Lean Stream

What Schools and Donors Need to Know about Online Giving

Offline giving undoubtedly remains a vital cog of any school’s fundraising strategy, especially when targeting specific generations as well as certain businesses. However, online fundraising continues to grow in popularity. This is mainly because online giving forms make it super easy and convenient for donors to contribute. They can give money from anywhere with a few swipes of their fingers. They can quickly join membership programs and even set up recurring gifts without breaking a sweat.

If the recent trends are anything to go by, online donations are only going to increase. Schools must therefore adapt their strategies to maximize their fundraising drives and achieve their objectives.

We could write an entire book about things that schools and donors should know about online giving. However, we are only going to cover the essential things.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

Online Contributions Are Here To Stay

Data from a reputable survey company indicates that revenue from online donations has grown by over 50 percent. 

No shocker there.  

Online giving is increasingly becoming the best choice for donors to contribute. It is efficient and smooth, which works for both your school and the donor. Additionally, it is much easier to process online donations than offline gifts, making it easier to devote more resources to your overall mission. 

If your school has not already integrated online fundraising strategies into your website, this would be the time to do it. LeanStream’s fundraising platform supports online and offline giving while providing you with a full suite of tools to track and promote your campaigns.

First Time Donors Prefer Online Fundraisers

Because of the convenience and efficiency reasons mentioned above, you are more likely to draw first-time donors if you conduct your fundraisers online. If a potential donor receives a message that they can tap or click and quickly make their donation, they are more likely to give. They want this process to be quick and seamless providing all the pertinent information about the fundraiser as well as a way to make a contribution quickly.

Generally, people dislike the hassles that come with filling lengthy forms with their details to contribute. However, if you can make it effortless for them to quickly search a web donation page, they are more likely to become a part of your school’s donor base.

Once you make it easy for them to donate the first time, there is potential to cultivate that relationship, and in the future, they can make even bigger contributions. This will also help solve one major challenge problem that schools face, namely, donor acquisition. 

You Owe Online Givers a Great Website

Integrating online fundraising strategies into your website is one thing. Making it smooth for givers to donate is a different thing altogether. Many online donors are turned off by website usability problems, including a cluttered page, awful page design, improper font and font sizes, and challenges related to payments, among others.

As a school, it is upon you to ensure your website is sleek and designed to give users a smooth experience. Keep in mind that the average user can judge your website within a second. The experience they have on your website will influence how they view your school and your fundraising drive. A poor experience will make them think you are untrustworthy. They will start doubting if your school deserves its contribution.

Additionally, a good website should be mobile-friendly, while the DONATE button page should be accessible from any part of the website. It should stand out from other texts/images on the website so donors can easily locate it. 

This is the most essential element of your website. 

Transparency Is Key

Donors are increasingly demanding transparency to the schools [and other nonprofits] they donate to. They want to know how exactly your school will spend the money they donate. All they want is to be assured that their contributions reach the intended beneficiary.

As a school, how do you build trust with your online donors? By explaining exactly how the donations are helping the beneficiaries. You can do this by making videos and posting them on the school website and social media pages. You can also organize live Q&A sessions and provide regular updates to your donors via email, direct mail, your website, and social media.

Online Giving Connects Your School's Larger Community of Donors

The closer the donors are to your school, the more likely they are to contribute. However, online giving eliminates any physical boundaries that may exist for potential donors.

For example, your alumni can contribute with online giving no matter where they are in the world. They can keep track of fundraising appeals and know precisely what is going on with their alma mater. It is an excellent way of creating a virtual community united by their desire to contribute to your school’s mission. It results in greater engagement between all parties.

For donors:

Give Safely

Before giving out your money:

  1. Check to ensure the site uses encryption technology to protect your data (e.g., credit card information).
  2. Always ensure the website’s URL starts with “HTTPS.”
  3. Look out for the padlock icon on the left side of the URL.

Obtain Contact Information

Whichever school you are donating to, make sure there is a way you can contact them both online and offline. They should have a working email address, phone number, and mailing address. This will help you contact the school if need be and also avoid scammers. With evolving technology, pretty much anyone can create a flashy ‘school’ website, raise plenty of money, and disappear into the abyss that is cyberspace.

Don’t make the mistake of collecting too much information. Just get the basic information you need to be able to contact them. If you ask for too much information, donors may feel like it’s too difficult or time consuming to give to your cause. Donors may also start to feel uncomfortable if you ask too many questions.

Keep Information Updated

Unfortunately, some schools don’t update their websites for months, some even years. You should therefore carefully scrutinize the dates of the information provided. Otherwise, you may end up donating to causes that are no longer existent.

Don't Fear Donating Online

As long as you and the school you are donating to have taken the correct safety precautions, giving online should be as easy as paying for a coffee bill at your favorite restaurant using your credit card.

Wrap Up


As your education partner, Lean Stream is committed to raising online giving standards and empowering your school/system to increase the impact of your mission. Our goal is to make it safe and convenient for you and your donors to raise funds. Please check out our list of fundraising solutions. For any inquiries, we welcome you to contact our support team.