Fast Track Your Virtual Fundraiser

You’ve decided to bring your fundraiser online. So now what?

This means you need fast steps to get your event up, running, and on your way to fundraising success. To help your team use your OneCause software to execute a successful virtual fundraiser, we’ve assembled these 8 best practices:

1. Analyze Registration Data
2. Get Social with a Communications & Promotion Plan
3. Determine Virtual Fundraising Plan
4. Confirm Auction Settings
5. Promote Your Virtual Fundraiser
6. Execute & Monitor Virtual Fundraiser
7. Virtual Communication Strategies
8. Wrap Up Event

1. Analyze Registration Data

Before you dive in, take the time to look at your registration data to see who’s already registered and how many supporters you have.

  • How many guests have registered? Get an accurate count of:
    • Individuals
    • Guests of attendees
    • Sponsor guests (Recruit sponsors to communicate for you if needed.)
    • Staff
    • Volunteers
  • Payment & Contact Info:
    • Review your supporter data. Who do you have emails, credit cards, and mobile numbers for?
    • If you have a sponsor driven event, ask sponsors to help get people registered.
    • Consider E-mailing (and/or snail mailing if you have time) your entire donor database.
    • Be sure to require the option to collect E-mail, address, and credit card information in your software.
    • Use multiple methods of registration. Utilize online registration through the Giving Center/Friendly, plus Text to Register for those that have not signed up by event day. This will help maximize the number of remote supporters signed up for your virtual fundraiser and help to increase revenue and engagement.

2. Get Social with a Communications & Promotion Plan

Let people know you are moving online. Getting the word out is the first step to standing out in a virtual world!

  • Use multi-channel communications to promote your virtual fundraiser. Be sure to use:
    • Text message
    • E-mail blasts
    • Social Media channels
    • Internal communication
    • Printed materials
  • Use Imagery. Pictures and videos ramp up engagement and views. Be sure to use imagery on all social channels.
    • Visuals are very powerful and can oftentimes communicate a message in a way that words cannot.
    • Approximately 49% of nonprofit supporters wanted to do more after seeing a photo on social media.
  • Keep videos and posts short and to the point. Videos should be 1-2 minutes at most.
  • Create compelling messaging. Here is a great resource from Socialbrite with some tools for content creation.
  • Find Ambassadors & Influencers to promote your event – recruit 20 people to share your posts with a hashtag so you can track and thank later. Board members, volunteers, staff and recipients all make great Ambassadors.
  • Connect all communications to mission & impact. Tell donors what their input does. Share video of your cause in action. Take a peek at our eBook, Driving Your Mission With Social Media for more ideas.

3. Determine Virtual Fundraising Plan

Take time to plan out your fundraising streams and what you can move online.

  • Silent Auction Plan – review minimum bids and raises, consider raising one, the other, or both!
    • Enable a Buy Now option at 250-300%.
    • Be sure your audience knows Max Bids are available as they help to drive up bidding.
  • We’ve seen a lot of creativity related to COVID-19. Popular and timely items include:
    • Survival baskets to entertain kids out of school
    • Toilet paper or medicine/vitamins baskets
    • Trips that happen in the future
    • Fun activities for families or couples that can be executed at home: family fun, online memberships, food and wine.
  • Use technology and get creative! Check out these resources from Facebook for going live with an auctioneer, a member of your staff, board members, or your President. Start with the Basics course and move to Advanced if needed.
    • Evaluate what streaming solution might be right for you: Zoom, YouTube, Vimeo, etc.
  • Live Auction Plan
    • Create a Super Silent or “Live Auction” category in the mobile bidding interface with items with high starting bids or Buy Now’s. Keep them as preview only until the Live Auction starts and then enable them one at a time, so auctioneer can auction them off.
    • This can be run in a live format on Facebook Live, Zoom, or other web conferencing software.
    • Alternatively, consider blind bids – advertise a minimum bid and have donors email your organization one bid. The highest bidder takes the item!
  • Live Donation Appeal
    • Be sure you still share your mission moment through video or on the page in social media. If you can have a recipient speak on video that would be perfect. Check out this article for more information on mission moment videos.
    • Share the mission in the days and weeks leading up to the event to create impressions on your donor time and again.
    • Show your OneCause Scoreboard to increase engagement and personalization through names and current proceeds. No worries, donors can choose to be anonymous as well.
    • Research and attain a matching gift, offered by many corporations. Let people know on social media and on your Giving Center Welcome Page that you have a Match Gift. Specify the date and time then send a text message supporters and ask them to make a donation. Run your Donation Proceeds Report, look at the timestamps, and determine the donations that came in the match window. Notify your Match Gift benefactor and you just doubled your donations online!
  • Fixed Price Strategies
    • Check our your state laws regarding raffles. You may need to use certain language or have rules on what can and cannot be done.
    • Be sure your raffle does not require a physical component, like basket raffles.

4. Confirm Auction Settings

There are a few software settings that you will need to enable in order to execute a virtual fundraiser.

  • Flat Fee Charges & Shipping – explain and be up front. If you plan to ship, check require address in your Giving Center Settings.
  • Check Auction, Donation and Fixed Price Package’s Start Dates & Close Times – be sure you set your auction to close after you want your auction to end, so you can manually close it when you like.
  • Be sure to check require credit card to ensure you have payment for every purchase. Uncheck require payment upon purchase to avoid multiple credit card charges to your donors.
  • We highly recommend enabling covered costs, so that as your donors check out on their phone they will be prompted to donate a percentage of your choosing to help the organization defray operational costs associated with this virtual event, like payment processing, for example.

5. Promote Your Virtual Fundraiser

Make sure your communications and promotion strategies leverage these best practices:

  • Inform supporters. Let supporters know you’re going virtual.
    • Give them the dates of your event or campaign
    • Tell them about the goals you hope to achieve.
    • Don’t forget to highlight how you plan to use the proceeds.
    • Sharing impact is important in a virtual world!
  • Explain how to participate. Some of your supporters might not have done online fundraising before, so you’ll need to explain how to participate.
    • Mobile Bidding: Let people know it’s the same site and software they would use for your onsite auction. The only thing different is that they can bid from their couches, or wherever they want!
    • Live Streaming Donations & Live Auction: If you are live streaming or using Facebook Live, Zoom, or any other live medium, be sure to communicate not just where they need to log in, but what they will do and experience. Be sure to clearly communicate any auction or donation virtual rules!
  • Share the link to your fundraising site. Your online fundraising site will serve as your fundraising headquarters.
    • Share the link with supporters so they can start bidding and donating!
    • Put your auction catalog, donation appeal, and fixed priced items (raffles, parties, merchandise) on your site.
    • For peer-to-peer virtual campaigns, ask your participants to spin up their personal fundraising pages and share the links on social media.
  • Leverage Ambassadors. Think about your most loyal supporters, volunteers, donors and staff and make them Ambassadors.
    • Tap them to help you spread the word far and wide about your virtual fundraiser.
    • Set them up for success with social media toolkits and templates.
    • Motivate them with contests for who can get the most new bidders, donors, or social reach. Make it fun for them to raise funds for your online efforts.
  • Blast on social media. Social is the virtual fundraisers’ best friend! It’s free and has unlimited reach.
    • Create a social media plan to promote, engage, and excite supporters.
    • Let your social media army loose. Be sure to embed mission messaging, impact statements, and the “why it’s important” in your posts to connect with supporters.

6. Execute & Monitor Virtual Fundraiser

Congrats you’re almost there! Follow these easy steps to execute your virtual fundraisers.

  • Check the Event Health Check Report to ensure you have all starting bids set correctly and you merge and duplicate bidders prior to start.
  • During the event, pull reports like Bid History by Package and Donor and communicate via text with fun or engaging messaging.
  • You can message specific individuals as well!

7. Virtual Communication Strategies

There are a few best practices for communicating virtually that can help you engage supporters and drive more revenue.

  • Texting – text as often as you like, keeping in mind you want to consider your audience and participation. At live events, you have the ability to mix up communication. Virtually, you have social media and text messaging, so evaluate what will resonate with your donors best.
    • Send messages to current high bidders or bids on items on social or via text message. Announce contests based on bid history. Want to drive activity on specific items? Have a raffle you where your organization will enter the 4th bidder on every package.
  • Scoreboards – Gamification will bring life to your virtual event. Your scoreboard can be shared through a screen share in Facebook Live, YouTube, or Zoom. Don’t let fundraising online stop you from bringing a competitive edge to your virtual event!

8. Wrap Up Event

The clock is ticking, and the end of your virtual fundraiser is almost here. Be sure to:

  • Communicate when the auction is closing via text and social media.
  • Enable the countdown timer at least a few hours prior to close.
  • To do so, you will need to set a close time, and that will close the auction at a specific time, automatically.
  • Close bidding and pick your Fixed Price winners through a randomizer.
  • Close the donation package, or leave it open to catch ancillary donations for a period of time.
  • Assign winners for the Live auction.
  • Process Payments if needed or let your donors check out themselves so they can opt in for covered costs.
  • Notify Winners and/or ship items.
  • Evaluate the auction performance and review our Dashboard report and others to finalize revenue.
  • Plan thank you’s and appreciation touch-points for your donors.
  • Anything unsold can be saved for a later event or you can choose to hold a fire-sale online.

Not done? Keep learning with OneCause!

For more information on virtual fundraising, be sure to check out these additional resources: