Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been a global increase in virtual fundraisers as companies pivot towards tech-based solutions to adhere to the current social distancing protocol. Despite initial skepticism, many organizations have executed their virtual fundraising ideas with enormous success.
You can adapt many traditional fundraising options, like peer-to-peer fundraising and benefit concerts, to take place online. In most cases, the newly scalable nature offers unlimited money-making potential.
For some, the adoption of technology as a replacement for in-person events seems daunting. However, virtual fundraising offers significant advantages. Unlimited guest lists, decreased costs due to digitization, and less stress adds convenience to online fundraisers.
A virtual fundraising event occurs entirely online, allowing participants worldwide to take part — provided they have a solid internet connection. Virtual fundraisers come in many forms, including webinars, conferences, auctions, fairs, and concerts.
The use of technology like live-streaming, video, social media platforms, and specialized peer-to-peer fundraising platforms replaces the need to meet physically. When coupled with smart online marketing campaigns, virtual fundraisers can cause an influx of donations.
A significant advantage is that many one-off events can now reoccur with relative ease and convenience. New technologies also support the automation of time-consuming manual processes, allowing you to devote more time to targeted marketing campaigns.
From gift matching to gala evenings, here are some popular virtual fundraising ideas:
People love receiving value for their money. If your online fundraising ideas involve more than just asking for donations, you could organize a one-off or series of masterclass workshops. There’s no limit to the types of lessons or number of attendees, meaning profits are scalable. From cooking classes to music lessons and DIY, the list is endless.
What’s more, if people can’t attend the event on the set date, you can upload the videos online and repackage them as courses that clients can buy throughout the year. Better yet, you could arrange a multi-day virtual conference, selling day-passes, event-specific, or all-inclusive tickets. And you won’t even need to worry about organizing ticket sales — you can automate this process with online software.
Live performances make great virtual fundraising events, especially since most large gatherings have been prohibited due to global lockdowns. You’ll provide welcome entertainment for those stuck at home or the office while helping struggling artists by offering them a small percentage of your pre-sold ticket sales.
If the artists are willing, you could arrange a Livestream Q&A after the event, providing a rare and exclusive opportunity for the audience to connect with them. Stand-up comedians, theatre performances, and live music tend to work best. Not only will you raise funds, but you’ll also introduce artists to new audiences.
From getaways to personal items to artworks, almost anything can be auctioned when targeted at the appropriate donors. With the right mobile apps, you can automate the process and deliver immediate notifications to bidders. They can conveniently bid throughout the day, no matter where they are.
Online auctions also mean that bidding can stay open for a more extended period, allowing greater participation. Alternatively, if you want to generate more buzz for your online fundraising event, you can always host an auction via Livestream.
Virtual game nights are fun ways to promote community and boost donor participation in a light-hearted, interactive way. You can host them on Facebook Live or Zoom. Or, you can create an element of exclusivity by hosting them on Clubhouse. Virtual game nights can either remain one-off events or a series of tournaments where you charge a participation fee that goes towards your cause.
They’re easily sellable to groups of friends, families, and even companies looking for team-building activities. Bingo, pub quizzes, murder mysteries, scavenger hunts are the most common, while video-game tournaments are also gaining popularity.
There’s no need to cancel your annual gala just because you can’t meet in-person. Combine elements of other virtual fundraising ideas like live stream performances, distinguished guest talks, and game nights for an unforgettable evening. Alternatively, you can also keep it unstructured and casual, like a dinner party.
If you’re going with a themed gala, you can offer guests recipe suggestions or reach out to local restaurants and have them deliver ready-to-eat meals to everyone. This extends your and your donors’ support to businesses adversely affected by the pandemic. When it comes to doing good, it operates like a two-for-one virtual fundraiser. Other suggestions include sending out gift packages ahead of time with fun dress-up accessories and edible treats.
These live stream online charity events are easy for donors who are already fit and great motivators for those needing to improve their physical health. Cyclathons, 5Ks, and dog walkathons have low entry barriers and promote peer-to-peer fundraising. Plus, you don’t need to enforce an age restriction, so your fundraising potential is immediately increased.
You can base race fundraising on the stipulation that participants complete a set route or particular distance within their own time. When you empower a large online community, you encourage people to post their achievements, advancing your cause. Finding a local fitness brand to sponsor prizes provides further incentives for people to participate. If successful, your virtual race could even turn into a monthly event.
Ask interested community members and organizations to participate in your online fundraiser by donating items they wish to sell in an online garage sale. You can set up a marketplace on existing platforms or design your own website to list items. Once you’ve collected an inventory, you should allow buyers to preview the collection before they go on sale to increase publicity.
A first-come-first-serve garage sale is bound to produce interest, especially if you’re selling high-quality goods at reasonable prices. Even if people aren’t interested in what you have to offer, they might share sale items with interested friends, family, and colleagues. If your inventory doesn’t sell at once, you can set up notifications alerting buyers to discounts.
Sailboat races refer to a type of virtual fundraising where supporters are divided into teams and compete to be the first team to raise the highest number of donations for a given cause. Organizations set up their fundraising goals and give teams a deadline to meet, usually with the possibility of winning coveted prizes.
To make it more fun, ensure each team has its own fundraising page. Virtual fundraising thermometers can display progress to show how much money teams accumulate in real-time, creating a sense of competition and camaraderie towards a good cause. You can also combine this type of online fundraising event with virtual giving days (where donors are encouraged to donate as much money as possible), game nights, and walkathons.
Gift matching involves finding an organization or corporation willing to match the money you raise with your online fundraisers. This can have project-specific or annual fundraising goals. For example, if you make €500, the organization will donate the same amount of money, increasing your earnings to €1,000 without any catch.
Many companies already have corporate social responsibilities that include philanthropy efforts. In fact, 65% of Fortune 500 companies are reported to have gift-matching programs. This is one of the most lucrative online fundraising ideas because you can apply it to many fundraising events that you’re already offering, allowing you to double and sometimes even quadruple your funds with minimal effort.
Some individuals enjoy donating to charitable causes without having to actively participate in a virtual fundraising activity. You can set up personalized email campaigns encouraging supporters to donate regularly. If they don’t feel like donating monthly, make it easier for them to set up a recurring activity with a debit card order option. Some companies need to write off money for tax purposes, and unlike gift matching, they can donate as much or as little as they like without being obligated to match a specific amount.
You can encourage greater participation by including a web link in your email that outlines how you plan to use the funds and showcases how far away you are from achieving your targets. We highly recommend setting up a range of focussed donation tiers. This structure reduces pressure on supporters, as they’re far more inclined to donate when given a specified amount rather than having to guess an acceptable sum.
SmartWorks can help you turn your virtual fundraising ideas into world-class virtual events. We’ll work side-by-side with your corporate event planning team, creating seamless events from start to finish. We can also help you with AV production and answer any questions you may have regarding how to plan virtual conferences and live stream events.
SmartWorks excels at simplifying the event management experience. We can handle all of the logistics of your event, from start to finish, ensuring it is a success for everyone involved. Start planning your virtual fundraising event today!