A great match: Virtual events and P2P fundraising
While some nonprofits may have experienced their first forays into virtual events due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual events provide a wealth of opportunities—pandemic or not—and it’s our sense that these events will not be going away anytime soon.
Take advantage of the opportunities that virtual events provide for your nonprofit in ways of donor engagement, fundraising and even peer-to-peer giving.
Why virtual events work
- Wider donor pool. By hosting your event online, you can expand your audience beyond those that would only be able to attend in person. Your virtual attendees may include those in other cities, states or even countries!
- Convenience. Besides the fact that these events are open to people outside of your geographical community, virtual events can be more convenient for attendees in general as they don’t have to account for drive time, prep time or even finding a babysitter for the evening. They can jump online with a few keystrokes and watch live or pre-recorded content.
- Less complex. Now, don’t get us wrong—virtual events do take time and planning—but if you take out components such as catering, live AV set-up, registration check-in and the like, these events are a bit less complex than in-person ventures. This means they can typically be planned in relatively shorter amounts of time.
- Less expensive. This also means that virtual events can be much less expensive than in-person events. You may have to pay for more technical aspects of the event, but you’ll save costs in catering, on-site hosts, venues and insurance, depending on the event type.
- Longer shelf life. If you record your event(s) it gives you the opportunity to keep the momentum going and share the fundraiser past the live date. This can mean more donations and ongoing engagement well past the initial kick-off event.
Types of virtual fundraising events
Virtual fundraising events can take on many forms—think outside the box and make them fun! You can do a combination of live and pre-recorded content using a variety of tools such as YouTube or Facebook live streams, Zoom calls and break-out rooms, GoToMeeting or webinars. The key is to make it interactive in ways that continue to engage your attendees. Think about:
- Galas: Live or recorded with components such as speakers, silent auctions, raffles, musical performances and videos. Make it fun and offer a “selfie room” or branded background that participants can use on Zoom. Ask them to dress up and share pictures of themselves participating in the event.
- Fitness challenges: Think run-a-thons, walk-a-thons or ride-a-thons. These types of virtual events are easy to pair with peer-to-peer giving as well (we have a great webinar on this topic if you’re looking for insight here). Ask your participants to set up fundraising pages on your behalf and then culminate the challenge with a live event where top teams are recognized. You can have awards for things such as the most creative team name, farthest distance from your location, etc.
- Gaming events: Video games, board games, bingo, trivia—there are lots of options for game nights.
- Virtual tours: These can be of your offices, on-location at a service center or a behind-the-scenes look at your team and the work they do.
- Streamed speech, podcast or interviews: Think of those that are great representations of your organization. It could be your executive director or president, someone who has benefited from the services you provide or a member of your fundraising team.
Remember your CTAs (calls-to-action)
Don’t forget to build in CTAs at various times during your event. This could be by asking attendees to visit a special URL that is displayed on the screen to make an online donation. It could be links to your social media channels or it could be enticing participants to partake in virtual fundraising as part of a peer-to-peer (P2P) portion of your event. You can also use poll features or links to surveys to make it interactive and find out more about your participants. Silent auctions can also be a part of the CTA portion of your event using auction apps and links.
Explore the peer-to-peer concept
Most virtual events can include a P2P giving option. As we’ve alluded to above, there are a variety of ways to add that component into your virtual fundraising event. Think about how you can get others involved and excited about helping you raise dollars for your organization. It may be as simple as a BOGO concept (buy one, get one, but change the “get one” to “bring one”—someone purchases a ticket to your gala and they receive a free ticket for a friend). This can up your potential donor pool. Or, it can be more involved such as individual fundraising pages for the fitness challenge and team events. Either way, because virtual events can be very nimble, it gives you expanded opportunity to involve others in ways that you maybe could not otherwise for in-person events.
Adding virtual events to your ongoing fundraising strategy is a way to continue to move your organization’s mission forward and raise money at the same time. I encourage you to expand on these events as you become comfortable in the space.
If you are looking for a way to boost your virtual fundraising through events, check out our free webinar rebroadcast, “How to make virtual fundraising events work for your small nonprofit”. To accompany the webinar, I also encourage you to download our free virtual event checklist.