How to Host a Virtual Fundraiser or Virtual Event When Plans Change

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|6 min read Fundraising Event

We know that event changes can be stressful and confusing for all involved, but you can still reach your event goals online by hosting a virtual event or virtual fundraiser. When in-person events are not an option, moving things online can still ensure that your nonprofit is able to accomplish fundraising goals.

What is a virtual event?

A virtual event is an online-only event with attendees that connect remotely from wherever they are, instead of gathering in person. The event can be live-streamed, or one that people participate and engage with on their own time. These types of events can also take place over the course of a few days, rather than on a single day, which can make them much more convenient for your supporters. Pair your virtual event with a virtual fundraiser where supporters can donate to your cause. 

How virtual events benefit nonprofits

Virtual events are a great fundraising tool for nonprofits, and can be an alternative when events are canceled due to extenuating circumstances, such as loss of venue, public health concerns, weather, etc. But, there are many benefits to virtual fundraising that make it the perfect fundraising option all-year-round, not only as a plan B:

  • Online events are easy to plan and execute, because they aren’t as logistically complex as physical events. 
  • Because there’s very little overhead, virtual events are incredibly cost-effective compared to live charity events
  • Since virtual events don’t have a specific location (or even date/time), you can recruit even more supporters who otherwise may not have been able to attend in person.
  • Technology like video chat and messaging makes it possible for attendees to feel connected, even when they’re not together.
  • Integrated tools like live leaderboards, donor scrolls, campaign updates, and video make it easy for charities to engage with supporters before, during, and after the event through a virtual fundraiser. 

How to plan a virtual event

Learning how to plan a virtual event does not require extensive research and prepping like in-person events, so no nonprofit should be intimidated by pivoting to one. Keep things simple and choose a platform like GoFundMe Charity that offers a full set of features that allow you to share with your community, connect with your donors and reach your fundraising goals.

How to host an online event or virtual fundraiser

Hosting a virtual event is easier than you might think. All you need is two things:

  1. A well-branded campaign page that includes information about the event where supporters can fundraise, donate and interact
  2. A great communications strategy that drives traffic to your campaign page and keeps supporters engaged throughout the event

To create a highly-engaging virtual fundraiser campaign page for your event, we recommend you:

  • Customize your campaign story to highlight that the event is virtual.
  • Promote your event as a virtual event so it’s clear to all participants. Also check out this blog for more ideas: Learn How to Promote a Nonprofit Event for Maximum Profit
  • Add video to your campaign to keep participants engaged and make sure you follow best practices for videos.
  • Add a campaign goal to create fundraising momentum and track progress
  • Leverage live leaderboard functionality to keep fundraisers motivated and engaged
  • Use the campaign update tool to keep participants in the loop, announce milestones (“Goal met!”) and shout-out top fundraisers and donors
  • Add offline donations so all supporters feel included and appreciated
  • Use Report Center data to follow up with your donors. 

Of course, these aren’t the only nonprofit event planning tips, you can also check out our blog for more great tips.

Virtual event ideas

1. Host a virtual race or endurance event

Create a challenge that participants can accomplish on their own time, whether it’s a 5K walk/run, a 50-mile bike ride, or a push-up contest. Ask them to fundraise as they train, and support them by providing resources and encouragement. As they take on the challenge, participants can post photos on their personal campaign page, connect with supporters using campaign updates, and share across their social channels (be sure to remind them to tag your organization!)

2. Host a scavenger hunt

Ask people to form teams and go on a scavenger hunt in their area by finding items or completing challenges that can be done anywhere: take a photo with a stranger, find a specific type of car, or locate random objects around their neighborhood. There are lots of resources you can look to for creativity when putting together your own scavenger hunt

3. Hold a virtual adoption event

Animal rescues that rely on in-person adoption events can be hit hard by cancellations. Holding an online adoption event is a great (and easy) alternative. Take photos or set up a puppy or kitten camera so people can view the animals up for adoption, then ask them to submit an online application if they’d like to adopt (you can create a form on your campaign page using the Registration and Ticketing feature). While live-streaming, have volunteers provide bios on each of the pups or kittens up for adoption, and also ask for donations. Make it clear that this is an opportunity to adopt and support your organization.

Virtual fundraiser event examples on GoFundMe Charity

1. Virtual food drive

In order to help provide nutritious meals to their Los Angeles neighbors, Rare Global started a fundraiser called the Rare Global Virtual Food Drive.

2. Virtual run and walk

For 36 years this group has been raising money for Pajaro Valley Shelter Services with an annual race.  This year they started 36-Year-Old Mother’s Day Run & Walk Goes VIRTUAL! to take the tradition virtual.

3. Virtual bike ride

Jerry decided to launch CF Century Virtual Riders to raise money for cystic fibrosis virtually.  The virtual bike ride gives people the flexibility to decide which day and where they want to ride.

Start your virtual fundraising event today

An event cancellation or changes to an event can be stressful, but having a backup plan is key to ensuring your efforts to raise money are not severely impacted. By adding virtual events into your fundraising strategy, you can ensure your organization is prepared for any crisis that may impact your ability to deliver on your mission. GoFundMe Charity has the tools and resources your nonprofit needs to run successful virtual events, and more. Getting started is easy and free – get access to these features today.

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