Live events and in-person fundraisers have long been a standard staple for charities. These events are fun, reliable, and practical ways to increase awareness for a cause, engage existing supporters, attract new donors, and raise much-needed funds to support your mission.
Don’t worry! Virtual events can be just as successful and engaging, sometimes, moreso.
Many of the virtual events below have some advantages to in-person events. You don’t need to source the perfect venue, you often have fewer costs, there are opportunities for your supporters to raise awareness of your cause, and in many cases, you open up the possibility of more supporters being able to participate.
Much like an in-person event, promotion is key! Use all of your digital channels to reach your supporters and for those who you don’t yet have an email address for, send them some snail mail and make this the opportunity to get their email for future communications.
Here is a list of our best virtual fundraising ideas and some suggestions for how you can make them happen.
1. A “No-Gala (Virtual) Gala”
The “No-Gala Gala” is a trending topic these days. Your virtual attendees watch a live stream of your program from home. Your program could include a musical performance, a local comedian, or an office awards ceremony. Your attendees can dress up and upload photos or videos that you can share via livestream or they can simply watch from home in their pyjamas! You can save money on an expensive venue while your attendees can participate from the comfort of their own home.
HOW TO DO IT:
- Sell tickets to your event or collect donations and share a link to the livestream with your attendees. Tools like Facebook Live, Instagram, and YouTube make it easy.
- Raise additional money with an online auction or by asking for gifts during the gala. Track your fundraising success thermometer throughout your event.
- Find ways to make it engaging by sharing touching stories of the impact you’ve made, sharing photos and videos, featuring program participants or dedicated volunteers, and more.
- Recognize your attendees by name or by sharing their photos and videos during your event.
2. A Fundraising Challenge
Challenge your supporters to take part in a challenge while raising money for your cause. Find something entertaining, challenging, or just plain fun. Not only will you create a stronger relationship with your supporters, but through their fundraising with their friends and family, it’s an opportunity to raise your profile!
HOW TO DO IT:
- Set up a fundraiser using a peer-to-peer fundraising tool, and invite supporters to join as individuals or teams via email and social media.
- Your participants promise to partake in the challenge and raise funds on behalf of your organization.
- Provide inspiring messages and images and fundraising tips to keep folks motivated.
SOME IDEAS TO GET STARTED:
- A Readathon or bookathon – where the participant asks their friends and family to support them by the book or by the minute;
- An all-day game challenge for charity, collect pledges, and play a video game or board game for 12 hours straight;
- A physical challenge: For every $10 raised, they commit to climbing flights of stairs, doing a number of push-ups, planks, or some other physical feat;
- A “Dare” Fundraiser, for every specific amount raised, someone commits to doing something that friend dares them to do.
3. A Charity Live Stream
Make a simple, direct fundraising appeal at your home or office while streaming live for a predetermined period of time. This is reminiscent of a telethon and making a direct appeal to your base of supporters who are online.
HOW TO DO IT:
- Use Facebook Live, Instagram, or YouTube to live stream the event directly from your website.
- Set up a fundraising form that makes giving online easy and includes a fundraising progress bar.
- Go behind the scenes at your organization with a tour of your facilities, showcase projects, introduce program success stories, and feature dedicated volunteers.
- Engage with your donors by answering their questions, having them participate in online polls, and allowing them to tell you (and everyone watching) why they choose to support your organization.
4. A Virtual Charity Run
Can’t run in groups outside? No problem! The idea here is for supporters to pledge to run or walk any number of KMs or a number of consecutive days, whether by themselves outdoors, with their family or their dog, or on a treadmill at home.
HOW TO DO IT:
- Set up a fundraiser using a peer-to-peer fundraising tool, and invite runners and walkers to join as individuals or teams.
- Your participants fundraise in support of their individual kilometre goal and your organization.
- Don’t forget to add inspiring messages and fundraising tips to help them be successful.
- Find ways to recognize your supporters, such as mailing a “race” t-shirt to those who meet your fundraising minimum.
- You can substitute another activity in place of running or walking. Consider yoga, crafts, meditation, jump rope, or cycling, for example.
5. A Silent Auction
Launch an online auction, the concept is simple, the highest bid wins and the proceeds go to your charity! Prizes can include a variety of goods, services, and experiences. Some of the most popular items are things that can be hard to buy but a supporter might be willing to donate, such as concert and sporting event tickets (when the situation permits), a chance to meet a local celebrity, or autographed memorabilia, but supporters will bid on almost anything that interests them if it’s for a good cause!
HOW TO DO IT:
- Promote the silent auction by email and social media.
- You can use silent auction software to take care of most of the work for you. It will accept bids, let supporters know when they’ve been outbid, and accept payment when the auction has closed.
6. An Online Voting Contest
Host a virtual contest where every dollar donated is a “vote” to select a winner. It’s great if you can tie to your cause, for instance, “the cutest kitten” for a cat rescue, or “best nature photography” for a conservation charity. But you can feature your employees, staff, or supporters with ideas like “best dressed,” “best joke,” or “funniest dance move.” or “best piece of art.”
HOW TO DO IT:
- Pick a start and end date for the voting contest and reach out to your supporters to explain the event.
- Choose the prize the winner gets, such as being featured in your next DM or at your next event, or just bragging rights.
- Each item being voted on can be assigned a unique donation form so you can easily track the votes with a fundraising thermometer.
- Use social media and email to communicate progress throughout the campaign and encourage more votes.
7. A Birthday (or other celebrations) Fundraiser
When all else fails, simply ask your supporters to fundraise on your behalf! Your supporters ask their friends and families to donate in place of gifts for their birthday, wedding/anniversary, graduation, and another milestone. There may be some national awareness days that align more closely with your cause to consider as well!
HOW TO DO IT:
- Reach out to your supporters and tell them why you need their help fundraising, give them a campaign or project to focus on.
- Provide a fundraising goal (or several ideas) and explain the tangible impact it will have for your charity.
- Host individual or team signups with a peer-to-peer fundraising tool.
- Be sure to add social sharing and provide your supporters with tips, engage with your fundraisers throughout, encouraging them and thanking them for their hard work.
Follow these tips to continue engaging your supporters in creative ways in this new normal.
Have any other ideas for fun, engaging virtual fundraisers? Let us know in the comments below.
Want to learn more about how you can run your next virtual fundraiser with CanadaHelps online fundraising tools?
Speak with one of our experts today!