Nonprofit organizations commit to serving their causes when help is most needed, and boy does it seem like that universal siren is wailing louder and louder. With the COVID-19 pandemic effectively pausing any traditional in-person fundraising opportunities, it’s critical for nonprofit organizations to find ways to digitally engage their donor bases. While the global pandemic has limited resources and connections for all of us, it is so important to develop and nurture relationships during this difficult time between all those who are impacted by your organization. Check out our five virtual fundraising ideas to try during COVID-19 below.
Try Our 5 Virtual Fundraising Ideas During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Whether you are figuring out a way to move a highly-anticipated in-person event online or coming up with new ways to find community with your donor base, there are plenty of creative opportunities to successfully do so! Get started with our Top 5 virtual fundraising ideas to help your nonprofit raise money during the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Online Gala
Why cancel your annual gala just because your community can’t gather in person? Between Zoom conferences, Facebook Live, and YouTube Live, there are plenty of ways to broadcast your virtual gala to your supporters. There are many benefits to hosting an online gala. Not only do your supporters get to watch from the comfort and safety of their own homes, but you will also save money on traditional overhead costs like a venue rental and catering. These live streaming fundraising events typically feature a keynote speaker. We recommend asking them to record their speech ahead of time and then join a live Q&A session immediately after for a smoother experience. Other popular programming includes hosting an award ceremony, where you can spotlight impactful volunteers, employees, or community members, and fundraising through a virtual silent or live auction.
2. Virtual 5K
While it is still not safe to organize an in-person race or walkathon to benefit your nonprofit, you can host a virtual 5K! This allows community supporters to safely spend time outside, participate in a healthy activity, and show their support with members of their household. People can sign up with a donation-based registration fee for a set date and time where everyone walks or runs outside or on a treadmill on their own. Talk about together but separate! Another way to extend fundraising is to utilize peer-to-peer fundraising, where participants collect pledges for the distance they are willing to walk or run. Encourage participants to share photos on social media on race day and tag your organization for a chance to win prizes based on race winners, best costumes, best view, and more! Finish the day with a live-stream to celebrate your community of participants, present winning prizes, and give everyone the opportunity to connect and hear from leaders at your organization.
3. Virtual Cooking Class
Hosting a virtual cooking class is a great way to safely connect with your donors, the community you serve, and all your stakeholders during the pandemic. Lori’s Hands, an EVOLVE to Lead client and nonprofit organization that specializes in meaningful health service-learning exchange, hosted two virtual cooking classes during the pandemic! Most recently, they partnered with a local food vendor to deliver ingredient kits to participants who then learned how to make a famous dish from the city they launched a new chapter in. In addition to cooking and eating together on Zoom, they held a dialogue about their organization, sold raffle tickets for prizes donated by local businesses, and even had a local musician provide live entertainment while everyone ate dinner! For a lower lift, you can simply send out an ingredient list ahead of time for participants to purchase before the event, and a local chef or leader at your organization can pre-record cooking instructions, followed by a live Q&A. Hosting cooking classes are one of our favorite virtual fundraising event ideas!
4. Product Fundraising
One of the biggest rises in product fundraising we’ve seen during the pandemic is the selling of branded face masks. Not only can these items help provide a much needed new revenue stream during COVID, but they also promote health, safety and social distancing in your community. Product fundraising is a tried and true fundraising strategy because it incentivises making a contribution, diversifies fundraising opportunities for your supporters to get behind, and promotes brand awareness for your organization all at once. With your logo, tagline, or marketing campaign consistently at the eye level of your supporter’s networks, you have a built-in grassroots marketing campaign walking the streets whenever someone dons your mask!
5. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising on Facebook
There is no better marketing for your organization than advocacy from those who support your cause. Encourage your staff, board members, stakeholders, the people you serve, and your supporters to activate their own communities to support your organization through peer-to-peer fundraising. It’s particularly easy for supporters to set up their own fundraising campaign through your organization’s Facebook page. Facebook encourages users to set up fundraisers on their birthday and ask their friends and family to help them raise funds for an organization they care about. Make sure your supporters take advantage of Facebook peer-to-peer fundraising on Giving Tuesday in November when Facebook offers a matching gift to individual donors and organizations up to $7 million! Peer-to-peer fundraising creates a sense of community and purpose amongst your supporters and is great for bringing in brand new donors.
Try Out a Virtual Fundraising Idea with EVOLVE to Lead Today!
While it will take some adjusting, committing to virtual fundraising efforts throughout the new normal will allow you to continue building capacity and nurturing your relationships with your donors and the people you serve. If you need help executing any of the virtual fundraising campaigns above, EVOLVE to Lead has got your back!