Fundraising in the shadow of COVID-19 is a bit more challenging than it has been in the past. It’s simply not possible to host a big concert or gala event to draw people in and encourage donations while social distancing. Yet non-profit organizations still need income from donors, even with COVID-19 still affecting society.
Thankfully, there are many creative ways to run a virtual fundraising campaign and help the money flow in again, all while maintaining proper precautions. Here are some practical fundraising ideas that can—virtually, instead of in person—bring in big donations.
Hosting a gala is a great fundraising idea. Many people find themselves more prone to give large donations when dressed formally and interacting with peers in an elegant setting. So how can you implement this experience in the coronavirus world? A virtual gala may be the solution.
An online gala has a similar program as an in-person gala. You will want to plan engaging speakers to talk to your audience about your charitable cause. Ideal speakers can include:
- Past donors
- Honorees from your organization
- Leaders within your organization
- Beneficiaries who have used your program
- Others who have testimonies about your organization's impact
- Special guest speakers with a knowledge of your niche
In addition, you may want to have a special performer, such as a singer or entertainer, who will make people want to attend the virtual meeting. After choosing your speakers and performers, plan an order of the presentations and publish this to your potential attendees. This will help encourage people to join. It can also give them the freedom to participate for specific parts of the presentation.
After planning your gala, post it online on various event calendars, and start promoting it. Use newsletters, social media pages, and any other contact information you have to promote it to your potential attendees.
On the day of the gala, be as concise as possible. People have limited attention spans when viewing virtual events, so don’t belabor any points. Make your requests for donations frequent, because people will jump on and off of the event. Share your donation link regularly, so people have ample opportunities to give.
Matching Gift Drive
If you have a particularly generous donor or a corporate donor, capitalize on it. Create a matching gift drive that you can promote online. People who support your non-profit may be more likely to give if they know that their donation is going to be doubled (or tripled) by your generous donor. Sometimes, this strategy will bring in even more than the original offered gift, which can help you increase your fundraising income even more. Social media makes it easy to promote your matching gift drive and raise excitement for it.
Host a Virtual Happy Hour
Encourage your contacts to grab their favorite beverage and join you for a virtual happy hour. Choose a platform that provides interaction, such as Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Skype, and then invite people to attend. This is a more laid-back fundraising opportunity, so you need to be sure to give your guests a chance to interact. At some point in the happy hour, present your need and the opportunity for donation. After enjoying their beverages, your guests may find themselves in a very generous mood.
One thing that many people are missing due to COVID is live art performances. Concerts, plays, and events are all shuttered for the time being. These events are turning virtual, and this creates an opportunity for fundraising.
Reach out to a performer or group that you feel may have a passion for your organization. Ask if they are willing to help with a fundraising event. While the group may still need to be paid, because they are struggling to book venues, they may be willing to help with promotion or offer a discount to help your group. Then, sell tickets at a profit. The benefits will go to your organization.
You can get creative with a virtual concert. Just like in-person concerts have higher-priced VIP tickets that give a backstage pass, offer an exclusive interview or performance incentive to people who are willing to pay just a little more for their access or who give a larger donation.
There’s simply something unique about in-person interactions. Golf is a sport that allows for social distancing and still have that interaction. Plus, many communities are opening their golf courses. Hosting a golf tournament can be a good fundraising opportunity during COVID-19 because people are looking for something to do outside of their homes.
When hosting a golf tournament in 2021, make sure you adhere to proper social distancing. Schedule tee times spaced out, so groups stay socially distanced. Set up raffles, donation tables, and other fundraising options with proper social distancing and safety protocols in place.
A raffle is a fast and easy way to run a fundraising campaign. Instead of selling paper raffle tickets, use an online platform to sell digital ones. Create enticing prices that will make people want to sign up for the raffle. Ensure the online raffle drawing is visible. It creates excitement for the participants. This entire process can be handled with no face-to-face interaction.
There are many different options for online raffle sites and programs. While all will charge a fee, you can find affordable options. Try to find a balance between automation and affordability. If your raffle is successful, you don’t want to spend hours entering names into the drawing. Here are some options to consider:
Before you run a raffle, make sure you check with the rules of the platforms you will publish it on. Social media platforms, especially Facebook, are strict about how raffles must be run to be allowed on the platform. Also, check with your local regulations. Running the raffle legally is essential to your overall success.
Virtual Run or Walk
A 5K running or walking race is always a good fundraising idea, but how can you host a race while social distancing? Virtual races invite participants to complete the run or walk distance at home, either on their treadmill or walking around their neighborhood or local park. They record their run or walk distance online, record their time, and compete for prizes without actually running with another person. Like an in-person race, you can charge an entrance fee and collect donations with a virtual run or walk. Add the camaraderie that would normally be part of a race to your virtual event with online forums and social media pages where participants can interact.
COVID-19 does not have to stop your auction fundraiser. Gather the items you are selling, post pictures or videos online, and take bids virtually. You will get a wider audience of people to view your auction. Online bidding can get quite intense, so you might find that it’s actually more successful virtually than in person.
To make your auction successful, you will need to collect items to auction off. Ask your board members, local businesses, and artisans in your area for items they are willing to donate to the auction. Collect these items, and photograph them.
You will also need to choose an auction site. Some popular ones include:
These sites do charge a fee, but they guarantee that you get paid and help organize your items and your bidder information.
Upload your photos to the auction site, and determine a starting bid. This will be based on the fair market value of the item, as well as what you are hoping to get for it. Typically, the starting bid will be about 25% or 50% less than the fair market value. This discount will entice bidders to start bidding in hopes of getting a discount.
While it can be time-consuming to gather, photograph, and ship items, online auctions are often successful during this strange time. People are getting used to shopping online, so they will be more than willing to take a look at what you have to offer.
Building your non-profit in the days of COVID-19 restrictions is not easy, but the charitable work you do needs to continue. Using these virtual fundraisers can help.