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5 Creative Uses of the Classy API

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Published April 5, 2017 Reading Time: 6 minutes

The Classy API allows our own engineers to build new product features that help nonprofits grow and scale their organizations.

However, as the Classy API is open, any engineer or organization can use it to build custom tools, integrations, or unique supporter experiences.

To demonstrate some of the creative ways other organizations use the Classy API to drive fundraising results, we’ve collected a few examples that illustrate just how much is possible.

1. Progress Bars

Progress bars are one of the many ways to leverage the API.

Many organizations use the API to feed live data from Classy and display it on their own webpage or microsite. This enables them to create a uniquely designed experience while still leveraging activity driven by the Classy platform.

For example, Heifer International uses progress bars to highlight some of their fundraisers on their main Fundraise for Heifer page.

5 Creative Uses of the Classy API

This live stream of data lets Heifer celebrate the success of their fundraisers and draw attention to those in need of further support. Fundraising data is pulled from Classy with the API and is displayed on Heifer’s site and updated in real time.

2. Campaign Progress

Similar to how progress bars are traditionally used to demonstrate a campaign’s success to date and track live donations, they can also be used on a larger scale to demonstrate progress across your organization’s entire development efforts.

[We used the API to create a] menu-like experience for Lifewater.org visitors, providing a range of options for giving and showcasing the breadth of our project work. Our Blessed Campaign was our most successful year-end giving campaign to date.

Lifewater.org Classy API use

In his Medium article titled, “Harnessing the Power of the Classy API to Drive Donations,” web developer Eric Stout explains how this brilliant look and feel was created and how other organizations can do the same.

Using the metrics from your campaigns and fundraisers [you] can show some powerful information and create clear call to action elements to increase your donations. We accomplished this beautifully for Lifewater International on their Blessed campaign by adding amounts raised and ‘thermometer’ charts to show their donors just where they were with donations.

Lifewater International also leveraged the API to build out an ongoing “Pressing Need” page. Now, they can consistently update this page with current projects in need of further support. The API pulls data from Classy to inform Lifewater’s site visitors which projects are very top of mind for the organization. This type of page is a great idea for any organization looking to place emphasis on specific initiatives at specific times.

Lifewater.org Classy API Use

For nonprofits who want to achieve similar results, Gary suggests:

“The Classy API is a good tool for creating immediacy, relevance, and a clear call to action on your website. From a marketing perspective, think through how your Classy campaigns integrate into your overall campaign message prior to building, and how you’ll keep campaign content fresh and relevant.”

3. Custom Metrics Dashboard

To improve their analytics and ability to quickly digest and interpret information that informs their strategy, Special Olympics Vermont built a custom analytics dashboard. They use Microsoft Power BI as their business analytics software, and they needed a way to incorporate Classy data into their reports.

Using the Classy API, they were able to create a custom analytics dashboard in Microsoft Power BI that merges data from multiple sources into a convenient access point for staff. They also use it to compare different event registration and fundraising totals as well as compare the same events year over year.

Custom metrics dashboard
Here, Special Olympics Vermont compares key stats from different events in real time.
Custom metrics dashboard
Special Olympics Vermont gets a clear visualization of their year-over-year growth for certain events.

The Power BI system makes it easy to create visualizations using the data so we can compare any campaign we want. Having the dashboard hosted by Power BI meant we weren’t sharing around spreadsheets—our event manager simply refreshed the data every day or as needed, and everyone from CEO to event manager could see the updated data.

Daniel Favand

Operations Manager at Special Olympics Vermont

4. Mobile Check-In Process

Special Olympics Vermont also created a check-in tool to improve the attendee experience at their events. Using the system, volunteers can add last minute offline donations, quickly verify fundraising totals, and ensure any event waivers are signed. The API allows for live updates throughout check-in and matches event specific information to Classy fundraising data.

Mobile check-in process example
Here, Special Olympics Vermont leverages the API to check in an individual at an event.
Mobile check-in process example
When they check in an entire team, it’s easy to see important information, like who still needs to sign a waiver to participate.

According to Daniel, “Keeping all the fundraising data in Classy ensures that we have accurate and up-to-date figures. It integrates with Classy fundraising teams as well to make team check-in much easier—instead of having to look up each individual person!”

For anyone getting started with the API, Daniel further suggests,

“Reach out to the [Classy] API team if you have problems or need functionality—they’ve been responsive to bug reports and provided some tips for using the API effectively in our projects.

[I’d also recommend you] review the API update notes. They show what’s going on behind the scenes and can highlight features you didn’t realize exist. Finally, if you can, contribute to the projects on GitHub. I was able to make a couple small improvements that were accepted into the projects and now benefit anyone who uses the WordPress plugin or the Classy-node component.”

5. Classy WordPress Widget

Certified Classy Partner Mittun recently used the Classy API to build a custom WordPress plugin that pulls a Classy user’s account information into their website. It allows you to easily display beautiful donation forms, campaign pages, leaderboards, event listings, activity feeds, progress bars, lightbox donate forms and more.

If your organization uses WordPress, using the Mittun WordPress plugin gives you access to a scarce or costly resource: engineers and time.

Shane Michael, CEO at Mittun Creative says,

You can take advantage of hundreds of hours of development and over a year of intensive testing that have already been poured into this plugin.

Instead of building a dynamically loading activity feed yourself, which may or may not be possible with your organization’s resources, you can easily create one with the plugin. You can add your Classy activity to your WordPress page, such as the one in the video below.

You can also use the plugin to display a donation form front and center on a microsite or fundraising page. Here’s an example from a Classy nonprofit partner, Operation Supply Drop, pictured below.

Mittun Use Case

What’s great about their tool is that you can achieve these results without prior coding knowledge or, specifically, without knowing how to use an API. Now, you can leverage data and present it beautifully, no matter what your position title.


Want to try out a creative idea for your own organization? Dive into the Classy API. We’d also love to hear about any creative ideas you’re cooking up. Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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