We all support a social cause or charity trust that’s close to our heart. One such cause I personally support is my friend’s initiative to supply medical oxygen to rural India through MOFA. The kindness of strangers evident in similar fundraising events got me thinking how helpful it would be to have a few virtual team fundraising ideas.
Virtual fundraising has risen in light of the devastating effect COVID-19 has had on lives. Some people have been dealt a severe blow on the financial front, with job losses and pay cuts that challenge their ability to run the household. Fundraising has helped such people raise the money required for aid and medical expenses on the ground level.
In this post, I’ll be listing out fundraising ideas for virtual teams and explain how they work.
1. What is a Virtual Fundraising Event?
Virtual team fundraising ideas are conducted online on platforms instead of in-person. It makes use of livestreams, newsfeeds, explainer videos and peer-to-peer fundraising software.
The advantage virtual team fundraising ideas have over in-person events, is that it is not localized and limited to one geography. By going online, word of the cause spreads. Campaigners can share links to their circle through social media, which takes prospective donors to the main page for further details. Most platforms accept contributions in different currencies, or automatically convert your contribution in the local currency. You even have the option to remain anonymous if you so wish.
Virtual fundraisers work by charging a processing fee and a certain amount per donation. For example, GoFundMe, which was founded in 2010, allows users to create personal websites to describe their fundraising cause and the amount they’re looking to raise. Creators can also upload photos or videos to explain the cause further.
2. The Best virtual fundraiser Ideas
2.1 Online Fete
Fetes are traditionally hosted at fair grounds but can be replicated online with the help of fundraising platforms. It is an opportunity for a reasonably-sized gathering to convene. You can send out personalized invitations via email from a mail list detailing the order of events for the fete.
Depending on the country you are in, you can also arrange to ship attendees party favors or merch (such as inscribed stationery or gift snack boxes) to make the atmosphere more festive. You can set up virtual booths for food, games and drinks with the proceeds going to the cause. It would be a good idea to partner with a restaurant or catering service that can deliver the purchases to the recipient in exchange for the donation made to your fundraiser.
2.2 Email campaign
Email fundraising is one of the virtual team fundraising ideas that works well standalone or as a medium for promoting your event. A persuasive email copy wields is a cost-effective way to get more conversions when marketing your campaign. A well-thought out email marketing strategy with different and relevant options can not only pique your reader’s curiosity but will also encourage them to take action and visit your page. For the best results, choose a day with high open rates or one that has a symbolic link to your cause. For example, if you’re raising awareness to donate to animal welfare, schedule the mail for World Animal Day, which falls on 4th October in 2021
2.3 Crowdfunding Campaign
Crowdfunding is a collective fundraising effort made by one’s relatives, close friends and professional network. The advantage of crowdfunding is that your supporters can spread word faster by setting up their own fundraising pages that link back to your cause. As more people join the crowd, your credibility goes up because it sends the message that many are vouching for your fundraiser.
Supporters can also share their website’s success at raising amounts on their social networks which spreads the message to their followers. It also opens doors to connect with a wider and newer audience.
4.4 Social Media challenge
Gamify challenges on social media by creating trivia, quizzes or questionnaires related to the subject of your cause. The player who gets most answers right wins a mention on your social media handle and gets to share their results with their network. The reach widens when their followers also check in on the fundraiser.
2.5 Commemoration fundraisers
Most people are opting to start a fundraiser on special and personal occasions. You can turn this sentiment into virtual team fundraising ideas. For example, if a member on your team is having a birthday or getting married, they can encourage their well wishers to donate to a charity or non-profit that they care about instead of gifts.
2.6 Virtual coffee run
Set up a fundraising page where virtual teams can donate the amount they’d spend on their favorite drink (and not necessarily caffeine!).
2.7 Virtual Movie Time
This is a virtual team fundraiser idea that brings your team together for a common social cause. Set a time convenient for everyone to join in. It would be helpful if you’re showing a documentary reel on the cause which will give more information to viewers. It can either be a film you have created yourself on the cause or a movie about it. If it’s the latter, you can also consider charging a small fee to the audience for watching it. Facilitate a chat room for everyone to discuss along with a link that takes interested donors to the payment page.
2.8 Lockdown – Swear jars
I’m sure I’m not the only one tired of the word that has shadowed most of 2020 and 2021 for us. Why not create a swear jar and have the virtual team donate a dollar for every time they utter the word Covid or lockdown?
2.9 Online Game Nights
Games are an easy way to get your audience interested in wanting to know more about your virtual fundraiser. You can organize pictionary, bingo, trivia, or even a musical night or talent show that everyone can join in. There’s another option; you can create a themed tournament or hire Cosplayers to enact scenes from your favorite Netflix shows.
2.10 Virtual crafts workshop
You can support a smaller community of artists or fair-trade craftspersons by hosting a virtual fundraiser for them. It’s an opportunity for them to showcase their craft while encouraging donations that enable artists to continue their work. The fundraiser widens the reach and lets more people hear of such causes. Every cent donated goes to the artists and towards procuring the material needed.
2.11 Online silent auctions
Family heirlooms or antiques can be placed for auction and sold to the highest bidder. In a silent auction,there is no auctioneer. The participants bid using a bidding number and the proceeds go to the fundraiser.
2.12 Trivia based Tournaments
Everyone likes learning something new about a cause or project which is what playing trivia tournaments will give them. You can convene with your virtual team for quizzes on topics they are familiar with, such as a historic event, environment day or conservation project. It gives prospective donors a better idea about what the fundraiser is about and how their contribution would matter.
2.13 Partnership for social media influencer
There are two ways to do this. You can either request a social media influencer or internet celebrity for air-time to promote your cause on their channel and page, or have them appear on yours for a brief explainer video. People are more likely to trust a fundraiser that has the backing of a known celebrity.
2.14 Brand endorsed Fitness challenges
Doesn’t a virtual bikeathon or fitness challenge sound fun, especially if you’re doing it as a group? You can have teams invite their friends to take part in fitness activities. Participants can join in from anywhere in the world and track their workouts, such as the number of miles run, walked,trekked or biked. For every amount they raise, they get branded gear from partner companies such as a new set of shoes, a safety helmet or wristbands.
2.15 Sing a long concerts
one of the top virtual team fundraising ideas is to organize a concert featuring your virtual team’s best singing voices! Make sure to announce what time it starts and send out links for everyone to join in to support their colleagues. You can also wind down with sing-a-longs to engage potential donors. Supporters who attend by-invite only can be charged a small admission fee which goes to the fundraiser.
2.16 Secret Santa Fundraiser
Set a spending limit for secret santa gifts and have your team draw chits at random. The recipients can choose to donate any portion of the price back to the fundraiser. For example, someone who receives a $20 paperback can leave $2 to $5 as a donation.
2.17 Online bake sale
If you support small business owners, you’re going to love arranging this virtual fundraiser! Partner with a bakery to support their owner in promoting their goods and share your page online when the sale is live. Or, if there’s a team member who bakes for a hobby, have him or her whip up batches of baked goodies for sale that the others on the team can buy. Every dime donated goes to funding smaller businesses.
3. Tips to make your virtual fundraisers work
3.1 Set up a separate bank account
Make sure there are options for financial transactions to take place smoothly. Include information on how donors can contribute and verify the set up before launching your fundraiser.
3.2 Create awareness for the cause
Create awareness through social media handles. You can create a separate page on Facebook or Instagram or record a video and upload it on Youtube. You can also request for air-time on a podcaster’s episode so that listeners can head over to your page for more details.
3.3 Do a test run
Make sure everything is working right. You can put a test amount to see if the transaction took place and is captured. This is also the time to check if resources and material are shareable and accessible to viewers. Give donors the option to share the website on their social profiles after making a donation.
3.4 Tailor your message
Follow the virtual fundraising platform’s guidelines in structuring your page content. Give as much context to the information as possible, and run through several copy options to find a messaging that is consistent, clear and appealing. Do the same even for thanking anyone and everyone who contributed. A personalized message shows that you truly appreciate the gift and informs patrons of how their donation added value to your fundraiser.
1. Challenges in Virtual fundraiser events
Some of the challenges of trying out virtual team fundraising ideas are
1.1 Establishing a narrative
If you have trouble knowing where to start, you’re not alone. Often, campaigners struggle to establish a narrative that’s convincing, informative and fact-driven. The idea is clear in their minds, but they struggle to voice it out or get it on paper.
The key is to be honest when writing your story. What do you believe in, and why should others support you? Where does this amount go and who or what does it benefit?the more you can explain the reason behind the fundraiser, the easier it is for people to understand the cause and the difference their donation will be making.
1.2 Unawareness of the opportunity
Most people are unaware of fundraiser platforms or are distrustful because they do not know how it works on the backend.
The key lies in educating supporters about the opportunity and creating self-learning resources to help them better their understanding. Such content reveals the steps behind creating a fundraiser and qualifying requirements, and how donors get receipts which they can use to reduce their tax liability when filing their returns. When donors see a cause that meets the eligibility criteria, their trust in the people creating the fundraiser increases.
1.3 Lack of reach
Despite your best efforts, word of your event may not get out. Private occasions especially, birthdays and weddings, are rarely going to get contributions beyond your inner circle. Sometimes, it can also be a question of a similar fundraiser getting eyeballs before yours did, and most people would not want to donate to the same charity twice.
The key is in the timing. Do your research into the cause,and find out which platform works best for it. For example, Patreon supports artists, while crowdsourcing platforms such as Kindful or Paypal works for non-profit organizations, because they have integrations for donation buttons and peer-to-peer donation pages.
1.4 Lack of insights
Data on donors and donations received are protected by a platform’s privacy policies, making it difficult to create future volunteering and fundraising opportunities that are tailored to their preferences.
There are other ways to follow-up. For instance, you can reach out to donors that opt in for alerts via email. You can send them a personalized thank you note along with a short user experience survey. They can state the causes or charities they are interested in supporting down the line.
2. Steps to host a virtual fundraiser event
2.1 Define purpose
Your fundraiser’s campaign needs a purpose behind its creation. It should give context to potential donors so that they can understand the circumstances and story. The first step therefore is to fixate on a purpose and the format best suited to convey this to your audience. For example, would a live-streamed speech work better or a pre-recorded webinar?
The supplementary material can accordingly be documented, which include photographic evidence or an explainer with a voiceover highlighting the issue and how donations will aid. You can also open a Q & A forum along with an FAQ section to give donors as much information as possible before accepting donations.
2.2 Set a budget
Remember the saying, it takes money to make money? Allocating a budget to the virtual fundraising event helps you control how much you spend and for what. It also lets you recover the costs through the processing fee and any surplus donations. You will need a good grasp of your current financial position and whether it suffices for all the material you’ll need for the event.
2.3 Plan an event timeline
How many events and channels are you going to promote them on? The event should have a timeline under which donations are accepted.
2.4 Select a platform
Like GoFundMe, there are many virtual fundraising sites based on country and type of cause. For example, ImpactGuru is an Indian-based platform that invites donors to contribute to a person’s medical expenses or hospital care, while Classy is a subscription fundraising site that lets nonprofits organize large events.
2.5 Promote your event
Promoting a fundraiser online gets it more eyeballs. Opt for a platform that does automated mail marketing and also provides reports on donor and device trends, i.e which devices are accessed more often by users to make contributions. As the event picks up, the software will indicate the percentage of funds received so far alongside the names of donors. Remember to routinely thank donors on your social media posts!
I hope these virtual fundraising ideas and tips gave you something to think about. Which ones did you like out of this list?