A New Spin on Virtual Events

We may be unsure of the end of COVID-19, but cancelled events don’t have to put your fundraising in peril. Temporarily gone are the days of galas, walks, and in-person group fundraisers across the U.S. Transforming your initial event program to a virtual platform may be the easiest route but it isn’t always the most engaging for your donors. We have all been on enough Zoom calls or Google Meets to know that being talked at on a screen gets old quickly.

Here are some of our recommendations for hosting successful virtual events that don’t require foregoing your revenue!

Walks or Races
Walks and races are events easily adjusted to social distancing. Your team members sacrifice the thrill of race day but gain the perk of completing the race on their own time and their own route. This lower-stress version still allows them to accomplish their goal while fundraising. If you host a virtual walk or race, make sure you have a great peer-to-peer fundraising platform set up so your participants feel like they’re truly a part of the team while raising money to support your organization.

Swag baskets are another way to entice runners to participate while spreading awareness for your mission. Encourage runners to share their experience by posting photos with branded running shirts or other gear on social media.

Host a “Hands-On” Group Event
We love this concept because it allows participants to be involved in the experience rather than stare at a screen. Group events could be anything from a pasta-making class to a trivia night. Sell tickets or ask for donations and make sure to set a finite fundraising goal. You can draw inspiration from Airbnb’s recent launch of Airbnb Online Experiences.

Auctions
A virtual auction’s success depends on the items that you offer. Vacation houses, airline tickets, and gifts with unsure timeframes due to the pandemic should be saved for the return of live events. Instead, fill your auction with physical items that can be mailed to winners, or virtual experiences like those mentioned above. You should plug into your donors and volunteers to see if they can offer items that are a good fit.

Social Media Contest
There’s nothing quite like a pandemic to drive people online now more than ever. Use this activity to your advantage by running a social media contest or campaign. Maybe you ask your audience to launch Facebook fundraisers and award the top fundraiser a prize. Or perhaps you ask people to tag your organization in an activity that pertains to is mission (like a read-a-thon for a library) with the chance of being featured. There are many social media campaigns to explore but getting your audience engaged is the key.

Whatever event you host this summer or fall, make sure you keep your audience well informed with regular updates, emails, and social media posts. In this time of separation, your fundraisers should simultaneously facilitate connection and financially benefit your programs. If you need help putting these ideas into action, are looking for a peer-to-peer fundraising software, or need fundraising insight reach out to us at kate@dsaboston.com.

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