During this time with social distancing is so hard for nonprofits to fundraise money, and so far while interacting with the nonprofits I know all their ideas included around webinars and happy hour. I decided to research and find other fun ways to raise money virtually.

1. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaign

By encouraging your donors to set up their own online fundraising pages for you cause, so they can promote the causes within their network.

Get your staff, board members, most dedicated donors, and active members of your community involved by asking them to kick off the first peer to peer fundraisers. 

Peer-to-peer fundraising not only helps create a sense of community, but they also raise about 2x as much in comparison to other digital fundraising initiatives.

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Graphic credit: WildApricot.com

2. Crowdfunding

With quarantine in place and social distancing, this might be a great opportunity to push more of your supporters online to donate and a crowdfunding appeal can help do that. 

Crowdfunding is all about target-based fundraising so we suggest creating a crowdfunding page to raise $x amount of dollars to fund an x outcome. As this is all online you can track your progress towards that target and continue to communicate with your donors about it accordingly.

3. Live-Stream Event

With many people social distancing, there are lots of opportunities for online video engagement. 

Connect with your donors by live-streaming the event. You could also turn your planned fundraising event into a live-stream virtual event – inviting everyone along participate in your event on Facebook Live, Zoom, Instagram Live, and more

Ask questions and engage with one another as they normally would have at the event.

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You can use Facebook Live to connect with your audience and raise money at the same time by directing your audience to a link to your Donation Page or Crowdfunding page, like Best Friends Animal Society did.

4. UnGala

An UnGala (sometimes referred to as “Gone with the Gala)” is run through an online fundraising campaign where you invite your top supporters to join and fundraise for you within their network. 

While you can simply run the virtual fundraising event without any programming, you can consider suggesting a menu for everyone to cook, invite them to dress up, and join in for a virtual dinner party with a featured speaker! This is a great opportunity for people to still feel connected to you.

5. Virtual Race 

Unfortunately, that 5k you were planning on this May is probably not going to happen.

Encourage your community to run outside or on their treadmill. You’ll want people to sign up, potentially pay a registration fee, and have a date and time where everyone runs at the same time on their own.

Have participants raise funds up through the race date, and track their race times the day of – and keep track of who crosses both their virtual fundraising ‘finish line’ goal, as well as their physical finish line. It’s a great way to have everyone engage with each other.

Afterward, have a live-stream to celebrate your participants and give them the ability to connect with each other and hear from someone at your organization.

This is best done as a peer to peer fundraiser, with participants seeking donations for the number of miles they run or the hours they train for.

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St Francis Neighborhood Center held a “no run” run virtual event and raised over $158k!

Or, if you know your community isn’t very active, consider doing a “No Run Run” campaign, where you challenge your participants NOT to run, and just cross that virtual fundraising goal finish line.

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6. Virtual Bikeathon

Set a date and time and encourage participants to bike outside for a certain amount of hours or miles. Have them keep track of their miles and times.

For those who have an exercise bike at home, you can also encourage them to, set up their laptop or mobile camera and cycle together.

Participants will be seeking donations for the number of miles or hours they can cycle for. This can also be done in teams, so groups can fundraise together to increase the sense of community.

7. Virtual Hike

A virtual walking/hiking event where fundraisers can participate in any of the climbs in their own area- as a group or alone. This is a great example of a fundraiser that can still take place virtually.

A lot of people are stuck inside. A virtual hike is a great opportunity for individuals or families to get outside for a good cause.

Most people have a trail somewhere near where they live, so encourage your peer-to-peer fundraiser participants to do their hike locally and share their amazing pictures on social media. This is a great opportunity to share their personal fundraising page with their friends and family, and keep people connected. 

Just be sure to suggest your participants stay aware of your surroundings and keep up social distancing- you don’t want too many people on a trail all at once.

8. Online Auction

Setting up an online auction can actually be easier than a physical auction. Set up a page where all of the items available can be reviewed, and ideally bid on – you may want to use an online auction platform for this.

Coordinate bids beforehand and then announce the winners via one of the other virtual events such as a live stream, webinar or UnGala. For more information on running a silent auction see our article here.

9. Virtual Movie Night

Set up a virtual movie night with Netflix Party! Encourage people to grab their favorite snack and join you Netflix party using a link.

This allows all your participants to watch a movie at the same time with a chat window for people to share thoughts, jokes, and more. This is the perfect way to create a community and drive people to your Donation Page.

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As a best practice, link to your donation page, and ask participants to donate the price of a “movie ticket” to your organization, using a link to your crowdfunding page or donation page.

Speakers to consider:

  • Staff/Board: Have your Executive Director or Board Member talk about why the organization is so important to them.
  • Beneficiaries: Ask those who have benefited from your organization to share their own personal story about how their lives have been impacted.
  • Professionals: Have a popular professional (author, professor, psychologist, documentarian, etc) with expert knowledge about your cause give an informational talk.
  • Youth: Give a younger member of your community the opportunity to talk to the issue and how they’re impacted/create impact (think Greta Thunberg).
  • Unrelated speaker: Have a standup comedian, yoga instructor, mindfulness coach, etc join for a fun activity.
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