5 Steps to Raise More with Donor Covers the Fee

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Sometimes it really is as simple as asking for a little bit more. Market data shows 50-60%  of donors opt to cover the processing fees for online donations when given the option.

Allowing donors to cover 100% of processing and credit card fees helps nonprofits  reduce direct costs and raise more to do more good. Nonprofits know that like small donations, these small credit card and platform processing fees add up quickly. That’s why it’s important to select a platform that empowers your donors the option to provide an incremental gift to cover associated fees to make sure every dollar of their donation goes to the cause they’re passionate about supporting!


Digital Fundraising Can Inspire and Satisfy Donors with the Option to Make Their Donation Go Further

Digital fundraising is rapidly becoming an essential part of all nonprofits’ annual fundraising strategy. FrontStream's industry’s leading digital fundraising platform, allows you to add digital fundraising to any event. Whether you’re planning a walk, run, ride, gala, auction, online giving campaign or adding a donate now feature to your homepage, Panorama expands your reach and helps you to raise more.

Nonprofits can raise more with FrontStream by enabling the “Donor Covers the Fee” feature. This gives donors the chance to “opt-in” to cover the processing fees for their gift and the ability to cover 100% of the processing fees ensuring the full donation goes to the cause and depending on their state's regulations, have the ability to claim the entirety of their payment as tax deductible.

It sounds like a win-win- so what do you need to keep in mind when activating this feature? Here are 5 easy steps to ensure fundraising success.


Circles 1  Make Sure “Donor Covers the Fee” is Enabled

Regardless of the type of fundraiser you’re planning, FrontStream makes enabling the Donor Covers the Fee option easy. If you’re planning a peer-to-peer fundraiser- a walk, run or ride- or an online giving campaign, it’s as simple as toggling the feature on or off in the backend of Panorama using the content tab.

With auctions and gala events, the Donor Covers the Fee feature is automatically enabled on desktop and mobile. You can also update the messaging the donor sees when given the option, and add in your own custom mission messaging.  With this feature on, donors and bidders can opt-in to cover 100% of the processing fees for auction items, ticket sales, quick sales and donations, helping you raise more to do more good!  For a breakdown on how to activate Donors Cover the Fee for auctions, click here to read our knowledge base article.



 Circles 2 Include Donor Covers the Fee Feature in Your Communication with Supporters

Any information that you send to your supporters before, during and after your event should include a mention of the Donor Covers the Fee option.

If you’re planning an auction, include language about the Donor Covers the Fee option in all your pre event communications. Send an email to all supporters the week of the auction and include information on setting up their BiddingForGood account, frequently asked questions about the bidding process, and a brief explanation of the Donor Covers the Fee feature.

Girls Inc. of New Hampshire created this great document for their virtual auction attendees. Create something similar that includes a call-out for the Donor Covers the Fee option!

If you’re planning a peer-to-peer fundraiser, include information about the feature in your coaching tips and emails to all attendees. Panorama has dynamic coaching tips and engagement tools to help you segment and send messages to the appropriate audience. You can also suggest to your fundraisers to ask their donors to cover the fee for their donations so that more funds go to your organization’s mission.

Finally, include the option in your emails when communicating about your  Giving Tuesday campaign and your organization's End of the Year appeals. Use the built in communication tools in Panorama to send an email to all your past donors or participants, even segment your communications by event.


 Circles 3 Keep Your Message Mission Focused and Positive

One of the primary reasons people donate to  a charity is that it  is a positive experience. Make sure the language you use for the Donor Covers the Fee option is uplifting and motivating. You can customize this language during set up in Panorama.

Focus on language that highlights your mission and tells the donor that you’ll be able to do more with their donation if they cover the fee. Here’s an example of an auction item with the donor covers the fee messaging:

“By opting to cover the processing fees for this item you can help our organization, Frank’s Fund, ensure that 100% of your donation goes to our mission of finding a cure for cancer.”

Donors are given the option of covering the fee in a few different places depending on the type of event or campaign.

With auction events, donors have the option of covering the fee when placing a bid on an item. The confirmed bid screen will include the calculated fee, where donors have full transparency on the processing fee totals that will be added to their item, and depending on each state’s regulations can use the fees as tax deductions.

The confirmed bid screen will include the calculated fee, like this:


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If the donor chooses to cover the fee for Buy Now, Quick Sales, or donations, their confirm purchase screen will include the calculated fee as well as the total donation. Like this:




Donors are also given the option to cover the fee on direct donations, ticket purchases and quick sales.

Donors to peer-to-peer events and donation campaigns will see the Donor Covers the Fee option when filling in their donation details.


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 Circles 4 Acknowledge the Entire Donation Amount

Getting a tax break for their donation  is another primary reason many people donate, so you want to be sure your donors are getting the proper acknowledgement for their donation.

Panorama sends donors confirmation emails when a donation is processed, but most nonprofits like to send an acknowledgement letter as well. Don’t forget that if you include their total donation amount on this acknowledgement letter, you should include the fee amount in the total.

Any information you include that references a tax deductible amount should be specific to your organization, event, state and/or country where you operate and include any goods or services received with the donation. In the US, donations that do not come with any goods or services are generally 100% tax deductible. Additionally, any amount paid for an auction item above the fair market value might be considered as a tax deduction. Be sure to work with your staff, volunteers and board of directors to ensure you give your donors the proper tax receipts and information and don’t forget to include any fees paid on the thank you letter!


Circles 5  Keep Track of Your Own Data

There are lots of reasons to track how much your donors give and how they are giving those funds. One reason you may not have considered is using your own donor data to motivate future donors.

You’re probably used to sharing information like the total raised by your event in previous years, average donation amount, or total number of donors. But the Donor Covers the Fee option in Panorama allows you to track and share your own stats. Panorama allows you to view which donors choose to cover the fee, calculate the total amount of fees covered, and determine the percentage of your donors that covered the processing fees for your organization.

Not only is this data helpful to have for planning and budgeting purposes, but you can use these stats in your event communications. You can send a post event email thanking those donors that covered the fee and include the total amount they saved your organization with their extra donation. You can also use your internal donation data for future events and cite the total percentage of your donors that typically choose to cover the fee. Knowing that other donors cover the fee for their donation helps to motivate future donors to do the same.

Asking for a little bit more from your online auctions, peer-to-peer events and campaigns can help your organization raise more to do more good. 


Additional Resources:

Case Study: Rhinebeck Responds: 6 Steps to Successful Community Fundraising 

Case Study: Collision Repair Education Foundation: Driving Revenue with Online Auctions

Success Story:   Bay Laurel Elementary

Knowledge Base Article:  How to enable the "Pay the Fee" feature

EGuide: 6 Easy Steps to Fuel Donations with Data and Technology

Video: Auctions with Panorama

Video: Online Only Auctions

COVID-19 Resource Center 


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