Historically, schools rarely have enough funding to function without needing to raise funds. Schools frequently turn to fundraisers to buy additional classroom supplies, pay for extracurricular activities, lab equipment, art supplies, playground equipment, and the list goes on.
Not so long ago, there were times when fundraisers were almost exclusively conducted directly through door-to-door sales, phone calls, and paper packets. Those times are [luckily] behind us. In this era of technology, there are plenty of choices when selecting a digital fundraising platform. Picking the right one is one of the most critical decisions your school can make.
However, with all the choices available, finding the right fundraising platform can be confusing. You want a platform that provides the best functionality for your school’s needs while providing your donors with the best experience.
How then do you choose a fundraising platform?
This post discusses the key features you should look out for when choosing a digital fundraising platform for your school.
Determine Your Cause
Even before you decide on your fundraising platform of choice, you must first know the causes your fundraiser(s) will support. What types of activities will you to conduct to achieve your goals? What audiences are you targeting for potential donors? There are plenty of fundraising platforms supporting different types of fundraising initiatives. Not every platform will support every type of fundraiser. Once you determine your cause, it becomes easier to pick the right platform.
LeanStream has all the features you need to run successful school fundraisers of all kinds.
Intuitive User Interface
Some platforms require you to watch endless hours of video tutorials to figure out how they work. Stay away from such platforms. A fundraising platform should be intuitive and easy to use. It will save your donors plenty of headaches. Where possible, look for a platform with free demos that allow you to feel the software first.
LeanStream allows you to schedule a demo and learn more about our platform.
Safety and Security
All fundraising platforms have a process for transferring funds. When picking a platform, know precisely how they will transfer the funds to your designated school account.
Additionally, find out if they keep the money in a protected account. After all, you want your money to be safe should something happen to the company.
A good fundraising platform must have measures to safeguard donations made through their site and make arrangements to pass the funds to your account as soon as possible. Ensuring your fundraising platform makes security a priority will build trust with your donors.
Scrutinize Their History
When choosing from a list of fundraising platforms, look at the one with impeccable history and reputation. This means they must have been operating in the market for some time. Go for the ones that are well established and avoid new platforms as they have more potential for risk.
Still, on history and reputation, look at the number of school fundraisers that have been registered under that platform. Ideally, you want a platform that caters to the needs of a wide range of fundraising types. You could go the extra mile and ask some of the customers about their experiences using the platform.
At LeanStream, we currently serve over 40 school systems, foundations, schools, colleges and universities.
Consider Return Investment (ROI)
It is common for fundraising platforms to charge a fee to remain operational and keep providing the services. The costs vary depending on the platform and your fundraising needs.
You should ask yourself whether the platform is offering a good return for the fees charged. Is the platform making it easy for donors to give? Are they helping you reduce time and costs with a raft of reporting tools? Will they help your fundraisers raise more money?
Take a look at our pricing options. Note that LeanStream charges no platform transaction fees for charitable donations! Other donation platforms charge up to 35%. Additionally, LeanStream comes bundled with a host of e-commerce features that allow you to collect fees, sell tickets, and other merchandise.
Apart from the fees charged by that platform, it is equally important to consider how the platform utilizes the money they collect. Are they constantly innovating? Are they updating their platform often enough and releasing products and tools that will help you in your fundraising drive? The platform you choose must have a business model that encourages innovation. Additionally, they should have ways of keeping you updated about any improvements and innovations.
Customized Donation Pages
An online giving platform worth their salt will offer you a donation form with your school’s logo, preferred colors. This customized and branded look positively affects donors as it makes you look organized and trustworthy. A platform that doesn’t offer anything in terms of customization is not worth the effort.
Remember, you are trying to make an impression on donors. The best platforms even allow you to add a personal touch to your page, for instance, photos and special fonts to go along with your school’s brand. Some will enable you to customize the entire page, which is even better.
Lean Stream offers you a fully customized/school-branded fundraising and e-commerce site depending on your school’s needs. LeanStream understands that needs change over time, and it’s easy to adjust your customized site to meet those needs.
Multiple Payment Options
Parents, grandparents, businesses, and other members of the community may not all want to donate using the same payment method. Ensure your chosen fundraising platform accepts more than just credit card payments. Keep in mind that businesses might prefer to send in a check or make a pledge for a future donation. Don’t let your platform limit your audience of potential donors.
The point is to meet your most engaged supporters where they are and make it as easy as possible for them to contribute to your cause. It is even better if the platform can integrate easily with social networks like Facebook or Instagram. It is always a good idea to broaden your reach.
It is common for donors’ employers to match their donations. Some organizations match 1:1, while others match 2:1. Whether the gift is large or small, a matching gift software will significantly boost your fundraising capacity. If your platform of choice doesn’t allow you to collect matching gifts, you could be missing out on a lot of money. Ideally, you want a platform that will remind donors about gift matching so you can maximize your fundraising drive.
At Lean Stream, we are here to help you engage donors, raise money, and support your fundraising initiatives. Our fundraising platform is a full suite of tools for all your education fundraising needs. Take a look to find out more and get in touch.