4 Unique Ways To Create a Virtual Fundraiser That Stands Out
Nonprofit fundraisers understand that events are essential for building long-term relationships, but doing them online often makes better financial sense. The pandemic pushed organizations to move their events online, and, for many nonprofits, they aren't moving back to in-person events. Or, if they are, those events are becoming hybrid with strong virtual elements.
Fortunately, companies promoted virtual fundraising ideas in the sector to support fundraisers who, in 2020, saw all of their event fundraising revenue dry up. And while there was some discussion in the industry about ending events, most nonprofits realized that online event campaigns need to reach donors and maintain relationships with them. And there are ways to continue with events at a lower cost.
By relying on tools at your disposal and tapping into new and accessible resources, you can launch all kinds of quick fundraisers to promote online campaigns. Here are four creative online fundraising tips that could help you make the most of your virtual fundraising ideas.
1. Facebook Virtual Fundraising Events
I’m a big fan of suggesting that nonprofits use Facebook to host virtual fundraising events because hosting a successful event is as easy as creating an event page and sharing it on a nonprofit site. And, if you're not thinking of a large-scale fundraiser, consider reminding your supporters about Facebook birthday fundraisers, which allow supporters to donate and collect contributions for your organization on a small scale.
Another Facebook platform idea is a fundraising challenge. All you have to do is select an activity for a challenge (e.g., walk-a-thon, community service hours), and ask your supporters on Facebook to take up the challenge. By using paid ads, you can spread the message to a more targeted audience that is likely to respond. For greater revenue, make sure to cross-promote the challenge.
2. Pre-record Events and Share Them With Your Supporters
Some organizations choose to pre-record their in-person events and make them also virtual. It's a great way of giving people options for what they prefer (some of your supporters enjoy events in person and others choose to engage online). For those attending, it allows supporters and employees to interact face-to-face, but it doesn't push away those who can't make it as they can interact (and donate) on their own time on-demand.
Moreover, pre-recorded events that are shared on social media have another advantage — they help lower costs. As many fundraisers know, when you have in-person events, the costs to raise $1 could be high (e.g., 30% to 40%) when you review your net profit. However, if you allow supporters the option to support your cause virtually, you lower your expenses.
3. Social Media Contests
If your nonprofit has a robust social media program (and it should), another creative virtual fundraiser is to have a contest. Depending on your needs, these social media contests could be quick ways to connect and engage your donors to raise money in micro-fundraisers. So, if you choose to do a contest, decide if you want to judge winners for the best photo, videos, stories, etc., or engage the public in voting.
All you'll need to do is ask your supporters to share images related or aligned to the work you do. They could even tell and share their stories with their social circle (broadening your brand to new prospects) and your organization by tagging you. Once the contest closes and the votes are tabulated, announce the winners and reward them with prizes.
4. Diversify Your Virtual Fundraising Technology
When you do a virtual fundraiser, lean on technology. So many awesome tools exist to make your fundraiser more fun and engaging. For instance, you could create customizable donation forms with the use of plug-ins. You could also use text-to-give options or use other technical elements for your virtual fundraiser. Research the technology platforms you want to use to ensure they adequately support your virtual fundraising event ideas.
Also, make sure that the tools you use to enhance your digital fundraising offer your donors and supporters an opportunity to learn more about the organization before donating. Remember, in the digital world, not everyone who sees your content knows what you do from the start.
Virtual fundraisers are gaining traction in the nonprofit community as donors continue to contribute virtually to their favorite charities. It is seen as a practical way for nonprofits to increase donations and contributions — at a lower cost. Whichever virtual fundraising idea you choose, technology platforms can help you implement and ensure that the whole experience is seamless and intuitive for you and your donors.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published in the September/October 2021 print edition of NonProfit PRO. Click here to subscribe.
Wayne Elsey is the founder and CEO of Elsey Enterprises. Among his various independent brands, he is also the founder and CEO of Funds2Orgs, a social enterprise that helps nonprofits, schools, churches, civic groups, individuals and others raise funds, while helping to support micro-enterprise (small business) opportunities in developing nations and the environment.
You can learn more about Wayne and obtain free resources, including his books on his blog, Not Your Father’s Charity.