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Online Fundraising Ideas | 24 Effective Virtual Campaigns

Online Fundraising Ideas: Effective Virtual Campaigns

Online fundraising is more popular than ever, and individuals and nonprofits alike continue to explore the available options. With many fundraising organizations moving their fundraisers to the virtual realm, you must make yours stand out. That’s where these unique, engaging, and effective online fundraising ideas come in.

At Snowball, we equip fundraising groups with the affordable and easy-to-use tools they need to succeed in their online efforts. We’ve also had a hand in thousands of online fundraisers, and we know which ones work well—which is why we’ve created this list for your convenience.

To help find one that suits your needs, we’ve divided this list of our favorite online fundraising ideas into the following categories:

Ready to dive into a few of our all-time favorite virtual fundraising ideas and inspire your upcoming campaign? Let’s get started.
Our Favorite Online Fundraising Ideas

Our Favorite Online Fundraising Ideas

These first few online fundraisers are some of the most influential and effective ideas we’ve seen, and we recommend them to any organization looking to collect significant revenue online. Let’s explore these tried-and-true online fundraising ideas:

1. Online Donation Page

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Get Started Today.

Sign up and start fundraising today! With straightforward, all-inclusive annual pricing and no hidden fees, you can do more and raise more for your cause.

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An online donation page is a foundation for most, if not all, online fundraising ideas you’d like to host. To do so, work with an online donation software provider to get your donation page up and running.

Once it’s live, begin promoting your donation page to supporters. This can be via online channels such as social media or email appeals but can incorporate traditional offline tactics—such as direct mail.

In any fundraising appeal you send, be sure to include an eye-catching call to action, driving readers to your optimized donation page. Once there, users complete a simple online form containing information on their gift and their contact and payment details.

Snowball Tip: Make sure your online donation page is mobile-responsive so that users can complete the process from any device at any time.

2. Text-to-Give

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Text-to-give is another powerful fundraising idea that leverages mobile giving technology to provide a streamlined donation process for supporters. To get started, choose a text-to-give provider who will assign you a dedicated text giving number. Then, set your keywords and begin promoting to your network.

Donors simply text the keyword to your phone number (i.e., GIVE to 123-456-7890) and will receive an automated response with a link to a simple online donation form. After completing the form and confirming their gift and payment information, your organization will receive the donation.

Snowball Tip: Set up different trigger words for different campaigns. For example, texting “DONATE” could lead to a general donation, while “GIVINGTUESDAY” goes to support that specific fund.

3. Peer-to-Peer Fundraising

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A peer-to-peer fundraiser is a unique type of campaign in which supporters take the fundraiser’s role onto themselves. While some peer-to-peer fundraising ideas include an in-person element to boost engagement, many function exceptionally well as online campaigns.

These are especially useful ideas for soliciting donations from new supporters who have yet to interact with your organization. After all, an individual is significantly more likely to respond to a donation request when it comes from a loved one than from an organization they have no prior relationship with. Then, you can begin stewarding those donors and end up with new, long-term supporters for your cause.

To get started, gather eager donors who are willing to fundraise on your behalf. Ensure each person is provided with an easily customizable online donation page that they can share with their family and friends.

Snowball Tip: Provide volunteer fundraisers with ample resources to assist them in soliciting donations on your behalf. For example, draft up various social media posts, text messages, and email templates to use.

4. Virtual Pledge Fundraising

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A virtual pledge fundraiser is an effective type of campaign that can raise a ton of support for your mission. While it functions similarly to a typical online donation form fundraiser, the key difference is that instead of completing gifts on the spot, donors simply ask for a promise of their support that you will collect at a later date.

For example, a dedicated supporter might pledge to contribute $5,000 over the next five years. Yet, at the time of the pledge, there will be no actual money transfer—which makes it a lot easier to get donors on board in the first place.

Snowball Tip: Streamline the pledge collection process with the right software. Just ask for basic contact information and the promised pledge—everything else comes at a later date!

5. Recurring Gift Drive

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Any fundraising professional knows that it’s more time- and resource-efficient to collect repeat donations from existing donors than to constantly search for new, one-time givers. Even better than that is your recurring donors who automatically transfer donations to your organization at regular intervals—often monthly.

Hosting a recurring gift drive is such a powerful idea. For this campaign, be sure to promote your recurring gifts program to donors and encourage them to sign up. Then, you’ll have consistent, long-lasting support that outlives any one fundraising idea you might host. You can even provide exclusive perks and benefits for your recurring givers, such as limited-time merchandise or a behind-the-scenes tour!

Snowball Tip: Set up your online donation page with an easy option for users to save their card information on file and set up a regular gift schedule. You might be surprised at how many people select that option when it’s as easy as checking a box!

6. 24-Hour Giving Day

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A 24-hour giving day campaign is a great way to bring in a ton of revenue for your cause in a limited period. By setting a time restriction on your campaign, you create a sense of urgency for supporters to contribute while leveraging their “fear of missing out.” It’s also an effective tactic for pushing those who are on the fence to submit their donation.

The most popular example of this time-sensitive fundraising idea is Giving Tuesday, which occurs annually on the first Tuesday following Thanksgiving. On this worldwide day of giving, millions of philanthropic-minded individuals worldwide give generously to a wide range of causes they care about.

However, you might also choose to host a separate giving day just for your organization. Be sure to begin promoting your giving day ahead of time so that your supporters will be prepared to give when the big day arrives.

Snowball Tip: Make sure all of your marketing materials drive traffic to your online donation page so that interested supporters can quickly and easily get involved.

Online Fundraising Ideas: Product Sales

Online Product Fundraising Ideas

Product fundraisers have long been popular fundraising ideas for groups and teams. Now, instead of selling door-to-door, fundraisers can set up easy online storefronts to sell their merchandise. Here are some fan-favorite online product fundraising ideas:

7. Online Face Mask Sale

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If there’s anything that 2020 taught us, it’s the importance of a face mask. That’s why so many nonprofits, schools, and other fundraising organizations have begun hosting custom-branded face mask sales in the last year.

With an online face mask fundraiser, you can sell personalized cloth face masks to supporters, complete with your logo and brand colors. And when you work with a product fundraising company to create and sell your merchandise, they’ll even handle all the design, production, and shipping. All you have to do is direct supporters to your online storefront!

8. Online T-Shirt Sale

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Similar to a face mask fundraiser is an online t-shirt fundraiser. To get started, choose an online product fundraising company that specializes in custom-designed t-shirts. Then, upload your design and receive your personalized online storefront to sell from.

One of the most important benefits of a t-shirt fundraiser is that once supporters purchase your branded apparel, they essentially function as walking billboards for your organization when they sport that shirt in public. Free advertising and significant revenue for your mission? It’s a win-win!

9. Online Discount Card Sale

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A discount card fundraiser is a fantastic fundraising idea that offers you, your supporters, and partnering businesses significant benefits. When donors purchase a discount card from your team, they receive hundreds of dollars worth of reusable coupons at their favorite stores and restaurants. Your team receives up to 93% in profits toward your mission, while participating businesses receive loyal new customers and excellent brand promotion opportunities.

If you have a good amount of supporters outside a specific geographic area, you can even look into hosting an Entertainment® Card Fundraiser. These nationwide fundraising discount cards can be sold and purchased online and used anywhere across the United States—effectively opening up your online fundraiser and increasing its accessibility.

10. Online Cookie Dough Sale

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Everyone loves a nice batch of freshly baked cookies, but not everyone has the time to make these delicious treats from scratch. The solution? A cookie dough fundraiser!

Fundraising organizations have sold tubs of cookie dough to raise money for their missions for years. Now, these sales can be completed entirely digitally for an easy online fundraising idea. And with tasty, gourmet flavors like Triple Chocolate, Snickerdoodle, Caramel Pecan, and more, there’s sure to be something for everyone.

Just start promoting your online storefront and encourage supporters to place an order online. Then, notify buyers when their cookie dough is ready for pick-up!

11. Online Travel Mug Sale

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An online travel mug sale is a great idea for a high-demand product fundraiser. Many people use travel mugs regularly, meaning it will be a product that supporters can undoubtedly get their money’s worth.

When you create mugs that are custom-branded for your organization, they’ll function not only as a convenient vessel for the supporter’s beverage but also as an effective branding tool for your cause. Just set up an online storefront for your mugs and start selling!

12. Online Candle Sale

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A candle sale is a fan favorite fundraising idea for all sorts of organizations because it’s a practical product that buyers are likely to use regularly—not to mention they make great gifts for others!

To get started, choose a fundraising company that offers candles as a product choice and begin promoting your online sale to your supporters. Buyers can fill out their payment and contact information online and have their candle of choice shipped to their homes in just a few weeks.

Online Fundraising Ideas for Events

Online Fundraising Event Ideas

More fundraising events are taking place online, and if you’ve yet to explore the potential for online fundraising events, you’re likely missing out on critical support. Here are some unique and engaging online event ideas that your audience will love:

13. Online Auction

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Charity auctions have long been some of the most engaging and profitable fundraising events for all sorts of causes. Now, organizations can easily host these events in the digital realm and increase accessibility and reach by allowing supporters to participate from the comfort of their own homes.

To host a virtual auction, all you need to get started is a supply of high-demand auction items, a system of online auction software, and a network of eager supporters ready to bid. Create an auction catalog so that guests can see what’s available for bidding, then open up the auction for a set period. After the event, notify winners, collect their payment and shipping information, and ship items out promptly.

14. Online Raffle

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An online raffle functions similarly to a traditional raffle fundraiser, the most significant difference being that tickets are bought and sold online. For a small price (typically $1-5), supporters can purchase a virtual auction ticket. After you finish selling tickets, select a winning number from those sold. The participant with the matching ticket number receives the prize!

As far as prizes go, you might choose a big-ticket item such as a piece of technology, an exclusive experience, or a high-demand gift basket. However, you could simply provide the winner with 50% of revenue collected from ticket sales (also called a 50/50 raffle). Then, your organization receives the rest of the money!

15. Online Gala

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An online gala is another popular virtual fundraising event that we’ve seen many in the last year. The key benefits of an online gala, as compared to its traditional in-person counterpart, are that guests can participate from all over the world, and your team can save significantly on venue costs.

You can either encourage attendees to get dressed up in their nicest outfits to tune in from the comfort of their own homes or take a more laid-back approach (sometimes referred to as an un-gala) where guests dress down in pajamas and sweatpants. Then, be sure to arrange entertainment such as speakers, musicians, or performers who will complete their sets via live stream.

16. Online Walk-a-Thon

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A walk-a-thon fundraiser is a traditional favorite for nonprofits, donors, and participants alike. While historically, walk-a-thons have taken place in a central location with participants following a predetermined path, online walk-a-thons allow individuals to participate from their neighborhoods on a course of their choosing.

Just be sure participants track their progress with a smartphone app or fitness tracker so you can report results to sponsors and determine their final gifts. To maximize the number of supporters who can get involved, you can even open involvement up to a week-long period where participants can complete their walk whenever is convenient.

17. Webinar

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Nonprofit webinars are unique and engaging online fundraising ideas that can give your guests an exclusive opportunity to explore your organization and its mission. To get started, choose a topic that you think your supporters will be interested in learning more about. This is most effective if it relates to your vision and organizational goals.

Then, start promoting your online event ahead of time and sell tickets or collect donations from attendees on a sliding scale. Be sure to record your webinar so you can offer playback for those who were unable to attend the live event!

18. Virtual Skills Class

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A virtual skills class is a category of online fundraising events that can encompass a wide variety of topics—such as arts and crafts, cooking, fitness, and more.

To get started, find an expert in whichever subject you’d like to cover who is willing to lead your online event. Then, gather a group of supporters eager to learn your new skill, and set up a live-streamed lesson with innovative streaming software.

Make sure event attendees have the supplies they need to participate ahead of time, whether that’s art supplies or meal ingredients. You can either send out a supplies list for participants to purchase independently, have them pick up bundles from your organization, or charge an extra fee to ship or deliver items to guests’ homes. Charge a ticket price or accept donations to participate in the online class!

Easy Online Fundraising Ideas

Easy Online Fundraising Ideas

Are you looking to get started with online fundraising but don’t have a ton of time or resources to dedicate to running a campaign? These easy online fundraising ideas are some of the simplest to plan and host but still bring in a ton of money for your mission:

19. Email Campaign

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An email marketing or fundraising campaign is a great way to spread the word about your organization and its revenue-generating efforts. This idea will be most effective if you start with a decent-sized email list which you can build out through additional fundraising and donor relations strategies.

Then, draft a basic email request template (feel free to start with one of these), being sure to tweak your message for each recipient. For example, you’ll want to address individuals by name as well as acknowledge any previous support they’ve shown for your organization.

Finally, include an eye-catching call-to-action button at the bottom of your email that directs readers to your optimized online donation form.

20. E-Card Campaign

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An e-card campaign is one of our favorite online fundraising ideas because it’s a great way to increase brand awareness to new supporters. To get started, supporters select an image from several pre-made designs and draft a personalized message they’d like to send to their family and friends. Then, senders input their intended recipients’ contacts (email addresses) and their payment information, and recipients get a customized digital greeting card in their inbox!

To maximize revenue from this fundraising idea, you’ll want to keep the cost per e-card relatively low (typically $1-10) to encourage participants to send multiple to all of their loved ones. You can even include exclusive savings if individuals send more than one at a time (i.e., 1 for $5 or 3 for $10).

21. Social Media Campaign

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Social media is one of the most effective ways to get your message out to a wide audience in today’s technological age. That’s why social media fundraisers have become so popular! Many top social media platforms have built-in fundraising functionality for this purpose.

For example, thousands of philanthropic-minded individuals have hosted online Facebook fundraisers for the charitable causes they care about. When your organization leverages these tools for your fundraising efforts, you can raise a ton of money for your cause while appealing to the channels that your supporters love.

To get started, select the social media channel you’ll focus on (Facebook and Instagram are two of the biggest for fundraising). Then, launch your online campaign and encourage your supporters to give and interact with and share your page. This is a great way to spread the word about your mission even further!

22. Online Photo Contest

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An online photo contest is a fun way to raise money for just about any cause while getting donors intricately involved in the process. This fundraiser is simple: participants submit photos they take to an online portal, and other supporters vote on their favorite with their donations.

You can also easily customize this fundraising idea to best suit your team, such as by setting a category for submissions. For example, if you run a conservation organization, you might ask participants to submit their favorite photographs of nature. On the other hand, a local animal shelter might request photos of their supporters’ furry friends.

Then, be sure to encourage those who submit photos to share your contest on social media so that their friends and loved ones can vote. You may gain new followers from around the world!

23. Matching Gift Drive

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As a nonprofit fundraiser, you’re likely aware of the benefits of corporate matching gift programs, but you might be unsure of how to maximize your revenue from these sources. This is where a matching gifts drive can make a big difference!

For this online fundraising idea, encourage new and existing donors to research their eligibility for a gift match from their employers. Then, once they submit their initial donation, direct them towards their companies’ specific matching gift guidelines and next steps with an easy-to-use matching gift search tool that you can embed within your online donation page.

This is a prevalent fundraising idea because it allows donors to see the impact of their gifts better while knowing their contributions are going twice as far.

24. Crowdfunding

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Crowdfunding is a particular type of online fundraising campaign that tends to raise significant amounts of money from a wide range of small to midsize contributions. These fundraisers are also typically hosted on a third-party platform rather than within your organization’s website and do exceptionally well when shared across social media.

To get started, choose a crowdfunding website to host your campaign. Then, create your online fundraising page with a brief description of your mission and what you’re raising money for, set a revenue goal and a deadline, and launch your fundraiser.


Wrapping Up

Online fundraising has become a must-do for most nonprofits across the globe, especially over the course of the past year’s uncertainties. But you don’t have to be stuck with the same old boring campaigns when you have a list of new opportunities and ideas!

Hopefully, this list has provided you with some inspiration for innovative online fundraising ideas. When you choose fundraisers that your supporters want to participate in—whether in-person or virtually—you’re more likely to set your team up for success. Good luck!

For more information on powerful fundraising ideas and other related topics, be sure to check out these additional resources:

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