Before you think this is just another push to keep your events planning committee busy, consider the consequences of not continuing with your organization’s development plan. If you are not active in your fundraising efforts now, when you do return to the traditional galas and outings, your donors may have moved on. Do not be afraid to shift your mindset and planning process to embrace the virtual format and everything that comes with it, including what may be unfamiliar technology. Having to cancel an in-person fundraising event means losing a significant amount of revenue. Fortunately, there are many ways to offset this financial setback with virtual fundraisers.
Communication: Let supporters know that their commitment at this time will make a difference. They might have more time on their hands than usual, and your organization’s mission is in vital need of donations now.
The Basics: Be sure to provide your audience with digital networking opportunities, prioritize good presentation, and make it as easy as possible for them enjoy your event content.
Get Creative: Here are a few ways to turn your virtual fundraising call into a special event that can be fun and effective:
- Silent Auctions This is a great way to showcase industry-specific opportunities or items that can generate a lot of activity and bids. Choose a bidding platform (suggestions below) and invite attendees to bid on the goodies virtually.
- Live Concerts Hire a musician, comedian, or magician to perform for your guests. Charge a fee to an invited audience and use your event platform’s chat feature to make it interactive.
- Raffles Have your membership or donor list buy virtual “raffle tickets” for solicited items and invite them to a virtual event to thank them and announce the winners.
- Networking Parties Don’t cancel your event, ask people to donate what they would have paid for travel or other expenses to attend it in person, and simply hold your soiree via Zoom with themed breakout rooms for networking.
- Fitness Fundraisers Although gyms may be closed, people are still biking, running, and walking. Create a fundraising page for your organization where members can post their fitness goals and have friends and family sponsor them.
- Scavenger Hunts Invite your donors to a virtual scavenger hunt. Guests pay join a special zoom event and receive a list of objects that they need to find (indoor/outdoor). The player who can collect the most items (or interesting substitutes!) at the end of the game wins a portion of the proceeds raised from entering.
- Virtual Dance Party Have your sponsors support an online dance class and bring your audience together to learn some fun dance moves.
- Cooking Classes and Wine Workshops Pre-ship the wines or gourmet meal ingredients to your audience and host a live tutorial with a sommelier or chef.
- Paint Night Help your donors get creative at home! Deliver a painting kit to registered guests and have them log in to a zoom lesson where an art teacher will help them get started.
- Gala Invite your guests to dress up and join in your special event complete with messages from the CEO, award announcements, video clips about each department, chapter, or sponsor and its achievements. Ask for donations and give live updates during the evening towards your fundraising goal.
The Right Tools: Virtual events require innovative technology. Our favorites include: Zoom, One Cause by Bid Pal, and Text2Bid, among others!
The Old-Fashioned Way: How about picking up the phone to connect with donors? Let them know how important they are. Then, send a hand-written note to thank them for their support.
Finally, know that you are working through a challenging time in history. Be genuine, be bold, and keep reaching out in support of your group’s mission and vision.
Melissa Rose is vice president at Marketing Works PR.