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Top 7 free alternatives to Classy—and what “free” really gets you

All the free features you want and deserve are out there. Explore the best free Classy alternatives and choose the right fundraising platform for you.

Anna Bean
June 10, 2022
Nerd Mr Butter

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If you’re feeling intimidated by the pricing plans and hefty annual subscription fees on big-league sites like Classy, you’re not alone. Below, we’ve laid out exactly what you can expect from the best of the free (or close-to-free) Classy alternatives—and what fees and charges you’ll encounter with each one.

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While most popular “free” alternatives like GoFundMe (which actually acquired Classy in 2022) don’t charge an initial subscription fee, many include other charges like platform fees, tiered packages, or à la carte add-on costs to use certain features. These fees can end up taking a larger percentage of your donations than you might anticipate.

The one fee every site will have: Until credit cards start giving away their services for free, every single “free” platform out there still relies on these payment processors and thus has to pay their payment processing fees, which usually run from 2.2 to 2.9% plus $.30 per transaction. But as you’ll see below, several platforms have figured out how to offset these costs for their members by asking donors to make an optional additional contribution to cover these fees for you (Spoiler: most of the time, donors are happy to do so!).

Let’s walk through what exactly each platform offers and what it’s actually going to cost you.

See how Givebutter stacks up to Classy ->

The top 7 alternatives to Classy

1.  Givebutter: Completely free and the #1-rated fundraising platform on G2

💰 Price: Givebutter is completely free to use. No hidden fees, pricing plans, or tiered packages thanks to optional tips from donors. If—and only ifyou opt to not ask your donors to tip, a small platform fee is added based on the campaign type you’re using: 1% on donation forms, 3% on fundraising pages, and 5% on fundraising events. A small processing fee is applied to all Givebutter transactions, but donors have the option to cover this fee as well (95% of donors on Givebutter do, resulting in an industry-low average campaign fee of less than 1%!).

✅ Best for: From small, grassroots groups on campus to long-established nonprofit institutions, Givebutter works for any changemaker who’s looking for totally free access to the most effective and user-friendly fundraising tools out there—all in one place, no strings attached.

👉 Our take:  All of our 160+ state-of-the-art features—including text-to-give, livestream events, and the first free nonprofit CRM (not to mention full integrations with hundreds of apps and payment platforms like Venmo)—are fully accessible from the get-go for every group or organization that signs up. 

Plus, our award-winning customer support and live-chat feature with actual (awesome) human beings is always free, just like our platform. With free fundraising tools, marketing automation, and donor management, we’ve got everything you need to raise more for your mission. But don’t just take it from us: Hear from the hundreds of users who voted Givebutter as the #1 rating for fundraising software customer satisfaction on G2.

2. Give Lively: Totally free… for approved 501(c)(3) nonprofits 

💰 Price: This philanthropist-funded platform has no subscription or platform fees, and donors are encouraged to cover payment processing fees to give members as much of each donation as possible.

Best for: Nonprofit organizations that want lots of hands-on support and a values-driven, like-minded community. Note that Give Lively is ONLY available to U.S.-based public charities that have 501(c)(3) tax status (and a GuideStar profile).

👉 Our take: If you want to go all in on this one platform (and you’ve got that 501(c)(3) status), they’ll take care of  you. But not everyone can sign up. The Give Lively team requires 7-10 days to personally review every organization’s application in a process that includes a values assessment. If you’re approved, you’ve got full access to their whole suite of free features, including campaign pages, text-to-donate, event ticketing, live display, and peer-to-peer fundraising. 

While Give Lively does have integrations with some third party features like PayPal and Salesforce’s nonprofit tools, they require all members to use Stripe as their primary payment processor. If you can check all of the boxes—and don’t mind a longer than usual approval process—this may be a good fit for your organization.

3. Funraise: A Classy vibe with a (somewhat) lower price tag

💰 Price: No subscription fee… unless you want to unlock features like campaign sites, texting, or peer-to-peer fundraising. That package starts at $2,500/year. In addition to standard third party payment processing fees, Funraise also has its own unique platform fee (which does not have a set rate) that is only charged if the donor opts in to cover fees. If the donor doesn’t check the box to opt in, Funraise doesn’t charge any additional fee. 

✅ Best for: Mid- to large-budget organizations. Similar to Give Lively, you must be a registered nonprofit or NGO, but with Funraise you do not have to be based in the United States.

👉 Our take: They’ve got great features (even an app!), but in the end, you have to pay to use the vast majority of them. Organizations that can shoulder these extra costs will get a very similar experience and range of features they can find on Classy. Smaller organizations and grassroots groups looking for truly free access to all the tools out there should probably look elsewhere. And with an undefined platform fee in the mix, your donors may end up giving more than they (or you) bargained for.

4. Donately: Mobile optimization for all

💰 Price: Similar to Funraise, Donately is free, but only to a certain extent. There’s no subscription fee to start, but their “Startup” package platform fee is 4%, and if you choose to bump up to the “Team” plan in order to use embeddable forms, third party integrations, or live chat support, you’ll pay at least $49/month plus a 2% platform fee.

✅ Best for: Individuals, groups, and organizations that want simplicity in their fundraising platform.

👉 Our take: Donately definitely has a sleek yet streamlined, user-friendly feel—particularly on mobile devices—but it lacks many of the features you’d expect from an all-in-one online fundraising platform: customizable fields, email reminders, and event management and ticketing. 

5. Donorbox: A platform for international causes—large and small 

💰 Price: In addition to standard payment processing fees, there’s a monthly platform fee of 1.5%. Members can choose to ask their donors to contribute to cover fees, which Donorbox says 80% of donors end up doing. This platform doesn’t charge a subscription fee for their first tier features (basic forms, buttons, pages, and customer support), but there are extra charges for à la carte options like Mailchimp integration or text-to-give. If you want their full “Premium” package, which includes the full suite of features, it can cost close to $400/month.  

✅ Best for: Nonprofits and groups operating around the world, as well as political candidates, churches, and medical researchers.

👉 Our take: Despite being pricier than it seems at first glance, Donorbox is definitely set up to serve a more diverse range of groups and organizations than many on this list. Most notably, they offer donation forms in 11 different languages. For political candidates using the platform, Donorbox even tracks your local campaign contribution laws for you so you’re above board all the way.

6. Fundly: Crowdfunding campaigns a la GoFundMe

💰 Price: There’s no subscription fee, but Fundly does charge 4.9% for each transaction, in addition to the processing fee for Stripe (the one payment partner they use) at the standard 2.9% + $.30. Though not clearly defined on the website, they do provide automatic discounts for larger campaigns. Unlike many platforms on this list, they do not include the option of asking your donors to contribute to cover any of these fees, but they do have an option for donors to tip Fundly directly.

✅ Best for: Individuals as well as causes and nonprofits that want to primarily stick to fundraising pages.

👉 Our take: Fundly feels like a sleeker GoFundMe, where any individual can raise money for just about anything alongside groups and organizations fundraising for causes. They don’t have as wide a range of features as other platforms, but they do have their own mobile app for updating your donors on the go. 

7. Bonterra Guided Fundraising (formerly Network for Good)

💰 Price: This one’s not exactly free, but Guided Fundraising (Network for Good's new name since being acquired by Bonterra) does create customized pricing plans based on the number of donors you have and other factors. They also have a Money Back Guarantee that “you'll raise more in your first year or your money back.”

✅ Best for: Small nonprofits that just want support with the (quality) basics and no bells and whistles.

👉 Our take: One of the first fundraising platforms, certified B Corp Network for Good has been around since 2001 and has helped set the standard for what “All in One” service for nonprofit fundraising can be. From donor communication to data migration, they share user-friendly tools for growing small nonprofits’ fundraising capacity and bringing them into the 21st Century. They even have a podcast.

We’re interested to see the convergence of Network for Good with EveryAction (and several other platforms) under the new Bonterra umbrella. Nonprofit groups that want to build grassroots power and seamlessly integrate their advocacy and fundraising management should pay close attention to their offerings.

Choose the best platform for you

Big names in the nonprofit fundraising game like Classy aren’t always affordable or accessible for every organization or cause. Thankfully, there are some really innovative, free alternatives out there.

Platform fees or tiered access to certain features make some of these “free” sites… not so free. While there’s always going to be a payment processing fee on even the free-est of the free online fundraising platforms, many of these sites set up the opportunity to ask your donors to choose to cover those fees for you.  

Givebutter is #1-rated in customer satisfaction for fundraising software with 160+ features that are free no matter how many supporters you have or how much cash you’re pulling in from donations. Use the tools and integrations you want, leave the rest. Plus, you can rely on our growing community of Experts to share strategies and tools that will help your campaigns thrive. 💪 

Get started today, changemaker! 

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