How to Boost Donations Through Online Point-of-Sale Fundraising 

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Published February 17, 2020 Reading Time: 5 minutes

According to data firm Statista’s most recent e-commerce outlook, Americans will spend over $1,500 online each over the next 12 months. Moreover, that number is expected to surge even higher as Americans opt to do their holiday shopping online rather than wind their way through those infamous, in-store holiday crowds.

If your nonprofit is able to turn that online shopping activity into a fundraising stream, there’s massive potential to boost donations. And the good news is that it’s not incredibly difficult to get started.

Below, we’ll walk through how you can get your organization set up to accept these donations during your community’s online point-of-sale moments. First, however, we’ll explore the overall value of point-of-sale fundraising and why you need to consider it as a viable strategy for your nonprofit.

What Is Point-of-Sale Fundraising?

Before we dig into what online point-of-sale fundraising entails, a quick refresher course on traditional point-of-sale fundraising might be helpful. Here are some examples of traditional point-of-sale fundraising that you’re probably familiar with:

  • Purchasing a paper balloon for $2 from your grocery store cashier to benefit the Children’s Miracle Network
  • Opting to add an extra $1, $2, or $3 to your purchase total at a pet store to benefit animal welfare organizations
  • Tossing spare change into charity coin bins at checkout counters

Annually, over $500 million is raised for nonprofits at checkout counters across the country through methods like this. What’s more, it’s mainly driven by checkout cashiers and simple signs that appeal to shoppers while their wallets are still warm and giving is particularly convenient.

Incorporating in-store, point-of-sale fundraising into your growth strategy isn’t overly difficult either. It takes a few phone calls with stores, a few meetings to set the specifics, and sometimes a little bit of travel.

Whether you’re incorporating this revenue stream into your fundraising for the first time, or already taking advantage of point-of-sale fundraising, there’s more you can do to take it even further. Just as fundraising in general is shifting more towards online, we’re also seeing nonprofits take this specific fundraising tactic online as well to unlock new growth.

Is Online Point-of-Sale Fundraising Worth It?

First of all, any point-of-sale fundraising attempts are worth it, both from a financial standpoint and a marketing one. Financially, it’s a proven way to effectively diversify your growth strategy, which is important for nonprofits.

That’s because the more fundraising tactics you have, the better protected you are if one doesn’t work out or gets compromised. Likewise, by providing your donors with multiple ways to give, they can choose the most convenient method for them, which can encourage repeat donations.

As for the marketing benefits, nearly 50% of consumers could recall the name and mission of the last nonprofit they donated to when checking out, and a whopping 79% reported “feeling positive about the charity” afterwards. When it comes to donor acquisition and retention, it’s clear that meeting donors where they are can give your nonprofit a leg up.

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For one, point-of-sale fundraising is an easy, tactful, and potentially lucrative way to introduce yourself to new donors who are unfamiliar with not only your mission, but your name. Moreover, with each repeat visit to the register, they’ll be reminded of your nonprofit.

The perks stack up even more when you take point-of-sale fundraising to the world of online shopping. First and foremost, getting started rarely takes more than a few minutes, which most often equates to filling out an online form, and you can begin accepting donations from day one. Beyond that, it allows your nonprofit to:

  • Avoid lengthy meetings with business managers
  • Reduce travel requirements
  • Automatically accept donations on a 24/7 basis
  • Provide a convenient user experience for donors
  • Make an easier donation ask

In fact, compared to in-store, online point-of-sale fundraising may even be more sustainable in the long run for your nonprofit.

How to Start Online Point-of-Sale Fundraising

Below, we’ve rounded up a few existing tools that nonprofits can use to accept donations from online shoppers. In most cases, setup is relatively simple.


Every month, nearly 200 million shoppers make purchases on Amazon. And AmazonSmile, the retail giant’s charitable arm, makes it possible for those shoppers to support nonprofits they love with each eligible purchase by donating about 0.5% of their purchase totals (or about $0.50 per $100 spent) to the nonprofit the customer specifies.

All your nonprofit has to do is sign up for the program. You’ll get a special Amazon Smile link to share with your community. When they click that link, they’ll be taken to the Amazon page they’re used to, but their purchases will result in donations to your nonprofit.

Round-up apps

Nonprofits can accept point-of-sale donations both online and in-store with mobile “round up” apps like Change Bowl, Donate Your Change, and Round Up App. Your donors simply download their app of choice, and set it up so that all their debit card transactions get rounded up to the nearest whole dollar. Then, their next $5.40 latte will result in a $0.60 donation to your cause.

To get started, we suggest taking a few minutes to research apps like the ones we mentioned above. Once you’re set up with one, all you have to do is use your marketing channels to ask your community to download the app.

Giving Assistant and Classy

If you’ve ever searched Google for a coupon, promo code, rebate, or cash back opportunity before making an online purchase, then you’ve probably had an experience with a shopping rewards site like Ebates, RetailMeNot, Honey, or Giving Assistant.

But Giving Assistant is more than just a shopping rewards site. Similar to Amazon Smile, it turns your community’s online shopping (and yours) into donations for both your nonprofit, and your Classy peer-to-peer fundraisers. On average, 5% of shoppers’ spending gets donated, or around $5 for every $100 spent. Here’s how it works:

At over 3,000 brands like Target, The Home Depot, and Expedia, online shoppers use Giving Assistant to save money with coupons and promo codes, and to earn cash back on their purchases. Then, they donate that cash back to a nonprofit they love.

For example, if Expedia is offering 10% cash back, and Jane Doe spends $300 on a plane ticket using Giving Assistant, $30 would be donated to her favorite nonprofit. And if Jane forgets to use Giving Assistant? No worries: She has the browser extension installed (the Button), so donating is automatic. No remembering required.

Nonprofits can use Giving Assistant to save on their operating expenses (like office supplies, accommodations, catering, web and financial services and more) while putting money back into their mission. And their employees—and those employees’ friends and families—can use it too.

Best of all, Giving Assistant and Classy work together, so your peer-to-peer fundraisers can invite their communities to shop and raise donations for them. The integration is really fast and easy for nonprofits to set up from their Giving Assistant fundraising dashboard, requiring little more than the click of a button. Giving Assistant is completely free, and signing up takes less than 5 minutes.

At your next board meeting, put online point-of-sale fundraising on the agenda. It’s an easy-to-implement, proven, evolving, and sustainable income channel that isn’t a hard sell, especially to teams who understand the importance of diverse fundraising and digital marketing strategies. Make sure to download the free digital marketing checklist below to see what other tactics your organization can implement today.

Melissa Glidden is the Communications Manager at GivingAssistant.

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The Nonprofit Digital Marketing Checklist

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