Taking social fundraising online with Givebutter's realtime platform


The community built by face-to-face interactions with givers remains a crucial part of the fundraising model. By using Pusher Channels, Givebutter provides realtime engagement for donors.


Social distancing has been a challenge for every company currently negotiating some form of lockdown and the knock on effects have been felt in every sector. For charities and nonprofits however, this has hit particularly hard. Charities have begun to increase their dependency on online giving, and explore new ways of engaging communities to encourage donations through virtual platforms.

A surge in demand has been seen by various NGOs which aim to fight the issues that social and economic fallout can have on individuals and families; including shelters, food banks, domestic violence services and health and wellbeing charities. When it is more vital than ever for their work to continue, but traditional methods of fundraising are impossible, the nonprofit sector needs a lifeline.

Countless events have been put on hold, and with marathons, galas and other key fundraising activities marked as delayed for the foreseeable future, organizations have lost out on a valuable resource for funding their critical missions. Charitable giving platforms have seen a spike in engagement as individuals rush to contribute in the best way they can, and social media led “donate and nominate” style viral challenges are spreading faster and in greater numbers than previously seen.

The community built by face-to-face interactions with givers, particularly with foundations and donors who are able to commit to major donations or subscriptions, remains a crucial part of the fundraising model.

Engaging with online donors

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, DC-based fundraising platform Givebutter – which leads in online donations, fundraising campaigns, and ticketed events for more than 10,000 groups, teams, and nonprofits around the world – announced the launch of Livestream, a platform built specifically for virtual fundraising events. Organizers can use the tool to sell tickets, stream events, and collect donations online and in real time.

By using Pusher Channels, Givebutter provides realtime engagement for donors. As you watch a live-streamed digital event, you can see new donations being made as they happen.

This realtime supporter feed was one of the most highly requested features at Givebutter. In just a few hours they were able to implement Channels.

“It was a breeze” says Liran Cohen, Givebutter’s CTO. “Laravel, our PHP backend framework has built in support for broadcasting events to Pusher. This made it simple to send an event to Pusher whenever a new donation was made. On the frontend, we used Laravel Echo to set up a listener that listened for new Pusher events on a specific channel related to the Givebutter campaign. Once a new event was received, we used the Pusher data to animate in the new donation and add it to the feed.”

Givebutter’s model is based on the theory of social proof – the notion that we are most likely to imitate the actions of others if we feel that we “belong” in some way as a result. While many fundraisers unknowingly design fundraising campaigns around this theory (crowdfunding campaigns, donation pages and silent auctions all rely on the premise), Givebutter have intentionally built upon this in order to help users improve the success of their campaigns. Including a donor feed in which viewers can see names and pictures of contributors in realtime increases online donations during streamed events.

“Using Pusher let us create a sense of community in a time when most people have been staying at home.”