Direct and digital marketing, Fundraising

Digital fundraising: top tips

Over the past two decades, digital technologies and the web have transformed the way in which charities approach fundraising.

The growth of social media has provided charities with an ever-increasing number of channels through which to communicate their message and connect with their supporters, while crowdfunding platforms such as JustGiving offer simple, innovative and cost-effective solutions for projects which need to raise funds quickly.

While much of the attention surrounding digital fundraising has been focused on its potential to boost individual donations, what is sometimes overlooked are the manifold ways in which social media and the web can help to improve the efficiency of trust fundraising. Here are three top tips on how to maximise your time and resources to find the grants that you need.

Crowdfunding platforms

In recent years, popular crowdfunding platforms such as JustGiving, which enable charities to raise money for projects by consolidating small donations by individual members of the public, have become an essential element of any digital fundraising strategy. While most crowdfunding platforms focus on individual fundraising, more recently some have begun to collaborate with trusts and foundations to offer innovative solutions to the challenges of grant-making.

Two notable examples of this practice are Spacehive and The Good Exchange.

Established in 2012, Spacehive is a crowdfunding platform that focuses on projects to improve public spaces. Funding initially comes from supporters and friends of the project, with over £3.3 million in additional funding available from grant-makers, local councils and businesses, including the likes of Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, The Westway Trust, Barclays and Manchester City Council. So far, over 450 projects including the London sculpture walk and a project to turn a Peckham railway line into a park have received funding.

The Good Exchange is open to any registered charity or group operating for public benefit in the UK. It was established in 2016 and in its first year facilitated the distribution of £4.7 million to good causes. Applicant organisations looking for funding complete a single online application form, which is then automatically matched to the funding criteria of multiple funders. Amounts raised can also be match funded, which helps to incentivise donors and fundraisers to work together and raise money more quickly.

From the grant-makers perspective, sites such as Spacehive and The Good Exchange offer the chance to reduce the costs often associated with grant administration. As trustee of The Miss Lawrence Trust, Jonathan Bastable explains:

“The main draw to The Good Exchange was the ability to simplify our paper-based system of processing grant applications. The platform allows us to streamline the annual shortlisting of applications, and also enables us to delve deeper and with greater ease into our applicants’ objectives, while also enabling us to see the support they’ve received from other funders and donors. The platform provides a great deal of transparency and it also greatly simplifies matters for applicants, who now have to complete just one application form for consideration.”

From the perspective of the fundraiser meanwhile, these platforms can help to significantly reduce the time and resources wasted making unsuccessful speculative applications to dozens of funders. As such, they are particularly useful for smaller charities that do not have the resources to employ full-time professional fundraising teams.

Social media

Social media is a great tool for communicating your message and connecting with your beneficiaries and supporters, but it can also be a useful resource for identifying potential sources of funding. Research conducted a part of DSC’s work for the latest edition of the Guide to Major Trust – a comprehensive guide to over 1000’s of the UK’s largest grant-making charities – revealed that a growing number of grant-makers have a social media presence.

Often these accounts are used by grant-makers to promote and celebrate the work of their beneficiaries but are also on occasion used to share information about upcoming fund. As such, by following social media activity of grant-makers that are relevant to their cause, fundraisers can not only gain important insights into the types of projects that funder’s are likely to support but also be the first to hear about new schemes and funding opportunities.

Funds Online

One of the biggest challenges of trust fundraising is knowing which of the 1000’s of grant-making charities will be likely to support your project. Fortunately, DSC’s new funding website, FundsOnline, provides information on over 8,000 funders (over 4,500 of which are grant-making charities), including key eligibility criteria, funds available and details of how to apply.

The website, which launches later this month, will replace DSC’s current four funding websites –,, and – and is designed to provide all the information that fundraisers need in one place. New and improved features include a user dashboard for keeping track of applications, an improved and intuitive search function and enhanced compatibility with mobile devices.

Visit Funds Online now