software library that has the potential to put a significant number of the internet's websites at risk.

Dubbed "Heartbleed," this bug allows information to be accessed that would normally be protected by some versions of OpenSSL.

FirstGiving can confirm that our servers and products were not vulnerable to Heartbleed and your secure client data was not affected. If you have any further questions about this issue, please contact the Account Manager or support team in your location.

The Heartbleed bug is considered a significant security threat. For more information about how to protect yourself, see The Heartbleed Hit List: The Passwords You Need To Change Right Now for a list of potentially affected websites and recommendations for further action.

Thank you for your concern and Happy Fundraising!

-Team FirstGiving

Calling all runners, take back the Boston Finish Line. Support Team MR8!


Team MR8

With less than two weeks till the Boston Marathon, we are reminded of the tragic events that took place almost a year ago. Team MR8, the foundation dedicated to carrying out 8 year old Martin Richard's memory and wishes of "No more hurting people - Peace," has issued a runner's call to arms, asking that members and friends of the running community donate a symbolic $26.20 to the Martin W. Richard Charitable Foundation. 

Money raised by this foundation will further Martin's message by investing in education, athletics and community.

Your donation of $26.20 will cement that fact that the city of Boston and runners from around the globe have taken back this historical finish line. 

Support Team MR8

(Infographic) Craigslist's Craig Newmark explores peer-to-peer fundraising


FirstGiving, Peer-to-peer fundraising, Online fundraising websites, Craig Newmark

Last week, we were honored to participate in a fundraising study done by craigconnects, Craiglist's Craig Newmark's organization aimed to "give the voiceless a real voice and the powerless real power." It's always exciting to see other prominet individuals positively weigh in on your industry and mission. 

The study, presented as an infographic, highlights the incredible growth of crowdfunding and peer-to-peer fundraising initiatives in the nonprofit industry. To give you a taste, we'll pull a few data points. We encourage you to take a peak at the infographic though.

Did you know?

  • The number of charitable donations through peer-to-peer fundraising grew last year by 50%.
  • From 2012-2013, there was a 60% growth in funds raised through peer-to-peer fundraising alone.
  • 28% of those who donate to peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns are repeat donors.

Here's what Mark Sutton, our Nonprofit General Manager, said when asked what makes a nonprofit successful with peer-to-peer fundraising.

"The organizations that raise the most money on FirstGiving are the nonprofits that help their supporters help them. They are the organizations that can identify and nurture their most passionate supporters and arm them with the tools they need to be effective cause ambassadors and fundraisers. Having a peer-to-peer fundraising worthy event, like a fun run, polar plunge, and/or marathon, doesn’t hurt either." - Mark Sutton

Think your organization has what it takes to embark on a successful peer-to-peer fundraising campaign? We've got an ebook for that.

Download free ebook

What’s the one thing a peer-to-peer fundraiser can do to raise an extra $793?


FirstGiving, online peer-to-peer fundraising websites, nonprofitimage credit

Simply put, online fundraising pages with video outperform those without. We crunched some FirstGiving numbers and here’s what we found:

  • Online fundraising pages with video raise an average of $1,182
  • Online fundraising pages without video raise an average of $389

Videos are more engaging than text

Now this doesn’t mean that any old video can go up on your fundraisers’ pages. These videos have to speak to the fundraiser’s efforts, the cause, and/or your mission. Basically, it must be relevant.

Emotional, personal requests trump high end video production

Though polished promo videos are exciting, they should be saved for you, the nonprofit organization. The power of peer-to-peer fundraising lies within an individual fundraiser’s network - this is called peer-to-peer fundraising after all. A low quality handheld video captured on a smartphone is all it really takes. The more personal the video the better and remember, keep it short and sweet.

A video should have a donation call-to-action

Make sure the video has a call-to-action. In this case, you’ll want to remind your fundraisers that their video should explicitly ask the viewers to donate to their online fundraising page. A suggested donation amount can’t hurt either.

Download free fundraising resources

Peer-to-peer fundraising tip: Push for online donations within 3 days of campaign launch


FirstGiving, online peer-to-peer fundraising websiteimage credit

Successful online fundraising pages have strong starts.

Here are the FirstGiving facts:

Fundraisers who did not receive donations within 3 days of launch raise an average of $153 per campaign.

Fundraisers who receive donations within 3 days of launch raise an average of $408 per campaign.

2 easy ways your fundraisers can make the most of their first 3 campaign days

1. Fundraisers should be the first to donate to their online fundraising page

Make sure, whoever he or she may be, that they’re the first to donate to their page. It communicates commitment. Why would anyone contribute to a cause when the person asking for funds has yet to do so? This practice also sets the donation amount precedent. This keeps the fundraiser in control, don’t let another person set the donation bar. Will the first donation be $50? $60? You decide.

2. Have a “soft launch” for every online fundraising page

People want to be a part of a winning story. Before a fundraiser promotes an online fundraising page, make sure the “inner circle” has contributed. The “inner circle” are the people who, no matter the cause, will support a fundraiser’s actions. These individuals are mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, girlfriends, boyfriends, etc. This way when an extended network lands on a fundraiser’s page, there’s already some significant funds in the bank. This is called “Social Motivation.” With funds already secured, a fundraiser communicates to their extended network that “it’s okay, donate to this page, look at all the people who already have...”

 Hungry for more tips?

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