8 Virtual Fundraising Ideas for Your Nonprofit

By now, we’re used to it — no gathering of large groups means no in-person fundraising events for nonprofits. In a time...

Written by Maggie Nugent · 4 min read >

By now, we’re used to it — no gathering of large groups means no in-person fundraising events for nonprofits. In a time where nearly everything has gone virtual, and with no clear pandemic end-date in sight,  it’s smart to continue to explore virtual fundraising ideas. To help you get your creative juices flowing, we’ve thought of 8 different virtual fundraising events to try in 2021.

What is an online fundraising event?

This is a fundraising event that takes place virtually, replacing the physical gathering of donors in the same place with fundraisers that take place on live streams, conference platforms, the web, or peer-to-peer fundraising software.

How do you get your NPO prepared for a virtual fundraiser?

If your nonprofit organization has organized a physical fundraiser before, you’ll understand how much work goes into ensuring success. The good news? Virtual fundraising actually requires fewer logistics than in-person fundraising. It may not be as fun, but at least it’s a little bit easier!

First and foremost, make sure your nonprofit’s website is set up with an efficient donation platform so that it’s as easy as possible for users to make an online donation. Platforms like Hopsie are particularly good for virtual events because they allow any supporter to create their own virtual fundraiser on your nonprofit’s behalf. 

Once you’re set up with efficient online donating capabilities, you’re good to start fundraising! Below are 8 creative and virtual online fundraising ideas.

Organize a Virtual Concert

One of the disappointments the global pandemic brought with it was the loss of concerts and festivals, particularly for music lovers. This has in turn has freed up the schedules of performers around the world. 

While your NPO may not be able to snag any big-name pop stars, chances are there are plenty of talented folks that are itching to perform, especially for a good cause. Sell tickets to the virtual performance so that you can both raise money and cover operational costs, and work with the performers to encourage people to continue to donate throughout the event. 

Make sure to do your research on live streaming & ticketing platforms to ensure the event goes smoothly.

Host a Virtual Gala Night

Virtual Gala Night may sound new and strange, but since the outbreak of the pandemic, it is gradually becoming part of the fundraising vocabulary. Many nonprofit organizations had to cancel their gala nights last year, and as it looks now, a large physical gathering may not be possible this year either.

Moving your gala night from the traditional physical gathering with all the programs planned out, to an online-based gala night may be challenging, but here are some steps to guide you:

  • Write out how your gala night would have looked in a physical gathering, and determine the settings that can be moved online and those which can not.
  • Set up a simple landing page on your website that holds all the information about your online gala — where to donate, how to access the Livestream — as well as a list of all the donors and supporters you’d like to acknowledge.
  • Ensure that whatever online fundraising platform you’re using for the night is properly set up and everyone knows how to access it. 
  • Create a program of events for your virtual gala-night. Have short speeches planned, acknowledge your supporters, invite a guest speaker, and show a video highlight reel of your year!

Organize a Movie Night

We’ve all been watching our fair share of movies lately. Why not liven it up a bit by making it a group event?

There are ways to bring people together to watch the same movie at the same time — one of the best ways to achieve this is by using Netflix Party. You simply create the link to the movie, share it with your community, and encourage your supporters to join the movie through the link.

This method brings your supporters together at the same time, and interestingly, there’s a chat window where they can share opinions and connect with you and with each other. Utilize this chat function to get the full attention of your supporters during a brief intermission, when you can thank them for coming and encourage them to check out your initiatives and donate if they can. 

Use Social Media Campaign

Social media today is no doubt the largest part of the internet with an estimated 4.14B social media users dedicating more time and money than ever before.

Start your NPO social media campaign by understanding where your supporters are most active and develop your content toward this channel. If you have a more active community on Facebook, run your campaign there.

Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok all have built-in fundraising functionality. Take advantage of these platforms by doing some research to see which one would work best for your nonprofit. Start advertising the campaign on your social media channels and invite all your followers to join. Encourage participation by picking random donors to receive small give-away prizes, or feature certain donors on your pages as a way to thank them.

Create an Email Campaign

An email campaign is almost as old as the internet itself, and though it is old, its usefulness can not be overlooked. 

Email campaigns are one of the most important ways to reach wider supporters due to being cost-efficient and having a high level of conversion. This is why it’s one of the most effective forms of campaigning, with an average return of $42 for every dollar spent. 

Send out a series of emails to your community letting them know that in lieu of in-person fundraising, you’ll be taking online donations this year. Pick a particular week or two to run the fundraiser, and send out daily emails showcasing your org’s amazing work, or spotlighting donors and staff. End each email with a call-to-action to donate during this 1-2 week blitz. 

Host a Game Night

These days, there are plenty of platforms that allow users to play board games online.  Organize a game night within your community. Charge a participation fee and offer small prizes for winners, or make the event free but take the gathering of your community as an opportunity to encourage donations. Not only is this idea super fun, but it’s a great way for users to connect and make new friends.

Encourage Supporters to Create Birthday Fundraisers

Even pre-COVID, online birthday fundraisers were gaining popularity on sites like Facebook. Outside of Facebook, there are a variety of donation platforms that allow your supporters to set up peer-to-peer fundraisers on your behalf. Encourage community members to set up Facebook birthday fundraisers on their special day, or do some research on other platforms that allow your supporters to easily set up a birthday fundraiser.

Set Up a Webinar

As a nonprofit organization, not only do you have incredibly valuable knowledge on the subjects associated with your mission, but chances are you also have connections with some pretty incredible people in your community. Pick a topic to speak about that you think people would be interested in hearing, or invite a guest speaker to talk about an area of their expertise. Another idea is to teach a lesson — this can be anything from painting to teaching fellow nonprofit workers effective crowdfunding techniques. You can host a talk or lesson via Zoom, or do research on platforms that are specifically geared for webinars.

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