The nonprofit’s guide to international fundraising

Mar 14, 2022
Nhu Te
Senior Content Manager

The generosity of Americans is vast, with a record-breaking $471 billion donated in 2020. While impressive, the U.S. actually ranks 24th in a long list of the world’s most generous countries in donating money — with Indonesia, Myanmar, and Australia leading the way — according to the “CAF World Giving Index 2021.

This is not to shame the U.S. in its giving but to show that the donor pool for nonprofits is much deeper than you might think. Do a quick Google search, and you’ll find that there is no shortage of general fundraising how-to resources for U.S. nonprofits. However, international fundraising is a topic that is quite underserved in our market.

International fundraising is an opportunity for your nonprofit to break into untapped donations not yet explored, and we want to share insights on how you can reach these people who also have the capacity to give, transforming the way your nonprofit raises funds to create the most impact for its mission.

To help you break into the international market, this is what you can expect to learn in this guide:

  • What your nonprofit can do to effectively reach international donors
  • How you can create a superior giving experience no matter where the donor resides
  • What to know about international tax regulations

Reimagine International Fundraising

Before you even consider taking your fundraising abroad, your nonprofit’s mission needs to resonate with those who live overseas — like UNICEF’s mission of working to save children’s lives in over 190 countries or SPCA International’s mission of advancing safety and well-being of animals all around the world.

With that being said, a worthy mission isn’t the only thing that matters. What’s equally as important is ensuring your visitor’s website experience isn’t disrupted by a language barrier. Currently, nonprofits that are fundraising internationally provide donation experiences that are limited to single languages, or these organizations are forced to manually update and hardcode webpages that take up much-needed time, money, and expertise. And sometimes, nonprofits invest in a solution that is able to convert giving amounts to the donor’s local currency but donors are then forced to navigate through a page that is either poorly translated or not in their preferred language.

While this can be a slippery slope to navigate, the missing piece of the puzzle that can make a big difference in reaching more international donors is localization.

The Key to Unlocking Global Generosity: Localization

The biggest misconception about localization is that it’s just basic translation, but localization’s capabilities go so much deeper than that. According to Eriksen Translations, localization is the process of fully adapting content to the cultural and linguistic preferences of a specific place, which includes the translation and cultural adaptation of websites and multimedia. More importantly, localization creates an experience that looks and feels as if the product or service was created for and created by a target market, regardless of the native language, cultural preferences, or geographic location.

Localization also takes into account important web design features that are unique to specific countries — like structuring copy right to left for Arabic or Hebrew or avoiding the color green in China or Indonesia because of its negative connotation.

We at Fundraise Up like to refer to this immersive donor journey as internationalization, which takes the idea of localization but evolves it into a more comprehensive experience so when someone visits a nonprofit’s website, there are absolutely no interruptions in their experience. With internationalization, the website is already set in the visitor’s native language and in their home currency, with country-specific payment methods displayed at the donation checkout (e.g., using Bacs for Direct Debit in the UK. vs. using Plaid for Instant ACH for U.S. residents).

To see internationalization in action, take a look at this example of how website content can be tailored for English-speaking donors (top) and its Spanish-speaking donors (bottom):

Create a Superior Donor Experience for Everyone

A memorable donor experience has become an increasingly important focus for nonprofits. It’s how nonprofits distinguish themselves in a highly competitive market. With online giving continuing to show steady growth year after year and the growing number of nonprofits saturating the sector, nonprofits now have to think beyond having a good mission — they have to work even harder to create a seamless and optimized giving experience to ensure their donor conversions continue to grow over time.

Implementing quality internationalization practices will give nonprofits the competitive edge they need, allowing them to broaden their reach and cultivate new donors from all over the world. If your website is not translated or designed for the visitor based on their browser preference or geographic location, you’re forcing them to figure out how to translate the text to their preferred language on their own. Perhaps unintentional on your organization’s part, this can disrupt the donation experience and cause donation abandonment. Instead, employ internationalization to create a new and improved experience where all of your website elements match your donor's cultural preference.

With Fundraise Up, you can give everyone the donation experience they deserve by:

  • Choosing from a variety of languages to customize messaging throughout your website, donation checkouts, and emails
  • Accepting up to 135 local currencies that are automatically adjusted based on the visitor's geographic location
  • Offering region-specific payment methods
  • Automating localization of text in the donation Checkout and the self-serve Donor Portal
  • Customizing text on ask pages, call-to-action-buttons, and emails, giving you full control of your nonprofit’s messaging and voice
  • Sending country-compliant receipts

Establish Uniformity for Affiliated Nonprofits & Member Organizations

For larger organizations that manage multiple entities — like a nonprofit with international chapters or a community foundation that raises and donates money to both domestic and international nonprofits — it can be cumbersome to find a streamlined process that gives a holistic view into each entity’s fundraising operations.

At Fundraise Up, we understand that managing multiple organizations can be a big undertaking and can often cause much frustration for the overarching organization. To ease the operational burden for these nonprofits, we offer an intuitive subaccount structure that allows organizations to manage all of their entities under one account in one platform, giving the main account full visibility in all subaccount fundraising and donation activities. As an added bonus: This also gives organizations an opportunity to have full control over each organization’s look and feel, allowing them to create uniform branding across all of the nonprofit websites.

Adhere to GDPR Standards

While accepting international donations is a great way to grow your fundraising pipeline, remember that it’s just as important to adhere to best data practices, especially for those who are residents of the European Union. The General Data Protection Regulation protects EU residents from unethical data collection practices.

Just because your nonprofit isn’t located in the EU doesn’t mean that GDPR doesn’t affect you. Quite the contrary: You need to adhere to GDPR for any EU resident visiting your website. Not complying with GDPR will result in shelling out much-needed money for fines that should otherwise go toward your mission. To ensure your nonprofit is compliant with GDPR standards and you’re not putting yourself at risk, here are some quick tips:

  • Evaluate your current data collection practices
  • Conduct an audit on your existing data
  • Train your staff on GDPR best practices
  • Update your privacy policy to communicate with your donors what data you’re collecting and how you’re using their data
  • Don’t hold onto data about EU residents for longer than you have to
  • Make sure EU residents are opting into every communication piece they receive
  • Stay up to date with GDPR and any updates that come down the road

Comply With International Tax Regulations

Another rising concern for accepting international donations is understanding and complying with country-specific tax regulations. And because rules and regulations for tax-deductible donations vary from country to country, it could be difficult for nonprofits to stay compliant with each one, especially if they don’t have a legal specialist on staff.

As a rule of thumb, if someone is interested in making a gift but wants confirmation that their gift is tax-deductible for their resident country, nonprofits should never make any promises unless they are familiar with the tax rules of that country. Instead, nonprofits should suggest that the donor seek legal guidance on tax deductibility. However, while you can’t promise that their gift is tax-deductible, you can take measures to ensure that they receive country-compliant tax receipts.

To alleviate any of the headaches of manually sending your donors — including the international ones — individualized tax receipts but still ensuring that you’re providing all of your donors with a top-notch giving experience, Fundraise Up automatically sends country-compliant tax receipts to all of your donors. As an added layer of personalization: Your donors can access all of these receipts and manage their donation and fundraising activity in Fundraise Up’s Donor Portal.

Your donors no longer have to manually drag charitable tax receipts into a dedicated folder in their email inbox or print individual receipts to store them in a folder in their home office. Plus, you can localize the Donor Portal so the messaging is updated to the donor’s native language.

Are you ready to go global and unlock generosity from all over the world? Schedule a demo with one of our team members today.

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