Going Virtual: 3 Tips for Nonprofits to Maintain Momentum

While the in-person fundraising world has been drastically impacted over the past year, there are still a lot of options available to keep powering your mission. The move from on-the-ground events, to online campaigns and virtual fundraisers have given nonprofits a digital medium to attract supporters to their cause and their fundraising.

Over the past year, technology has been the central force, connecting supporters and bringing fundraising events online. A silver lining of the move to virtual fundraising is that you can broaden your fundraising reach, engaging with donors anytime from anywhere.

All it takes is a strategic approach and the right planning from your team. This article includes our top three tips to help your nonprofit go virtual and maintain momentum during these trying times. Here’s what we’ll cover:

  1. Choose effective virtual fundraising ideas.
  2. Bring your volunteers into your work.
  3. Select effective technology.

Before we start let’s get one myth debunked: going virtual does not mean you have to sacrifice supporter engagement and fundraising dollars. In fact, many nonprofits have been able to not only sustain, but grow their mission through virtual fundraising.

Let’s dive into a few proven tactics to help you make the most of going virtual.

Choose effective virtual fundraising ideas.

Virtual campaigns are mainstream for many organizations. Think about it, the average supporter is also a consumer in real life. Virtual campaigns and events present organizations with safe and accessible ways to keep on fundraising.

Let’s take a look at three online fundraising opportunities that any nonprofit can pull off.

Virtual Auctions

Virtual auctions are an easy option for virtually (pun intended) most nonprofits. A virtual auction has many of the same aspects of an in-person silent auction. The only difference is all attendees and bidding are online. All items are cataloged digitally through an online auction site or fundraising page. Then, you can broadly promote the auction through all your marketing, email, print, and social media channels.

Besides being an easy way to reach new and existing supporters, going virtual allows you to keep the auction open for a longer period of time, so you can garner even more donations than at a traditional, in-person event. Once the window is over, you can simply contact the winners and make arrangements for them to pick-up or send them their items.

Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising has long been a favorite for many nonprofits because it turns supporters into fundraisers, empowering them to easily engage their social networks online. Peer-to-peer fundraising has become an even better option since the pandemic placed many in-person events on hold.

Supporters spin up personal fundraising pages that directly support and roll-up to a larger campaign or individual supporter-driven DIY campaigns.

To drive motivation and sustained engagement in your peer-to-peer fundraising, offer an award for the top 3 supporters who raise the most for your organization, or create incentive for recruiting other participants. You can even track and reward supporters for social media reach. Through rewards, leaderboard, incentives and other gamification tactics you have motivate supporters and make it fun to hit your fundraising goals!


In today’s society, practically everyone has a mobile phone, making it a great way to communicate with supporters and ask for donations. According to recent OneCause research, text-to-give fundraising grew 3x’s during the last 12 months. Text-to-give campaigns are a convenient way to engage donors directly from donors’ cell phones. This strategy requires very little effort (for you or your donors)as long as you have an intuitive text-to-give tool.


According to Nonprofits Source:

  • 1 in 4 donors uses mobile devices to discover nonprofits.
  • 25% of donors complete their donations on mobile devices.
  • Mobile giving donations have increased by 205%.

There is no doubt, mobile giving is a powerful fundraising strategy to reach today’s donors. Text-to-give campaigns are utilized by a large number of nonprofits from disaster relief efforts and food banks to churches and educational institutions. These campaigns offer nonprofits a simple way to bring in new donations to keep operations functioning.

Bring your volunteers into your work.

While many nonprofits had to alter the way they serve their communities, there are still plenty of options to engage volunteers in a virtual world..

Volunteers remain a vital workforce any nonprofit can leverage. While some in-person volunteer roles and responsibilities have changed or been placed on pause, nonprofits can still harness the power of volunteers online to keep your mission moving. Here are common volunteer roles that work in a virtual world:

  • Operational Roles – Harness the skills of your volunteers for important operational tasks that can be done anywhere like administration, marketing, client outreach, or similar roles.
  • Fundraising Roles – Engage volunteers for campaign planning and execution, from setting up technology to contacting donors and sponsors.
  • Community Roles – Volunteers can continue to provide service in the community through contactless and socially-distant activities.

It is important to communicate all opportunities to all your volunteers to keep them engaged and aware of how their time and talent can create a positive impact. As explained in InitLive’s guide to volunteer engagement, continuous engagement is a very important part of ensuring the continued success of your organization’s efforts in the present and future.

Select effective technology.

Spreadsheets and paper sign-up sheets don’t do the trick anymore. Investing in technology is crucial to managing your nonprofit organization. Technology is even more important to fuel the success of your virtual fundraising efforts. Luckily, there are technology solutions purpose-built for the virtual pivot.

Virtual Fundraising Software

Nonprofit organizations have a wide range of virtual fundraising software options available. Choosing virtual fundraising software doesn’t need to be difficult, but it is important to first establish what types of fundraising events or campaigns you plan to run.
Be sure your virtual fundraising software includes:

  • Cloud-Based Software – Using cloud-based software allows you to access your planning tools and data from anywhere at any time.
  • Flexible Design – Customize your fundraising site to better connect with donors.
  • Mobile Optimized – Ensure that your software is mobile optimized to meet donors where they are – their smartphones.
  • Online Donation Forms and Payment – Nonprofit organizations should have a donation page directly on their website with an online donation form and payment gateway.
  • Recurring Giving – Many nonprofit organizations rely on monthly recurring donations from their supporters, so fundraising software should have features to help manage and collect those donations.
  • Text-to-Give – To manage your text-to-give campaigns, make sure your platform comes equipped with or offers add-on mobile fundraising options.
  • Donor Management – Most fundraising software offers donor management and communication tools to keep donors informed and engaged.

The right fundraising technology will serve as a solid foundation for your development efforts. Keep in mind that each nonprofit needs different types of support, so make sure that whatever systems you choose offer the functionality you need.

Volunteer Management Software

Many nonprofit organizations still use point solutions like spreadsheets to manage their volunteers. Not only is this time-consuming, but it often results in poor outcomes for both the nonprofit and its volunteers.

Volunteer management software is specifically designed to meet the needs of a nonprofit organization’s volunteer management process and requirements. This software is particularly useful for the virtual management of volunteers from anywhere and offers volunteers the ability to pick and choose the opportunities that interest them the most.

A volunteer management solution should manage the entire volunteer management process from planning and recruitment to management and reporting. There are many options available to nonprofits, making it difficult to narrow down the options.

Make sure your solution offers these core volunteer management software features:

  • Customizable Online Recruitment – Your platform should offer a simple way to recruit volunteers and collect all the information you need to screen and place them in roles.
  • Screening & Scheduling – A volunteer scheduling tool will help build your program’s tasks or shifts with smart matching technology. Make sure you can streamline the screening process with best match suggestions based on volunteer interests, qualifications, and availability.
  • Volunteer Tracking & Communications – Your system should enable volunteer attendance tracking, communication capabilities, and mobile management tools.
  • Centralized Volunteer Database and Reporting – A centralized database of all your volunteer data allows you to maintain good relationships with your valuable volunteers and measure and report on your program’s performance.

A strong volunteer management solution will allow you to spend less time on the logistics of your program and more time focusing on developing engaging opportunities. These core features offer a solid start for your research.

Now, it’s time to start working together to get your nonprofit operations and fundraising efforts back up and running. From compelling fundraising and volunteer ideas to purpose-built technology solutions, there are so many ways to ensure that your nonprofit is able to continue to do important work. Good luck!

This post was contributed by Cassandra Smallman, Head of Marketing at InitLive. Cassandra is a passionate content creator dedicated to fostering positive impact through thought leadership in both the Nonprofit sector and live events industry. You can find her work at www.initlive.com or on Linkedin.