Top 5 Best Fundraising Websites
I recently completed an in depth research to find the best of the best in fundraising platforms. There are numerous companies that offer fundraising platforms, but the five reported in this article, in my professional opinion, were hands-down the best of the best. The information I discovered proved to be very powerful. I am choosing to share this extremely valuable information for free – with no catches – because I wish someone would have done the same for me.
I set out on this adventure, hoping to find a fundraising company that not only offered me the best value for my time and money, but also had superior customer service, a truly secure website, and some excellent “Wows” or extra amenities. I really was looking to see which platform would help me to be the most profitable.
In 2017, an online article was published on the top TWENTY-SIX sites for campaign donations. While this information is readily available, it was disconcerting to unveil that this information was outdated; in fact, some of the websites are no longer viable. Plus, it was difficult to determine which fundraising platform was the best for me. So, now that I’ve done hours of research and I’ve found the top five best fundraising websites I am sharing this knowledge with you. Again, the main requirements that I wanted addressed were trust, affordability, reliability, and results!
With this in mind, this article is dedicated to the top five current, trending and result centered organizations. These, again, are the four elements that I used to measure my findings: 1) What are they doing to ensure the security of their users; 2) How they charge fees and what they use the fees for; 3) The effectiveness, professionalism, and timeliness of their customer service; and 4) Any amenities offered to make the experience even better, easier, and all around more successful.
In each of the four categories, which I deemed most important to those that may use one of these fundraising websites, I ranked these businesses on a scale of 1 to 5. One means that the company is the worst in that category; and, five means that the company has earned a serious “Wow” and is the industry standard in that category. This linear model allowed me to think objectively about the criterion and see how these leading companies truly compare. I hope that as you read this, and you critique for yourself, that this will come in handy!
A Good Cause Global
A Good Cause Global, LLC was not the first company I investigated, but it was by far my favorite. This Utah-based company is a growing start-up with lots of promise! I believe, through my findings, that “A Good Cause” may be the next big name in fundraising!
A Good Cause – Security
At the bottom of the A Good Cause home page, you can see that they have been secured by a third party cybersecurity professional called, Trust Guard. In my book, this is the cherry on top of the web world. You can never be too careful about the information you put online, and knowing that this site is scanned daily for potential hackers and other malicious folk… well I feel like I can trust them with my funds! Although this company is only about two years old, I see them quickly becoming a powerhouse in the fundraising industry.
A Good Cause – Fees
In the category of fees, “A Good Cause” was amongst the lowest of all the competitors. They charge a fee for transactions using credit cards. There is not a company in the world, that I’ve found, who doesn’t do the same. They only charge 7.4% and $0.30 cents per donation as a payment processing fee. This comes to a whopping $7.70 for a $100.00 donation. A Good Cause has the best rates, with no hidden fees, and no request for an additional tip.
A Good Cause – Customer Service
I called their toll free number and was immediately put into contact with a real person. It happened so fast, that I was truly shocked. They take customer service very seriously. You can chat with a live person on the phone or via Live Chat. They use live chat services through Rhino Support during business hours, and a 24/7 online support to make sure that their guests have the best experience in the industry! You can email directly or fill out a support ticket and someone will reach back to you within one business day. In all my years of working with businesses, I have not found a better customer support process. Additionally, A Good Cause goes above and beyond by offering their guests the option of leaving a rating or review to help provide immediate feedback regarding the effectiveness of their service.
A Good Cause – Amenities
A Good Cause had some great membership amenities, so I listed them below. I also enjoyed the articles as I perused their website! They seemed to take a very personal approach, and they had several campaigns on their page that you could make a donation to directly! It was direct and very simple to make a donation, and I wasn’t manipulated into leaving a tip!
One area that I think this company should get kudos for is that among the services they offer, they TEACH you how to get the most from your social media platforms. It’s the only fundraising site, that I have seen, do this! A lot of people might not know how to run a fundraiser on a blog, or on Instagram, or Pinterest. A Good Cause also provides instructions on using Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter! They have earned four stars in the area of Amenities.
Summary for A Good Cause…. I get really picky about giving out high scores, but I just could not find a big fault with A Good Cause! Even as I was writing this, I kept going back to see if I could find some area to lower their scores; BUT I COULDN’T FIND MUCH OF ANYTHING! So, Siskel and Ebert eat your hearts out. You would have to give A Good Cause a whopping TWO THUMBS UP! FIVE STARS! Scoring high in each of the four areas, A Good Cause got 90% with an 18/20 score on Security, Fees, Service, and Amenities.
The company known as FUNDly platform is easy to use, helpful and scales to any size fundraiser. Individuals can begin on Facebook, or non-profits can begin building their fundraisers on site. You begin by telling your story and connecting with donors, which is the normal outline for almost every company you may choose. Every fundraising page has a video and photo gallery that’s front and center. Add your content from Youtube, Vimeo, Facebook or your computer and you will have created an interactive slideshow for your cause. Fundly has a free mobile app which you can get from the Apple store to make posts from anywhere so you can keep your story going.
One aspect that others don’t have is their Facebook OpenGraph integration. It automatically broadcasts campaign activity and those who support or even “like” your page show up in activity feeds.
Fundly – Security
Every campaign at Fundly includes the ability to securely process donations through a payment processor called WePay. They also have a secure SSL certification. They are about average in the area of security, so that’s why they earned three stars.
Fundly – Fees
Fundly offers a variety of payment plans depending on your needs. Launching is NOT free, but begins at $75.00 per month.
Fundly platform fee is 4.9% + credit card processing fee 2.9% (Total 7.8%) + $.30/transaction. If it wasn’t for their required monthly fees, Fundly’s fees would be reasonable – slightly worse than some of the other companies we’ve investigated – but reasonable. However, due to the monthly fee it just isn’t very sensible.
Fundly – Customer Service
In the area of service it was found that Fundly has no phone service. You can email in a question and wait for a response. Compared to the other sites, this is a bit of a let down. Emails are a slow and unpersonalized way of responding. Today’s patrons, like me and you, expect quicker more reliable way of communication.
Fundly – Amenities
On the website for Fundly there is a wide variety of services to educate and help you navigate the fundraising platform. Tutorials will lead you step-by-step and they offer weekly podcasts. I couldn’t find another fundraising company with as many and useful amenities.
This gives Fundly an overall score of 13/20 stars, ranking it second overall with a 65% score. They have awesome amenities, but their fees and customer support were simply unacceptable.
The company called, Classy, made the top five list. It is a software company and an online fundraising platform focused on nonprofits. It was founded in 2006, originally to host fundraising events that benefit charities. They changed to a software and services company in 2010, and in 2011, began focusing on peer-to-peer fundraising, crowdfunding, and marketing automation.
Classy – Security
One thing that stood out to me and was super impressive was that they, like aGoodCause, have Level 1 PCI compliance and security. However, I’m not sure about Malware protection, it does not make mention of this. Classy has earned four stars for Security.
Classy – Fees
In this category, I believe Classy falls well behind. I could find no transparency! Almost every page, although graphically eye-catching, asked for you to answer questions, and then be linked to people who would assist. While this is nice for someone who may be ready to plunge right in, it is disconcerting that you don’t know what you will be charged for these services, let alone how much of a cut they will take from your fundraising. In the area of fees, they are given only one star.
Classy – Customer ServiceAs I opened up this site I was immediately drawn to the layout of the page, which shows on the right hand corner that you can request a demo! I was immediately intrigued, but quickly disappointed that it led to a page where I was asked for a ton of my information and if I “would I like to be put on our blog”. Then the company would contact me later to set up an appointment for a demo. Upon further perusing, I was drawn to the very bottom of the first page where Classy offered a FREE GUIDE to data-driven fundraising. I liked how it really sold me on what I could learn! UNFORTUNATELY, clicking the link took me to a separate information collection site where you are encouraged to be contacted, and also to subscribe to their blog.
While looking through their pages, I got a pop-up for talking to a live staff member. How nice! I asked a question about cost, and the lady that helped me was very nice and answered in a timely manner. I was impressed that, like aGoodCause, Classy has a live chat service too. For Customer Service, I give them four stars!
Classy – Amenities
Amenities were varied for Classy. I was able to find educational support in their blog and archives, but it was not listed easily for viewers to find.
They have a variety of educational tools, but no mobile app, or any indication of updates or whether this is a risk-free site.
Awarding stars therefore, will be a mix of what is missing and what they have. For amenities, they are given three stars .
Classy earned a total of 12/20 stars for 60%. Other than their fee structure, they were one of my favorites.
The company, Go Fund Me, was the most well known and have been around a long time, but I found several unsettling things that pushed them back to number four on the top five list. This is probably the most used platform, but I think you’ll be surprised to learn about some of the things I learned about this less than favorable platform. The Go Fund Me Campaign has been going strong since 2010. They have also acquired other companies such as “You Caring” and “Crowdrise.”
Go Fund Me – Security
Security is of the utmost importance while using online and mobile services. Go Fund Me does allow you to submit a claim if there is a problem with a donation and offer a donor protection guarantee. They also will return money to the person, should the claim be awarded. Go Fund Me has been around for almost a decade and processes more fundraising than any of its competitors. However, for someone that is worried about the security of a business I could not find any sort of website security other than a basic SSL certificate. I would think a company of this magnitude should have a strong website security program, but I could not find any.
Again, I could not find any established security, but their longevity in the industry must mean they’re doing something right. Overall, for a company that has been around as long as Go Fund Me have, I think they need to step up their game and get a few more stars in this vital category.
Go Fund Me – Fees
Go Fund Me also claims on its website that it has no fees. This is a little bit deceiving. Go Fund Me is a for-profit company. There is a 2.9% payment processing fee collected on each donation, along with 30 cents for every donation. That means if you donated $100, Go Fund Me would collect about $3.20.
The site specifically states that, “Donors are able to leave a voluntary tip when they contribute to a cause on GoFundMe, and these tips allow us to maintain our free platform, continue helping those in need, and pay our dedicated employees.” What it doesn’t say is that the voluntary tip is automatically defaulted to 10% or higher, and that all donors are asked to pay this. You thought you were making a generous donation, with no fees, for $100? Think again. You only donated $96.80, but spent $110. That is a difference of about 12%. Its true that you do not have to leave a tip, but they should make you feel like you have to; and, if you’re not paying attention you will leave a 10% or more tip.
Go Fund Me – Customer Service
They claim to have operators on call to advise you 24 hours a day, seven days a week; so that when you get that urge at 3:00 am to start a fundraising campaign, someone will be there to answer your calls. This is not as pleasing of an experience as it is advertised to be – not by a long shot. Additionally, Go Fund Me has cleverly marketed their workers as “Customer Happiness Agents.” Is it snide to wonder if they had to get training at another giant mogul chain (whose name we shall not mentioned). Happy meals? Happy agents? It’s just a thought. As I considered what a happiness agent actually does, I decided that I would need to venture out, and actually call the number listed on their website. The question I would ask? “Can you explain the donor program?”
Here is what happened: First I was sent to a link like the one in the image below. I was hoping that perhaps there was an online chat, as I really wanted to say, “Hello” to one of these Happiness Agents. The form I filled out led to a second page where I was asked if my question had been answered.
From here, I clicked that I still needed help. I was linked to the next screen, which allowed me to tell them who I was. My selections dictate whether I got to speak to a live person or not. *Upon filling out the rest of the form, which I will not bother inserting here as I think you can see where this is going, I was sent back to a “did this answer your question?” link. Claiming that you can access their (and I quote this from their site) best-in-class “Customer Happiness” agents [who] will answer your questions, day or night is a far stretch from a computer prompted questionnaire. Due to the serious headache their process gave me and the unending run-around, they did not earn a very good score. If I could I’d give them a negative score in this category, but that wouldn’t be professional.
Go Fund Me – Amenities
Finally, the amenities of the Go Fund Me site were reviewed. One thing that really stood out was that you could access the funds immediately. This is a huge plus for me! As you will see on other sites, some companies don’t give out anything if the goal is not met! Another bonus, they have an easy to access APP for your mobile devices. Plus, plenty of ‘self-help’ resources. I think this is their strength. However, the endless emails after donating or creating a cause is way too much.
- Mobile-Friendly Campaigns No penalties for missing goal
- GoFundMe Mobile App No deadlines or goal requirements
- Expert advice, 24/7 Keep every donation you receive
I had super high expectations for Go Fund Me, but their total score only equated to 12/20 or 60% overall rating. Their fees have hidden requests for tips, security is not clear, and their customer support was so horrible it was putrid.
Kickstarter made the list, but ended up in fifth place out of the top five. It comes up as one of the top sites, and it differs in it focus and functionality. This is a funding platform exclusively for creative projects. If you can dream it, it can be financed through Kickstarter. Everything from films, games, and music to art, design, and technology. These ambitious, innovative, and imaginative ideas that are brought to life through the direct support of others, which makes this aspect of Kickstarter wicked cool. One of the first things you’ll notice is that everything on this site must have a clear goal. Something will be made, and something will be produced if you are to receive funding.
Funding is given by “backers” who decide what they want to support. They give a pledge to projects to help them come to life and support a creative process. To thank their backers for their support, project creators offer unique rewards that speak to the spirit of what they’re hoping to create.
Kickstarter – Security
Security for Kickstarter is low. They have been subjected to many scams wherein people have pretended to work for the company. There is a link directly on their site concerning this problem. SCARY! With no form of site security that I could find, but warnings from the FBI to contact the Internal Trade Commission and the Internet Crime Complaint Center the following rating was issued.
Kickstarter – Fees
Because Kickstarter uses backers, they do not collect a fee until you complete your goal. I see this as both a good and a bad thing. First, you will most certainly have put money of your own into the design or idea. So, if your desire to make the world’s most fireproof engine fails, how much money did you lose? How many people will you have to pay out of your own pocket? Supply costs? Time invested? That all adds up! If you do succeed, you will be looking for backers to invest in your product. The kickstarter company will then take out 5% for themselves, and their company that does payment processing will also take out 5%. There is also a .20 cent fee for each donation. This equates to $10.20 for every $100 that is donated.
Kickstarter – Customer Service
Kickstarter uses a similar, highly frustrating, customer service strategy to the one that Go Fund Me employs. They too have a page where you send in your questions and you are asked if your question was answered based on the electronic responses that they determine. Kickstarter; however, does not make any allusant claims that they have agents on site. So, at least I didn’t spend an exhausting amount of time hoping to communicate with an actual live agent. They don’t make a claim to be anything more than what they have posted – still not very helpful.
Kickstarter – Amenities
In the area of amenities, Kickstarter offers a weekly newsletter showcasing “Projects We Love”. In fact, that’s what the newsletter is officially called. All you need to do is give them your email and you are set.
The Creative Independent is another amenity offered by Kickstarter. This is a resource for creative people, and is BY creative people. It’s a pretty cool amenity which lets you read about them and also hear about their ideas and inspirations. Stevie Nicks is currently on their site. As a singer, and lover of her band, I like this aspect! Unfortunately, these two things are really all I could see in the Kickstarter amenity page. So kudos for the newsletter and the Creative Independent, but there was nothing for actually helping build the funding.
In summary, Kickstarter ranked a very low 10/20 for 50%. They were barely at average in a few areas, with a scary low score in security. Although it has a great idea behind it, I don’t think I would invest in an idea that may or may not have backers, especially with the security issues.
In conclusion…. There are numerous companies that offer fundraising platforms, but the five discussed in this article, in my professional opinion, were hands-down the best of the best. Based on a Five Star rating, in the areas of security, fees, service and amenities, you should now be able to make an educated decision on your own, as you navigate the world that is fundraising!
There are many more companies out there, some big and some small. This analysis should provide you with a good resource to narrow down the right fundraising platform for you. The world of fundraising is expanding, and I hope that you find the company that best suits your needs!
As a final comparison, based on my findings, please review the below charts to observe how each of the companies stack up to each other.
Author/Researcher: Katie Stanger
I, Katie Stanger, thought it would be best if I gave this article to aGoodCause.com and let them post it on their website, associated sites, social platforms and/or how and where they would like. They have my full permission to use this article at their discretion.
Katie Stanger is an educator. She is the mother of Haley, Chase, Ben, and Jack, and Grandma to little Ava. She teaches at her local high school and gives private voice and piano lessons. She loves writing, reading, singing, baking, and spending time with her family. She has a masters degree in educational leadership and administration, and tours throughout the country, speaking to youth groups on rising to their full potential. She can be reached at Kastanger@dsdmail.net.