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Nonprofit Leaders Resources Tutorials & How-To's 6min read

How to Host a Virtual Fundraiser for Nonprofits

With the pandemic putting a pause on live, in-person events, nonprofits have had to rethink the way they organize fundraising events. While it left everyone fumbling initially, many have been quick to get back on their feet by embracing virtual options. If you can’t do it in person, why not take it online?

Virtual fundraisers are the ticket to getting more donations for your nonprofit in spite of the pandemic. Learn how to host a successful virtual fundraiser and fundraise online.Then, no matter what the post-pandemic world looks like, you’ll be ready to keep pursuing your mission and making the world a better place!

What Is Virtual Fundraising?

As the name suggests, virtual fundraising refers to an event or campaign that takes place online with the goal of driving donations. Instead of coming together physically, supporters join in through video, live-streaming, and peer-to-peer fundraising platforms. This allows donors to engage with your campaign and donate to your cause from anywhere in the world.

Unlike in-person events, virtual fundraisers allow you to expand your reach beyond people who can physically attend. On top of that, you no longer have to worry about the costs associated with putting together an in-person event. Most of the donations can go directly toward your mission since you don’t have to pay for a venue, catering, equipment rentals, and decorations.

How Do You Create a Virtual Fundraiser?

Virtual events need a completely different approach from the in-person events you’re used to organizing. For starters, your focus will have to shift from in-person logistics to online tools. Look at these 5 steps to create your virtual fundraiser:

Step 1: Set a Fundraising Goal

Here’s where your virtual fundraising events and in-person fundraisers share a similarity. You need to define the ultimate goal of the event. What does success look like for your fundraiser? The goal should be specific so you can tell when you’ve achieved it.

Perhaps you want to raise X amount of money for X cause. Or maybe you want X number of new donors. Whatever the goal is for the event, clearly identifying it will help shape other aspects of the fundraiser and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Step 2: Choose your Event

What kind of event will your virtual fundraiser be? There are many great options to choose from:

  • Live, virtual performance featuring well-known artists – This type of event can attract a ton of attendees, but will require an investment to secure the talent.
  • Virtual walk-a-thons – With this event, participants track their own miles and can even live-stream their walk to inspire giving.
  • Virtual auctions – These are essentially silent auctions where people bid on auction items online.
  • Live-streamed speech or talk show – Featuring influential people is a great way to attract attendees to this type of event.
  • Online trivia game or challenge –  This is a fun, engaging event where participants can join in with video conferencing software.

Step 3: Design an Exceptional Attendee Experience

Delivering a positive attendee experience is crucial to making your virtual fundraiser a success. It’s especially important if you want people to keep coming back to future events.

For starters, feature high-interest content. Make sure people don’t want to miss it! If you’re going to have speakers for the event, pick engaging speakers who have authority on the topic. You should also create an atmosphere that’s exciting and engaging for your attendees. Give them the opportunity to interact by asking questions, adding comments, and communicating during the event.

Get creative by bringing in some of the elements you’d find at an in-person event. For example, you can have a virtual lunch with attendees by sending them food delivery cards. Another idea? Send balloons with your logo to attendees and ask them to decorate their space for the event.

Step 4: Get Ready with the Right Tools

When it comes to virtual events, online tools are everything. The right set of tools will help you deliver a seamless attendee experience. Here are a few options:

  • Streaming Platforms – If your event involves live streaming, you’ll need to decide on the right streaming platform. Zoom, Facebook Live, YouTube Live and Twitch are all great options. Make sure to do a test run before the big day.
  • Donation Tools – You’ll also want to give attendees the ability to seamlessly send in their donations. Givelify allows you to do this by setting up donate buttons on your website, emails, and social media. You can even encourage mobile giving using the Givelify mobile app.

Investigate online auction tools and virtual trivia platforms if you would like to offer these at your event.

Step 5: Promote Your Virtual Fundraiser

Next, it’s time to get the word out! Promoting your virtual fundraiser is a crucial step. Go beyond your usual marketing emails and try to increase your reach through social media, press releases, phone calls and online advertising. An amazing added benefit of virtual fundraisers is that you can encourage your supporters to share your event on their own social media platforms. This will help you attract people from their networks.

What Is the Best Way to Fundraise Online?

Nailing the basics for your event is essential! Now, let’s look at some of the best ways to drive donations through online fundraising:

1: Ramp up the Excitement with Givelithons

Givelithons ramp up the attendee experience by giving you the ability to display the names and photos of your donors in real-time. This features allows you to publicly recognize and thank donors, stirring up excitement in the moment as the donations add up!

It also provides your attendees with real-time updates about your progress so they can tell how close you are to your fundraising goal. Seeing the progress encourages others to donate and help you reach your goal during the event.

2: Create a Stunning Event Page

Since the entire event will take place online, you won’t have a dazzling venue to welcome your attendees to. Instead, you’ll need to greet prospects and attendees with a stunning event page. This page should contain all of the crucial information about your event, including how to attend, what it’s for and the event lineup.

Your event page should be eye-catching and attractive to encourage people to attend. Include headers, images and a compelling appeal video, if possible.

3: Set the Stage for Recurring Donations

Recurring donations are the best way to get a steady stream of contributions coming in throughout the year. Use your virtual fundraiser as an opportunity to educate attendees on how to give recurring gifts, and encourage them to set it up.

Take Your Fundraising Events Online

Even apart from the pandemic, virtual fundraising events are a great option for nonprofits looking to inspire giving. With their increased reach and cost-saving benefits, virtual fundraisers can take your nonprofit’s mission to the next level. Once you get the hang of it, there will be no looking back!

Sign up for Givelify and get set up for mobile donations in under 5 minutes.

About the Author

Giving Illustration

Luis Orozco is a contributing writer. His passions and expertise are nonprofit fundraising and development. He uses Givelify to support his local church and the social justice causes.

Luis Orozco