Looking for a new fundraising platform?

By:
Brett Macdonald

A view from both sides of the fence.

There are many reasons why you could be answering ‘yes’ to this question. Your existing contract with your platform provider is running out, or you have a great new fundraising idea that you’ve finally received approval to launch and you’re thinking this is going to be the next Dry July!

You are in a very exciting place, but you have an important decision to make that could determine if your campaign successfully continues for years to come, or fails to make it past year 1 or 2.

Here’s some positive news as you start your search for a fundraising platform; 2020 is a great time to be in the virtual fundraising events space. The ‘for-purpose’ technology space has come a long way in the last three years, and highly competitive offerings from proven service providers means the landscape has shifted.

With readily available and reasonably cheap technology offerings, it’s much easier to enter the market. You can create an event website within a few hours, switch on your Facebook ads, and registrations can start coming through.

In addition to the increased platform offerings, there are now even more consultants competing for your business, guaranteeing to transform your fundraising idea into a local or national success.

With so much choice, it’s challenging to make the right decision when selecting and investing in your new fundraising platform. Importantly, you are choosing who you partner with, and who will help you grow your event (notice I said ‘partner’ and not ‘use’). So where do you start?

Granted there are an infinite number of other decisions to be made around the campaign name, creative and marketing strategy. Let’s assume that if you’re at the stage where you’re investigating fundraising platforms for your event, you have most of these areas ticked off.

You’ve given yourself ample time to prepare and launch your event (naturally right?) and have reached the point where you need a fundraising platform to run it all from. Where do you go for that sort of info? It can be an overwhelming experience, and there’s a lot of responsibility placed on your shoulders to get it right! I know this because I have been there.

Understandably, the size of your event and organisation will play a big part in this process. For the purposes of this feature I’m wearing a ‘small organisation, small event ($100k fundraising target)’ hat.

A Google search on ‘fundraising platforms’ shows an infinite number of systems available, all boasting to be the best. You visit numerous websites wanting to know more about their features and pricing. But you’re not finished yet – you might also head to a few websites of fundraising campaigns that you admire, and see who they’re ‘powered by’.

So now you’ve got a list of about five or six platform providers you think you’ll approach. *Breathe*

Next, you chat with colleagues and industry peers, and each provide mixed responses on their experience or ‘hear say’ with software providers (because that’s who they are right?). You may be down to two or three platform choices by now. One of the biggest decisions to your campaign success (yes, consider that) was done in about 2 hours. Easy, off to the gym!

But wait, now is a good time to seriously think about what is going to make your event a success, because I can guarantee you, the platform you choose will be a defining factor to your fundraising outcomes and event longevity.

Tip: Make a list of the ‘must haves’ and critical success factors to your campaign. It’s worth investing time in this and will repay tenfold.

For example, you know you need a mobile responsive site, you know it needs social media connectivity, leaderboards, participant and team profile pages, targets and gamification, and that’s just the start. I’d expect you’d have a list of over 100 requirements if you really sat down and worked through them. The site must be available all the time, be infinitely scalable, secure and, the most important factor, (said the person who approved the budget)... cheap as chips!

One of the most pressing factors of any event is budget, especially when piloting a campaign. Budget is important - we all have them, we all work to them and, in our industry, they are especially tight. However when you’re at the purchase point for a new fundraising platform, remember this: consider the tens of thousands of dollars in fundraising outcomes that could be achieved when partnering with experience and expertise.

What value do you put on advice, support and mentoring, that could transform your own knowledge, your team’s knowledge, and significantly impact the cause you’re raising funds for? After all, you don’t want to be repeating this process in a year’s time; that’s valuable strategic-planning time and essential budget that can help smash your event fundraising out the park.

So who am I to write an article like this and why would I? I started the Dry July Foundation back in 2008 and have grown the event into one of Australia’s biggest fundraising campaigns. This year we raised over $10m with 37,000 people participating in the event. We’ve rolled out the abstinence concept to NZ, UK and Canada and now inspire over 130,000 people to give up booze for a month each year and raise AUD$18m+ annually for numerous cancer services around the world.

What you might not know about us, is that we (the team behind Dry July, Ezy Raise) also now work with numerous other non-profit organisations to help them deliver their cycle events, walks, fun runs, and community fundraising.

Wait you also do what??

With a background in graphics and websites we built the original Dry July fundraising website that served us well for the first 8 years. With the abstinence Peer-To-Peer initiative expanding across three other countries and the rapid changes in technology, we took a blank canvas and coupled with years of knowledge and learnings, developed the Ezy Raise platform in 2016. We have continually enhanced and developed significant new features into it ever since, and continue to do so.

Dry July (the campaign) has grown from raising $3.7m in 2016 to now raising $10.7m in 2020. Coincidence? Yes they rebranded, yes they invested, but this was only achievable from the insights we gained from the Ezy Raise platform data, and confidence gained from the engagement they were seeing across the campaign.

Tip: Take the time to choose the right platform and supporting team for your event because the results will speak for themselves.

In rebuilding the fundraising platform, the vision was to build a fully scalable and affordable solution that could serve any for purpose organisation and their online fundraising event needs. We now have that offering and are continuing to invest in the system to ensure many more organisations can benefit from the leading edge technology we have built and importantly the expertise and experience we have gained.

It’s been an interesting journey for Ezy Raise over the past couple of years, we have scaled Dry July beyond what we ever thought was possible, we have built an incredible team and robust fundraising system that is ready to make an even bigger impact for the causes it is utilised for.

We have met with many amazing organisations over the past year, showcased the fundraising platform more times than I can remember, even built demo sites for potential partners only for them to never get visited. It’s evident to me that organisations view their fundraising platform provider as simply a software vendor who gives them the keys and wish them well with their event.

What if there was more to the relationship than just software provider? We (providers) are not all the same as much as that may seem the case from the outside.

The Ezy Raise platform has been built from the ground up for charities with a focus on fundraising growth. The team behind it are experts in the fundraising sector with a wide range of skills across tech, comms and advertising and we have the tools to get the results.

The most common question I hear is, ‘What makes you different from all the rest’. My answer is simply, ‘we get you, because we run campaigns ourselves’.

The purpose built Ezy Raise platform is designed to increase conversions to fundraising, lift average donations and amounts raised per active fundraisers. There are many ways we approach this through personalisation, segmentation and system smarts.

If you are interested in finding out more about the work we do, our case studies or how we can partner for your next event, get in touch today: hello@ezyraise.com

Want to learn more about the Ezy Raise platform?

Book a Demo