Charity donation and fundraising websites

Charity donation and fundraising websites

This guide will help you find the best fundraising websites and understand how to take charity donations on your website. 

Here are three main methods for accepting donations online.

1: Using a third-party platform
2: Embed a widget on your website
3: A website platform with integrated donation processing

Option 1: Using a charity fundraising website

Fundraising websites are the simplest way to get started if you are a charity and you want to accept online donations. All you do is sign up to one of the many online fundraising websites. You don’t even need to have your own charity website. Read on to discover the best fundraising websites. 

Key criteria to consider when choosing a fundraising website

There are lots of options and it can get complicated quickly. We have researched the major options and we make a set of recommendations based on the criteria most important to you.

Here are the key criteria to look for when choosing a fundraising platform.

Fees What is the cheapest donation platform based on monthly subscription, commission and payment processing?
Recurring donations Are recurring donations supported? If so is it via card billing or Direct Debit?
Gift aid Does the donation platform collect the gift aid automatically?
Branding Is the brand focus on your charity or on the donation platform itself?
Mobile Is it easy to donate money on a mobile?
Widget Can I embed a widget from the fundraising platform on my existing website?
Peer to peer Can my supporters set up their own fundraising pages to collect sponsorship from their peers?

In this table, we have evaluated the key contenders against these criteria to make it easy for you to see the pros and cons of each.

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Download the spreadsheet version of this table



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: Embed a fundraising widget from your database or CRM

If you have an existing website and an existing fundraising database then the optimum solution is a seamless on-site experience for donors while passing all donation information directly into your database.  This is the foundation for any good charity donation website. The donor should come first but you want to avoid any manual data entry or importing. Manual data entry leads to data protection issues.  

How to add a donation widget to your website

  1. Ensure your 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 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, 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 embedding Embedding is free
Donorflex   -
Access ThankQ CRM
Donor Perfect
Donor Tools   -
White Fuse   -
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 the platform.

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.

The following blog posts cover relevant subjects about security, data protection and your legal requirements.

Don't forget the spreadsheet

We've created a cost comparison spreadsheet to accompany this guide.

Go back up to the spreadsheet