Fundraising With WordPress: A Guide For Nonprofits

The Fundraising Plugin from WPMU DEVThere are several plugins which allow nonprofits to take donations and even more web services that provide similar functionality, but none of them can match the level of integration and ease of use offered by the WPMU DEV Fundraising Plugin.

This video and text walk-through will discuss the main features of the plugin and how you can get your nonprofit up and running quickly taking donations right on your website. All the videos were shot in HD so remember to select that option in the video display panel by clicking on the gear icon at bottom right of each video window.

Main Features of the Fundraising Plugin

The Fundraising plugin allows you to create dedicated events, called fundraisers, through which a nonprofit can solicit donations for that event or for the organization in general. The plugin tracks number of donors, amounts given, and can even display the percentage of your donation goals achieved. It also gives you the ability to create your own Kickstarter type functionality, and take pledges for specific events without charging those donors until the entire goal amount has been met.

Tracking Donations in Fundraiser
Donors can be tracked inside the actual fundraising event post. (click to enlarge)

But the Fundraising plugin is more than just a simple donation tracker because the system itself can be easily customized to fit your specific nonprofit needs. For example, you might not call your “donors” by that name; you might call them “supporters” or “backers” or something else entirely. Instead of having rigid rules that don’t allow for customization (like most proprietary donation systems), Fundraising allows you to change the internal settings of the plugin to name your “donors” whatever you like.

Events can have custom names too. Don’t like the word “fundraiser?” That’s just fine – you can call them “galas”, “walk-a-thons”, or anything else your heart (or organization) desires!  This level of customization makes the plugin more deeply integrated with your website and the nonprofit’s persona.

The Fundraising plugin lets you track donations right inside your WordPress admin panel too. You can see the number of donors, the transaction settings, amount donated, the progress toward your ultimate fundraising goal, and much more.

 

General Settings

Fundraising General Settings Menu in WordPressThe Fundraising plugin is easy to set up and customize. It features a step by step guide to configuring the system which displays as soon as you activate the plugin.

There are three areas that must be setup for the plugin to function correctly:

Payments – This area is for detailed payment information. Your location, currency type, and the types of donations you’ll take – simple or crowd funded.

Presentation – This setting area controls how your donation plugin looks. You can change how the plugin appears in your admin menu panel and all of the associated names for donors and events. You can also change the way the donation buttons display inside the fundraising posts/pages on your website. Essentially, this section of settings allows you to customize the look of the plugin for both the admin interface and the end-user.

Other – This area allows you to add a general fundraisers page to your website menu bar by which viewers can see all your currently published fundraisers.

The following video walks you through setting up the Fundraising plugin, and configuring the general settings so you can get up and running taking donations quickly.

 

Setting up PayPal

Fundraising integrates natively with PayPal standard processing. Anyone can set up a PayPal account and get started taking donations right away, provided PayPal is set up as a business account. PayPal business accounts are free to register and are one of the most widely used payment processors for nonprofits for several reasons:

  • PayPal is a trusted name
  • PayPal features a very secure transaction portal
  • PayPal can accept credit and debit cards or a standard PayPal account – currently used by millions of members
  • PayPal checkout is very fast – only a few pieces of information are required to complete your transaction
  • PayPal can process recurring donations – one of the best ways a nonprofit can generate residual income and not have to rely so much on grant funding

The only downside to processing donations through PayPal is you are taken briefly off your own website to actually process the transaction through PayPal. This negative is mitigated by the security the PayPal processor

 

Creating a Fundraiser

Upon installation, the plugin creates a custom post type to handle all fundraising activities. You can choose to set up specific events, general donations, and to monitor donation activities and donors directly in your WordPress admin panel. You can also setup suggested donation levels to encourage your supporters to give certain amounts of money.

Suggested Donation Levels

Another advantage of the Fundraising plugin is that is works through the native WordPress custom post type functionality. It does not work with complex plugin settings or a proprietary data storage method. This means you can export your fundraising data using WordPress’ export XML features and takes that data with you when you change sites or upgrade to a different theme. All the data is stored in your standard WordPress database.

Whether you choose to allow for simple donations or crowd funded events the fundraiser creation process is simple and familiar. Using the WordPress post editor to create donations allows you to add text, images, videos, and any html code you desire. This gives your donation page a custom-feel and much more functionality than most stand-alone systems which only offer a few stock customization methods.

The Fundraising Plugin from WPMU DEV allows the following donation types:

Simple Donations

This option will get you up and running quickly. It allows you to take simple donations by which the donor can choose an amount and donate that amount to you either once or on a recurring basis. The donation post will display the number of donors who have given money, the total amount of money raised by your organization through this event/post, and the donor will be charged via PayPal as soon as he or she makes that donation.

Advanced Crowd Funding

This is similar to what you would see on a site like Kickstarter, where you create a special event with a specific goal in mind. Donors aren’t actually charged until that goal is reached. For example, if you have an event like a building fund by which you plan to solicit funds to build a new home for your nonprofit, you might use the advanced crowd funding option. That home might cost $10,000 but if you can’t raise the entire amount you will not move forward with the project.

The crowd funding option will show the number of donors and total amount donated just like the simple donation option, it will also show a progress bar denoting the percentage of that goal currently raised. It will also show how many days are left in the fundraising event. This is a great piece of functionality because it creates a time-based needs statement and encourages donors to act quickly.

Rewards

Another impressive feature of the Fundraising plugin is the ability to give awards to donors. This is often seen with public radio and television funding drives by which donors receive a gift for a certain level of donation. If you are partnering with a corporate sponsor for your event you could offer gifts to your donors.

For instance, you might have a goal set to raise $25,000 during one event, and you could offer donors who give at the $1,000 level a free t-shirt, CD, DVD, or some other donated item. Rewards are a great way to entice donations and to encourage donors or small amounts to increase their donation size to receive a bundled gift.

The video below shows how simple it can be to add a fundraiser to your nonprofit website.

 

Widgets

Just when you thought you’ve seen some great functionality, the plugin goes even further and allows you to include fundraiser information in widgets on your sidebar or any widgetized area your theme might include.

With Fundraiser widgets you can feature certain events to draw the eyes of your viewers. You can also display a list of recent donors and even a panel which displays current progress from particular fundraising events.

By taking this information out of the single fundraising post and also displaying it site-wide you will draw more traffic to your fundraising events and make them easy to find from every corner, post, and page of your website.

Conclusion

The WPMU DEV Fundraising plugin is a feature rich donation plugin that offers your nonprofit unparalleled fundraising ability and seamless integration with any WordPress installation. It also allows your nonprofit to keep payment processor costs low by avoiding the need for an expensive merchant account.

The videos take extra time to walk you through the plugin features, but there’s no reason you couldn’t be up and running with your own fundraiser and taking donations in fewer than 10 minutes, provided you have a valid PayPal account and some knowledge of WordPress settings.

Of course, to get more familiar with the latter, you’re at the right place: WPMU.org.

Comments (8)

  1. Hi, my panel view of the rewards is different, why?
    I can only see reward amount and reward descrtiption… and when posted the campaign won’t show any rewards, could someone help me?

    • Alexej,

      It might be related to your theme settings or how your posts/pages are set to display. Can you post a picture of the problem you’re having or a link to your site? We can try to trouble shoot from there.

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