Accept Donations Online: Your Guide to Collecting Funds

| 8 min read Crowdfunding

Convenience is king. We appreciate things that make our lives easier, from delivery apps to mobile wallets to smart home technology. On the flip side, we tend to avoid things that take too much time and effort. As a result, we’re seeing more and more services transition online. 

Fundraising is no exception. Online donation tools give people a convenient way to donate, whether they live down the street or across the world. If you’re looking to accept donations online, there are plenty of online giving options available. The trick is knowing which tool is best suited for your needs. In this guide, we help you navigate the complexities of online crowdfunding, from what to look for, to which platform to use. 

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What to look for when evaluating online donation tools

We live in a world of options, where you can pick and choose depending on your needs. While this is generally regarded as a good thing, what happens when you’re flooded with choices? How can you possibly make the best decision when trying to collect donations online? 

Evaluating donation platforms can be an exhausting and frustrating process. And that’s okay. To help you weigh your options, we created a list of key features when selecting a donation platform. This way, you’ll be able to pick the best platform for your needs. 


Depending on your needs, you may not be able to shell out for a paid giving platform. Luckily, there are fundraising resources available that you can take advantage of. Research online fundraising platforms that allow you to raise and keep more money. 

Ease of use

Time is money. Two hours spent navigating an online giving platform is two hours that could have been spent collecting donations. Before committing to a specific donation tool, determine how easy the platform is to use. While some platforms are easier to use than others, it’s also important to consider other features. The extra five minutes you spend on configuring your donation platform may increase your overall donations by tenfold. 

A section to showcase your story

A successful fundraiser is dependent on an honest and compelling story. Does it move people to give to your cause? If donors understand the impact of their contributions, they will be more likely to give to your cause and share your fundraiser with their networks. Look for online donation tools that can give your story the attention it deserves. 

How do I ask for donations online?

If you’re struggling with how to ask for help with money, you’re not alone. We understand that sharing your story can be an emotionally vulnerable experience. If you need tips or inspiration, check out our comprehensive guide to writing your fundraiser story.

Ways to share

Leverage the power of your networks to spread the word and encourage donations. In recent years, social media has become a popular and easy way to share your fundraiser with others. Does your donation platform make it easy to share on social media?

If you’re uncomfortable sharing your personal fundraiser on social media, there are other ways to share offline. Choose whichever method makes you most comfortable!

Customer service

See what customer service options your desired platform offers. Does it offer phone, email, or chat support? What type of response times should you anticipate? Even if you don’t anticipate roadblocks, it’s better to be informed when things don’t go as planned. 

Four ways to accept donations online

Once you rank which features are most important for your situation, you can start evaluating different platforms for online giving. Here, we break down four of the most popular online donation tools so that you don’t have to. 

1. PayPal

PayPal is a secure payment processing system that allows users to accept donations online. You can set up a PayPal account and start collecting donations within minutes.

In order for donors to send a donation to your account, donors need to know either your phone number, email address, or contact name. If you’re not comfortable with sharing that information, you have one of two options:

  1. Only request donations from people who you’re comfortable with. This will limit the total amount of donors, which will influence the total number and sum of donations.
  2. Choose a different platform.

If you don’t have privacy concerns, see how the other features stack up. Unfortunately, PayPal does not offer a section where you can post your story to encourage donations. It also requires donors to use their personal PayPal account. This can be advantageous for existing PayPal users because they don’t need their credit card information to make a donation. On the flip side, it could deter donors who are forced to make a PayPal account in order to make a contribution. 

2. Venmo

Like PayPal, Venmo is very user-friendly and easy to set up. To get started, all you need to do is download the mobile app to your smartphone or tablet. Compared to other platforms, it accepts most types of foreign currencies. Donors can easily search your Venmo username and send you money within seconds. 

While it’s for you to use, donors may incur a fee if they use a credit card. Generally, this isn’t an issue because most users connect their debit cards to avoid additional costs. Another limitation is that Venmo requires donors to have or create an account. Keep in mind that Venmo is only supported on mobile devices or tablets. This may discourage certain users, especially if they don’t have a smartphone or tablet. 

3. GoFundMe

GoFundMe is a crowdfunding platform that is designed specifically for accepting donations online. Out of the four tools, it’s the only one that allows you to:

  • Create fundraising goals
  • Feature your story 
  • Accept donations without creating an account
  • Thank donors personally
  • Update donors with photos and new developments

Donors have the flexibility of donating on their mobile device or computer. They can also share your fundraiser on social media with the click of a button. 

If you’re still debating which platform to use, keep in mind that with GoFundMe, you can have the best of both worlds. If you already have the other donation options and want to make that information available to donors, simply add your payment handles in your fundraiser description. That way, donors can choose whatever option is most convenient for them and encourage even further giving.

Fundraising for your favorite charity

GoFundMe makes it easy for you to raise money for your favorite charities. When you set up your fundraiser, select which charity you’d like to support. All donations to your charity fundraiser are tax-deductible and go straight to the charity’s bank account, without you ever needing to handle the funds. 

4. Cash App

Venmo and Cash App are virtually the same, with minor differences. While you as a recipient have no receiving limits, donors can be bound based on which platform they’re using. 

On Cash App, donors are limited to sending $2,500 a week whereas, on Venmo, donors are limited to sending $2,999.99 a week. Even if you’re not anticipating donations to exceed those limits, keep in mind that donors might rack up a hefty weekly total for personal reasons. Many use these apps to pay rent, reimburse their friends, and more. If you ultimately decide to go with Cash App or Venmo, choose which application is most popular with your potential donors.  

What you need to have on hand to withdraw funds from online giving

In order to withdraw funds from your GoFundMe, you’ll need to have a few pieces of information available. This is to ensure the funds are going to the right person and the right place. Here, we outline what documents you’ll need to withdraw your donations.

Bank account info

If you’re raising money for yourself, this information should be pretty easy to locate. The most common way to find the requested information is to look at your checkbook. Simply input the routing and account numbers listed on the check. 

If you’re raising money for someone else, you’ll need to add them as the beneficiary so they can withdraw the funds directly. It’s as simple as sending them an email invitation. This will ensure that the donations go directly to your beneficiary.

Please note that it’s important to double and triple-check your bank account information to make sure you receive your donations. 

Empower online giving by using GoFundMe

Sometimes, all you need is a little push to get started. Whether you’re fundraising for yourself, a friend, or a nonprofit, we are here to help. Our powerful platform can help you reach more supporters, encourage more donations, and build stronger relationships with the people who want you to succeed. So, what are you waiting for? Take advantage of our fundraising expertise and launch your online fundraiser today.

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Written by pkauffman