What Is a Fundraising Upsell?

Our comprehensive guide on how to utilize upsells in your online fundraising program.


Published November 2021. Last Updated July 2022.

What Is a Fundraising Upsell?

An upsell is an additional ask to customers at the time of purchase to encourage them to spend more money than they were originally going to spend. Related to political fundraising, we utilize upsells to encourage donors to increase their contribution to the campaign and their commitment to the cause.

Upsells oftentimes offer additional products or services to entice the donor to contribute more at checkout. However, upsells can also be well-timed asks for more money or a request for more information rather than additional funds.

Let’s break down why you need to use upsells, and how to employ them in your fundraising campaign.

Why It’s Important to Have Upsells

If you aren’t using upsells, you could be leaving money on the table. Upsells ensure you raise every possible penny from each ask.

Think about it this way: If a political campaign encourages 500 donors to spend an additional $10 on a mug or yard sign, that’s an additional $5,000 raised. Multiplying that over a few emails or SMS sends and campaigns can increase revenue by tens of thousands of dollars.

But it’s not just about maximizing the number of dollars raised. A fundraising upsell offers an opportunity for supporters to deepen their connection to a campaign by going a step beyond their initial donation.

Types of Upsells

You know you want to utilize an upsell in your next online fundraising push. But what upsells should you consider?

Double Donation

A double donation is an easy upsell that has no overhead. It’s simply asking a supporter to donate twice the amount they were planning to contribute. For example: if a donor was planning to donate $25, ask the donor to double their donation to $50.

Create a sense of urgency by saying the double donation will help the candidate fulfill a particular fundraising goal or meet a deadline. Reminding supporters of these deadlines play on their brand loyalty and the sense of urgency.

Recurring Donation

What’s better than a one-time donation? A recurring donation that guarantees your campaign consistent revenue.

Recurring donations allow political campaigns and organizations to make strategic decisions. When a group knows they’re guaranteed a particular amount of funding in the months and weeks ahead, they’re given more leeway with staff hiring, campaign events, and unforeseen expenses. Reiterating that advantage to supporters is a powerful way to boost donations.

Utilizing recurring donations establishes a long-term bond between a donor and a candidate or organization. It also allows marketers to raise more money from one ask so that the campaign’s efforts go further.

Money Pledge

Have a major deadline for your campaign approaching? Try a money pledge by asking your donor to give a second time at a future date. Donors receive a reminder notification with the option to cancel before it is processed.

It’s helpful to include this strategy to spike donations at the end of the month, end of the quarter, or just before the primaries and general election. This creates a sense of urgency without overwhelming the donor with repeated asks. It also secures donations for future milestones.

Mid-month money pledge fundraising upsell

Mobile Opt-In

When creating landing pages for donations, always ask a donor to opt-in for text messages. This upsell allows marketers to collect numbers at no cost to the marketer, client, or donor.

Down the road, the marketer can utilize those numbers in an SMS campaign – part of an omnichannel marketing approach – to make another donation ask. Now the marketer has two ways of reaching their audience: through email and text messages.


A fundraiser can encourage a supporter to purchase an item – like a hat, bumper sticker, t-shirt, or membership card – as a way of earning additional donations. Your merchandise can vary in price point, from a custom jacket to a $5 sticker. Merchandise is a great opportunity to showcase the candidate or organization’s personality or take on current events.

Check out Rep. Nancy Mace’s #FreeBritney Merch:

We love using WinRed’s on-demand merchandise. The setup ensures candidates can offer campaign merchandise without any upfront risk or need to build out a team to fulfill orders.

Worried the price tag for merchandise will be too high for your low-dollar donors? Try one of our favorite tactics: digital stickers! Promise donors a complimentary digital sticker with any donation, then offer to send them the real thing at check out for a few more bucks.

Contests and Raffles

Contents and raffles are a fun way of upselling existing donors and attracting new supporters.

For example, offer those who donate during a particular timeframe a raffle entry to meet the candidate at a campaign rally.

President Donald Trump frequently used this upsell during his 2020 presidential campaign. Donors were given the opportunity to have a meal with the president in exchange for a donation. Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s campaign also utilized this tactic during the presidential election. Her campaign encouraged donors to enter into a raffle to “grab a beer” with Warren.

Both campaigns created a buzz around the contests, resulting in media coverage. Contests are great for driving engagement for fear of missing out; work towards increased donations by providing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Cover Shipping or Processing Fees

Campaigns and organizations have to pay a third-party vendor to process their donation and a mail courier to ship merchandise. Donors may pitch in a few extra dollars to cover these costs if you ask them directly to help the campaign have less administrative overhead. According to WinRed, it is one of the top-performing upsells that yields up to a 45% conversion rate.Cover processing fees animation

How to Choose What Fundraising Upsell to Use

You have several upsells at your disposal, but which one should you utilize? That all depends on a few factors.

Target Your Upsells to the Audience

Understanding your donor base is vital. This allows marketers to create multiple tiers of upsells effectively.

A senior citizen with a limited income may donate an additional $5 to ensure their candidate makes it through the primary process, especially if they receive something in return, like a bumper sticker or a digital badge for their Facebook page.

But a donor that makes an initial donation of $1,000 is more likely to have a larger discretionary budget. Knowing that, the marketer can offer the high-end donor a highly-coveted upsell, like a $250 entry fee for a drawing to meet the candidate or an autographed picture.

Target Your Upsells by Date

Combine your client’s goals with the time of the year to pick more strategic upsells.

  • Are we at the end of a month or quarter?
  • Is a holiday approaching?
  • Does your client have an immediate need for donations for something like keeping a TV advertisement on air?

Questions like that will drive your fundraising strategy – and in turn, your upsell strategy.

Encouraging donors to double their donations near the end of the month or end of the quarter is more effective than asking them at the start of the month. On the other hand, you can ask a donor for recurring donations without it being tied to the calendar.

End of Month Fundraising Upsell

Not all donors are interested in merchandise throughout the year, but they may be looking for something special for Christmas. You can entice them with holiday-themed merchandise, like ornaments or fun wrapping paper.

Using WinRed for Upsells

Our preferred donation platform for our political clients is WinRed. WinRed integrates seamlessly with the rest of our marketing stack, and allows us to create customized merchandise, donation page upsells, and widgets for our clients all in one platform.

Within WinRed’s interface, we can add upsells as pre-checked plain text items on a donation page, or as pop-up graphics that appeal to the user before check out. WinRed also offers the option to build Slate Pages, for if your campaign is fundraising alongside other candidates.

Get a taste of what WinRed has to offer by downloading your starter kit here.

Are you ready to start expanding your marketing program with fundraising upsells? Not sure where to start? We’d love to work with you. Check out our services and contact us today!

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