As 2020 evolves, a new reality in fundraising is clear. Virtual fundraising can help nonprofit survive today’s changing landscape. Many organizations are turning to fundraisers with virtual fundraising software as an alternate strategy to traditional events. This guide outline what you need to know to go virtual!
Having best practices in your back pocket to bring your fundraising online can come in handy. Whether it’s part of a planned attempt to grow online, or in reaction to an unforeseen change affecting your event (e.g., COVID-19, local emergency, weather, disaster, public emergency etc.) – nonprofits need a plan to continue the fundraising.
This guide covers everything you need to know to execute virtual events. From mobile bidding to peer-to-peer software, you can reach donors online with ease.
While virtual campaigns and events are similar in many ways to in-person events, there are specific best practices to ensure your fundraising doesn’t fall flat. To help, we’ve put together this go-to resource to not just survive but thrive in the virtual world! We’ll cover:
A “virtual fundraiser” is a campaign or event that takes place entirely online and allows supporters to engage with your cause from anywhere. Because the fundraising takes place in cyberspace, supporters and nonprofits leverage virtual fundraising software to promote, engage, and execute their fundraising activities.
As virtual events are completely digital, they can be executed quickly and opened up to a wide group of supporters, increasing your nonprofit’s reach.
Virtual fundraisers come in many shapes and sizes – so the sky’s the limit in what your nonprofit can spin-up and execute. Find the virtual mold that fits your mission and donor landscape!
The top four scenarios for hosting virtual and online fundraisers include:
Online auctions are essentially digital silent auctions. To run an online auction, nonprofits use either mobile bidding or an online auction software to engage supporters. The software is used to:
Online auctions can help nonprofits raise a lot of money in the virtual world. It doesn’t matter if you are online, the chance to walk away with an amazing items and support a great cause will still spur giving!
Because they’re completely digital, online auctions are cost-effective to plan and can be opened up to remote supporters, increasing fundraising potential and ROI.
Sometimes things happen and you find yourself and your nonprofit in a situation where you have to move your in-person event to an online format. This can occur during inclement weather, disasters, regional and local disruptions, large-scale public emergencies (e.g., COVID- 19).
The decision to move your in-person event is a move that should be made carefully. Be sure to consult your team, your board, your fundraising software partner, and your vendors prior to making the switch.
Don’t panic, should you decide to move your auction, gala, golf outing, donation appeal or other ticketed gathering, mobile bidding software enables you to easily turn your in-person event to a virtual fundraiser.
Another common scenario for virtual fundraising is when nonprofits decide to conduct a hybrid event. This happens when your nonprofit hosts an in-person event and, for whatever reason, also needs to reach a group of remote supporters who are unable to attend the onsite fundraising.
Mobile bidding enables you to easily engage virtual attendees and boost revenue via remote engagement strategies. Remote bidders can still give in the following ways to your event:
It doesn’t matter where they are, what they are doing, or why they can’t come – they can bid remotely and participate from anywhere! All you need to do is send them a link to your event, and they are off.
These campaigns are uniquely time-bound online giving campaigns that leverage social and peer networks to raise money. They rely on peer-to-peer fundraising to raise money virtually.
You can execute these by conveniently having your campaign all in one place.
Check out these OneCause customer success stories for ideas on creative virtual and online campaigns:
Whether you are running an online peer-to-peer campaign, online auction, moving your event to virtual or conducting a hybrid fundraiser, there are a few critical steps to plan for success. Depending on the size and scope of your virtual fundraiser and the amount of time you have to prepare your online fundraising, be sure to:
Before jumping in, take some time to evaluate the pros and cons of taking your fundraising virtual. This is an important step to complete solo or with your team, as first step in your due diligence.
Once you’ve decided to undertake a virtual fundraiser, it’s time to set a budget.
Your online fundraising software will be the central location for your virtual fundraiser, so choose wisely!
There are two types of software that are ideal for virtual fundraising, peer-to-peer technology and mobile bidding with online auction capabilities.
Here are 10 important features to look for in your virtual and online fundraising software:
Be sure to look for these features in any software you consider.
To pull off virtual fundraiser, you’ll need a slightly different team to oversee the event or campaign.
Think about all of the efforts needed to plan and execute your auction. Then, determine which staff members and volunteers have the time and skill set to manage these efforts.
Recruit the following roles that are specific to virtual fundraising success:
As we’ve mentioned, a big plus of hosting a virtual fundraiser is that anyone can participate!
This becomes a great opportunity for nonprofits to open up their fundraising to remote supporters across the country. It’s also a way, thanks to social media and social networks, to attract new supporters to your cause.
Make sure your communications and promotion strategy leverages these best practices:
When people know about your virtual fundraiser and all of your amazing fundraising items and activities, the impact their support will have, and how to help, everyone can join in and start fundraising!
How to promote your virtual fundraiser:
Once the day of the virtual fundraiser rolls around, it’s time to open the fundraising.
The clock is ticking, and the end of your virtual fundraiser is almost here.
Luckily, you don’t have to worry about closing the bidding or online fundraising, because your mobile bidding or peer-to-peer software will automatically do it for you!
Most online fundraising platforms require bidders to enter their credit card numbers before the bidding or donating to they follow through on their bids and/or donations. Winners are charged automatically, so your organization doesn’t have to worry about chasing down payments in a virtual world.
SAY THANKS: Thanking virtual supporters is critical, especially if they are new to your cause. Social donors, those engaging in giving through online channels and social networks, want to be connected to the causes they support.
Be sure to send out thank-you notes that recognize donors for their support. Use social media blast posts to thanks everyone who helped: donors, staff, volunteers, peer-to-peer participants.
Most of all, tie all donor communications to the results you achieved, the dollars raised, and how the funds will be used to support your mission.
EVALUATE PERFORMANCE: Evaluate the success of your auction by tracking your performance. Tracking your results with peer-to-peer or mobile bidding software should be pretty straightforward.
Since the virtual fundraiser is happening online, all item and supporter information will automatically be recorded in your online software for you to analyze now and in the future.
Now that you’ve executed your online fundraising, it’s time to take a look at how you’ve done, relax, and then get back to fundraising! Remember with the right strategies in mind, anyone can plan a virtual fundraising event that’s memorable, profitable, and a whole lot of fun for supporters.
For more information, including fundraising event planning, be sure to check out these additional resources: