Virtual Fundraisers that Really Work

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, nonprofits and associations have been forced to get creative when it comes to hosting events and fundraisers. However, it has also been an excellent catalyzing force to get charities and boards out of their comfort zones and thinking outside the box.

Virtual fundraisers became a necessity during 2020, but now that live events are returning, that doesn’t mean you should abandon all online events. There is a place for both, and your bottom line will benefit if you continue to incorporate virtual fundraising into your overall development strategy.

Ideas and Tips for Online Fundraising

Take donations through your website.

It should be a given that you need a dedicated online donation tool so that anyone can donate at any time, not just during fundraisers or special giving drives. Review your website from time to time to ensure that it is user-friendly, that the donation button is easy to find on every page of your site, and that there are no technical issues.

Partner with a local celebrity to chat with fans online.

If you have connections with a local sports or broadcasting personality, people could bid on the opportunity to have them make a virtual appearance at a birthday party or workplace meeting. It’s also surprisingly reasonable to get a variety of big-name celebrities to make a virtual pop-in by using a service like Cameo. If you can get a copy of the celebrity pop-in video to be shared on social media afterwards, this can be a really entertaining way to gain visibility for your organization.

Host an online auction.

You can auction off online lessons in music or language, DIY consulting by a carpentry expert, or any of the more traditional auction items like trips, gift baskets, event tickets and more. For a large, complex auction, you may want to partner with a company like GiveSmart or OneCause who specialize in managing online auctions.

Do an online raffle.

Raffling off donated items online is a really easy way to raise some funds, and less complicated to organize than an auction. Once you have a great item to raffle off, simply create an online portal to sell tickets and promote it to all your members and followers. Once the raffle deadline date has been reached, you can assign all the ticket records a number by importing them into a spreadsheet. Use a random number generator to randomly pick a number that will be the winner of your raffle. Pick the winner live in an online video to generate some extra interest!

Stream a live performance or event.

An online performance can be ticketed or can generate funds via donations. If you are new to live streaming events, it’s easy and free to set up a Facebook Live event, and then take donations through a service like GiveButter. You could do one big event, or a series of concerts. If you are contemplating a much larger event with multiple acts, locations and cameras, you will probably want to contract with a production company that can help you manage all the details.

Harness the power of crowdfunding with peer-to-peer social media fundraising.

This type of fundraising, also called P2P fundraising for short, or sometimes social or team fundraising, harnesses the power of your network of members, volunteers and supporters to fundraise for you. You may remember the incredibly successful ALS “Ice Bucket Challenge” from a few years back. People recorded themselves dumping a bucket of ice water over their head to raise awareness of ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease). The participant would then nominate someone else to do the challenge, or else ask them to make a charitable donation. This viral challenge raised $220 million dollars!

P2P fundraising doesn’t have to involve crazy challenges to be successful. The point is that if you can get your fans, members or volunteers involved and feel as if they have some ownership in the fundraising process, it can be a very powerful motivator and give you a much greater reach than you would be able to have on your own.

There are lots of ways to involve the public in a fundraiser. Have a “10-second video” contest with a theme appropriate to your fundraiser and air one each day, allowing users to vote on their favorite. Create an online fundraising platform where you can allow fundraisers to compete against each other and see who is on the leaderboard. Harness the fun of emojis and avatars by awarding animated gifs every time someone “levels up” to specific goals like $100, $500 and so on.

A platform like CauseVox can help you explore, manage and optimize your options for peer-to-peer fundraising. The easiest promotion to start with is to simply allow people to create their own personal fundraiser for making donations to a preferred charity in their name. Many people like to do this for their birthday or other special occasions. Your members may have never thought of doing an online fundraiser, but if the idea is presented to them and it is made easy, many will gladly participate and support your organization.

Virtual fundraising is here to stay and can be a powerful tool for your association or organization. If you are not taking advantage of the opportunities for raising money online, you need to begin.