The coronavirus pandemic has catalyzed rapid change in many industries, causing an unexpected shift from in-person to digital functions. The nonprofit sector has felt the impact of the crisis on operations not only internally, but also externally, particularly when it comes to traditional methods of fundraising.
Virtual Fundraising Tips
While the challenges of transitioning away from in-person fundraising events are many, the task is certainly doable. Here are some helpful tips to keep in mind as you plan your virtual fundraising events:
Keep the focus on your organization’s mission. The reason for your virtual fundraiser is to support the efforts of your nonprofit. Keep that front-of-mind in all your marketing efforts. Avoid messaging that puts focus on the fact that this new type of virtual fundraiser is a result of the global crisis. Many people are sick of being told about the “new normal.” To best support your organization, make sure that your messaging remains on the topic of your important mission.
Strive to increase engagement by including interactive elements. One of the biggest weaknesses of virtual events is that they lack the social interactive elements of in-person fundraisers. While it is impossible to fully make up for this lack, you can take steps to encourage engagement by offering interactive elements for your virtual fundraising event. Some good options include conducting live polls during the event, splitting groups off into separate virtual rooms for discussions, and allowing participants to submit questions via the chat box that you then address aloud for the entire group.
Make sure that anything appearing on camera is visually appealing. Because the visual scope of your event is quite a bit smaller than in-person events of the past, be sure to pay extra attention to exactly how you are presenting your organization. If you have representatives of your nonprofit appearing on screen from multiple locations, consider designing custom backgrounds that they can integrate into the video-conferencing software in order to offer a consistent and visually attractive view for participants.
Focus on the benefits, rather than the drawbacks, of holding your fundraiser virtually. As you market your event, highlight the benefits that your virtual fundraiser has for your supporters. Consider mentioning how it offers a simpler, more flexible way to donate and how attendees can join in from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Drawing on new technology to make your virtual fundraiser run smoothly will help to highlight the tech savvy of your organization and communicate that you are up to date with the times.
Be sure to follow up with all attendees after the event. Reach out to anybody who attended your virtual fundraiser in order to thank them for their support and encourage them to become more involved with your organization. You should decide whether an email blast, a personal email, or even a phone call is the most appropriate way to contact each attendee.
Types of Virtual Fundraisers
When it comes to strategies for holding virtual fundraisers, you have many options. Here are a few options to consider as you work to develop your event:
- Pledge campaigns
- Virtual auction
- Virtual tour
- Limited-run merchandise
- Limited-run campaign within a specific window of time (example: #givingTuesday)
- Crowdfunding events
- Viral video campaign (example: the ALS ice bucket challenge)
- Peer-to-peer campaigns
- Virtual 5ks, bikeathons, or other races
- Virtual movie night
Especially as so many nonprofits are suddenly realizing the need to hold their fundraising events virtually, many new and innovative methods are being developed. As you approach the planning stages of your event, consider doing some research to discover what novel ideas for virtual fundraising have recently been developed.