The world of fundraising has dramatically changed due to COVID-19. Because of this sudden change, organizations must find new ways to engage donors with effective virtual fundraising ideas.
In the era of social distancing, many in-person events have been canceled and organizations have been forced to shift to virtual fundraising events.
Although organizations will not be able to hold the same in-person events that they have held for many years, this pandemic gives organizations a great opportunity to rethink their strategies and think of fresh new ways to reach donors.
3 reasons to consider virtual fundraising ideas
Video conferencing products that you hadn’t heard of last year are now what you use to watch your brother get married, have game nights with your friends, and attend church worship services.
Everyone else is likely spending just as much time on these video conferencing products as you are. This means that organizations have the perfect opportunity to meet donors where they are spending the most of their time: online!
Meet your donors online by implementing virtual fundraising strategies. Here are some benefits of virtual fundraising.
1. Virtual events are cost-effective
In-person events are expensive. You have to pay a large sum of money to rent a venue, but on top of that, you have to pay even more to cover food and drink costs, speaker accommodations, and more.
Virtual fundraising events do not require a lot of money and rely on free technology or technology you may already pay for.
If planned correctly, you may be able to raise more money than in-person events, due to the mass reduction in operating costs!
2. Virtual events are easy to plan and implement
When it comes to in-person events, there is a lot of planning involved, such as securing a venue, finding food and drink vendors, figuring out travel expenses, and more.
Although it will take a little bit of time to get things set up and overcome some technology learning curves, the rest of the time you spend will be purely strategic because the technology will handle everything else for you.
3. Virtual events have no barriers
Donors are not bound by location and do not have to worry about figuring out travel plans. For example, a small local nonprofit has the opportunity to garner event participants from all over the world. These participants can simply participate from the comfort of their homes.
Virtual events are also not confined to weather conditions. There is no need to cancel a virtual event due to bad weather.
Finally, virtual events have no limit to the number of participants. The number of participants that attend in-person events must be capped at a certain number. But for virtual events, the most you may have to do is pay a small upgrade fee to increase the maximum number of participants in your video conference.
Now that we know virtual events can be powerful, let’s dive into the 11 virtual fundraising ideas!
With all the time we are all spending at home, take your donors outside by organizing a virtual race fundraiser! Simply raise money by charging race participants an entry fee, or you can also set a minimum donation. There’s no need to reserve a venue; participants can run or walk from wherever they’d like.
This also allows your participants to become fundraisers themselves! They can collect pledges from their communities as they ask their friends and family to get involved with the race.
If you desire to spend money and incentivize participants, send them t-shirts or other swag items to promote your race. You can also incentivize your participants to become better fundraisers by adding incentives attached to the amount of money they raise. For example, if they raise $100, they receive a free cap.
Charity quiz night
It costs almost nothing to schedule a virtual charity quiz night. Set a registration amount for participants and you can even use a part of that registration fund to pay for the prizes.
For example, you can set the prizes in this way:
- First place gets 12% of the fund
- Second place gets 8%
- Third place gets 5%
- The remaining 75% goes towards your charity
By setting up the prizes this way, You’ll give your participants a greater incentive to get more people signed up for this event!
Everyone loves good food! Support your favorite local restaurants and food trucks, all in the while raising money for your organization. Many restaurants offer various fundraising programs that give a large percent of total restaurant sales to the partnering organization.
Boost your drive-through fundraising to the next level by offering sponsorships. For example, set sponsorship tiers: $5,000 Gold Sponsor, $2,500 Silver Sponsor, and $1,000 Bronze Sponsor. Then, give every sponsor special food bundles and logo advertising on all to-go bags.
Instead of having an in-person gala, consider organizing a virtual gala! This live-stream event can take place on platforms people already spend most of their time on: Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube.
Your program can include performances from musicians, a live auction, interviews with people involved with your organization’s cause, trivia contests to engage your participants, raffle drawings for prizes, and more.
Virtual happy hours
Who doesn’t love happy hour? Host a fun happy hour by live-streaming the entire event. You can even come up with a simple cocktail recipe, or a mocktail, that people can easily make at home.
For the first half of the happy hour, you can give information about your organization, teach participants how to create your cocktail recipe, and then a Q&A. Then the second half can be a fun time of just hanging out, playing games, and enjoying each other’s company.
Think of some fun challenges members of your organization can take part in. Then, set up fundraising goals to match each challenge. For example, you can set the highest fundraising goal of $3,000 to match the challenge of your CEO shaving his head, the goal of $2,000 for your Marketing Director to dye her hair purple, and so forth.
Promote your fundraising challenge on social media and then when the time comes for the fundraising challenges to take place, live-stream all the challenges on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube!
Create and sell t-shirts to raise donations and awareness of your organization. You do not have to limit yourself to t-shirts though! You can sell caps, hoodies, mugs, magnets, stickers, tote bags, etc.
Design your t-shirt, with free design tools like Canva, or hire a designer! You can also ask your supporters to submit design entries. They can submit their designs for a small fee and then everyone else can vote on the winning design.
There are three benefits to t-shirt fundraising:
- Your organization raises money
- Your supporters get a cool t-shirt in return for donating
- Your organization gets free promotion whenever the t-shirt is worn in public
Win, win, win!
Virtual panel discussions
Invite speakers to hold a virtual panel discussion about a compelling topic. As for raising money through this event, you can do it in these two ways:
- Charge a flat fee for admission, or make admission donation-based
- Offer free admission to the panel discussion and then make a donation pitch at the end of the discussion
Consider partnering with other organizations for these virtual panel discussions. Have representatives from different organizations on the panel discussions to showcase multiple perspectives on certain issues.
When it comes to fundraising, use a tandem page to fundraise together!
Find a documentary or a movie that relates to your organization and host a movie night! You can either charge admission to the event, or ask for donations throughout the duration of the movie by using an online donation page.
You can use Facebook Watch Party or Netflix Party to do this. Just make sure you look into copyright permissions so you are complying with the law.
If there is anyone in your organization that has a skill they are willing to teach others, host a virtual class. You can host a virtual class on cooking, baking, photography, painting, woodworking, etc.!
Support your favorite local musician or band by partnering with them. You can set up your virtual concert by showcasing one musician/band, or multiple artists! Take it a step further and host a meet and greet after the show with different band members.
Remember: keep your virtual fundraising events moving, don’t make them too long, and make them interactive. Depending on the event, always try to keep an active chat going to boost engagement.
Most importantly, make sure you have a way to process online donations for these virtual events!
Anedot can help you launch your virtual fundraising event with our suite of online fundraising tools. We have been around for more than 10 years as we’ve helped thousands of organizations optimize their donation experience. If you have any questions about our software or would like to strategize virtual fundraising ideas with our Success team, shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With our beautiful customizable pages and quick account setup, you can get started with virtual fundraising in no time!