With so many events happening worldwide, fundraising and donating money to charity effectively and securely is top of mind for many of us. Whether you want to learn how to give money to Ukrainian civilians resisting invasion or fundraise for an animal rescue close to your heart, there are a lot of avenues you can take to affect change from home, either in-person or virtually.
In this article, we’ll talk about secure channels to donate through and what you can do to plan and execute a successful fundraiser from the comfort of your home office (or couch, kitchen table, or patio – no judgment)!
DIY fundraising at home
If you’ve ever felt a pang of desire to support a cause or wished there was something more you could do to make a difference with the free time you have, you’re in luck! With the continued increase in popularity of social media and online collaboration platforms, getting the word out about your fundraiser is easier than ever. That means you can choose a cause that matters to you and support it from home. Here are some easy and practical ideas to start your philanthropic journey.
1. Penny Drive
Penny drives are a classic fundraiser that might be even easier than in past years with the phasing out of the penny. Help your friends, family, and neighbors get rid of those pesky one-cent coins by offering them an easy way to donate to charity. The best part is that you can go door-to-door, put it out on social and have a coin donation bin set up around your community to make collecting donations from multiple sources easy.
2. Car wash
Speaking of classics, there’s nothing like a good old-fashioned car wash to get the donations pouring in. Car washes can be hosted by one person or a large group and are a perfect chance to get your family in on the fun. With some pre-planning and savvy social media use, you can advertise ahead of time, but if you find yourself out in the yard on a sunny morning, have the kids whip up some signs and hit the hoses!
3. Corporate matching
This doesn’t always come to mind when considering a fundraiser from home, but it can be a great way to double your donations. Corporations have budgets each year that are allocated to community charities. They rely on individuals to reach out and apply for that money, and matching your donation amount is the perfect way for them to give money without having to allocate any internal resources to organizing a fundraiser.
4. Used book sale
Readers and non-readers, rejoice! A used book sale is a fundraiser that appeals to both camps. Readers get a chance to stock their book collections, and less avid bookworms can donate the tomes collecting dust on their shelves to a good cause.
5. Dog walking
If you’re looking for a way to get your family involved in a fundraiser, look no further! Dog walking ticks a ton of boxes — it can be a long-term fundraising option, involves the whole family, and provides an opportunity for exercise and fresh air. What’s not to like? This endeavor is especially appropriate if your charity of choice is a dog rescue or your local humane society.
6. Garage sale
This at-home fundraiser pulls double duty – making money for your cause of choice while simultaneously decluttering your home by hosting a garage sale for charity. Put up signs, hit social media, and email friends to come and buy or join you in the decluttering process and donate themselves. Choose a day that’s ideally on the first weekend of the month so that your generous patrons have just gotten their paychecks and enjoy your clean home, knowing that clutter went to a great cause.
Other ways to help
If events aren’t your thing, consider a purely online way to raise awareness and funds for your chosen charity. This serves the dual purpose of getting you out of in-person events and increasing your potential reach from your neighborhood or city to the world.
Crowdfunding platforms are increasingly reliable and popular means of raising potentially vast sums of money from around the world. With a compelling story and explanation of why your charity organization is deserving of people’s donations, the fundraising potential is nearly limitless.
Platforms like GoFundMe are easy to use when you want to raise funds for individuals or organizations that are not eligible for tax-exempt donations. It’s free when you sign up for an account.
Once you’ve created your fundraising campaign, you can share your campaign with anyone, anywhere – on social media, email, text, on a blog or website, or even at an event with an old-fashioned sign and a QR code. Donors can give quickly and securely as you watch the donations come in, and the progress bar reaches its goal.
Plenty of websites and apps can make this possible if you want to donate money, food, or your time. Here are some great apps to consider when you’re looking for a way to volunteer your time online:
Olio: This social-conscious app connects individuals and local shops, provides food to those who need it, reduces waste, and helps build stronger community bonds by fostering local connections.
Be My Eyes: Aids those with vision loss by connecting them with people to answer questions about their surroundings through messages and video calls.
The Dream Lab: This app helps research cancer cures by plugging in your phone while you sleep and allowing researchers to use your smartphone’s computing power to record patterns and statistics.
How to avoid charity scams
Whenever you’re giving money, whether online or in-person, it’s essential to have done your due diligence first to ensure you’re not being taken advantage of.
A common way for scammers to con money out of well-meaning philanthropists is to concoct a fake charity organization. These can look extremely professional on the surface, but once you try to verify the legitimacy, the facade quickly falls away.
Best practices for a safe and successful fundraiser
There’s no reason your fundraiser shouldn’t be a resounding success if you take some easy and simple steps in the planning process.
At the moment, COVID-19 safety is still on people’s minds, and providing hand sanitizer and masks, if necessary, and abiding by any health and safety guidelines that are in place at the time is needed to ensure your event is a success.
Another element critical to a smooth event or fundraising process is ensuring you can process credit card payments and accept transfers via Venmo, Cash App, or similar methods. If you’re planning for a larger event, getting a wireless device, like Square, to accept cards might be an option. The simplest versions of these devices are relatively inexpensive at around $70, depending on your version, etc.
Internet and wireless devices
Making sure your internet provider is fast, reliable, and secure is especially important when using wireless devices. Generally, everyone focuses on indoor WiFi, but expanding to outdoor coverage will be a better option if you’re running a garage sale to raise funds for a cause. Talk to an internet specialist about the requirements you need for your activity or event to go without a hitch.
What to know before donating to charity
The best way to ensure your money is going to the charity you’ve chosen and not to the pockets of greedy scammers is to do your research first. You don’t need to take days and days scouring the internet for a whiff of a scam — a few minutes of searching should give you what you need, for the most part.
To keep you safe from scams, search for a cause and add “best charity” or “highly rated charity” to your search. For example, “best charity for hurricane relief” will give you the most popular organizations. As an extra measure to beat the con artists, once you’ve found a charity you like, search the name of the charity + “rating,” “review,” “complaint,” or “scam” and check for information and reviews about other donors reporting anything suspicious.
Certain websites are dedicated to providing those wanting to donate with lists of registered and legitimate charities. Sites like Charity Navigator and Give.org are great resources to double-check that your money is going to the right place.
Most states require charity organizations to register to be able to accept donations. You can make sure your organization is registered by checking here.
If it feels like an organization is rushing or pressuring you to donate aggressively, there’s a good chance it’s a scam. While most charities will make their case to you to convince you to give to their cause instead of another, the above-board organizations will be careful not to pressure you.
Here are a few other things to keep an eye out for that might indicate a charity is a front for a con:
- Thank you for a donation you never made to trick you into paying them.
- Make vague sentimental claims, but they do not specify how the donation will be used.
- Asking payments to be only in cash, gift cards, or via wire transfer.
- Guaranteeing sweepstakes winnings in exchange for donations — it’s illegal.
- Claiming your donation will be tax-deductible when it is not. Always check a charity’s 501(c)3 status with the IRS exempt organization database. Charities must have 501(c)3 status if you plan to deduct your donation from your federal taxes.
Ask for a receipt
Even if you’re donating a relatively small amount that you don’t plan on deducting from your taxes, asking for a receipt before you donate is a great way to verify the authenticity of an organization. An illegitimate charity will resist giving you a receipt because it should include their registration number and other important information that a scam charity won’t have.
Fundraising for a charity close to your heart right from home is a wonderful way to stay involved and make a difference that still fits your schedule. While there’s no doubt that spending time volunteering or attending charity events in person is an important and rewarding opportunity, those are things that might not fit into your everyday life. Fundraising from home offers the chance to affect change and be socially conscious while still accommodating all the daily business life throws at us. Everybody wins!