Five creative examples of charities using digital fundraising


The rise of digital fundraising technology is changing the way charities fundraise, bringing with it plenty of new opportunities for organisations interested in embracing its potential.

It is estimated that 7.2% of fundraising in 2016 came from online giving, a percentage that is expected to increase over the coming years.

More charities are exploring digital fundraising strategies in an attempt to:

  • find new donors
  • reach a younger audience
  • create more engaging fundraising campaigns
  • save time and money during fundraising

Digital fundraising can be a solution to each of these challenges, and many charities and nonprofits have already proved that highly engaging digital campaigns can lead to greater fundraising success.

This post looks at five successful fundraising campaigns, analysing how digital fundraising technology can help a charity increase donations, find new donors and extend the reach of a campaign.

Examples of charities using digital fundraising

Blue Cross – contactless payment

5 creative examples of charities using digital fundraising

Blue Cross were looking for a creative way to integrate the rise of contactless payments, which has quickly become a preferred method of payment for many – including younger consumers.

To help bring their fundraising inline with current consumer trends, they came up with ‘pat and tap’ using their ‘in the field’  canines to encourage their donors to make an instant donation. Dogs and volunteers  attend several events across the UK and anyone can make a £2 donation in a fast and efficient way.

This innovative idea maximises the power of contactless payments, which increased both donations and awareness among animal lovers. It serves as a good reminder of the importance of following the latest giving trends.

Save the Children – donation button

save the children donation button - digital fundraising

Save the Children worked with Iris Nursery to create a physical donation button named the ‘Give Button’. The goal is to facilitate donations through a creative and fun process. Donors are only required to sign up once, and then they can actively contribute as many times as they want, whenever they want.

The button is connected to the Internet through mobile data and it aims to reduce donor churn caused by complicated donation forms. It takes into account how successful fundraising technology has to feel effortless and surpass expectations. Moreover, it manages to tap into a young audience that prefers the ease and the satisfaction of real-time donations, comparing to direct transfers and other traditional types of payment.

The use of technology in innovative and reactive ways serves as an ideal testing ground for charities, with the ultimate goal being to see an increase in donations.

St John Ambulance – reaching a wider audience

st johns ambulance - digital fundraising

A campaign can become more successful by blending traditional and online fundraising. St John Ambulance partnered with Tesco to launch a CPR babygrow in an attempt to increase awareness on the importance of CPR, teaching parents how to perform it on a baby in case of an emergency.  

Tesco was giving away a limited stock of babygrows with a suggested donation of £3, while more could be purchased online. The campaign aimed to add value on an important issue, using creativity and digital media to expand its reach. The campaign was an impressive success, using a combination of traditional and online fundraising, boosted by digital marketing, to go beyond the organisation’s expectations.

The campaign’s Facebook goal was to reach 300k views, (similar to other, comparable campaigns), but it ended up with 5 million views in the first week, along with more than 100k shares and impressive engagement ratings.

Digital fundraising can be a powerful tool for an organisation seeking increased exposure, as it can offer targeted promotion to a specific audience. In this case, the message was amplified through social media, and donations have also significantly increased.

Cancer Research UK – innovative fundraising technology

Charities using digital fundraising - example Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK has used technology to innovate their fundraising, by introducing smart benches that accept £2 donations through contactless payment.

The project, a collaboration with Strawberry Energy and MKTG, bridges digital fundraising with technology to create an appealing way to increase donations.

Contactless payment is not new for Cancer Research UK, but their focus on new technologies allows them to come up with creative ways to build engagement and improve the donor journey through the latest digital trends.

charities doing digital fundraising - contactless bench

The campaign was part of awareness-raising for World Cancer Day and it initially launched ten smart benches throughout London. As well as accepting contactless payment for donations, the benches also offer free wi-fi access and charging ports, and they have built-in sensors that inform people about the air quality in real time.

People are also able to check the quality of the air through Strawberry Energy’s smartphone app, offering another interesting way to blend smart devices with fundraising.

Alzheimer’s Society – improving donor journeys

alzheimers society - digital fundraising

Online fundraising does not only benefit from the latest technologies, but also from a good user experience in an organisation’s site.

A good donor journey facilitates an increase in donations, by meshing with donors’ habits at every single step of each visit. This leads to a reduced churn and an increase in conversions, a result that Alzheimer’s Society noticed after improving their own donors’ online experience.

Alzheimer’s Society decided to optimise their donors’ experience to drive an increase in online giving following research into their users’ browsing habits and reactions. Thus, they went for a new front and back-end change in their site, favouring tailored and campaign-specific donor journeys for an improved experience.

Moreover, they offered different payment options, including PayPal and Apple Pay, becoming one of the first charities to try Apple’s payment solution in 2017.

The process of learning more about their donors and rebranding and redesigning their site was complete after a series of A/B tests, aiming to increase their online donations. Their idea to create the right digital infrastructure to support an optimised donor journey led to a 72% increase in donations, with the conversion rate rising from 22% to 65%.

What we can learn from this case is that even with a smaller team and budget, it is important to understand donors’ habits when visiting your site, helping them proceed to a donation as smoothly as possible. Sometimes even small changes to the landing page or the messaging can increase conversions.


Digital fundraising can drive an increase in donations for an organisation, provided that it’s used strategically, taking into consideration what makes an appealing campaign for the target audience.

In fact, it can be a significant addition to a traditional fundraising strategy, as it can involve:

  • a younger audience
  • new digital channels
  • fresh opportunities for awareness and engagement
  • innovative technology

The combination can lead to new opportunities for nonprofit organisations, and the examples above indicate that the use of digital fundraising technology can bring a charity closer to successful results.


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