There are many circumstances when getting people together to host a fundraising event simply isn’t feasible, whether it be social distancing during a pandemic or just simply geographic distance. Luckily, there are plenty of ways you can bring people together in unique ways to generate excitement for your fundraising efforts! In this article, we will highlight eight virtual fundraising ideas you might want to consider for your next campaign.
1. Virtual Movie Night
Gathering with friends and family to share the experience of watching a movie doesn’t have to happen in a single living room. If you are looking for virtual fundraising ideas to reach friends and family, a socially-distanced movie night might be a good idea to consider! With Teleparty, you can create and share a URL code for viewing events on Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and HBO.
When participants join the event, their video play is synchronized, and everyone can join in on live chat which is displayed on the side of the screen. You can help meet your fundraising goal by asking for a contribution to your fundraiser in exchange for the URL code, and by making it clear that the event is to raise money for a certain cause. Perhaps consider selecting a movie with a theme related to your cause, and inviting everyone to a video conference call to discuss the movie afterward.
The Mental Health Association in Orange County made joining their virtual Netflix Party fundraising event easy for attendees by including a QR code on their flyer, which would take them to a form to fill out. They then received an e-mail prior to the event start time with a link to join.
2. Virtual Game Night
In 2020, many friends and families around the world have found creative ways to take their regular game nights online, and virtual board game nights have become quite the popular social event. With a video conference connection, you could host an organized game of choice over video chat, or through an online game platform like Board Game Arena, as a way to raise money.
There are many types of games that could be played strictly over video chat, such as trivia, Codenames, and Just One. Board Game Arena has a whole library of board games to play live with other players, from light casual games to heavy strategy games. Similar to the virtual movie night, you could give a suggested donation in exchange for the video conference link to the gaming event.
A virtual bingo game night fundraiser for the Empire State Ride (to support cancer and COVID-19 research) was able to raise $1,200 by selling 250 bingo cards to 45 attendees. You can read more about their success story here.
3. Virtual Marathon
Organizing a marathon virtually provides the benefit of flexibility for participants; they can complete the race wherever they currently live and around their current schedule. And because of this flexibility, you can increase the timeframe for the race to boost participation – over the span of an entire month, for instance.
Online platforms such as Racery make hosting a virtual race quite easy, from both a participant level with the ability to log progress and “see” where they are on the race track with Google Maps, as well as an administrator-level with the ability to manage fundraising details. For instance, Arizona Friends of Foster Children Foundation (AFFCF) was able to double their original fundraising goal in 2020 by hosting a virtual walkathon due to the flexibility and ease of implementation.
4. Online Auction
It may be hard to imagine the excitement of a live auction captured in a virtual capacity, but it is certainly possible! By hosting an online auction by software like Click Bid, you can manage aspects of an online auction like setting up an event page for social media sharing, selling tickets, streaming video to engage with attendees, listing items, managing bids, and accepting payment.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cornerstone Schools of Alabama had to quickly transition from a live to a virtual auction. Despite the new format, their online event was a huge success – they saw a 16% increase in the number of bids from the previous year, and surpassed their original fundraising goal. You can read more about their success story here.
5. Fun Online Classes
If you are scratching your head trying to come up with virtual fundraising ideas, sometimes you just need to look around to people you know. Do you know anyone in your organization with unique talents and hobbies? If so, consider asking them to teach others in an online class to benefit your fundraiser.
For instance, if you know someone who is a talented chef, perhaps they would be open to hosting an online cooking class where participants follow along at home. A virtual cooking class fundraiser for the Outside the Bowl nearly doubled its fundraising goal. In the class, attendees learned about different recipes with home ingredients, watched a live cooking demonstration, and were able to engage in live interaction during the class.
6. Virtual Book Club
Creating a virtual book club to benefit your fundraising campaign can be a great way to naturally bring people together to discuss topics related to your cause. By selecting a book that is relevant to the nature of your fundraising campaign, you can specifically focus discussion and dialogue around the topic at hand, and to heighten interest and awareness. The book club events could be spanned out over a period of a month or two, to give participants time to read and digest the material.
The Women in Leadership (WIL) initiative at Cvent has been successfully managing a virtual book club, and they provide tips and guidance in a podcast episode of How Great Events Happen located here.
7. Virtual Scavenger Hunt
Who doesn’t love a good scavenger hunt challenge? While these sorts of events have traditionally taken place in or around cities, a virtual scavenger hunt only opens up an endless realm of possibilities to be creative and to allow participants the flexibility to complete the scavenger hunt in their spare time. By using Google Maps, you could have participants follow clues and puzzles to locate specific items or places on Google Street View, and then submit a screenshot and timestamp in order to claim a prize. Of course, the virtual event would be ticketed to benefit your campaign, and the prize could potentially be something related to your organization or cause.
A local community member in Columbus, Ohio organized a three-part community fundraiser called The Great Bexley Scavenger Hunt. He was able to successfully raise $3,400 to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by drawing in 96 participating teams. You can read more about this fundraising success story here.
8. Virtual Concert
If you have connections with a popular local musician, consider reaching out to them to see if they would be interested in supporting your cause and performing for a virtual live ticketed event. Proceeds from your ticket can go toward your fundraiser, but you can also include a donate link in the live stream and encourage them to donate at appropriate points during the event.
For instance, high school students in California were able to successfully raise $1,500 to benefit the Pali Thirst Project and raise awareness of the global water crisis by hosting a virtual concert with performers from various schools in their area.
Share Your Virtual Fundraising Success Stories!
Hopefully, these virtual fundraising ideas have sparked some ideas for you! If you have more virtual fundraising ideas, or have had success with one of these virtual fundraising methods listed above, we would love to hear from you in the comments below!