Fundraising Blog

A Guide to Free and Paid Online Fundraising Platforms

Peter Hair
Fundraising technology expert, Co-Founder of GalaBid

If you’re looking to raise money for a good cause, there are hundreds of fundraising platforms to choose from. These platform options can vary in whether you pay for the service, or if it’s offered free of charge.

The choice can feel overwhelming!

This short guide is designed to help you decide what type of fundraiser might work for you, and whether a paid or free fundraising service is best.

Fundraising Types

Let’s start by looking at the different types of fundraising options.


Donation-based crowdfunding sites are simple platforms that allow you to explain why and what you are fundraising for e.g. you need to raise $1,000 to buy the junior soccer team new training equipment.

Potential supporters are invited to follow a link to make donations.

Crowdfunding is great for specific projects where there is a defined objective and fundraising target. Crowdfunding campaigns normally run for a set time period and close once the objective or target has been met.


Online raffles work much like the traditional paper-based fundraising - except everything (from ticket sales to ticket draws) are managed entirely online.

Raffles offer prizes as an incentive to participate. These can be physical items, such as sporting memorabilia or food hampers, or digital gift vouchers, and even cash.

Digital or Online Raffles are a great way to involve extended communities in fundraising campaigns. They are popular for school fundraisers, community clubs and local charities.

Laws around online raffles vary. Ensure to check and follow the rules in your area.

3.Silent Auctions

Silent auctions typically take place entirely online or as part of a fundraising event, e.g. a gala dinner.

Organizers collate a range of prizes that people bid on and make them available in their auction online platform or auction online website. When the auction closes, the highest bidder wins the prize.

Some fundraising platforms will enable you to only run a single type of fundraiser. There are also ‘full suite’ fundraising platforms that allow you to run one or any combination of auctions, raffles and crowdfunding/donations as part of your fundraising campaign.

Free Silent Auction Software comparison!
We have created a full guide comparing free online auction sites out there for you to make a decision, taking in considerations what features each silent auction app includes in the free option, hidden fees, support given by the platform support, and last but not least, the reviews from users!

Fundraising Platform Pricing

How fundraising platforms are priced isn’t always clear and obvious.

Here are some of the most common ways fundraising platforms are priced, and questions you should ask when evaluating the various platforms.

1. Transaction Fees/Payment Processing Fees

The first thing to note is that there is always a transaction fee or a payment processing fee. Make sure to ask what the transaction fee is.  Fundraising platforms are typically powered by payment processors such as Stripe whose fee per transaction in the US for example is 2.9% + 20c .

Who pays for the processing fees? In short, your cause either covers the processing fee cost, or you can pass it onto the participants in your fundraising campaign.

Make sure your chosen platform allows you to choose either option.

2. Platform Fees

When it comes to the fundraising platform itself you will likely have a choice of a free fundraising platform or the more traditional option - a paid service. There are a number of ways that platform providers structure their payment:

A subscription fee:

The user pays a regular monthly subscription fee and can use the platform for a number of fundraising campaigns throughout the year.

A fixed fee:

This is typically either a percentage of the amount raised or a defined amount payable in advance of using the platform for a single campaign as a license fee.  For example if the percentage fee amount is 10% and your campaign raises $1,000, your fundraising platform provider will take $100 after the campaign has ended as their service fee.

If it’s an upfront defined amount, you will typically pay this in advance of using the platform to activate a license.

3. Free Fundraising Platform / Free Software

Free fundraising software is free for you to use, in return for your campaign participants being asked to make a contribution to the software provider.

If you see No Platform Fee advertised, make sure to read the small print.  You will most likely find that in return for a free fundraising platform, participants will be asked to make a contribution when making a payment on your campaign.

The default contribution percentage will likely be 20%, 15% or in some cases 10%.  Some providers allow participants to change the percentage to 0. Some only allow the amount to be reduced.

Ask to see the checkout process so you can understand the steps your participants will take and the options they will be presented with at check out.

Find out more about GalaBid's pricing here.

4. Reduced Priced Platform

Some providers charge a percentage of the amount raised, and then reduce the fee by the amount contributed by participants in the campaign.

In Summary

Once you’ve decided on the type of fundraising campaign you wish to run, make sure the platform payment structure is clear and fair for you and your participants.

Remember to ask the following questions about how the platform payment works:

- Is the platform limited to a single fundraising type e.g. crowdfunding, or does it support a range of different types, e.g. raffles, auctions etc?

- What are the payment processing fees?

- Can I choose to pay the processing fees or pass them onto my campaign participants?

- How is the platform paid for? Free, Percentage Fee, Flat Fee and which features are included if there are multiple options available.

- If the platform is free are there any financial penalties if a certain threshold is not met?

- If I pay for the platform does my payment cover one or more campaigns and in what timeframe.

GalaBid is a widely used fundraising platform that supports all types of fundraising campaigns. Individual fundraisers and organizations use it to run everything from online silent auctions, to digital raffles, event ticket sales and crowdfunding campaigns.

For more information about GalaBid and the various pricing options available, including our free platform, contact us today.

About GalaBid

Ideal for donations. Perfect for Raffles. Awesome for Live and Silent Auctions! GalaBid’s online fundraising platform is designed for fundraisers of all types and sizes. For over 10 years we’ve been helping non-profits, charities, community clubs, churches, schools, and individuals to raise more and make a difference.

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