E-commerce technology for charities

Taking a look at some of the best fundraising platforms for charities and non-profit organisations

In a world often characterised by negative news, it’s easy to forget the spectacular rise of the global philanthropy movement over recent decades. The entire global market for philanthropy and charitable causes is estimated to be worth roughly £182 billion (or just over $208 billion USD). Whilst bad things happen all the time, it’s important to remember that many people also do good stuff too. With the combined assets of a fast-growing fintech (financial technology) industry and a flourishing not-for-profit sector, the UK is well placed to take the lead as a place where new charities can launch and thrive, and from where they can operate successfully at both a national and international level. 

People in the UK gave approximately £11.3 billion to charity during 2020, which was slightly higher than the £10.6 billion they donated in 2019. To put this in context, the UK’s total defence budget is slightly over £48 billion. So that’s over 20% of our total military expenditure being donated by the general public to charitable causes. 62% of people in Britain gave to charity via donation or sponsorship in 2020, and the average rolling monthly donation in 2021 was £49 per donor, per month.

There are over 170,000 registered charities in England and Wales as of 2022. Many of these are small-scale organisations working towards a defined set of goals within a specific sector, whilst others are much larger, international organisations with thousands of staff and multiple ongoing projects operating in different territories; Oxfam, Save The Children, Greenpeace and The National Trust are among the UK’s largest charities.

One of the key challenges for any charity, whatever its size, is fundraising. Charities are expensive to run and don’t make any profit in the conventional sense, since the capital they generate gets directly reinvested into their work.   They therefore need money – and often lots of it – to keep going. One dramatic change in charity fundraising over the past two decades has been the steep rise in donations being collected by charities through e-commerce solutions, either via their own websites and apps, or via partners who might direct potential donors to make a donation online. But what are these solutions specifically, and what’s the best e-commerce platform for your particular charity or not-for-profit organisation? 

Digital can help charities maximise funding and donations

The leading online charity fundraising platforms

Enthuse is one of the best integrated charity fundraising platforms and a key player in the emerging ‘tech for good’ scene. Based in London, it provides e-commerce fundraising software and event organisation technology to charities in the UK and across the world. Within the overall package Enthuse provides, there are payment processing facilities, online fundraising tools, plus an event registration and ticketing system. It also processes Gift Aid on behalf of its charity clients. Some of Enthuse’s key clients include Macmillan Cancer Support, the NSPCC, the WWF, The Royal British Legion, and London Marathon Events. Instead of being a totally separate platform, Enthuse enables fundraising to happen on a charity’s website. At Modular Digital, we’ve used Enthuse extensively for a number of the charity e-commerce solutions we’ve created. We’ve also used it repeatedly, because we’ve found it works well, and has the requisite degree of flexibility for e-commerce fundraising. No two online fundraising packages are ever quite the same, and the team at Enthuse have built a technology that reflects every charity’s need to customise the way they raise funds.

JustGiving was one of the earliest pioneers of online charity fundraising. It’s collected, almost astonishingly, more than £4 billion for many different charities since its launch back in 2001. In 2019, JustGiving waived its 5% transaction fee; it now asks donors to make a voluntary contribution to support the platform’s operations. 

BOPP enables charities and other not-for-profit organisations to receive payments instantly, without any transaction fees. Potential donors can use BOPP to scan a QR code from a website or printed promotion with their phone to make a payment; it’s a simple, clever, and highly effective system for instant donations. There’s also no limit to the number of QR codes charities using BOPP can create, giving them the option to run multiple fundraising initiatives at the same time. Evershare is an emerging rival to BOPP; similarly, it provides a QR scanning system combined with secure contactless payment technology to create a QR-based donation platform. Donors can then scan their code and donate in seconds. 

Crowdfunder is one of the UK’s leading fundraising platforms, having raised well over £200 million over its total lifetime. It is particularly well suited to new charities, as it allows the founders to tell their story and get the word out about their project before launching it to the public. People who like the idea can then, once the crowdfunding page goes live, donate directly to the project. It is not strictly for charities, as for-profit businesses and start-ups also use it, but it’s potentially a great fundraising tool for brand new charities or those in the earlier stages of their development, perhaps run by a founder and a handful of keen volunteers.

GiveWP is an interesting and useful fundraising platform for charities who run a WordPress website. It is essentially a WordPress-based fundraising plug-in which enables a charity’s own WordPress site to accept donations via a range of payment methods. The platform also allows users to track their donors, which could be useful to encourage repeat donations, and also to run different donation pages for separate fundraising campaigns all running at the same time. 

There are, of course, a lot more fundraising platforms than the brief selection we’ve outlined here; the technologies highlighted in this article just happen to be some of the most commonly used and useful ones for UK-based charities. Clearly, charity fundraising is evolving fast, in line with the rapid development in fintech (financial technology) in which the UK is a world leader. BOPP and Evershare’s QR-code based tools are a good example of this. It’s likely in the near future that innovative new technologies will be adopted by software engineers in order to create interesting, as yet unimagined ways of making online donations to charities. 

The current state of the art technology in online charity fundraising is a triumph of the concept of so-called ‘virtual banking’, or access to banking and financial services without the need to visit a physical location. Whilst e-commerce is great for consumers, it’s also extremely useful for non-profit organisations too. As such, it’s inevitable that as fintech itself continues to evolve, so will the platforms that enable charities to raise the capital they need to grow and continue their good work.

Here at Modular, we have deep experience of building bespoke e-commerce fundraising systems for charities and large NGOs. If your website requires online donation functionality to be built or improved, then why not give our expert team a call to discuss it all in more detail? We’ll be able to highlight all the various options that would work well for your particular needs. Drop us a line now to get the conversation started.  

Why not give Emma a call on 07584 652 285 or drop her an email emma@thisismodular.co.uk to talk through your needs in more detail? All the best projects start with a great conversation, after all. 

First published on LinkedIn 18/11/20222

Emma Millington

Emma Millington

Head of Customer Relations - Passionate about demystifying tech so we can all speak the same language

Related Projects

Building a budget for ongoing website costs


How to choose the right CMS for your business