20 Simple Yet Powerful Virtual Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits
Virtual fundraisers are events held online instead of in-person. Virtual fundraisers can take as much planning as in-person events, and use tools like donation forms and pages, invitations, social media, and emails. Whether you’re looking for a way to increase the impact of your current events or start a few more online, here are 20 virtual fundraising ideas to try.
It is rare when an entire society is forced to think outside the box, but the COVID pandemic made that essential. Companies of every shape and size had to rethink how their businesses work. This is especially true in the nonprofit field.
Most nonprofits rely on at least one annual event to keep their organization going. During the COVID pandemic, regardless of the organization’s location, most of these events were canceled. These cancellations forced nonprofit boards and staff to get creative and learn new fundraising tools, like virtual fundraising events. And it seems many of these successful new tools are here to stay.
Virtual fundraisers and events can take as much planning as an in-person event. The difference is in the tools you use. Advances in technology have made holding an online event easier than ever before. Social media, video conferencing technology, and online donation pages can be combined with traditional fundraising tools like mailed solicitations, emails, and smaller in-person events.
Virtual fundraisers have become not only popular but a lifesaver for many nonprofits. Some organizations are retooling their regular events. Others have thought of new ways to promote their mission. Here’s what Donorbox nonprofit experts have to say about virtual fundraising best practices and tools –
Nonprofit organizations have found great success in holding annual events like galas, pub crawls, and concerts. Thankfully, technological advances have made it possible for nonprofits to hold these events virtually and fundraise online.
1. Online Gala Dinner
Your annual fundraising gala likely makes or breaks your budget. The thought of not holding this event is terrifying. Many organizations have turned their annual gala nights into an online festivity anyone can join instead of canceling.
Virtual galas became popular because of necessity, but the cost difference is worth noting as well. While galas may bring in a majority of your budget, the price to run one of these events can be enormous. Virtual galas, on the other hand, do not have to cost a dime. At the same time, sponsors and attendees can enjoy more opportunities from a virtual event, and you can even reach those who typically wouldn’t have attended an in-person gala due to geographical constraints.
Online fundraising galas allow sponsors to reach a larger audience than average and may even give them a chance to include a commercial into the event. In exchange, you can ask for a more considerable sponsorship amount.
Event attendees have enjoyed eating a delicious meal at your gala, but now the dinner will have to be in their homes. This is a win-win for your organization. Instead of spending money on the dinner, you can offer the option of ordering a meal from your caterer to your attendees. Guests to your online event will enjoy a scrumptious meal, and your caterer will be delighted by the option to serve a broader clientele. Check out this example for inspiration.
Pro tip: Just because your gala has moved online does not mean you cannot get attendees into the mood. Get your board members to sell virtual tables and include smaller group breakaways for each table through Zoom or Airtable. Ask your guests to dress up and share pictures of their home festivities. Find an entertainer to perform online and Include auction and raffle options online for all attendees.
2. Fundraising Telethon
Do you remember when almost every organization tried one of these? Telethons take time and effort, but with today’s technology and people’s attention focused on their screens, it might be time to bring these back.
3. Online Auction
Auctions are a well-used addition to every event. They are also one of the easiest fundraisers to run online and were becoming popular even before the pandemic. There areseveral different auction sites to choose from when holding an online auction. The steps to run an online auction are similar to your off-line events, but social media has made it easier to reach more people and raise more money.
4. Virtual Race/Run
Virtual runs are another popular trend in online fundraising. Contact those who have attended your event before and ask them to find sponsors for their runs. Have your attendees track how many miles they run, and their sponsors can donate per mile. Runners can share their success online.
5. Online Talent Show/Open Mic Night
Talent shows are a tried-and-true event for nonprofits. Regardless of your age, it can be fun to share your talents with your community.
You have seen those Zoom videos of people singing in a choir from home. Why not make one of your own? Virtual apps like YouTube make it easy for individuals and groups of people to perform together online.
6. Virtual Happy Hour or Paint & Sip Night
A pub crawl can be a fun and successful fundraising event. During the height of the pandemic, however, these events were nonexistent, and people were begging for a happy hour to spend with their friends. Nonprofits have gotten creative in planning virtual happy hours and paint and sip nights to answer this cry!
Simply ask your supporters to grab their own bottle of wine or beer and join you for a night of artistic expression, a webinar, or just an evening of fun!
Pro tip: To collect donations during your fundraiser virtual event or gathering, try text giving. Donorbox text to give makes mobile giving seamless for both, one-time as well as recurring donors. After your virtual event, circulate SMS to remind attendees to donate.
You can also use Airmeet to raise funds within your online event platform itself! With the Donorbox + Airmeet integration, you can now add your customized and secure donation form directly into the event’s chat, so donors don’t need to leave your event to give.
Virtual fundraisers are not only less expensive to run, but they also give you more opportunities to include your mission in your annual events. Online events make it easy to share videos, emails, and pictures. People are also more focused on what you have to say online as there are not as many distractions.
7. Virtual Sleep Out
Organizations like Covenant House have added a virtual sleep out to their repertoire and have embraced social distancing while still raising funds.
These events give attendees a taste of how the homeless population lives each day. The mission of these organizations is shared through this experience. Attendees can raise funds by finding sponsors to donate based on the hours they last outside.
8. Online Cooking Class
A virtual cooking class can be a great way to include your mission in a fun and memorable event! Ask a well-known chef to teach a course online and invite your supporters to visit your location with their taste buds. While they learn how to cook a tasty meal, you can share beneficiaries’ stories and give a virtual tour of your organization.
9. Webinar or Talk
Webinars can be hours or even days long. In the past, these events may have scared away some nonprofit organizations. But many potential attendees’ interests can be peaked by an interesting topic or learning experience.
10. Virtual Book Club
Many of your donors love to open a good book to read. Why not start a virtual book club and offer a few suggestions to educate your donors on the need for your services and the work you do?
11. Game Night/Trivia Night
Can you find a way to inform your supporters in an entertaining way? Do your donors know what you do? Why not challenge them to a trivia night about your organization or include a few questions about your nonprofit with other demanding trivia queries?
A trivia game night can easily be held using Zoom, Airmeet, or other virtual apps. Attendees can pay a small fee to join the game and set up a personal fundraising page to gain sponsors. Your nonprofit can also find sponsors to give gifts to the winners as an extra incentive to join.
12. Virtual Movie Night
Movies are another way to spread the word about the work you are doing. Some donors may not want to join a book club but will jump at the chance to watch a new movie. Is there a film that talks about the work you do or shows the need in a compelling way? Invite supporters to watch the movie together online and create a page for viewers to chat and raise donations for the organization.
Social Media Campaigns
Social media can be an effective way to reach new audiences, so why not take advantage by hosting a fundraising campaign focused on your social media channels?
13. Peer to Peer Fundraising
Your supporters can be the biggest advocates for your organization, given the right tools. Peer to peer fundraising is an opportunity for donors to spread the word and raise funds for your nonprofit on their Birthdays, Christmas, Anniversaries, and other important holidays.
By helping them create a personal fundraising page and giving them stories and images of beneficiaries to share online, you can not only raise more funds but develop a deeper relationship with a passionate follower. Donorbox Peer-to-Peer lets you create a peer-to-peer fundraising page and invite your supporters from the tool. They will receive email invitations and will be guided on the tool to create their own fundraising pages.
Crowdfunding is another way to inspire your donors to become advocates. If your organization has specific opportunities or programs you need to raise funds for, this is your chance to highlight these needs. Encourage donors to join your campaign and raise funds for your cause.
15. Raffle gift
Raffles are always a hit. Most people are willing to give a little for a chance to get a lot. With only one sponsor and an excellent gift, you can raise a few dollars each from hundreds of supporters online. Current technology allows nonprofits to reach and share their story to an entirely new audience.
16. Giving Days
Giving Tuesday is a successful international campaign started by a nonprofit organization to “unleash the power of people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.” Giving Tuesday asks people to give to a nonprofit on the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving. Millions of organizations have benefitted from this annual giving day.
It works because it takes the existing tendency to give over the Christmas Season and focuses it all on one day. This limit on when to give encourages donations. Your nonprofit can jump on this trend by holding your own annual giving day.
Online campaigns can be very successful if you have the right tools. Your Annual Giving Day should focus on your mission and a holiday that the general population will recognize. Planning for these campaigns should be as thorough as any event.
You can use a hashtag to connect social media content and reach a larger audience. Your Annual Giving Day campaign can also include peer to peer fundraising and smaller in-person events. We have written an article on Covid-friendly online campaigns that gives tips you can use for your unique giving day.
17. Birthday Fundraisers
If you have a Facebook page, you may have noticed a difference in the birthday notices. Instead of merely letting you know that your friend has a birthday, you may see a link to an online donation page. Facebook has made it easier for individuals to raise money for their favorite causes.
If your nonprofit has a Facebook page, sign up to be one of the thousands of organizations that benefit from these small fundraising appeals. Let your donors know they can start their own campaigns and choose your nonprofit.
Thank You Events
It is easy to forget to thank your volunteers, staff, and even donors during the year. This year, consider hosting a virtual thank you event to show them how much they are appreciated.
18. Virtual Awards Ceremony
Volunteers are one of your organization’s most essential parts and are often one of the most overlooked. Holding an annual volunteer thank you event should be a priority every year. Without showing your appreciation, you can lose quality volunteers. This year, you can make your volunteer thank you event a fun online experience for all with Instagram snapshots and past event videos. You can even include a gift and raffle to get your volunteers more excited.
19. Online Class or Workshops
Staff can be some of your best donors and advocates for your cause. Now is the chance to show your appreciation for all they do. Virtual classes and workshops for your staff can allow them to advance in their careers and learn more about the work you do outside of their field.
Instead of running this event yourself, you can use third parties to educate your staff. Give them the chance to develop ideas for this event and see if it is a potential annual event to encourage their further involvement.
Check out this example of an online class donation campaign for inspiration.
Are you located outside the US, or are your donors not typically allowed in your location? Virtual tours are a chance for low to mid-level donors to get an exclusive tour for only a small cost to your organization.
Thank your donors with a 360 video of your location and the beneficiaries they help with their donations. This video can give a real-life view of your organization’s work and entice donors to give more in the long run.
Virtual Fundraising- FAQs
Virtual fundraising is not new, but became necessary in the time of the Coronavirus. Today, these online fundraisers are here to stay – they cost less than most in-person fundraisers and can raise as much money, if not more. With that in mind, here are some answers to questions you may have.
1. What is a virtual fundraiser?
Virtual fundraisers are events held online instead of in-person. Tools for these events include online invitation and marketing tools, donation forms and pages, and streaming platforms like Airmeet, Zoom, YouTube, and Facebook Live. With these tools, you can hold a successful online event.
2. What are the benefits of virtual fundraising?
Virtual fundraising has been slowly becoming a popular alternative for many nonprofits. Nonprofits who have become comfortable with this new trend can continue using these tools as life returns to normal.
Online fundraisers open your events to many more people, inside and outside of your community. With the knowledge you get from these virtual events, you can include new ways of outreach into your fundraising campaigns.
Virtual fundraisers also give nonprofits the ability to better inform donors about the organization’s mission. The technology used for these events and the attention you have from donors allows for a better education process for all.
3. How do I host a virtual fundraising event?
The answer to this question depends on the event. Like any event, virtual fundraisers take a lot of time for planning and need buy-in from the board and volunteers involved. Once you have that, you can plan a virtual event just like you would any other fundraiser – click here for more virtual fundraising event tips.
The main difference for virtual events is in the tools you are using. Do your research and find the best online application and company to work with your event plan. The Donorbox support team is happy to help with any questions you have and will work with you to find the best option for your needs.
The Covid pandemic opened our eyes to the possibilities online fundraisers can bring. With a little creativity and bravery, you can boost your annual fundraisers’ results and create new online events to reach more people, spread your mission, and raise more funds.
Donorbox is here to help you with this! Increase your knowledge of virtual fundraising, and subscribe to our monthly newsletter to find the latest updates from our nonprofit-blog. Visit our website for online tools to help you get started right away.