Online or virtual fundraising is one of the best ways for non-profit organizations to collect donations and raise money for their chosen cause or charity. We live in an age where the majority of our work and leisure time is spent online, which means virtual fundraising can make it easier and more convenient for donors to give. The internet is a busy and crowded landscape, so you will need to get creative or provide donors with unique experiences in order to maximize your online fundraising efforts. The trick, however, is to stand up above the noise. To help increase awareness for your cause or raise more money for your charity, we have put together this list of virtual fundraising ideas that actually work!
The COVID-19 pandemic forced artists and event promoters to think outside the box. Instead of holding large-scale festivals, concerts, or benefits, performances have moved online and taken to a far more intimate feel. Reach out to popular artists and musicians in your community. They may be interested in coming together to Livestream a show. You might decide to go with one performer doing a full set or a handful of performers doing a few songs each. The more people you can pull together, the larger your potential audience will be. You can collect donations in a couple of ways. You can charge “admission” and only allow those that have donated to watch the livestream, or, you can air the show for free with prominent calls to action displayed on the screen and in the description. This type of fundraiser often works well with a text to give option (see below). The bigger the artist, the wider your potential reach. So, if you know an international recording artist or have contacts that do, now is the time to work that network. But remember, it is important that you choose artists who support your cause or charity. If they feel passionately about it, they will convey that message to the audience and boost donation amounts.
Silent auctions play a popular role in many fundraising events. And with good reason! A charity auction gives people the opportunity to bid on items or experiences they want while competing with other event attendees. This sense of competition creates an urgency that will encourage donors to participate and help you reach your fundraising goals. But, you don’t have to be present in-person to host a silent auction. Instead, you can set up a mobile silent auction. With the right fundraising software, you can set up a fully branded auction page complete with auction item images and descriptions. Individuals can easily bid on auction items through text messages, allowing you to receive bids from anywhere in the world. Generate interest for your mobile silent auction through social media channels and email campaigns. To learn more about promoting your silent auction, check out our list of insider tips!
Like silent auctions, raffles are perennial fundraising favorites. Instead of selling tickets, you can use software to host an online raffle. With a tool like Accelevents, you can design and brand a raffle webpage that not only looks great but will also tell your story. Taking a little time to help people understand why you are raising money will make them feel more involved in the process. If people feel connected to the cause, they are more likely to purchase a greater number of raffle tickets than they would otherwise. When people understand the importance of their participation, donation amounts increase. Accelevents makes it easy to display raffle prize items with an interactive catalog that provides descriptions and images and enables participants to buy tickets using their computer or mobile device. With easy payment options and built-in marketing tools, your online raffle is sure to be an immediate success.
A virtual race is an interesting fundraiser and depending on your approach or campaign goals, it can speak to a few different audiences. One way to host a virtual race involves actual racing. Participants sign up to run a particular distance or for a particular length of time and collect pledges for completion, or the race’s entry fee is used as a donation. Virtual races, typically, can be run anywhere, and at any time. You can set specifics for the race, for example, participants must complete a 5km run on a specific date. Or, you can make the race broader by saying participants must complete a task, like running 100 miles, over the course of a month. This type of fundraiser appeals to a broad group of people as it can be completed at one’s convenience, in whatever way makes the most sense to them. They could run a trail or stay home and pound it out on the treadmill. All they really need is a tracking app and they are off to the races! To attract those that are less interested in breaking an actual sweat, you can hold a “no run race. ” In this instance, individuals or teams of people sign up to raise funds totaling a specific amount. Once that fundraising goal has been reached, they have crossed the “finish line.” Offering great prizes and recognition will motivate people to get out there and solicit donations. This is similar to traditional peer-to-peer fundraising or crowdfunding campaigns where people work together, collecting donations from their existing social networks, to support a common cause. Virtual races present a number of benefits to event organizers. There are fewer overhead costs and you do not have to limit the number of participants. You can do something like creating custom t-shirts for all participants but only offer the big prizes to participants that finish “first” or exceed their fundraising goals by the greatest amount.
A social media takeover is a great way to get corporate sponsors or local businesses involved in your cause. To pull off this type of virtual fundraiser, approach a corporate partner and ask them if they would allow you to “takeover” their social media accounts for one day. On this day, you and your team can post content that links to your website, social media pages, and your online donation form. Tapping into someone else’s online audience will increase your reach and create brand awareness while bolstering your charity or cause. Be sure that you are ready by producing high-quality content including, text, images, and videos to share. Think carefully about what you will post to maximize the amount of money you see coming in. When approaching a business about a social media takeover, consider asking them to participate in a “double the donation” campaign. Ask them if they would be interested in matching donations up to a certain amount. Take part in activities like this is great marketing for all parties involved and can go a long way to helping you raise more money.
Hosting an online movie screening can help you raise awareness around your cause while providing creative ways to collect donations. If there is a movie or documentary that is particularly relevant to your campaign, set up a group screening. Create a specific landing page where interested parties can go and signup. Choose a specific date and time and stream the movie through your landing page. Make sure that you have clear calls to action on your landing page and in any promotional materials you send out. By having a “donate” button displayed prominently, you can subtly encourage people to make donations. As the film progresses and people learn more about the cause, they will be more likely to donate money. Or you can virtually sell tickets by donation and share the link to view with only those who have donated. Before you move forward with this fundraising event, make sure that you have all the permissions you need to screen the movie or documentary. Once permissions are in place, be sure you have a member of your team or someone connected to the charity or non-profit organization available to answer viewer questions. Depending on the length of the film, you might consider hosting a virtual roundtable discussion or question and answer period in the end. The more you can do to involve people in your cause, the more they will want to participate, donate, and share what they have learned.
Forget going out and scouring the community for specific items. Instead, scale up your fundraising event by taking it global! Create a series of clues and riddles that participants must solve and navigate through in order to find places, buildings, or objects on Google Maps. They can then submit a time-stamped screenshot or GPS coordinates as proof of solving that stage of the hunt. When it comes to collecting money, there are a few different ways you can do this. You can charge participants a small entry fee or use a peer-to-peer model where participants find their own donors to sponsor them through the challenge. If possible, tie the scavenger hunt to your cause or charity. For example, if you are supporting a conservation organization, center your clues/riddles around the animals, regions, or habitats that you are attempting to support. Collect amazing prizes and have some fun with this one. The more fun you can make this experience, the more likely people will be to sign up.
Text to Give campaigns are an effective way to raise funds quickly. They can be particularly effective when trying to raise relief funds for a community or organization after a natural disaster or some other humanitarian crisis. With the right tool, you can set up a donation page and market your campaign through email and social media. Text to Give campaigns are simple. To enroll, a donor will text a specific word to a designated number and they receive a text message in return that includes a link to a mobile-responsive donation page. A text to give campaign is also a great opportunity to set up recurring donations. Donors can participate throughout the year by establishing a set amount of money they wish to give at the frequency of their choice. Just make sure that all of these variables are easily adjustable and can be stopped at any time. The peace of mind that comes with knowing that you can back out at any time makes people more generous up front.
While physical events are great ways to raise funds, they are not the only way. Sure, last year’s golf tournament may have been successful but it has a limited scope and reach. Taking your campaigns online can help you reach more people and raise even more money. Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge? That was a wildly successful, viral fundraiser for the ALS Association, a group that supports and raises awareness for those with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS; also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease). It is not necessary that you recreate that level of notoriety but there are important lessons from the Ice Bucket Challenge that can be applied to your fundraiser. First, make it fun. Second, make it shareable. Fun is contagious and when people see their friends doing something both fun and important or are challenged by friends to participate, they are more willing to join in. Use the virtual fundraising ideas on this list as a starting point. Tailor the ideas to match your fundraising goals and your specific cause. And because donors don’t just show up, be sure to advertise and market your virtual event with as many online outlets as possible. Not only can a wide-reaching marketing campaign increase your donations, but it can also create and foster a sense of community around your cause. If people feel connected to and involved in your fundraiser, you can bet they will return to donate again in the future!
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