Your Guide to Supporting Charities with Virtual Fundraising Ideas
Rewind to two years ago, and nobody could have predicted the way our lives would change overnight. Covid-19 had a significant impact on businesses and not for profit organisations. Restrictions on public gatherings mean charities around the world need to get creative with their fundraising attempts.
If you’re new to the world of virtual fundraising, then it’s understandable to feel unsure of where to start. But have no fear because we’re here to help you find out how to hold a virtual fundraiser and reveal some fantastic ideas for remote events that will make money for the organisation you support.
What is Virtual Fundraising?
Virtual fundraising isn’t a new concept, but it has – in recent times – become a vital way for charities to survive. Many businesses are turning to the internet to host meetings, webinars and even masterclasses. A virtual fundraiser is similar to a virtual event, with the main difference being that a fundraiser’s primary goal is to generate donations.
Platforms such as Zoom are ideal for fundraisers because people can use the software to conference into an event. But virtual fundraisers can also occur through a website that focuses on collecting online donations.
Technology means that virtual fundraisers are popular, and organisers can choose how they want to run their event. Popular options include live streaming, conferences that take place over a couple of days or pre-recorded events that people can watch whenever they have the time.
While many people worry that holding a virtual fundraiser is complicated, they require no more planning than an in-person event. You might not have to source a location, which can save on costs.
The Advantages of Virtual Fundraisers
There are many advantages of virtual fundraisers, and even when social distancing restrictions are over, they might prove more valuable than in-person events. Let’s take a look at the main benefits.
When you think about how much money you’ll spend on an event, it’s easy to see why virtual fundraisers are becoming more popular. The direct costs you’ll have to take into consideration are:
- Location (renting a hall, outdoor venue, restaurant).
- Promotional Materials/Signage
- Audio & Electrical Equipment
When someone attends an in-person event, they expect refreshments and entertainment. But virtual events can save an organisation a lot of money because attendees won’t need food or drinks, and organisations don’t have to pay for a location.
Reach a Broader Audience
Every not for profit organisations primary goal should be to reach a broader audience to increase its donations. Physical events often only apply to people in a specific area because it’s unlikely that others will travel to attend the fundraiser – which means you can reach a limited amount of people.
Virtual fundraisers are ideal for reaching people around the world and increasing your potential donations. A physical event will have a limited number of people due to health and safety rules. Still, when people can use video software to attend your event remotely, you increase your organisation’s exposure.
If you believe that virtual fundraisers are complicated, then think about the logistics of holding a physical event. For example, you need to consider:
- Finding and paying for a location
- Arranging permits for parking, alcohol and music
- Decorating the space
- Hiring a catering company
With virtual events, you don’t need to worry about caterers or finding a location. You can find ways to entertain your attendees but don’t necessarily need live music.
It’s a lot easier to arrange a virtual event, and the main things you need to think about are:
- Which video software you’ll use
- How to make sure people feel included
- How you’ll entertain others
Perhaps the best thing about a virtual fundraiser is how you can focus on the message you send to people and present your organisation in the best light.
Analyse & Improve
It’s hard to keep track of an in-person fundraiser. How long do people stay? Did they donate any money? At which point in the event did they feel compelled to offer financial support? If you have the answers to these questions, you can fix any problems you notice.
If you use an online donation platform, you can automate the fundraising process to give you vital information about how much money people donate and the payment methods they choose. You can also use analytics software to analyse how successful your efforts are and isolate vital areas of improvement.
Which Virtual Fundraising Ideas Are Popular?
There are so many virtual fundraising ideas available, but some have higher success rates. Whether you want to focus on hosting events or streamlining your online donations, there are plenty of creative and convenient methods to implement.
Let’s take a look at the best virtual fundraising ideas.
In recent years, online auctions have grown in popularity. They’re the same as in-person auctions but take place over remote platforms such as Zoom or Skype. A significant benefit of online auctions is that you can sell items to people globally, meaning there’s a much higher chance of success.
Suppose you have a solid online presence or people in various locations know your organisation. In that case, it’s a good idea to ask volunteers to approach businesses to ask for items or services to donate.
Who doesn’t love a good gaming session? While you might not be a fan of consoles, a gaming tournament can be tailored to all ages and preferences. For example, if your organisation supports older people, you could hold a Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit tournament.
Whether it’s traditional board games or a Playstation battle, friendly competition brings people together, so it’s a great way to increase your donations.
The best example of a virtual games tournament is Comic Relief’s Dungeons & Dragons tournament. You should think about your audience and consider what people will enjoy before you decide on a game.
Of all the fundraising methods available, peer-to-peer is incredibly popular – because it offers long-term results. All you need to do is gather your volunteers and get each of them to open a fundraising page.
Each person or team can add details about your organisation and hold different fundraisers to raise money for your cause. Peer-to-peer fundraising can expose a wider audience to your organisation, and the combined efforts of your volunteers will always be better than holding a single event.
Just because households cannot mix right now, it doesn’t mean people can’t take part in physical challenges. Depending on their activity levels, your team of volunteers could raise money for your cause by running on the spot, doing a stairs challenge or performing exercises such as squats and burpees.
Ask your volunteers to gather donations and introduce a leaderboard to motivate people.
Simplify the Donation Process
In many cases, people don’t donate because the process isn’t convenient. Going to a website, filling in a form and providing their payment details takes time, and many decide it isn’t worth the hassle.
But if you can simplify the donation process, then people are more likely to offer their money. The most convenient payment method for all parties involved is QR codes.
The innovative cashless payment system enables people to scan the code using their mobile device and make a payment without providing lots of personal information.
The primary benefit for charities is the low transaction fees and the ease of use. Payments go straight to a dedicated account, and the QR codes can be displayed on websites, leaflets, and posters.
The Masterclass is surging in popularity due to the many celebrities that dedicate their time to encourage remote learning. Now you may not be able to get Helen Mirren to lend her acting skills to your organisation, but you can take inspiration from the Masterclass and create your learning programme.
Every organisation develops unique skills and in-depth knowledge related to its cause. For example, an animal shelter will know how to care for pets or an organisation that supports disadvantaged children might have tips for dealing with behavioural issues.
If you’re willing to share those skills, you can hold a virtual class and collect money from people that choose to attend.
Companies know that social responsibility is essential to their reputation, which can prove very beneficial for charities. Every business needs to show its customers that they care about world issues, and donation matching is the perfect opportunity to do that.
When a member of the public donates money to a cause, the business pledges to match that donation. It encourages more donations because people know that a large company will provide financial support to the cause too.
According to Oberlo, every dollar you spend on email marketing generates a return of $42. Statistics like these explain why so many organisations use email marketing to secure donations.
The hardest part of email marketing is building a list of contacts. Start by providing helpful information to your clients and encourage them to join your email list. It’s a fantastic way to spread awareness of your organisation, and you can update them on how you use donations.
How to Support Your Charity With Virtual Fundraising
Virtual fundraisers are an excellent way to generate more donations for your organisation, but they require a lot of planning. If you want to support your charity, you must understand how to plan a virtual fundraiser and support the volunteers.
The best way to ensure your virtual fundraiser runs smoothly is to follow a step-by-step plan.
Step One: Choose Your Fundraiser
We covered some excellent ideas for virtual fundraisers, but it’s crucial that you choose the right one for your organisation. A large scale event might seem like a great idea – but if you lack the experience, then it’s best to stick to something more manageable.
Think about the fundraisers you held before and try to transfer them to a virtual setting. Your organisation might have classes or sponsored activities, which are easy to replicate online.
Gather your team for a remote meeting and talk about the options available. It would help if you asked the following questions:
- What virtual fundraiser suits our organisation best?
- How much can we afford to spend on the event?
- How many people will attend?
- Will we need any special software?
- Who will be in charge of running the event?
Once you know the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to choose an event that suits your organisation and will attract suitable donors.
Step Two: Set Your Goals
Virtual fundraisers have significantly lower costs, which means you’ll get to keep more of the money you raise. It’s a distinct benefit from in-person events and can make a big difference to your charity.
Take time to set goals and monitor how many people attend your event and the amount of money they donate. Think about how much money you need to raise and make sure you include that in your costs.
For example, if you need to raise £5000, you need to know how many people will attend and the average amount most will donate.
Some organisations charge an entry fee to attend their event, which is still a possible option for remote fundraisers.
If you plan on holding a class, you can set a ticket price, which means you’ll know exactly how much money your event will raise. Or choose the traditional route of asking for donations – but make sure you present your charity in the best light and explain the importance of your cause.
Step Three: Logistical Planning
Just as with in-person fundraisers, virtual events require a lot of planning. There are many things to consider, and the logistics of the event are most worrying for charities that have never held a virtual fundraiser.
Once you decide on an event, you can think about how long it will run for and the equipment you’ll need. For example, if you plan to video conference your fundraiser, you’ll have to decide on whether to use Zoom or Skype.
Most people decide on Zoom because it accommodates more people and is easy to set up. You’ll need to generate a link and send it to your attendees so they can access the event.
It’s always beneficial to let people know how long the fundraiser will run and provide them with an itinerary.
You should provide your volunteers with a plan to ensure the event goes to plan – especially if you’re holding sponsored activities.
Step Four: Promote the Event
If you don’t promote your event properly, then people won’t know it’s happening. Luckily, the marketing methods you use for in-person fundraisers will be just as effective for your virtual event.
Think about how many people you’d like to attend, and make sure you let your regular supporters know about the fundraiser. Emails and social media posts are ideal, but if you want to promote it to a broader audience, you could do a press release or post it on social media groups.
It’s also beneficial to make a landing page for your event so people can sign up. There’s so much promotional work you can do, and virtual fundraisers give you access to a global audience.
Take the time to put together an effective marketing strategy, and you’ll have the best chance of attracting lots of attendees.
Step Five: Test & Repeat
Imagine spending loads of time planning your event, only to find that your equipment doesn’t work. Technical issues can occur at any time, but you can minimise that risk by performing regular tests.
Before your event, you should do a test run and make sure your Zoom link works, the sound and video quality are excellent, and everyone involved in the event knows what they’re doing.
If you’re running a class, practice the lesson beforehand and do everything you can to make the fundraiser as professional as possible. People will still expect to enjoy the event or want to learn something from it, and poor planning results in fewer donations.
Charities worldwide are adapting to the pandemic, and you can get some inspiration from organisations that know how to hold remote events and do so very well. A great example of a successful virtual fundraiser is PanCAN – an American Pancreatic Cancer charity.
The organisation had planned a large sponsored walk but had to switch to a remote event during the pandemic. You can read about how they adapted here.
Virtual fundraisers are daunting the first time, but they’re easier to manage than an in-person event, and once you get to grips with the technology, you’ll see how beneficial they are.
When carried out correctly, you can generate more donations, reach a wider audience and save money on the overhead costs associated with in-person events.
Evershare.io is the perfect solution for charities that want to engage in remote fundraising but aren’t necessarily ready to hold a large event.
By implementing cashless QR codes on your website and publicity materials, you can encourage people to donate without the need for forms and card details.