9 Most Popular A-Thons for Fundraising Success in 2023

9 Most Popular A-Thons for Fundraising Success in 2023

a thons

Do you need help coming up with new and exciting event ideas? Something that will not just help raise money but also get your mission to new people? A-thon fundraisers are an excellent way for nonprofits to encourage more participation in their events and reach a new donor base.

A-thons are packed with peer-to-peer fundraising possibilities which enable them to bring in new donors and even more donations. You can include additional contests and prizes to encourage more participation.

Since many donations from this type of event come from new donors, nonprofits can start and build new donor relationships that will help their long-term success.

What is An A-Thon?

An a-thon fundraiser is an event where supporters participate in an activity like walking, running, bowling, or others, and collect donations based on their participation time or another amount.

There are 3 primary reasons a-thon fundraisers work for any nonprofit.

  • You don’t need a lot of volunteers and these events are easy to create.
  • Supporters from around the world can participate since an a-thon can be an in-person as well as an equally effective virtual event.
  • Participants help raise more money from friends and family through peer-to-peer campaigns.
  • You can get creative and have fun – there are no limits to what you can do.

With an effective and one-stop-shop fundraising platform like Donorbox that lets you run peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns and create event pages to easily sell tickets, it would be even more fun and easier for you to host an a-thon event. Check out this successful peer campaign for a stair-a-thon event created by the Barbarians Group on Donorbox.

stair a thon

Fundraise for Your A-thon – Sign Up!

We have plenty of such useful examples in the sections below. Read on!

9 Most Popular and Creative A-Thons for Nonprofits

The following list of a-thon fundraisers will give you an idea of the various options available for any size organization.

1. Draw-a-thon

The best thing about holding an a-thon fundraiser is that it can be an in-person, virtual, or hybrid event. A draw-a-thon is an excellent example of how it can be all three.

Draw-a-thon is primarily an all-ages event where participants should draw on walls and floors and participate in workshops led by local artists. With this event, nonprofits can help cultivate innovation and creative thinking in the minds of the youth and the community.

It’s also a fun way to engage adults and kids and have them spend an entertaining day at your nonprofit. For example, Antenna’s 24-hour draw-a-thon lets people come to their facility anytime during the event to participate. People can donate online on the below fundraising page they’ve created to support the event.

draw a thon example

Other draw-a-thons let participants create art online, start their campaign page, and collect funds while developing their masterpieces. This can be a fun way to promote art-based nonprofits or encourage more student participation in your art class.

You can merge the idea of an in-person and online draw-a-thon to create a hybrid experience to target as many people as possible. Invite your participants to raise funds from their friends and families with peer-to-peer fundraising and help you reach more people.

2. Dance-a-thon

Dance-a-thons have had a rebirth in the new millennia. Nonprofits hold today’s dance-a-thons to raise funds for their organization or specific projects.

You can hold this event at your location, rent an open space, or hold it outdoors.

Participants find a partner and dance the whole night. People can attend the event to support their favorite dancers or enjoy the festivities.

You can stream the event for the whole community and your online audience. This will help get more donations online. You should share the link to your online donation page or text-giving details so your online audience can give easily.

Finally, don’t forget to invite your participants to create their own campaign pages to raise funds online. Donorbox Peer-to-Peer makes it a breeze – just create a fundraising campaign and easily enable peer-to-peer fundraising. Invite your participants right from the tool and they’ll receive invitations from Donorbox to sign up and start fundraising for you!

Check out this example of a dance-a-thon fundraiser that was created by St Louis High School on Donorbox to raise money for the school.

dance a thon

Create a Customized Fundraising Page

This event can be fun for any kind of charity, but high schools or organizations with a younger donor base may have an easier time finding participants.

3. Swim-a-thon

Swim-a-thons are another excellent option for high school and community swim teams. Swim team members can show off their skills and raise funds from their community.

Funds collected from this event can help upgrade their facility, equipment, and travel expenses. You can create an online donation form or a fundraising campaign to raise money with your swim-a-thon, as Quest Boosters has done on Donorbox.

swim a thon

Nonprofits and schools that use Donorbox will gain another perk with such fundraising pages. Their donors can add an encouraging message for their favorite swimmer with every donation via the virtual donor wall. See what it looks like for the above campaign here –

donorbox donor wall

Add a Donor Wall to Your Donation Page!

You should also ask your swim-a-thon participants to fundraise from their friends and family. Make it easy for them to share their fundraising pages online with their networks. With Donorbox Peer-to-Peer, your main campaign page and the peer campaign pages are all equipped with social media sharing buttons. This makes it easy for supporters to spread the word and get more donations.

4. Read-a-thon

When people say a-thon, you may picture a walk-a-thon or 5k run. But you can hold an a-thon for any activity.

While many popular a-thons involve sports, many schools and libraries have added read-a-thons to their annual calendar.

Schools can ask students to read a specific number of books during a particular timeframe. Participants can each have their own peer fundraising page and add details of their reading progress to it. They can share this page with friends and family to donate to the school.

Schools can also start a contest and ask teachers to track students’ reading. Providing prizes to those who read the most in every class can encourage more participation in your read-a-thon event.

Check out this example from the Woodridge Elementary School. They have created the below donation form on Donorbox and customized it to include fields specific to their read-a-thon.

Donors can type in the name of the student, their grade level, and their teacher’s name while making the donation. This will help them segregate all donations according to student participation and acknowledge them later.

read a thon example

5. Walk-a-thon

Walk-a-thons are well known and can be a simple and successful fundraiser for any nonprofit. They will plan a long-distance walk that supporters can join in person or walk the required amount from wherever and share their success online.

Nonprofits can create a main campaign page to collect funds for the event, and participants can build their own pages under it and post on social media as they continue their walk.

Nonprofits love walk-a-thons because you can raise money in various ways. Organizations can collect funds from registration fees, donations, sponsorships, and vendor fees.

For example, see this event page on Donorbox created for Solace House’s Walk event. They allowed participation from across the country and sold tickets to take part in the event.

walk a thon event tickets

Using Donorbox Events, you can create such simple and effective event pages to sell tickets to your a-thons. You can easily add tax-deductibility information to your ticket tiers, set a deadline for purchasers, and even embed the ticketing form on your website.

Sell Tickets for Your A-Thon!

6. Dog walk-a-thon

Nonprofits can add a new group of participants to their walk-a-thon with a dog walk. These events fit the mission of nonprofit animal shelters, but any nonprofit that wants to get creative and have fun can hold a dog walkathon.

Fundraising for this event is similar to a regular walk-a-thon, but you can increase the excitement for these events with a costume contest and prizes for the prettiest puppy.

Labs and More Dog Rescue created a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign on Donorbox for their 5K dog walk event. Soon, their supporters joined in to help raise money. The below peer campaign is one such example where the supporter raised nearly 5 times their original fundraising goal.

dog walk a thon

Boost Donations with Donorbox Peer-to-Peer

7. Hula-hoop-a-thon

Another creative a-thon fundraiser is a hula-hoop-a-thon. Elementary, middle, high schools, and college groups have started to host these events.

Children and parents love these events because of the fun and health perks. Hula-hooping can help people lose weight and build muscles.

Event participants hula-hoop for as long as they can and collect funds based on how many they can do in a row. Nonprofits can hold this event in person, or supporters and volunteer groups can start their own online.

You can ask and encourage participants to post their videos on social media and raise money from their networks using their own fundraising pages. This will be a great way to share the excitement with your online community and supporters and boost outreach.

Volunteers can also share a live stream of their hula-hooping on apps like Facebook and YouTube. Remember to use a smart and efficient peer-to-peer tool – like Donorbox Peer-to-Peer – to make fundraising easy for them!

8. Bowl-a-thon

Your nonprofit may not cater to a younger crowd, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hold an a-thon fundraiser. Bowl-a-thons are events that can bring in a wide range of age groups.

There are a few different ways to hold a bowl-a-thon. Teams or individuals can set their own goals and raise funds based on their success.

Bowl-a-thon fundraisers may cost more than other events since you may rent a bowling alley and provide food for participants and attendees.

Like walk-a-thons, nonprofits can raise money with registration fees, donations, sponsorships, and vendor fees. Nonprofits can also hold a virtual bowl-a-thon and allow supporters to meet goals on their own time.

Your event page to sell tickets can be as simple as the one from The Faustin Project, shown below. Or you can create different ticket tiers including food, sponsorships, and more – the choice is yours! Because Donorbox Events makes it possible for you to completely customize the event page with images, text, and videos, and add as many ticket tiers as you want.

bowling event on donorbox

Create a Nonprofit Event on Donorbox

9. Volunteer-a-thon

This final a-thon fundraiser is a bit different. Charities and organizations like the Boy Scouts often hold community days to encourage their members to volunteer.

Nonprofits can turn these volunteer days into volunteer-a-thon fundraisers and collect money from donations. Nonprofits may find neighbors or local businesses with volunteer needs, or supporters can find these opportunities independently.

The best way to turn a volunteer day into a fundraiser is to collect pledges based on the number of hours you volunteer. Remind participants to take pictures of their adventures and post updates online. Invite them to a powerful peer-to-peer tool like Donorbox Peer-to-Peer so that they can easily create customized fundraising pages to raise money with your volunteer-a-thon.

5 Pro Tips to Make Your Next A-Thon a Great Success

1. Choose the right theme

Before you decide which type of a-thon fundraiser to hold, do a little research to see which event best fits your volunteer and donor base.

Get creative and determine which event type will encourage participation and raise the most funds. For example, Man Down Cornwall has created a unique 24-hour grapplethon for which they are raising money with the help of their supporters. The below campaign is one of their top and most successful peer fundraising campaigns.

grapplethon peer to peer on donorbox

2. Use the right software

Choosing a peer-to-peer fundraising tool that automates fundraising for you and your team and makes it easy and quick to get started is necessary for your a-thon’s success.

But you wouldn’t want to just depend on donations for your a-thons. The best way to ensure more people get to know about your a-thon is to promote your event and sell tickets in advance. You’d need an event ticketing system that lets you create customized event pages and ticketing forms that boost ticket sales of your a-thon events.

The right software choice for your nonprofit would be one system that does it all – lets you create fundraising pages for accepting donations, turn them into peer-to-peer campaigns, and sell tickets online! Like Donorbox.

Donorbox offers you a number of tools, all in one place, to fundraise in more than one way. You can create unlimited donation forms and pages on the tool. It takes just a quick toggle on your fundraising campaign to turn it into a peer-to-peer campaign. Finally, you can easily create event pages on Donorbox and add unlimited ticker tiers to it to sell tickets to your a-thons.

Ready to get started? Read our step-by-step guide or watch this video to start fundraising in 4 simple steps.

Get Started with Donorbox

3. Reward participants

One of the best ways to encourage participation in your a-thon fundraiser is with prizes.

You can keep prizes and awards for different categories like who raised the most funds, who won at the a-thon, and so on. Announce them before the event so that participants feel more motivated to participate and fundraise.

4. Find sponsors

Significant events like walk-a-thons or bowl-a-thons may cost more than others. Nonprofits can find sponsors to pay these costs and keep donations and registration fees for the organization’s needs.

When looking for sponsors, you can capitalize on the event type and find companies that fit participants’ interests, like –

  • Bookstores for your read-a-thon.
  • Hardware stores to sponsor your volunteer-a-thon.
  • Shoe stores to sponsor your walk or run.
  • Nearby pet stores to sponsor your dog walk-a-thon.

…and so on. You can also make it easy for your potential sponsors to choose to sponsor your event with an online fundraising page like the one shown below. We suggest that you explain the benefits of sponsorship for each sponsor amount on the donation form or in the page content.

event sponsorship levels

5. Start relationships with new donors

A considerable benefit of an a-thon fundraiser is the number of new donors to your organization via peer-to-peer fundraising. Since most donations come from participants’ personal contacts, nonprofits can add contact information to their database and start communication with these new donors immediately.

The best way to communicate with donors after an event is with a thank-a-thon. Nonprofits can create a list of donors and send it to volunteers to make these calls.

Organizations can also hold a pizza night and make these calls as a group. Donors will appreciate that you took the time to reach out to them.

Final Thoughts

A-thon fundraisers can combine fun and fundraising. These events can encourage more participation in your events and appeal to a larger donor base. Technological advancements like video streaming, social media, and online peer-to-peer fundraising will help these events raise more funds than in the past. Reaching out after your a-thon fundraiser will help build relationships with new donors and ensure long-term success for your organization.

Online donation tools like Donorbox allow nonprofits to reach more people and boost donations with peer-to-peer campaign pages. You can also create events on Donorbox to sell tickets online and utilize several other tools like Crowdfunding, QuickDonate, Text-to-Give, and more. Learn about our complete range of tools on our website. Sign up to start fundraising today!

Want more event ideas – or tips for fundraising? Check out Donorbox Nonprofit Blog. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a curated list of our best resources in your inbox every month.

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QR Codes for Churches – Make Tithing & Worshipping Easy

QR Codes for Churches – Make Tithing & Worshipping Easy

qr codes for churches

Invented in the early 1990s, these little squares called QR or Quick Response Codes are popping up everywhere these days. From accessing menus at restaurants to filling out health forms at the doctor’s office, they are a big part of our world. They’re also a big part of the fundraising world, too – and should definitely be a part of your church!

A QR code is a kind of multi-dimensional barcode that holds more information than a traditional barcode. All someone has to do is scan the code with their smartphone to be directed to a website.

Churches are one area where QR codes are particularly useful…but might not be as common yet. There are tons of ways your church can incorporate QR codes into your materials to make life easier both for you and your congregation.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the ins and outs of QR codes for churches, including how to create a QR code for your church using Donorbox. Here’s our agenda –

  1. Why Should Your Church Use QR Codes?
  2. 5 Ways for Your Church to Use QR Codes
  3. How to Create A QR Code for Your Church Using Donorbox

Let’s first look at why you should consider using QR codes for your church.

Why Should Your Church Use QR Codes?

QR codes are only going to get more popular. In fact, the number of smartphone users scanning QR codes is projected to increase from 83.4 million in 2022 to 99.5 million in 2025. That’s a lot of QR code scanning!

QR codes are quick, secure, and effective ways to get information to your church members. Instead of asking someone to type a clunky URL in their smartphone’s browser, they can quickly scan a code and seamlessly visit your landing page, donation form, and more.

Plus, they’re easy to generate, so creating them doesn’t put any additional strain on your church staff or volunteers. For example, Donorbox gives you a free QR code for every campaign you create on it. It is automatically generated and you can customize it further to match your church’s needs. Read more on this later!

get free qr code on donorbox

Get Started with Donorbox

5 Ways for Your Church to Use QR Codes

The uses for QR codes are really as endless as your imagination. Here are 5 ways to incorporate QR codes in your church.

1. Collect online tithes and giving

In an increasingly cashless world, collecting in-person tithes only is not enough for your church. That’s where online tithing and QR codes can help. Instead of relying on the spare change in your congregants’ pockets, create a QR code that links directly to an online donation form where they can give with cards and digital wallets.

When you use Donorbox’s free QR code, you can simply download it and put it up at your church or on marketing materials. This code will redirect donors to your Donorbox donation form. Check this example of a fundraiser flyer helping direct people to the church’s donation page via the Donorbox QR code.

example of a church using donorbox qr code in fundraising flyer

Get QR Codes for Your Fundraising Campaigns!

Donorbox’s donation forms enable donations through popular digital wallets like Google Pay, Apple Pay, PayPal, Venmo, and Mercado Pago with UltraSwift™ Pay. Your donors can quickly choose a digital wallet to make a donation or proceed to use other methods like credit/debit cards, bank transfers, direct debit, etc.

Our donation forms also enable your one-time donors to save their precious information and later log in to their donor accounts to use QuickDonate™ and repeat their donations without having to re-enter their information.

You can also easily encourage recurring giving by linking your QR code to your Donorbox’s recurring donation form where you’ve both preselected a donation interval and shown your recommended interval with a heart. You can customize your donation form to accept things like love offerings and honorary donations, too.

Pro tip: Include the QR code in multiple places around your church, as well as on your church connection cards and fundraising flyers.

2. Let supporters connect to audio prayers and recorded sermons

QR codes are great for helping your church community quickly connect with content like audio prayers, recorded sermons, group discussions, and more.

For example, if you have content on YouTube, you can create a QR code that links church visitors to your YouTube channel.

The best thing about the Donorbox QR code is that you can customize it – even the link! So, in case you want to use it to redirect people to a different landing page, you can just add the link and download the code to use it.

customizing donorbox qr code

Get an All-Purpose QR Code – Sign Up!

3. Make it easy to sign up for volunteer positions

A fantastic way to recruit more volunteers is to make it as easy as possible for them to sign up.

Instead of having a volunteer sign-up list posted around your church – where people might feel too shy to publicly share their information – you can post a QR code that takes them directly to an online sign-up form.

That way you can collect more detailed information privately and securely.

4. Sell tickets and help attendees join virtual events

With the Covid-19 pandemic, virtual events became a common occurrence for churches. Because they’re so convenient and can reach a wider audience, they’re still a popular choice these days. Make it easy for attendees to access your virtual fundraising events with handy QR codes. Add these codes to your email communications and digital tickets.

You can also use QR codes to redirect your church visitors and members to your online event page to buy tickets to your upcoming events. Customize your Donorbox QR code to add the link of your event page and redirect people to buy tickets. You can share this code via your email newsletters, church lobby, flyers, and more.

And for your church events (in-person or virtual!), we have a simple and powerful solution – Donorbox Events. It’s an easy-to-use and highly efficient event ticketing system that lets you create customized event pages and ticketing forms. You can add unlimited ticket tiers, highlight tax-deductibility information, set deadlines and ticket quantity, accept donations, and even embed the ticketing form on your website.

Donorbox Events – Learn More

5. Provide updates around your church

QR codes are great for sharing information around your church. For example, if parts of your church have historic significance, you can create a QR code linking to an online explanation of the history.

For another example, if your church is undergoing a capital campaign, you can post QR codes explaining the proposed changes to your church. It will help church visitors envision what the project will look like and feel compelled to give!

No matter how you decide to use QR codes around your church, they’re easy to generate and customize with Donorbox.

How to Create A QR Code for Your Church Using Donorbox

Generating a QR Code for your church is easy using Donorbox. Let’s walk through all the steps.

  1. Create an account and log in
  2. Create a campaign
  3. Find your QR code
  4. Customize your QR code, if necessary
  5. Download your QR code

1. Create an account on Donorbox and log in

First, you’ll need to sign up for an account. This is quick, easy, and entirely free.

You’ll just need basic information to get started.

sign up for donorbox

Once you have signed up, log in to your new account. If you already have an account on Donorbox, you can directly come to this step.

Read our step-by-step guide to learn about all the steps in detail. You can also watch our quick video tutorial to easily get started.

2. Create a campaign

Under “Fundraise” on your Donorbox account, you’ll find the option “Campaigns”. Click it to go to the Campaigns page.

Here you’ll be able to create a campaign. Just click the button as shown below and get started.

create new campaign on donorbox

Once you’ve clicked that, you can decide which type of campaign you’d like to create. Your options are Donation Form, Crowdfunding or Fundraising Page, or a Membership Form. Select whichever works for you.

create new campaign on donorbox

From there, you’ll be prompted to enter your campaign name and goal, and then create and customize your campaign. Before you go live, you’ll need to connect your payment processor.

For a full guide, check out the step-by-step instructions in our article – getting started with Donorbox.

3. Find your QR Code

As soon as you create your campaign, you’ll see your campaign dashboard.

You can find the QR code generated for your account at the top navigation bar, as shown below.

finding the free qr code on donorbox

Once you click the QR code drop-down, you’ll see the option to download it or customize it.

download or customize donorbox qr code

4. Customize your QR code, if necessary

You have the option to customize your QR code before you download it.

To do that, click “Customize.” You’ll be taken to a different screen where you can change the link for your QR code to whatever you’d like.

You can also change the size and the download format.

customize donorbox qr code

5. Download your QR code

You can download your church QR code directly from the customize page. Just click the orange “Download” button at the bottom of the page.

If you don’t need to customize your QR code, simply download it from your main campaign dashboard.

Select your preferred file type from the drop-down. PNG or SVG are your options.

download format of donorbox qr code

Then click “Download” and voila! You have a downloaded QR code.

downloading donorbox qr code

Get QR Code for Your Church!

Once your code is downloaded, you can add it to a variety of materials to increase your campaign’s visibility.


QR codes are popular – and they’re here to stay. Getting your church up to speed with this handy tool is as easy as generating your first QR code and deciding how you want to use it.

Whether your focus is making weekly tithing easier or connecting your congregation with online events, generating a QR code takes only a few steps with Donorbox – and it’s absolutely free.

Thousands of churches trust Donorbox to update their fundraising to suit our modern world – and what modern donors expect. With online tithing through recurring donation forms, selling event tickets to diversify revenue, launching peer-to-peer fundraising pages, and more, Donorbox can help boost your church fundraising, no matter where you’re starting.

Learn about Donorbox’s powerful fundraising tools on our website. Ready to modernize your church fundraising? Get started today in minutes.

Learn more about church fundraising, get tips and resources, and find leadership best practices at the Donorbox Nonprofit Blog. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a collection of our best resources in your inbox every month!

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Donorbox Events & Tickets sync to Salesforce

Donorbox Events & Tickets sync to Salesforce

Donorbox now optionally allows you to sync your event campaigns, ticket purchases and donations made along with the ticket purchases to your Salesforce org. Now not only your donation data but your events and ticketing data will flow through to your connected Salesforce instance too.

How are Donorbox events & tickets synced to Salesforce

Donorbox creates a new event campaign in Salesforce only when a ticket purchase happens in Donorbox on that particular. So if you have created an event in Donorbox and are wondering why it’s not showing up in your Salesforce campaigns just yet, you know the reason now. The events & ticketing sync is an optional feature that can be enabled from your Salesforce integration page in Donorbox dashboard.

Our integration uses the following 4 Salesforce objects for pushing the events and tickets information to Salesforce:

  • Campaigns
  • Accounts
  • Contacts
  • Opportunity

When the first purchase on an event is made, Donorbox pushes the data to the connected Salesforce account. We first check if that particular campaign is present in Salesforce. If it’s not present, a new event is created in Salesforce and the purchased tickets are pushed to that campaign. If the campaign is already there in Salesforce, we still check whether any fields of the campaign need to be updated before the tickets are to be synced with Salesforce.

The following fields are updated by the integration on the Salesforce objects during the sync:


  • Campaign Name
  • Type
  • Status
  • Active
  • Start Date


  • Name
  • Account Name
  • Email
  • Phone
  • Mailing Address


  • Opportunity Owner
  • Opportunity Name
  • Account Name
  • Primary Campaign Source
  • Amount
  • Close Date
  • Stage
  • Description


Accounts are created by Salesforce itself when the contact is created and we just link the corresponding household account to the contact that is created by the integration.

The integration searches for the corresponding contact based on the email address of the ticket purchaser before creating a new contact in Salesforce. It is important to note that multiple opportunities are created in Salesforce if a buyer purchases more than 1 ticket together in Donorbox. We create an opportunity record for each ticket purchased in Donorbox. We also sync the donations made along with ticket purchases in Salesforce. The sync for these donations works exactly like the sync of normal one-time donations to Salesforce. You can find more about the Donorbox – Salesforce sync here.

The integration takes care of all the required fields on the above mentioned objects but we still provide more data points which can be mapped to the accounts, contacts or opportunity object fields. The following optional fields become available to you when you enable the Salesforce Events sync and these can be mapped based on your org’s requirements. The integration works without these fields too so it is not mandatory to map all these fields:

Enable the Events Sync

You can enable the events and ticketing sync to Salesforce by going to the Salesforce integration page and clicking the toggle for “Salesforce Events Sync”.

Please feel free to reach out to our Support if you have any questions or confusions around this.

Avatar photo


Product Manager – Integrations @ Donorbox

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The Beginner’s Guide to Accounting for Churches (with FAQs)

The Beginner’s Guide to Accounting for Churches (with FAQs)

accounting for churches

According to an article by Lifeway research, the level of confidence that Americans have in their church has dropped in the last 2 years. In 2022, only 2 out of 5 people said that they had confidence in the church. While reasons for this can be many, keeping track of finances and maintaining transparency with congregations are two of the first things churches can do.

Churches may not need to file taxes with the IRS, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t keep track of their finances either.

Churches collect funds from several sources, not just offering and tithing. Because of this, church accounting is like other nonprofits. You’ll need a bookkeeper, accountant, and accounting software to ensure you meet IRS requirements and build trust with your parishioners.

In this article, we’ll share church accounting best practices and financial documents the IRS will require you to file.

  1. What is accounting for churches, and how does it help?
  2. 5 church accounting best practices
  3. The mandatory financial documents for church accounting
  4. Frequently asked questions [FAQs]

What is Accounting for Churches?

Church accounting involves organizing, recording, and planning all finances for your church. Churches are classified as nonprofit, meaning your accounting must focus on accountability instead of making a profit. Income for your church will include the following:

  • Offerings and tithing
  • Pledges
  • Fundraising campaigns and events
  • Capital campaigns
  • Grants
  • Investments

How does accounting help churches?

The best way to organize the above-mentioned funds is with fund accounting. Fund accounting lets churches split income by how it’s collected and used and allows donors to restrict their gifts to specific projects.

Fund accounting is a way for churches to be financially responsible and transparent. It’s not appropriate and is often illegal to use restricted funds for the wrong purpose.

Donorbox helps your church accept and manage designated donations. You can let donors restrict their funds using a dropdown on your church donation form on Donorbox.

You can then integrate Donorbox with leading accounting software like QuickBooks to sync donation data in both systems and utilize it for your fund accounting needs.

Get Started with Donorbox

5 Church Accounting Best Practices

Since churches are classified as nonprofits by the IRS, many accounting practices are similar, but there are a few differences between the two.

1. Churches should use fund accounting

Fund accounting helps churches show accountability because bookkeepers can break down revenue and expenses into separate funds.

Bookkeepers can start with smaller ledgers for different revenue sources, and accountants can combine them into a greater chart of accounts later.

Fund accounting helps churches follow FASB (Financial Accounting Standards Board) and IRS requirements, create annual budgets for their annual donor reports, and develop fundraising plans.

2. Delegate accounting responsibilities

An important rule for church accounting is to delegate accounting responsibilities.

Smaller churches can use a volunteer or part-time employee with fund accounting experience as a bookkeeper. Bookkeepers oversee your church’s payroll, donation, and expense tracking.

You’ll also need an accountant to create financial reports and file taxes. Smaller churches won’t need an accountant on staff, so you can hire a freelance accountant or contact a local business to create these reports quarterly or annually.

If you are a larger church with significant staff and budgets, hiring an accountant for a staff position may be a better option.

3. Purchase reliable accounting software

Fund accounting requires bookkeepers to create different funds for separate revenue and expenses. This type of bookkeeping is too complicated to use an Excel file, so your church must purchase reliable accounting software to keep track.

Churches can choose from many affordable online options, including QuickBooks, Aplos, Accufund, and more. If you’re using Donorbox for church fundraising, managing your finances would be a breeze with Donorbox’s powerful integration with QuickBooks.

There are 2 different and simple ways you can connect Donorbox with QuickBooks. The below guides will help you get started quickly –

donorbox and quickbooks integration

Donorbox + QuickBooks – Learn More!

4. Understand and follow GAAP principles and IRS requirements

The IRS does not require churches to file tax returns, but you may want to anyway. Churches are being held more accountable by their members and the public.

Financial statements ensure you’re using donations correctly and limit the chance of auditing. Transparent financial reports also help build trust with your donors and the community.

The IRS has strict accounting requirements for nonprofits and churches. To help organizations meet these requirements, the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) developed GAAP principles.

GAAP (Generally Accepted Accounting Principles) principles include:

  • Principle of Regularity
  • Principle of Consistency
  • Principle of Sincerity
  • Principle of Permanence of Methods
  • Principle of Non-Compensation
  • Principle of Prudence
  • Principle of Continuity
  • Principle of Periodicity

Churches must also create 4 financial statements focusing on the church’s revenue, expenses, and net asset change. These statements include the following:

  • Statement of Financial Position
  • Statement of Activities
  • Statement of Cash Flow
  • Statement of Functional Expenses

5. Reconcile accounts monthly

Churches must also reconcile each account at the end of the month. You can do this by comparing donor activity to your financial documents.

Reconciling your accounts helps catch accounting mistakes and potential fraud. Reconciliation is another reason you’ll want to separate financial duties. You don’t want the same person writing the checks to be reconciling your accounts.

The Mandatory Financial Documents for Church Accounting

church financial report

The IRS does not require churches to file as many financial documents as other nonprofits, but there are still a few you must understand and file.

1. Form 1099

Churches that use freelancers for accounting, repair, cleaning, entertainment, or other purposes must file Form 1099. Any time your church pays a freelancer $600 or more, you must file this with the IRS and send a copy to the freelancer.

2. Form W-2

Churches with employees must also send their staff W-2s yearly at the end of the fiscal year. Small churches may not think of this, but your organization’s preacher will need this financial statement.

3. Form 990

If your church decides to file annually with the IRS to limit the chances of auditing and build trust with their members, you must file Form 990.

990s help ensure your books are in order, and the more transparent you are with your finances; the more donors will trust your church.

Final Thoughts

Churches are held to higher standards in the media and with their donors. Transparency with your organization’s financial reports is necessary to ensure donor trust and limit IRS audits.

Bookkeeping and accounting practices like fund accounting, monthly account reconciliation, and filing reports and statements with the IRS will help your church remain transparent. If you’ve found it challenging to keep track of your church’s revenue and expenses, research online financial software like QuickBooks or AccuFund to help.

Donorbox integrates with QuickBooks to help you manage your accounting – at the same time, fundraise successfully! Check out our range of effective and simple-to-use features on our website. Learn more about our integrations (you can connect with 2000+ applications and more!).

Want to get more tips on church fundraising, leadership, board, and donor stewardship? Go to our Nonprofit Blog. Subscribe to our newsletter and we’ll send our best collection of resources to your inbox every month.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

1. Are churches required to follow the accounting guidelines from the IRS?

The IRS does not require churches to file annual taxes. But churches must file 1099s and W-2s for staff and freelance professionals.

Churches may also want to file Form 990 every year to limit the chance of an audit.

2. Should you outsource accounting or hire an in-house accountant?

Larger churches with various funding sources should have an accountant on staff. An accountant will help inform your church’s board of all financial changes and requirements. You’ll also appreciate the help during tax time.

Smaller churches can get away with hiring a freelance accountant or working with a local company to file required tax forms and develop financial reports. They will also need a separate bookkeeper to keep track of funds throughout the year.

3. Is fund accounting the same as church accounting?

Churches are nonprofits and must use fund accounting to track revenue and expenses. Fund accounting helps churches separate revenue and expenses based on how they came in and how they’re used. In short, the accounting method churches should use is fund accounting.

Disclaimer: By sharing this information we do not intend to provide legal, tax, or accounting advice, or to address specific situations. The above article intends to provide generalized financial and legal information designed to educate a broad segment of the public. Please consult with your legal or tax advisor to supplement and verify what you learn here.

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Making Your Nonprofit’s Donation Page Accessible to All

Making Your Nonprofit’s Donation Page Accessible to All

donation page accessibility

Did you know that less than 2% of the world’s top websites can be considered fully accessible? This means that individuals with disabilities – an estimated 1.3 billion people around the world – are often barred from accessing important information and resources found on these websites.

Nonprofit organizations are among those that can benefit most from making their websites accessible to all. Not only does this ensure that anyone can use your website to learn about and access the critical services or resources you provide, but it also helps bring in donations.

That’s right – a fully accessible website and donation page can make a huge difference in your fundraising efforts.

In this article, we’ll talk about what goes into building an accessible donation page, covering:

  1. Why is website accessibility important?
  2. 7 examples of barriers to accessibility
  3. How to make your donation page accessible

Plus, we’ll share how Donorbox is taking strides to ensure our donation forms and pages are accessible and easy to use by all!

Why is Website Accessibility Important?

As more resources, tasks, and information move online, it is more important than ever that all websites become as accessible as possible.

When accessibility barriers exist on your site, you are keeping a significant population of people from utilizing a portion of your online presence. Today, having these accessibility barriers is akin to only having stairs at the entrance to a physical building or not offering braille on important signage.

Plus, following accessibility guidelines improves your website’s user experience for everyone – not just people with disabilities. They make content easier to read and understand, improve usability by mobile users, assist the elderly or those with restrictive injuries, and aid those with slower or limited internet access.

In short, website accessibility is important because it provides equal access to all of the critical information on your website, from your mission to your programs to your donation page. And, in turn, having an accessible and easy-to-navigate website further increases your chances of conversions.

7 Examples of Barriers to Accessibility

But what do we mean by barriers to accessibility? They are the ways a webpage may impede full access to information for those with auditory, cognitive, physical, speech, and/or visual disabilities. Let’s take a look at a few examples of these accessibility barriers.

1. Poor color contrast

This occurs when there is not enough contrast – or difference – between the color of the text and the color of the background, making it difficult for those with visual impairments to read.

poor color contrast vs good color contrast

2. Text over images

Be careful of placing text over images. In some cases, such as with a blurred background or if the image has a lot of blank space, it can work. But, most of the time, adding text to an image makes it difficult to read as well as hard to understand what is going on in the picture.

text over images - best practices

3. Illegible text

When you use small text on your website, it can be difficult for anyone to read. But it especially affects the elderly and those with visual impairments. Make sure your text is large enough for all – we recommend 18 pt. text or larger – as well as written with a legible font.

donation page accessibility

4. Missing alt text on images

Adding alternative text (alt text) to your images enables screen reader tools to audibly read what is happening in the photo, graphic, or chart. That makes it possible for those with visual impairments to understand the image without seeing it.

how to add alt text to website images

5. No captions on videos

For those with hearing impairments, it is often difficult to gather information from videos on websites. This can be easily remedied by adding captions to your videos as well as detailing what is featured in each video within the body of the text.

web accessibility for nonprofits

6. Difficult-to-navigate forms

Make sure that all forms offer clear instructions as well as labels for each form field. This not only makes it easier for screen readers to read but also for everyone to understand, regardless of ability.

inaccessible donation form vs accessible donation form

Create Accessible Donation Forms on Donorbox!

7. Mouse-only navigation

Not everyone has the physical ability to use a mouse or trackpad. So, be sure that your website is navigable with just a keyboard.

How to Make Your Donation Page Accessible

One of the most important web pages for your organization is your fundraising page. So make sure it is as easy to navigate as possible and that you are eliminating all barriers to accessibility!

Here’s how you can make that happen.

1. Pick the right tool for your donation form

With the right fundraising tool, you won’t have to worry about whether or not your donation form itself meets accessibility standards.

Donorbox is an all-in-one fundraising platform offering donation forms that are easy to use for both organizations and their supporters.

In fact, Donorbox forms are officially AA-level-compliant with the accessibility standards laid out in Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.1! This means that our forms follow strict guidelines to ensure that people of all abilities are guaranteed access, with features such as color contrast, easy-to-understand labels, and keyboard navigation.

Inclusivity is important here at Donorbox. And this is just one way to ensure that everyone has access to the information and resources they need to give to causes close to their hearts. Here’s an example of an accessible Donorbox donation form embedded on Word on Fire’s website.

accessible donation form

Make Your Donation Form Accessible to All

Bonus: Want more examples of our accessible forms to see the Donorbox form in action? Check out these 10 best donation form examples.

2. Perform an audit of your website and donation page

Accessibility can’t stop with your donation form. Perform an audit of your donation page and website using the list of barriers to accessibility above. Then, make adjustments where you can.

We also encourage you to check out additional resources, such as ADA.gov, to find more information about accessibility.

And, if you have the budget, a professional website developer or agency can help re-design your website to ensure it follows all guidelines while maintaining your brand and design style.

You may also watch the webinar recording below, featuring Donorbox’s own Jena and website expert Colin from Few & Far, to learn more about how to get your website in tip-top shape, including additional accessibility tips.

Get Started with Donorbox

Bonus: We have curated a list of the 13 best donation pages which will help you tweak your donation page for accessibility and effectiveness. Click here to check them out!

3. Add an accessibility widget to your website

Want to take accessibility on your website and donation page one step further? Add a widget specifically designed to eliminate barriers to accessibility.

One of the most popular widgets, UserWay, has a free option that enables users to quickly and easily change font sizes, adjust color contrast, and so much more with just the click of an icon.

While the addition of a widget shouldn’t keep you from making all of the changes suggested above, it can certainly make navigating your website even easier for those with disabilities and impairments.

Final Thoughts

As our world becomes more reliant on technology and the world wide web to distribute information and complete daily tasks, it becomes increasingly vital that all websites are accessible to people of all ages, abilities, and backgrounds.

When barriers to accessibility exist on a website, entire communities of people are excluded from using that site to its fullest extent.

That’s why it is critical that you ensure full accessibility of your nonprofit website as well as your donation page. When you remove accessibility barriers, you make it easier for all people to donate to your cause, which benefits your organization, the donor, and those you serve.

Donorbox makes it easy to follow accessibility guidelines because our donation forms are fully compliant with WCAG 2.1. It’s completely free to get started with Donorbox, so you can try it out for yourself today!

Thank you for striving to make the world a better and more inclusive place. If you need more tips and best practices on fundraising, donation forms and pages, donor management, and more, go to our Nonprofit Blog. Subscribe to our newsletter to receive a curated list of Donorbox’s best resources in your inbox every month.

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Nonprofit Startups: Apply for 501(c)(3) Status or Secure Fiscal Sponsorship?

Nonprofit Startups: Apply for 501(c)(3) Status or Secure Fiscal Sponsorship?

By Jeni Putalavage-Ross, SVP of Operations at Ribbon – a platform helps nonprofits and charitable individuals start nonprofits quicker while saving time, money, and effort.

Inspiration has struck and you have an amazing, world-changing idea for a public good group that you would like to make a reality. What do you do to get started? “Lean startup”, “bootstrapped startup”, “pre-seed startup”…. Silicon Valley uses these terms all the time, but what is the nonprofit equivalent? How does someone test an idea for a nonprofit without committing the time, effort, and money to apply for 501(c)(3) status, find a board, and secure long-term funding? Is a 501(c)(3) determination the only option for people who want to start a group with a vision and mission to help others?

Notebook on a desk with drawn images surrounding the word “startup”, including teamwork, success, planning, strategy, ideas, and investment.

Entrepreneurs are driven by the desire to innovate, not necessarily the desire to make a profit. 

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce,“Social entrepreneurship is the process by which individuals, startups and entrepreneurs develop and fund solutions that directly address social issues. A social entrepreneur, therefore, is a person who explores business opportunities that have a positive impact on their community, in society or the world.”

Social entrepreneurs have several options if they have a startup concept they’d like to introduce to the world in order to help others.

1. Create a for-profit business: The U.S. Small Business Administration lists 10 steps to starting a small business.  

2. Start a nonprofit organization: The National Council of Nonprofits has five steps to starting a nonprofit.

3. Seek a fiscal sponsor and test the waters under the umbrella of an existing nonprofit sponsor: Use Ribbon to find a sponsor and manage your sponsored program with three short steps: 

  • Create a business entity (LLC or corporation)
  • Apply for sponsorship
  • Accept a sponsorship agreement and get started!

Sponsored groups can always file for a 501(c)(3) status after you’ve proven your concept can gain support from donors and volunteers.

How do you decide which of these options is right for you and your idea? First, think about your idea and decide if it’s a good or service you want to sell or is it a service you want to provide. If you’re not immediately picturing your profit and loss statements and dreaming about “going public” on the stock exchange one day, for-profit startup life may not be for you. Research the reasons why many people start nonprofits.

Next, you’ll want to understand the key differences between a 501(c)(3) and a sponsored organization. If fiscal sponsorship is a new concept to you, you may want to take a deeper dive into how sponsorships work. 

At Ribbon, our platform is built around the fiscal sponsorship model. We provide groups with an all-in-one platform to manage or start new fiscal sponsorships.

Screenshot of Ribbon’s homepage for a sponsored groups.

We’ve found the biggest hurdle to fiscal sponsorship is finding the right sponsor, so we have streamlined the application process, accept applications all year round, and have several sponsors you can choose between.

The second biggest headache we hear about fiscal sponsorship is financial transparency. Ribbon can help with that, too as we provide real-time financials via our dashboard where you’ll also find ways to get the money in (use our donation forms, campaign pages, and deposits) and ways to spend your donations (virtual and physical credit cards, bill pay, and reimbursements are all built-in to our platform).

Screenshot of a sample spending report.

We’re adding new sponsors and helping startup organizations find new sponsors all the time, so get in touch with us for a demo!
We’re currently searching for organizations with fiscal sponsors looking to Beta test our software, if that interests you please get in touch with us!

A promo graphic visually demonstrating how Ribbon software works for nonprofits.

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