Virtual fundraising became a staple for nonprofit organizations in 2020. Even though people couldn’t attend events in-person, nonprofits persevered by offering engaging virtual events, from Walk-a-thons to live streamed concerts. In fact, online giving grew by over 20% in 2020 thanks to nonprofits’ resilience and donors’ commitment to supporting causes they care about during a time of crisis.
It’s been two years since the pandemic began, but virtual fundraising is still an essential part of developing a successful fundraising strategy. Online campaigns can help your organization grow its donor base, boost revenue, and connect with supporters anytime, anywhere. With easier spin up times, you can better focus your nonprofit’s efforts on engaging donors.
In this post, we’ll walk through the many benefits of sustaining your virtual fundraising efforts in 2022 and beyond, plus how you can improve your fundraising strategy. Consider these reasons to optimize your virtual fundraisers:
- Grow your nonprofit’s reach.
- Increase engagement with hybrid events.
- Streamline event planning with digital tools.
- Reduce your fundraising expenses.
- Excite donors with peer-to-peer elements.
Your organization needs a reliable revenue stream to make its mission a reality. A strong virtual fundraising strategy can help you get there. Let’s begin.
Grow your nonprofit’s reach.
With virtual fundraising, you’re not limited to connecting with people in your nonprofit’s area. Instead, you can reach people from all over the world, helping your nonprofit spread its mission and gain more passionate supporters.
In order to reach people virtually from all over, you’ll need to optimize your marketing and communication strategy. Ensure you’re using these best practices to attract even more donors to your virtual fundraisers:
- Create a designated virtual event landing page. To build excitement over the event, create an event landing page that lets donors know all about your virtual fundraiser. This should include details like the time and date, how they’ll participate, how they can sign up, and whether there is a registration fee. Highlight your organization’s mission for people who may be unfamiliar with your nonprofit and explain how donated funds will be used. To make your event landing page more engaging, brand your page and add visuals, such as pictures from a past event or even the people that your organization serves.
- Market your fundraiser on social media. Social media is a powerful tool that can help your nonprofit reach hundreds, thousands, or millions of people! When deciding which social media platform to use, consider your target audience and their demographic. For example, while young adults are more likely to use TikTok, older demographics might be more likely to engage with content on Facebook. Make sure to adjust the content depending on the platform’s context. If a platform is more image-based, prioritize developing exciting graphics, photos, or videos. Don’t be afraid to get creative! You can even develop a unique hashtag and social media challenge to raise awareness of your fundraiser.
- Develop a corporate partnership. A corporate partnership is a mutually beneficial relationship between a nonprofit and business. The business gets a boost in their reputation because of their association with your nonprofit, and your nonprofit gets support in the form of monetary donations, in-kind donations, volunteer help, or other agreed-upon benefits. With a corporate partnership, your nonprofit will extend its reach to hundreds (and even thousands) of employees. Plus, a company can help market your event to their client base, allowing even more people to learn about your virtual fundraiser.
Make sure to take ample time to market your virtual fundraisers and events. Your fundraiser’s attendance (and total funds raised) depends on how many people know about your event and donate, so create engaging marketing campaigns across multiple communication channels to get people interested.
Increase engagement with hybrid events.
Instead of hosting a solely in-person or virtual fundraiser, why not combine the two with a hybrid event? According to the OneCause hybrid fundraising guide, this type of fundraiser lets you engage dual audiences and prioritize donors’ convenience in new ways. Combining virtual and in-person elements gives donors more flexibility to support your mission in ways that are most comfortable to them.
For example, let’s say your organization is planning to host a hybrid auction. You can invite your major donors to a small in-person event, and then engage a larger audience remotely. This way, your nonprofit can connect closely with its primary audience in an in-person setting, but still open up additional fundraising opportunities with people online. Your digital audience can participate from anywhere in the world and bid from the comfort of their own homes.
Make sure you have the necessary technology solutions to keep your remote audience’s attention and streamline their experience. Continuing with the example of a hybrid auction, you can apply digital gamification tools like fundraising thermometers and auction leaderboards. Other strategies to keep them engaged include trivia, social challenges, live shoutouts, and more.
Streamline event planning with digital tools.
Although you won’t need to book a caterer and venue, a virtual campaign or event still requires a lot of preparation and a well-thought out plan. With the right tech solutions, running a virtual campaign can be a breeze for your nonprofit’s team.
Consider using the following tools to optimize your virtual fundraising:
- Live streaming software. Live video feeds can help donors feel more connected to your virtual event, even if they’re miles away. Make sure you have the proper filming equipment to broadcast the event live with your live streaming platform. You can also allow donors to turn their own cameras on and feel immersed in the fun.
- Event planning software. Instead of dealing with complicated spreadsheets and sifting through donor records, use event planning software to take care of the time-consuming administrative tasks. Event planning software can handle registrations and donor contact information that can easily be retrieved for future communication.
- CRM platform. A customer relationship management (CRM) platform can help you research your existing donors before your fundraiser. For example, you can identify their preferred communication methods, giving capacity, and even their matching gift eligibility. If a donor’s employer has a matching gift program, their donation can be doubled (or tripled), making your virtual fundraiser more successful! According to 360MatchPro’s fundraising statistics, an estimated $2-3 billion is donated through matching gift programs annually. Make sure to incorporate this into your fundraising strategy to maximize revenue.
With a comprehensive virtual fundraising software, you can access all of your fundraising, event, and donor-facing elements under one platform. This is cost-effective and requires less effort on your nonprofit’s team so you can focus on making your virtual fundraiser a success.
Make sure your software offers mobile-friendly features. This includes automatically optimizing your donation page so that mobile users can easily donate, or even incorporating phones into your fundraiser. For example, if you’re hosting an online auction, mobile bidding tools can help drive more engagement and bids. Donors will be able to easily bid straight from their phones, simplifying event execution on your end.
Reduce your fundraising expenses.
Virtual fundraising is a cost-friendly way to engage donors without having to invest too much in event planning and set-up. While there are some costs associated with putting on an effective virtual or hybrid fundraiser, there are ways to navigate around them and save your nonprofit money.
Consider the following cost-saving strategies:
- Request in-kind donations. If you’re hosting an auction, you’ll need to procure items that excite people and get them interested in bidding. Instead of purchasing items out of your own pocket, request in-kind donations from volunteers and supporters. This can be items they already own or items they will purchase and then donate to your nonprofit.
- Reach out to corporate sponsors. In exchange for marketing the company’s name, many businesses would be willing to start a corporate sponsorship program and donate money to your cause. These funds can then be used to cover the costs of virtual fundraising software, live streaming equipment, and anything else needed to facilitate your fundraiser.
- Invest in a single software solution. There are many tools that will benefit your nonprofit’s planning and event execution, such as an event planning system and donation solution. Instead of individually purchasing each of these tools, centralized virtual fundraising software can be a smart long-term investment for future campaigns and events. Make sure to do your research and identify where you’ll need support so you can pick a platform best suited for your organization’s fundraiser.
With these strategies, organizations with any size budget can create a well-designed virtual fundraiser. However, you should be prepared to spend some funds to make this an engaging and worthwhile experience for donors. With a successful event, you’ll make these funds back and earn even more revenue to propel your mision forward.
Excite donors with peer-to-peer elements.
Peer-to-peer fundraising (P2P) is a great way to engage your donors, enlist more support, and make supporters more passionate about your cause. A virtual fundraiser can easily incorporate peer-to-peer elements by enabling donors to make personalized campaign pages. Supporters will be empowered to fundraise on your behalf and share your virtual fundraiser with their personal networks, boosting donor acquisition.
There are several types of P2P fundraisers that your organization can lead:
- Event-based fundraiser. Supporters create their own fundraising pages to raise money for a specific event, like a 5K or walk-a-thon. With this type of P2P fundraiser, let supporters create their pages a few weeks before the event so they have time to raise funds and gather pledges. The campaigning will end at the conclusion of the event.
- DIY fundraiser. Unlike an event-based P2P fundraiser, a DIY fundraiser isn’t tied to a specific timeframe or event. Supporters can create a personalized campaign page at any time, such as for personal events like birthdays, graduations, and more. This can give your nonprofit a reliable source of income year round that can be used to further your mission.
- Ambassador campaign. With ambassador fundraising, you’ll empower your most well-connected supporters to create fundraising pages and share it widely with their networks to promote a major campaign or event that you’re running. Since you’ll have a smaller group of fundraisers, make sure to provide ample support and guidance.
To facilitate the planning process for your peer-to-peer fundraiser, use a P2P-specific software that has all the tools you’ll need like customization options for giving pages, mobile-friendly features, and recurring donations and match capabilities. This will help you raise more revenue and get your supporters excited to contribute to your mission.
Virtual fundraising is far from over. In fact, it’s become the new norm for nonprofits, so adapting and improving is a must. Your nonprofit will need to keep optimizing its virtual fundraising strategy and toolkit to create fundraisers capable of engaging people anywhere in the world. By incorporating these tips, your nonprofit can take its virtual fundraising efforts to the next level and pull in more support.
Karrie has spent more than a decade bringing innovative technology and fundraising strategies to the nonprofit industry. As one of the first executives at OneCause, Karrie combines her 20 years of experience in marketing with her passion for helping nonprofits expand their reach, leading industry research, marketing strategy, and fundraising consulting initiatives. She is also an active speaker on donor and fundraising trends, and has been featured on Forbes.com, Philanthropy Journal, and Nonprofit Hub.