We use cookies to help us provide you with the best experience, improve and tailor our services, and carry out our marketing activities. For more information, including how to manage your cookie settings, see our privacy notice.


Skip to content. | Skip to navigation

Covid-19 update: Government guidance changed on 19 July 2021 - we're currently updating our information in response to this. In the meantime, visit the government's guidance on lifting restrictions.

Community-made content which you can improve Case study from our community

How to avoid technical blunders when fundraising

The power of the internet and social media for fundraising are undeniable, but by their very nature, things can backfire. Reputations and relationships could be damaged and the amount raised could suffer due to technical errors. Here’s a guide on what you can do to stop these types of mistakes happening. 


Understand your audience

Understanding the demographics of your audience will help you select the type of service and donation payment provider that you need, now and for the future. Do your research and understand how your audience donates to charity and make it easy for them to do so. 

Some questions you should consider:

  • How do your supporters interact with you?
  • Where are your supporters based (you may need multiple currencies)?
  • Could you be losing donations because you are not using other options? 

Make it easy for your supporters to donate in your fundraising messages and give them clear steps on how they can do this. 


Use as few steps as possible

Is the payment process easy for your supporters to use and understand? The fewer steps your supporter has to make to donate, the more donations you are likely to receive. 


If you’re using a third party website for donations, does it fully integrate with your website? Does it have the look and feel of your brand? 


Some popular donor processing sites aren’t able to brand in your organisation’s look and feel and understanding the consequences of this is important. Will the donor lose some sense of trust? Could they change their mind because of this? 


Decide on the donation channel

There are a number of payment options that you can consider using:

  • Donation page via a third party – this is where the payment provider makes a payment page available to you via their website. The supporter enters their payment details and makes their pledge quickly and simply. 
  • Shopping carts and content management system plugins - there are a number of shopping carts and plugins available. Make sure your payment provider has the capability to integrate with your website and make sure they don’t charge you a premium to do this.
  • Online shopping – allows supporters to shop online at a number of online retailers and a percentage of the purchase is donated to a charity, at no extra cost. 
  • Text based giving – where supporters text a word/phrase to a number which triggers a donation to the charity. 

    Although the recent #nomakeupselfie campaign wasn’t created by a charity, a few lessons can be learnt from it. Make sure your supporters know the right code and number to text. Make it easy for them to do this by creating a short code and easy to remember number. Our how to create an effective text campaign guide has more information on this. 

    One problem with this campaign was smartphones auto-correcting a code which meant that instead of texting ‘BEAT’, some supporters’ phones were autocorrecting this to ‘BEAR’ which meant they got sent details from the WWF on how to adopt a polar bear! Test out potential codes to overcome any technical issues such as auto-correction.
  • Mail order/phone order – if your organisation sends out regular emails, newsletters and advertising that ask your audience to make a phone call, you will need to be able to take donations by phone. 

Choose a reputable service

In 2013, the online service,, was suspended following complaints to the Charity Commission about missing donations. Make sure you do your research on the service provider/supplier. 


Watch out for fees

When looking into the service provider and donation options, you need to look out for fees that you may be charged. All of these will impact how much money actually goes to the cause that you are collecting donations for. These are not always clear to see and can include: 

  • Card processing fees
  • Transaction fees
  • Discount rate
  • Commission
  • Gateway fees
  • Compliance fee
  • Other fees such as annual service charge, monthly fees and set up fees
  • Some do not accept Gift Aid so you will have to claim directly with HMRC.

An example of some of the hidden fees from one of the mainstream providers and the impact it has on your donations: if a supporter gives £10, you’re charged commission on this (1.4%) and then you’re charged a processing fee of 2% which could mean that you’re losing 34p for every £10 that’s donated to your charity. 


Page last edited Jul 27, 2017 History

Help us to improve this page – give us feedback.