Charity donation websites that maximise online giving

Maximise online giving

This post is about using charity donation websites to maximise income for your charity. 

Getting donations is not easy. The hardest part is persuading someone to give and the last thing you want is for the practical process of giving to let you down so that your efforts are wasted. 

In this post we will explore a range of ways to take charity donations on your website. Here are three main methods for accepting donations online.

  • Link out to separate online charity donation sites
  • Use your CRM or fundraising database
  • A website with integrated donation processing


Option 1: Linking to a separate charity donation website

Fundraising websites, which primarily manage event sponsorship, generally also allow charities to accept direct donations. This is a simple option, especially if you are already signed up with one of these platforms to receive sponsorship from fundraising events. However, there are a few obvious downsides to this approach:

Despite these disadvantages, using an external website can still be a good way to get started. You can read more about fundraising website options, associated fees and which works our cheapest in our post on the best fundraising websites for charities.

Moving beyond online fundraising websites

As charities mature and grow so do their requirements in regard to donations and a more integrated approach is needed. The third party fundraising websites above are a great way to get started but they can be expensive when you have a high volume of donations and the restrictions they impose on your data can be a problem. The next two sections explain how to achieve a more integrated approach. 



Option 2: Donations processed by your CRM or fundraising database

If you have an existing website and an existing fundraising database, and that software offers the ability to process donations, then it will normally make sense to use this functionality. 

Why use your CRM or fundraising database for donation processing?

  • It avoids manual data entry (and manual data entry leads to data protection issues!).
  • It provides better reporting on donation activity across your organisation. 
  • It makes it easier to follow up and build a long-lasting relationship with your donors. 

How to integrate your CRM with your website

  1. Ensure your CRM database is set up to accept donations. You’ll need to configure it to work with a payment provider like Stipe that will allow you to collect funds. 
  2. Configure the widget or CRM payment pages within the administration system on your fundraising database. Depending on the database, you’ll have different options about what fields to include and where the funds will be allocated. 
  3. Create a donate page on your website with any copy you want to lead with. Then, link out to the CRM payment page or copy the embed code from your database and paste it into your donate page. 
  4. Test it all out thoroughly. You don’t want frustrated donors trying to give and not being able to! Your database provider will be able to help you to test the system by giving you some test card details so you don’t have to make a real donation.

Which fundraising databases offer website integration as standard?

While you might think that integrating with your website donation process is a pretty core piece of functionality for a fundraising database, it’s surprising how poorly this need is served. We’ve come across many fundraising databases that have either little to no support for embedding donation forms into your website. Some providers will also charge more for this service.

Here is a list of fundraising databases and the support they offer for integrated donations:

Database software Support for integration Integration is free
White Fuse
Donorflex   -
Access ThankQ CRM
Donor Perfect
Donor Tools   -
Neon CRM

For more on database options, check out this post: Top Charity Fundraising & Donor Database Systems Compared.



Option 3: A website platform with integrated donation processing

Arguably the best alternative to either charity donation websites or embedded widgets from a separate database, is a website with fully integrated donation processing. This approach puts the donor's experience first. Just think of online shops - they don't send you elsewhere just because you are ready to buy!

The Online Giving Study from Network for Good found that:

“Giving on social networks is significant, but donor loyalty is highest on charity websites that build strong connections with donors. Personality matters on these websites: The loyalty factor for donors acquired through generic giving pages is 66.7% lower than for donors who give via charity-branded giving pages.”

What to look for when integrating donations

Depending on your website platform, building a smooth and effective donation process can be a challenging and costly process. Here is our list of criteria again:


What are the fees for setup, a monthly subscription, platform commission and payment processing?

Recurring donations Are recurring donations supported? If so is it via card billing or Direct Debit?
Gift aid Does the platform collect the gift aid automatically?
Branding Is the brand focus on your charity or on the platform itself?  
Mobile Is the platform easy to use on mobile?

White Fuse - fully integrated fundraising

White Fuse is an integrated website, fundraising and membership platform that makes it easy for small charities take donations directly on their website. There's none of the hassles of plugins, embedding forms that look weird, custom development or data migration. Find out more about White Fuse.

Tips for using Wordpress

As you’d expect, there is a range of useful plugins that can help you to collect donations on your Wordpress website. Of course, you’ll need a developer to help you get this setup and build pages that look good. Unfortunately, none of these plugins supports Direct Debit. 

Tips for using Drupal 

With Drupal, a more customised approach is needed. This is obviously more time consuming but offers much more scope to meet any unusual needs of your donation process. You can find comprehensive guidance on building a donation process using Drupal Commerce here.



Security and data protection considerations

It’s crucial that any payments your website is making are secured against potential fraud. A major part of this is ensuring that traffic to and from your website is encrypted. This has always been an important consideration but with upcoming changes to the law, it’s even more crucial to think through how you will handle the data you are collecting associated with any donations. For more on this, check out our Data protection guide: GDP for small charities.

14 March 2018
Owen Roseblade