So you’ve decided that you’re not going to let a little thing like a pandemic get you down: you’re still going to do your work and get a fundraising campaign going for your organization. Cool…but now for the tricky part: what on earth are you going to do for this virtual fundraiser? Your normal events aren’t accessible and you’re going to have to get creative.
Don’t worry. CauseVox has your back. We’ve found 10 of the easiest and most effective types of virtual fundraising campaigns you can use to raise money from the comfort of your own home (which is the best way to raise money if you ask me).
Keep reading to discover the perfect virtual fundraising event for your organization. You can even read it with a glass of wine in your hand because hey, you’re working from home.
Download your Virtual Event Planning Guide and Calendar Template:
Fundraising Campaign 1: A Virtual Event
If you’re like most nonprofits, you were planning to run some kind of fundraising event in the next few months. Those plans have gone straight down the toilet, and many nonprofits are left wondering what to do to make up those funds. One great option is a virtual event.
You can see how Summit Assistance Dogs did it: they replaced their annual luncheon with an online event, including virtual “table captains” plus an online program that supporters can watch from anywhere!
Online events can take dozens of forms: in fact, we’ve put together a list of 14 types of virtual fundraising events you can use as fundraisers. Take inspiration from what you were planning to do at your in-person events and get creative!
Fundraising Campaign 2: Crowdfunding
Crowdfunding is a classic way to ask your supporters to join you in the virtual space. If your organization is providing immediate support to people affected by COVID-19, this can be an incredibly effective way of sharing with your community so that you have all the resources you need.
Check out how the Hebrew Free Loan Society shared their work:
“It will take the generosity of all of us to confront what’s coming in the weeks and months ahead.
Please join us in supporting the Hebrew Free Loan Society’s (HFLS) Coronavirus Financial Impact Loan Fund to financially assist lower-income New Yorkers during this unprecedented time.
By contributing to the HFLS Coronavirus Loan Fund, you will be helping:
- HFLS extend loans to help lower income New Yorkers meet basic expenses during this time i.e. pay for food, cover medical expenses, and keep small businesses going.
- HFLS will also suspend all loan re-payments of current HFLS borrowers from now until May 20, 2020 so that they can ease their stress and focus on finding financial stability during this difficult time.”
They have a specific goal that will allow them to provide support through the pandemic, and called out clear ways that they will be using the funds to support New Yorkers. Using these techniques will get your supporters amped to make a real difference right now, and help you reach that goal.
Fundraising Campaign 3: Peer-to-Peer
Let’s be honest: a lot of people are bored right now. Give them something to do with a virtual peer-to-peer fundraising campaign! Cycling Out Child Poverty was in the middle of a cycling campaign when the pandemic hit, so they moved to an all-online format and asked cyclists to bike in their own areas.
If you’re looking for something a bit more simple (because seriously, they are kicking butt and taking names), take a look at your board. Ask them to create a fundraiser and reach out to their networks to help support you.
The Orangewood Foundation did a variation on this by having a group of their members jump in and build fundraising teams. You can even provide them with a toolkit to get them started. And if you’re still feeling intimidated, you better bet that we’ve got resources for you on running the best dang peer-to-peer campaign around.
Fundraising Campaign 4: Sunk Costs
Ok, we have to admit: everything isn’t as peachy as we’d like it to be in the nonprofit world right now. If you’re looking at a lot of lost revenue and dollars spent on events that aren’t happening, you’re not alone. We’ve all been planning for a normal 2020, and the world decided that wouldn’t happen.
Your community wants to help you weather that storm. Don’t be afraid to be transparent: if you have lost money that you already spent on a venue or speakers, let your community know that you need their help.
NTEN had to cancel their annual conference and realized that they had sunk a lot of money into the event already. They created a campaign asking the community to help them recoup the costs.
You can really make your donors feel like part of something in a virtual fundraising campaign like this:
“Let us remember #20NTC as a moment in time in which we, as a community, came together to support the organization that so many of us love and, in doing so, celebrate the very best in all of us.”
Fundraising Campaign 5: Virtual Programs
If you’re like 99% of the world, you’re scrambling to figure out how to move your work online right now. That doesn’t happen overnight, and it doesn’t happen for free. Highlighting what you need to move your services online is a great way to inspire your supporters.
Game to Grow created a campaign to move their social groups to Zoom, and got an amazing response.
“Luckily, during this crisis our game-based social groups can largely be run though the internet via teleconferencing. There are some hurdles to jump in order to make sure we maintain the same high quality of services. We want each child to have the same opportunity to connect with peers, continue the fellowship of adventure, and receive the life-enriching experience of a professionally facilitated collaborative experience.”
Think about what your organization needs to do its work online and share with your community so that they can make it happen!
Fundraising Campaign 6: Update an Old Campaign
Let’s say you were in the middle of a digital fundraising campaign when the pandemic hit. You might be wondering how to proceed: should you scrap the campaign since many people are struggling financially? Change to a COVID specific campaign?
One way to move forward that’s less work for more return is to keep using your existing virtual fundraising campaign but add messaging that acknowledges the current situation. San Marino Schools Foundation was about to launch a campaign to raise money to support teacher salaries when the pandemic hit. However, they went ahead and pivoted their language, strategy, and messaging:
“We acknowledge the COVID-19 crisis in our community. We know the ‘stay at home order’ has added a tremendous amount of uncertainty and strain on our community. The only reason we are asking for these contributions at this time is because we must raise funds prior to May 12, 2020 to save these crucial positions. Please consider donating today!”
This is a great strategy if you had a campaign with specific goals already in place. San Marino Schools had a deadline to raise their funds, which made it all the more important for them to keep up this fundraiser. If you’re in a similar position, update your messaging and keep on track!
Fundraising Campaign 7: Partner Campaign
If you’re one of the nonprofits who is directly working to address the current crisis, you might feel like there’s just no time to raise money. You’re putting all your bandwidth into meeting your mission (and truly: thank you).
This is a great time to enlist a partner who will take the fundraising ball and run with it. If you have a group of loyal supporters, a business that partners with you regularly, or another entity that is solidly in your corner, reach out and ask if they’ll run a fundraising campaign for you (secret: it’s extremely easy for them to do this if they use CauseVox. They don’t even have to manage getting the donations to you).
Mid America Mortgage took this on to support North Texas Food Bank. They created a crowdfunding campaign to help support the increased need during the pandemic. They did a great job of highlighting just how big the need is:
“Currently, NTFB needs to build 60,000 boxes each week, on top of their normal operations to meet the current increased need. To ensure NTFB has the flexibility to adapt to the fluid nature of the pandemic while also sustaining their normal operations, Mid America Mortgage is asking to consider donating to support NTFB’s hunger relief efforts.”
This lets the food bank get back to their work of supporting hungry families while knowing they’re financially supported.
Fundraising Campaign 8: Matching Grant
Let’s say you’re really into the idea of running a virtual fundraising campaign right now, but you’re just not convinced that donors will think now is the right time to give. Here’s your solution: a matching grant.
Reach out to a partner, your board, a major donor, or a supportive company to get a match (you can even check in with an existing donor to see if you can use their gift as a match). This will tell your donors that they need to give now. It creates some serious urgency that you can use in your corner. Not only that but the average donor gives 50% more when there’s a match on the table.
Skid Row Housing Trust made this happen with a $10,000 matching grant, and they capitalized on that urgency by creating giving tiers that showed how the donations were making an impact right now. Together these two factors are helping them communicate to their donors the urgency of donating today.
Fundraising Campaign 9: Operating Expenses and Recurring Gifts
Without being dramatic, there’s a definite possibility that this pandemic will cause some nonprofits to close their doors. Arts organizations, camps, and other nonprofits that rely on group activities have lost a lot of revenue. If you’re in this boat it’s time to let your community know that you need their support to weather the storm, and that means asking for help with operating expenses.
You can be transparent. Westwind Stewardship Group gives a strong example of being honest with your donors to let them know what the stakes are:
“The COVID-19 pandemic has hit our camp community extremely hard. With group gatherings of any kind canceled through at least the end of April, Westwind programs and operations have sadly come to a near halt.
While the future is uncertain, we are hopeful that we will soon be back to normal, gearing up for another amazing summer season. As it currently stands, we are seeking at least $250K in emergency funding to help us bridge the financial gap. When deemed safe to continue programs, we will be able to rehire staff and resume operations and continue our 84-year legacy of providing life-changing outdoor experiences to youth and families.”
Fundraising Campaign 10: Recurring Gifts
You might be focused on right now because let’s be honest…we’re all focused on right now (did we mention there’s a pandemic?). But a big part of creating a solid fundraising campaign is thinking about the future, and one of the best ways to do that is by focusing on recurring donors.
A great way to approach this type of virtual fundraising campaign is to ask for recurring donors. Reach out to your existing donors and ask them to give a small amount each month so that you’re not putting them in a challenging spot and you know you can expect some revenue each month.
Mortgage Professionals Providing Hope did a great job of this by encouraging members to give a dollar a day. It sounds very approachable and lets donors feel like they’re making a difference over time. Plus you can make your thank yous creative and exciting!
Make the Switch to CauseVox
Want to implement your own virtual fundraising campaign?
CauseVox makes it easy for you to run all your digital and virtual fundraising, helping you raise more with less effort in this uncertain time.
Even better, CauseVox’s Basic Plan is free to help support all nonprofits during this pandemic.