Tips & Examples of Virtual Fundraising Events to Ensure Success

| by April Anthony

Many nonprofits had to cancel their spring events because of COVID-19, pushing them to the fall. Then when the pandemic continued, everyone needed to transform in-person events to virtual events. How will your event stand out and achieve the fundraising goals you need for success? Below are some tips and examples of virtual events showcasing the diversity of what nonprofits are planning.

It is amazing how nonprofits have quickly pivoted to create virtual events. Some have changed their events entirely to a new online opportunity; others are turning their big annual fundraiser into a virtual event. Many nonprofits planned on using a large in-person event to celebrate a symbolic 2020 anniversary year and have figured out how to turn their galas and dinners into virtual celebrations – some over a three- to four-day period or more. 

  • Marketing is key and needs to be done well and often using the marketing resources available to you.
  • Some nonprofits have hired online event software companies to handle the logistics of online auctions
  • Some have contracted with marketing firms to conduct a social media campaign.
  • Whether or not you have the resources to contract help, or you are a one person office doing it on your own with many volunteers assisting, make every effort to stand out and be different.
  • Utilize your current donors, volunteers, and stakeholders – everyone wants to help during this time. Ask them to become sponsors and spread the word.
  • Use all forms of communication (emails, eblasts, phone calls, virtual meetings, social media) to get the word out and often.
  • Collaborate with a nonprofit partner by hosting virtual events together, letting donors know they are supporting both missions and utilizing both organizations’ contacts and marketing abilities.
  • Keep in mind that events should only be 15% of your revenue and to put just as much time into your end-of-year solicitations via virtual coffee chats for the larger annual gifts and eblasts with an online giving link and/or direct mail for the smaller prospects.
  • Be sure to review your lapsed donors and make a special outreach to them asking for a gift by the end of the calendar year and/or to participate in your virtual event using it as a recultivation tool.

If you are looking for ideas for a virtual event, here is a link to 12 virtual fundraising ideas by Get Fully Funded: https://getfullyfunded.com/virtual-fundraiser-and-online-events/.

Here are some examples of upcoming virtual events:

  1. Interfaith Prison Ministry for Women is celebrating 40 Years virtually with A Cause for Celebration October 25-29 (https://one.bidpal.net/ipmw/about) that includes an online auction (https://one.bidpal.net/ipmw/browse/all).
  2. Boy & Girls Clubs of the Tar River Region has turned their annual Steak & Burger event into a virtual evening October 29th featuring a night of entertainment by youth members (http://bgctrr.org/news/2020-virtual-steak-burger/).
  3. Leadership NC is kicking off their 25th Anniversary celebration with a virtual gathering October 23rd
  4. Prevent Child Abuse NC postponed their annual spring 5K to October and are now conducting a virtual walk 5 Factors 5K (https://5factors5k.com/)October 21-31, expanding a one-day event to an entire race week of virtual activities.

Whatever your virtual event is this fall, please share your successes by emailing me at april@armstrongmcguire.com

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