How & How Not to Run a Charitable Promotion

Last month I ran my own charity promotion for the Humane Society and it went very successful. I was able to bring in $425 in donations within only a few weeks. In addition to all donations received, I also matched all donations, which brought the total amount to $850. Today I would like to give you advice and tips on the best way to run a charitable promotion on your web site or blog.

It’s always a plus to match all donation amounts, when you run a charitable promotion.


Choose an Established Charity
Donate to a charity that almost anyone can relate to. A good choice for charities are ones that help people in need, disease/health benefits, helping animals and church/non-profit benefits. Some charitable donations you might want to stay away from are political and charities with a bad reputation and have been known for using their funds frivolously.

Match Your Donation Amounts
When you have a promotion asking for donations or a way to help a charity, showing that you will also make a donation, or matching each donation, really shows you care and can make a big difference. A good example of this is how I matched the $425 donations last month for the Humane Society. John Chow is also running a promotion for where he will match any donations made to a charity.

Incentive Donations & Utilize Existing Revenue
Before running my charitable promotion, I wanted to make sure it was going to work. Instead of just trying to get people to donate, I took advantage of a revenue source I already had, and simply used the funds for a better cause. I would recommend doing the same, and not just rewarding people for the sake of donating… show you are making an attempt as well.

Reduce Costs & Pay Any Fees
In addition to matching any donations/ad dollars, I also wanted to make sure the full $25 for an ad spot was being donated. I use ScratchBack to manage these ad spots, and Jim was awesome enough to not take his 10% cut on any revenue that month. I also covered all paypal fees that they took out of each transaction. Every donation was for the full $25 amount, then personally matched.

Running an Auction
eBay has run some very successful celebrity charity auctions. Though these are usually certified auctions, this is another method you can use for bringing money towards a charity. Do some research and see which organizations you can work with to setup your own charitable auction.


Do Not Ask for Money/Checks
Do not ask your web site visitors for money directly. You should not be asking users to send you payments through paypal or checks in your name, then at the end of the month issue one big donation in your name to the charitable organization. Not only does it make you look foolish, but a great majority of people will not trust to send a personal payment in the first place. Asking for checks to be made out to your name, then issuing a final check (in your name) to a charity will also make it look like your efforts are focused towards tax write offs and for more personal gain. ( just released a new article which mentions charitable donations and tax deductions.)

Contests & Random Drawings
You can run into some legal issues if you decide to run a charitable contest or auction, outside of an official source such as eBay. Most contests and auctions are licensed and issued through your state and don’t through a non-profit. Mixing this type of activity with your blog or business could bring in some problems.

Be Honest. Don’t Lie, Cheat or Be Vague
It will be hard enough to convince others to take part in your charitable donation. Try to provide as much information as possible. Should anyone find that you are cheating, lying, taking donations for yourself, or just being sceevy… it can ruin your name and reputation forever.

Everyone wants to do what they can for charity and with the exposure of the internet, some might be doing it for the wrong reason. On the other hand, the power of the internet has made it extremely easy and more productive to accumulate donations. I have nothing against blogs or web sites attempting to raise money for charities, just make sure you do it right the first time around, or you may end up with an unhappy audience and no donations.

I would also like to thank the following web sites and blogs for their participation in last months top spots / donations:,,,,,,,,,,,,,, and

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  1. I agree. I just wanted to take the opportunity to take an existing revenue source and do some good with it. I thank everyone who took part in the promotion.

  2. In the whole "Do Not Ask for Money/Checks" section it seems like you are just beating around the bush. This must be a reference to uberaffiliate asking for checks made out to his name.

    1. This is not in response to anyone. I ran a promotion last month, and simply writing the recap on it. I took an existing revenue source and instead of using it for myself, I made a donation. Nothing complicated there.

  3. The checks would be claimed as income, therefore writing them off would just cancel everything out…

    1. Understood. I wrote that it would be perceived by others to be self motivated for tax purposes. Not everyone is clear on taxes and how they work, especially with donations.

  4. Interesting, just this morning I was thinking of doing this for a charity event that will be running a little later in the year. Though it is sponsored rather than just taking donations. In this case a sponsored run (or walk!) for Cancer Research. I thought about mentioning that I'll be taking part on the blog and asking readers to sponsor me. Do you think I'd need to do anything different for that kindof charity thing?

    1. If you can sign people up the same way online, that you would have a sponsor donate offline… then you should be fine. Another option is to offer advertising on your blog/site, and say all the proceeds will go towards to charity.

  5. Choosing an established charity that others can relate to can definitely make a huge difference on readers’ willingness to donate. Nice, informative post Zac 😉 Your last point “be honest. don’t lie, cheat or be vague” is IMO the most important.

    1. So many people have pets, so that's why I chose the Humane Society. I hate thinking about all the of homeless pets in the animal shelters and animals around the world being abused.

      Unfortunately, illegitimate charitable sites/promotions can easily take advantage of unsuspecting visitors and donaters, as so many people want to help. This is why I tried to pick a charity everyone can relate to, along with showing the actual check and matching all donations.

  6. this is why you are successful and many , many people are trying to be like you. Imagine all the donations that you've created by just doing this post and having other bloggers do the same? Probably $10 k.

  7. Some great points there Zac. It is great that you added those points about what NOT to do…there are a lot of well intentioned bloggers and entrepreneurs out there (myself included) who otherwise may have unwittingly made some terrible PR mistakes had you not pointed those last few items out.

    1. I definitely agree Jcyreus, there are a lot of well-intentioned bloggers that my make a vital mistake. Thanks to Zac for the tips; now I'll know what to do when I have a fundraiser for a charity.

  8. Zac,

    I am so glad you donated the money to the Humane Society. If I ever have a lot of money… I would like to build a huge shelter for animals, especially dogs. Have a great weekend! 🙂


  9. Zac, Hey it's Gio, I appreciate all the useful info you provide, i have spend almost half of today going back through the Archives, thanks and keep it up! Oh check out the new site, your guys a UBD did it for me. I think it turned out great. Let me know what you think! Gio

  10. A great promotion for a great cause. There are many wonderful charities out there, but I have a soft spot for the animal charities. Thanks for the mention. Emma

  11. not always looking out for youself and helping others is a good thing, everyone should contribute if not by money also in time as well.

  12. Nice write up Zac, what i understand is that alot of people are now going into charity things now.

  13. One of the things I look for when making donations to a charity, is the expense ratio.

    In other words, how many cents of my dollar go directly to the people in need, versus how many cents go towards salary and expense of the charity.

    I usually favor a good 95% or higher. Some charities even provide 100% of your donations, meaning you make a bigger impact.

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