Even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and seriously curtailed nonprofits’ abilities to host fundraising events in person, some organizations were already using virtual fundraising ideas in their regular programming.
Virtual fundraising can greatly increase the scope of potential participants in your fundraising efforts, as they don’t have to be geographically near to your organization or event to get involved and donate.
Plus, with technology so integrated into daily life, it’s often more convenient for donors to pull out their iPhones or laptops to get engaged with your organization than it is for them to read a letter or attend an event in person. The bottom line is: virtual is here to stay, so your nonprofit should offer robust virtual fundraising opportunities to your donors to maximize engagement and donations.
At Snowball, we’re no stranger to virtual fundraising, as we specialize in equipping nonprofits with the tools they need for virtual success. Over the years, we’ve amassed quite the list of virtual fundraising ideas for nonprofits, and we’re here to share these ideas with you so you can jumpstart your virtual engagement! The categories you’ll find on this page include:
- Our Favorite Virtual Fundraising Ideas
- Easy Virtual Fundraising Ideas
- Virtual Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Idea
- Unique Virtual Fundraising Ideas
- Virtual Fundraising Event Ideas
The perfect virtual fundraising ideas for your nonprofit can mean the difference between missing, meeting, and exceeding your fundraising goals, so explore this full list to find ideas that will be perfect for your audience and mission. Let’s get started!
There are plenty of virtual fundraising ideas out there, but there are only so many that we love! These are our favorite ideas for your nonprofit to raise money and further your cause in a digital-first environment.
1. Online Donation Form
One of the most essential virtual fundraising tools for nonprofits is the online donation form. Without one, your organization will miss out on tons of web-based donations, which will significantly inhibit your ability to fundraise. You’ll want to drive traffic to your online donation form with prominent CTAs on your website.
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In addition to web traffic, it’s important to advertise your online donation form in your other fundraising efforts, like email and direct mail campaigns. When you’re crafting your form or deciding on a donation form provider, make sure to follow donation page best practices, including prioritizing conciseness and clarity.
Text-to-give takes advantage of the prominence of smartphones (and the prominence of screen time!) by reaching your donors where they’re most likely already browsing: their mobile devices. Because of the convenience of text-to-give, you can capture more donations, especially from donors who are short on time.
To get your nonprofit started with text-to-give, you’ll need to choose a provider. After that, you’ll be given a text-to-give number and keyword. Promote your number and keyword at your fundraising events, over your email and direct mail marketing channels, and on your social media pages. All that’s left to do after that is watch the donations come in!
3. Matching Gifts Drive
Too many nonprofits miss out on matching gift opportunities, which can provide a significant amount of money for your nonprofit’s cause with relatively little effort from your staff. Corporate philanthropy programs often contain matching gift policies, in which companies pledge to contribute the same amount of money to a nonprofit that their employees do, up to a certain amount.
The only obstacles standing in the way of receiving matched gifts is your donors a) knowing about their existence, b) investigating their employer’s policy, and c) completing the necessary request to guarantee the gift. Matching gift drives work by promoting matching gifts in your marketing and campaign materials to raise awareness of this opportunity for your donors.
Even better than raising awareness of matched gifts is partnering with a matching gift software provider, which can allow your donors to search for their matching gift eligibility right on your donation page. Matching gifts can provide a long-term source of funds for your nonprofit if you market the opportunity effectively.
4. 24-Hour Giving Day
A 24-hour giving day is an effective way to raise funds for your cause in a short period of time without all of the extensive planning that goes into a fundraising event. The specific time period and perceived urgency generated by the limited giving window will help galvanize your supporters and drive donations.
To execute one of these fundraisers, you’ll need to start planning relatively early to maximize results. Make sure to set a goal to motivate staff and supporters and craft an effective communications strategy. Promote your giving day on multiple channels and encourage peer-to-peer fundraising to raise as much as possible.
5. Recurring Donation Drive
Recurring donations provide your organization with a stable, predictable source of revenue. This can help you avoid the need for last-minute fundraisers to meet your monthly, quarterly, and annual targets.
Often, the only reason some donors don’t opt to make recurring donations is that they aren’t aware of the opportunity. A recurring donation drive focuses on spreading awareness about the opportunity to make recurring donations. To accomplish this, prioritize recurring gifts in your marketing materials and offer tiered giving opportunities on your donation form, so donors can easily select the amounts they wish to regularly contribute.
If you find that your organization is short on time or resources, an easy virtual fundraising idea is probably your best bet. These virtual fundraising ideas won’t require a huge investment of time or money to pull off while still providing awesome fundraising results for your nonprofit. Let’s dive in!
6. Email Campaign
Email fundraising campaigns should be a prominent, well-integrated fundraising strategy for your nonprofit, as they can function to spread awareness, drive donations, and boost engagement with your organization.
A successful email fundraising campaign starts with a SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-based) goal. Are you aiming to increase average donation size? Acquire new donors? Hit a quarterly target? After you’ve defined your goal, the next step is research. Examine your donor database to identify the audience you’re after, and segment them out so you can personalize your campaign and maximize results. After that, all that’s left to do is craft the perfect messaging and hit send!
7. Social Media Challenge
A social media challenge is the perfect virtual fundraiser to spread awareness on sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. We’re all familiar with the success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge—your nonprofit could launch a similar campaign asking viewers to complete a task (the more unique or outrageous, the better) to spread awareness about your cause to their friends and family.
When you execute your social media challenge campaign, make sure you brand your campaign and use the appropriate hashtags to maximize effectiveness. Also, encourage participants to use a peer-to-peer fundraising page to solicit donations from their communities after they participate in your challenge.
8. Face Mask Fundraiser
An effective fundraiser to raise money and promote good health in your community is a face mask fundraiser. For this fundraiser, all your organization has to do is customize face masks and sell them at a profit to your supporters.
You may want to partner with a fundraising company that makes the process of customizing and selling your merchandise easier, or you could just order the face masks online in bulk and sell them on your nonprofit’s website. If you don’t have the infrastructure to sell your face masks online, you could always advertise the fundraiser and have supporters pick up the masks at a designated location.
9. T-Shirt Fundraiser
When it comes to selling branded merchandise as a fundraiser for your nonprofit, T-Shirts are a classic and time-tested choice. Everyone wears T-Shirts, after all, so this option is bound to have broad appeal among your supporters. Plus, your organization gets some free marketing out of the deal!
For a T-shirt fundraiser, you can partner with a T-shirt fundraising company to streamline your efforts. A company like Bonfire can provide a platform to design, order, and sell your shirts so your staff can spend less time worrying about logistics and more time spreading the word to your donors.
Crowdfunding takes advantage of the power in numbers. A crowdfunding campaign aims to collect relatively small donations from a large number of people, usually via the internet. You’ll need a crowdfunding platform to design your campaign page.
When you’re designing your crowdfunding page, make sure to quickly and effectively communicate your organization’s mission and the potential impact of a single donation. This will maximize the impact of your page and increase donations. After you’ve set a goal for your campaign and designed a crowdfunding page, advertise your campaign on social media and other digital channels to spread the word about your fundraiser.
11. Give-It-Up Challenge
A give-it-up fundraising campaign challenges your supporters to abstain from something they enjoy for a certain amount of time while they raise money for your cause. Some common things for supporters to give up are sweets, alcohol, social media, or even their smartphones altogether.
A give-it-up challenge is best promoted and shared on social media, where supporters can see what others are giving up and feel inspired to give something up themselves! Make sure to set a time period for your campaign so your supporters know how long to fundraise–and when they can resume their favorite activities!
AmazonSmile is a program created by Amazon designed to benefit charities and mission-based organizations. It offers all the same items and prices as regular Amazon, except donations are generated through customers’ shopping. For purchases made through AmazonSmile (or on the Amazon app with AmazonSmile enabled), Amazon donates 0.05% of eligible purchases to a nonprofit of the shopper’s choice.
This requires little to no effort on the part of your supporters and could be a stable, steady source of funds for your nonprofit, so it’s wise to look into how to get involved. An AmazonSmile fundraising campaign should advertise the existence of this program and encourage your supporters to shop from AmazonSmile and select your charity as the beneficiary.
13. Google Grants
The Google Ad Grant is under-utilized and underrated in the nonprofit space. The Google Grant program provides $10,000 of free advertising monthly to your nonprofit, which you can spend as you see fit. Your paid advertisements show up on Google results pages for the keywords that you design your ads to target.
Google paid ads can spread awareness about your cause, drive traffic to your website, and boost engagement with your organization, but you’ll need to put in some effort to manage the grant. Regular maintenance of the ads, testing, and tracking analytics are key to ensuring you get the most out of your free ad space.
14. Branded Coffee Mug Sale
Appeal to all of the coffee lovers among your supporters with a branded coffee mug sale. First, consider whether your donors would be more interested in a traditional coffee mug or a travel mug with your name and logo—both are good choices. Then, decide how your organization will approach this fundraiser. You have the option to partner with a fundraising company, or you could just order the mugs in bulk online and sell them on your website.
Once you’ve designed and ordered your mugs, start advertising your branded coffee mug sale to your donors over multiple channels, i.e. social media, email, and even text. Make sure to provide an easy-to-use order form for your mugs, and you’re well on your way to raising money for your cause.
15. Discount Card Sale
Who doesn’t love a good discount? Your supporters are sure to jump at the opportunity to purchase a discount card offering freebies and markdowns on goods and services from local businesses. In order to execute this fundraiser, you’ll need to reach out to these local businesses to see if they would be interested in offering your supporters a certain percentage discount at their business, or a one-time free item or service.
Most discount card options offer deals from several businesses rather than just one to increase the desirability of the card and maximize card sales. Once you’ve established your local business partnerships, decide on the cost of your cards and promote the opportunity to purchase a discount card from your organization.
16. Video Calls
If you can’t meet with your donors in person, a virtual conversation over video conference can go a long way to reinforce a sense of community. Where you would usually meet a donor to discuss your upcoming projects or initiatives and perhaps make an ask, send an invitation to a virtual coffee chat instead. Making sure you keep up with the pace of touch points you would maintain in regular times is important to keep the funds coming in to support your cause. Strong digital communication has become an essential part of receiving larger gifts from mid-range and major donors today.
You could also make it a goal to arrange video calls with your volunteers to thank them for their service or encourage future engagement, or you could use video calls as a part of your donor recognition efforts to thank those who have contributed in the past. While these actions may not always directly lead to a donation, maintaining those relationships will ensure the future support of those engaged with your organization.
Peer-to-peer fundraising allows you to tap into your supporters’ enthusiasm for your cause by providing them the chance to fundraise on your behalf. Peer-to-peer fundraising has the potential to expose your organization to a wide audience, with each individual supporter spreading the word about your mission to their family, friends, and coworkers.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is perfect for virtual engagement, and you can add a P2P fundraising component to just about any other campaign or event. Let’s get into some virtual peer-to-peer fundraising ideas!
17. Virtual Walk-a-Thon
The traditionally in-person walk-a-thon fundraising event can easily be transferred to the virtual sphere. For a virtual walk-a-thon, the lead-up to the event is the same in that participants collect pledges from members of their communities to donate a certain amount per distance they walk at the event.
The more pledges a participant collects and the farther they walk, the more funds are raised for your organization! To conduct the walking virtually, you can either give all participants the same date and time to complete their walk, or you can provide a date range over which they should complete their miles. In both cases, participants self-report how many miles they walked, and you collect the pledged donations!
18. Virtual Dance-a-Thon
Dance-a-thons are fun, exciting fundraisers for the whole family. Similar to a walk-a-thon, a dance-a-thon is a peer-to-peer fundraising event based on collecting pledges. In this case, donors pledge to contribute a certain amount per hour of dancing that a participant completes.
You determine when to have your participants do their dancing. You could have participants join a video call to livestream their dancing to others, or you could have them record themselves and submit the videos later. To maximize fundraising, participants typically aim to dance for a long period of time, like 12, 24, or even 36 hours. Whether or not you let your participants take breaks and resume is up to you!
19. Virtual Fun Run
A fun run is a great way to bring your community together and promote physical activity. A favorite of schools and PTAs, a fun run can be a valuable source of funds for your organization if you market it effectively and encourage peer-to-peer fundraising ahead of time.
Participants collect pledges from members of their community—these can either be flat, one-time donations contingent upon their running in the fun run, or they can pledge to contribute a certain amount per unit of distance that the participant completes. To conduct a fun run virtually, just set the route and ask participants to do their run within a certain time frame.
20. Virtual Read-a-Thon
A read-a-thon is the perfect fundraiser to encourage reading among your supporters and raise money for your cause at the same time. Similar to other “a-thon” fundraisers, a read-a-thon collects pledges from participants’ friends and family that dictate a certain amount of money they will contribute per amount that their participant reads.
The amount of reading could be based on pages read, words read, or entire books completed over a certain period of time. This fundraiser is effective for supporters of all ages, which makes it an especially great option for schools and churches. To take this fundraiser to the virtual sphere, just have your participants read independently over the course of your fundraiser. Make sure to tell your participants when to start and stop reading!
21. Virtual Weight Loss Challenge
This fundraiser is the perfect opportunity to encourage your supporters to get healthy. With a weight loss challenge, participants come together to support one another along their weight loss journeys. Provide each participant with a peer-to-peer fundraising page so they can garner donations in support of your cause along the way.
Determine a realistic timeline for your fundraiser that will encourage healthy weight loss strategies, not crash dieting! One to three months is a reasonable timeframe to expect some weight loss but not encourage unhealthy habits. If participants prefer, they could opt to collect pledges from their friends and family to donate a certain amount per pound they lose.
22. Facebook Fundraiser
Over the past several years, Facebook fundraisers have become increasingly popular as a convenient way for supporters to contribute to nonprofits. Facebook fundraisers can be executed at any time, but one of the most common is the Facebook birthday fundraiser.
For a Facebook birthday fundraiser, your supporters share a peer-to-peer fundraising page for your nonprofit and ask for donations to your cause in lieu of gifts for their birthday. Birthday fundraisers can garner a large amount of funds for your organization over the course of the year, so make sure to promote this opportunity to your supporters.
23. Virtual Pledge Campaign
Pledges are distinct from donations in that they represent an amount a donor will contribute at some point in the future. Pledges are useful for urgent needs like disaster relief and advocacy-related work, in addition to covering unforeseen expenses your nonprofit incurs. Pledge campaigns are meant to promote the opportunity for donors to make pledges.
To launch an effective pledge campaign, make sure to set a goal and allow donors to see your progress toward that goal with gamification features like fundraising thermometers that encourage contributions. Don’t forget to include a compelling case for support in all of your pledge campaign appeals.
24. Virtual Marathon
Do you have some particularly physically fit supporters or supporters who would enjoy working toward physical fitness? If so, consider a virtual marathon fundraiser. A marathon is 26 miles long, but if that seems too ambitious, half-marathons are an option as well.
For a marathon fundraiser, start planning early—supporters will likely need time to train to make it the full distance. You could set the route for your marathon or allow supporters to make their own and report them. Either way, make sure you provide participants with peer-to-peer fundraising pages ahead of time so they can garner donations and spread awareness for your cause while they train. Set a day for your marathon if your participants are running separate routes, or set a time range for them to complete it if they are running the same route.
Has your nonprofit been executing the same three classic fundraisers since you can remember? If so, it’s probably time to spice things up and opt for a unique fundraising idea. Your supporters will enjoy the new and exciting ways to get involved with your organization virtually. Let’s get started.
Especially if your supporters have demonstrated an eagerness to learn about your organization’s issue or focus, consider having a virtual webinar fundraiser. Your webinar could cover a range of topics related to your organization’s work. For example, if your nonprofit aims to reduce deforestation, you could have an expert give a webinar on forest preservation, ecology, or other topics related to the environment.
Your supporters will likely appreciate the opportunity to learn more about your area of focus and wouldn’t mind making a donation to secure admission to the virtual event. Make sure you let your supporters know of this opportunity well ahead of time, and have a form where they can sign up and make their payment.
26. Live-Streamed Book Club
If you have some bookworms in your supporter base, a virtual book club to bring them together could be an effective choice for a virtual fundraiser. A virtual book club has all the same elements as a regular book club, except when it comes time to meet, the members meet via video conferencing or live-streaming software instead of in person.
To make this fundraiser as successful as possible, survey your supporters ahead of time to see what kind of books they would be interested in reading together. You may want to suggest books that are in some way connected to your nonprofit’s mission or cause. Once you know what book you’ll be reading, send out sign-up sheets for your book club and ask for a donation in exchange for registration.
27. Virtual Wish List
A virtual wish list fundraiser allows your supporters to either donate or directly purchase items that your nonprofit needs to further your mission. To get started with this fundraiser, create a list of the items you need and circulate the list to your donors via email, social media, and even text channels. To inspire a sense of urgency and increase results, limit your wish list fundraiser to a certain time frame and set a goal to acquire everything on your list in that window.
You could create your wish list using Amazon’s wish list function, or you could draft your list separately and include links to the items if donors wish to purchase them online. Either way, a wish list is an effective way to acquire the tools you need to accomplish your mission—and quickly!
28. Virtual Food Drive
Especially during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, food drives are more important than ever. Fighting hunger across the world is a priority of many nonprofits, and a food drive can help further this mission. For a food drive, you can choose to collect in-kind donations of canned goods and other non-perishable food items, or you can collect donations that will go toward the purpose of stockpiling these items. Then, distribute the goods to community members in need.
To make your food drive virtual, there’s not much to change—just spread the word online to your supporters and assign a drop-off location. Distributing a crowdfunding page to raise funds to purchase food will maximize the impact of your virtual food drive. Then, to distribute the food to your community without interacting in-person, have those in need sign up for time slots during which they can pick up their food.
29. Virtual Design Contest
Could your organization benefit from having a design made for a T-Shirt, brochure, or campaign? Have a virtual design contest and encourage your supporters to participate. Establish some basic requirements to guide participants in the right direction, but other than that, see what creative designs they can come up with!
Encourage them to use a peer-to-peer fundraising page as they work on their designs. At the end of a designated time period (i.e. one week or one month), have everyone send their designs in. Gather your community virtually to unveil the designs, vote on their favorites, and award the fundraiser who raised the most money through their peers.
30. Virtual Envelope Fundraiser
The traditional envelope fundraiser involves purchasing a large number of plain envelopes (i.e. 100, 200, 300) and numbering them visibly on the outside. Then, at a fundraising event or somewhere with walk-by traffic of your supporters, you pin the envelopes on a wall and ask donors to take down an envelope and fill it with the face value. Envelope fundraisers can raise a substantial amount of funds—a 200-envelope fundraiser raises $20,100!
To take this fundraiser virtual, you’ll need a platform through which you can present your envelope fundraiser. This may need to be a separate page on your website or through a fundraising software provider. In the virtual version, supporters will click on the envelope of their choice and make an online donation instead of physically filling the envelope. Then, the envelope should be marked as “filled” on the virtual envelope wall, allowing donors to clearly see the progress of the fundraiser and easily choose an unfilled envelope.
31. Virtual Behind-the-Scenes Tour
Supporters who are curious about your organization’s inner workings—especially if you run an organization like a museum or aquarium—will likely jump at the chance to get a behind-the-scenes tour. Spread awareness about this opportunity on your organization’s website, social media, and email marketing channels, and charge a fee for tickets.
You could make this a regular fundraiser by hosting tours monthly, quarterly, or annually. Or, you could frame the fundraiser as a donor recognition event for those supporters who contribute over a certain amount to a given campaign. Regardless, your supporters are sure to enjoy getting a look behind the curtain and seeing how your organization works!
32. Virtual Advocacy Campaign
A virtual advocacy campaign can easily be leveraged to raise funds for your mission. Advocacy encompasses everything from raising awareness to mobilizing your supporters to lobbying directly for change. Your advocates likely represent a highly passionate sect of your supporters, so they are great candidates to target for financial support as well.
To combine an advocacy campaign with fundraising, emphasize the importance of monetary donations in addition to other types of support. After all, it’s often a lack of resources that stands in the way of change—be sure to stress this in the messaging of your advocacy campaign. Still, appreciate your non-donor advocates for the work they do to educate their peers and promote awareness of your cause.
33. E-Card Campaign
E-cards can be used in effective campaigns to reach new supporters and provide a service at the same time! E-cards are digital cards branded to your organization that are great for distribution around the holidays. Supporters can purchase a card to email to their friends and family, spreading awareness of your cause and encouraging others to contribute with a card purchase!
Make sure the e-card service you use allows supporters to personalize their messages to recipients—no one wants to receive a generic “Dear friend” card for the holidays. Once you have your e-card platform established, embed a link to an e-card form on your website and advertise the link widely on your social media profiles and email marketing channels.
34. Virtual Bingo
Who doesn’t love bingo? This family-friendly, all-ages game is a classic for a reason. To launch a virtual bingo fundraising campaign, make sure to promote the event online ahead of time to your supporters so they can get excited about the event and plan on attending. Then, find a website that supports virtual bingo games (there are several) and determine the requirements. Some platforms only allow a certain amount of participants without paying a fee, so be sure to read the fine print.
Once you’ve established how you will play virtually, explain to your supporters the directions for joining the event. Suggest a donation amount for participation in your virtual bingo game, as charging a fee on admission may be difficult to monitor in a virtual game. After that, all that’s left to do is enjoy the game and watch the funds come rolling in!
35. Virtual Paint and Sip
Paint and sip events—where groups of friends visit a dedicated paint and sip art studio to paint together and drink wine—have become increasingly popular in recent years. The experience is fun, relaxing, and allows participants’ creative sides to come out!
To make a paint and sip event a virtual fundraiser, you’ll need to do a little bit of planning. First of all, determine interest in the event so you know what you’ll need in terms of supplies. Once you have a general idea of attendance, purchase art supplies for your supporters and ask them to pick them up at a designated location. (Charge a fee for attendance that more than covers your investment in supplies.) Then, when the time for your event comes, have all of the participants join a video conference to paint together and drink wine in support of your cause!
36. Cutest Pet/Baby Contest
This contest is certain to get the moms and dads (with human and pet children alike) fired up in support of your cause! Every parent thinks their child is the cutest child in the room. Have your supporters prove it with a cutest pet/baby contest, where the pet or baby with the greatest amount of donations is crowned the cutest pet/baby and wins a prize.
You could use a platform that allows supporters to see the amounts donated to each participant all at once, or you could incorporate a peer-to-peer element and ask supporters to distribute their own fundraising pages to their communities. Either way, make sure donors can easily access the list of candidates from the fundraising page so they can decide who is the cutest pet or baby they want to donate in support of!
37. Calendar Sale
A calendar sale is the perfect fundraiser to keep your organization on your supporters’ minds every day of the year. For a calendar sale, make sure to start planning early—around May if you’re going to distribute the calendars in December, as is standard. You’ll want to include high-quality images on the cover of your calendar, as well as on every month’s individual page.
Be sure to effectively brand your calendar to your organization. You can even include things like your donation page URL, text-to-give number and keyword, and key events and volunteer opportunities. That way, even when supporters are in their homes they can always have a connection to your organization and an easy way to get engaged.
38. Online Photography Contest
As smartphone cameras continue to improve and people find themselves snapping photos at every turn, amateur photographers are popping up everywhere. You’re bound to have some camera-skilled supporters who would love to compete in a photography contest online to discover the best photographer around! For this fundraiser, advertise the opportunity and charge a fee to enter. (Alternatively, you could ask for a suggested donation to enter to avoid discouraging participation.)
Once you have all of your competitors signed up, have them upload their best photo to a designated location online. Your donation page for this fundraiser can provide a link to all of the photos and gamification tools depicting each photo’s live donation progress. At the end of a specified time frame, announce the winner as the photo that garnered the most donations!
39. Virtual Business Partnership
Often, nonprofits and other organizations will partner with a local business to establish a collaborative fundraiser that benefits the nonprofit and the business. For example, schools often have spirit nights at local restaurants, where the restaurant donates a portion of the night’s profits to the school. A business partnership can also result in in-kind donations from the business to your organization, like a local catering company providing free or discounted services for your nonprofit’s events.
There’s no reason you can’t take a business partnership virtual. Instead of fundraising events in-person like school spirit nights at restaurants, ask if the business would donate a portion of their online sales from the night instead. A virtual partnership with a business could mean they advertise the relationship on their website to encourage purchases that would support your cause.
40. Virtual Art Sale
A virtual art sale can allow your supporters to tap into their artsy sides and decorate their homes at the same time! For this fundraiser, there are a couple of options to source the art. First, you could see if your supporters would like to make (or already make) art that they would be willing to contribute to the art sale. Alternatively, you could reach out to local artists and makers to partner with them in your fundraiser.
You could ask them to sell their pieces in your fundraiser, contributing a certain percentage of the profits to your organization. To make the art sale more robust and profitable, consider sourcing the art from multiple artists and broadening the event to be more like a virtual craft fair. To launch your event, compile all of the items for sale onto one website or webpage and spread the link far and wide.
41. Virtual Cookbook Fundraiser
Cookbook fundraisers have long been popular ways to raise money for nonprofit organizations like schools. With a virtual cookbook fundraiser, instead of receiving a hard copy of the cookbook you’re selling, donors receive a PDF version. Acquiring a PDF of a cookbook means donors can see recipes easily on their smartphones or tablets, or they can opt to print out specific recipes if they prefer reading hard copies.
To have a virtual cookbook fundraiser, you’ll need to partner with a cookbook producer or vendor. This way, you can acquire the cookbooks at a bulk price and sell them to your supporters at a profit, so you’re still raising money for your cause.
42. Virtual Cake Decorating Contest
Cake decorating has taken off in recent years as bakers post their super-satisfying cake decorating videos on social media sites like Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok. Amateur bakers everywhere have become experts at a range of techniques, producing creative, visually pleasing cakes that look delicious!
It’s likely that you have more than a few supporters who are cake decorating hobbyists. They would probably love to join a cake decorating contest to see who the best amateur baker is! Similar to other fundraising contests, for this fundraiser you can charge a fee for bakers to enter. You can choose to host this as a live event, where supporters can log on to watch. Alternatively, you can structure it as a competitive crowdfunding campaign, where pictures of each competitor’s cake are spread to your supporters and they donate to the cake they like the best.
43. Virtual “Yard” Sale
Yard sales have long been popular choices for nonprofits to raise some extra funds for their projects and initiatives. The classic yard sale fundraiser involves your supporters all bringing their yard sale items to a common location and agreeing to donate their profits to your organization.
However, when this fundraiser takes place virtually, instead of meeting in-person your participants post their items online, sell them, and give your organization the profits. Ask your participants to mention in the product descriptions that the proceeds from the items’ sales go to a good cause.
If your nonprofit needs to raise money, bring your community together, and hit a target in a specific period of time, a fundraising event is probably the best way to meet those goals. A fundraising event has a defined window of time during which supporters can donate, which increases the likelihood that supporters will contribute. Plus, with an event, donors feel like they are getting something in return for their contribution—a memorable experience. Let’s begin!
44. Virtual Auction
Has your nonprofit ever hosted an auction before? These events can be highly profitable for your organization, as the items for auction are usually donated. This means you won’t have to spend money up-front to acquire the items. To host a virtual auction, use an auction software provider like Snowball to streamline all of the inner workings of your event, like the registration, check-in, bidding, and close-out. Auction software can also help you set up the site for your auction, which will function as the virtual event space for your auction.
To procure items for auction, think about what items your particular donors and supporters would be interested in. Consider auctioning off educational classes, gym memberships, and other experiences in addition to higher-ticket items to diversify your donor base and give everyone a chance to participate. Market your virtual auction heavily ahead of time and you’re sure to have plenty of supporters show up to support via livestream!
45. Virtual Silent Auction
A virtual silent auction is similar to a classic auction except it’s missing the auctioneer role. In a traditional auction, an auctioneer goes item-by-item and guides the bidding process by taking bids from the audience and encouraging higher bids. Finally, when no more bids are being placed, the auctioneer announces the last bidder won the item.
In a silent auction, however, audience members write their bids on pieces of paper and continuously check to see if they’ve been outbid. In a virtual silent auction, instead of writing bids on paper, attendees enter their bids electronically. At the end of a predetermined window of time, the audience member with the highest bid on record wins the item. Virtual auction software can handle a traditional or silent auction, so be sure to invest in a provider that suits your needs.
46. Online Benefit Concert
Among your supporters are surely some live music fans—consider inviting them to an online benefit concert in support of your cause. You could invite a prominent local musician or several different musicians to attract a wider audience. For your online benefit concert, charge a fee for tickets and collect donations during the event, as well. Advertise your text-to-give number and keyword on the livestream page hosting your concert so viewers can easily contribute to your cause.
Make sure to have the logistics of your online concert figured out well beforehand to reduce the likelihood of technical difficulties during the event.
47. Virtual Gala
Who said this traditionally high-end fundraising event can’t work from the couch? Encourage your supporters to get dressed up to come to your gala, and they can attend from their own homes. Ahead of your gala, decide what kind of programming you will live stream to your audience. Galas usually have a host and some sort of entertainment to make sure the guests are having fun!
Traditionally, galas are highly coordinated, catered events in nice venues, but you could still bring this experience to your attendees’ homes. You could deliver food to your guests’ homes ahead of time so everyone can enjoy a meal together. Regardless, make sure to encourage donations and provide the donation page link in your live stream.
48. Virtual Art Class
One way to bring your supporters together for a fun event is to host a virtual art class. For this event, reach out to a local artist or maker to see if they would be willing to teach a virtual class to your supporters. Promote the opportunity through your marketing channels, set a date and time, and distribute a sign-up form for your supporters to register.
You could suggest a donation in exchange for admission or you could charge a specific fee. When it comes time for your event, make sure all of your attendees know how to access the class on live stream or virtual conferencing software. Afterward, they will all have a beautiful piece of art to remember your organization by!
49. Virtual Cooking Class
No matter how skilled a cook is, there is always more to learn. A cooking class could be a broadly appealing offering for your supporters to learn their way around the kitchen. Whether it’s a specific recipe they’re learning, knife skills basics, or cookie decorating, a cooking class is bound to be a fun experience for all involved.
To host a virtual cooking class, see if one of your own supporters would be qualified to teach it, or reach out to a local chef who could donate their time. Promote the class through email, social media, and on your website. Charge a fee for attendance and set up a video conference so all of your attendees can see one another’s creations!
50. Virtual Fitness Class
Especially in the past year with gyms being closed, many people have turned to at-home workouts to stay fit. Still, there’s something about live, personalized workouts that is especially motivating, leading some people to invest in virtual personal training and live fitness classes. Your supporters could come together to support your cause and get fit if you offered your own fitness classes.
Reach out to a personal trainer to see if they would be willing to teach a one-time or recurring fitness class for your community. Necessary equipment should be limited to things your supporters could use at home, like dumbbells, exercise balls, and resistance bands. Set the price of your class, advertise its existence, and enjoy the camaraderie of sweating it out together for a good cause.
51. Virtual Movie Night
Another way to have a community experience while staying at a distance is by launching a virtual movie night fundraiser. Encourage your supporters to send in suggestions for the movie screening or show a film related to your cause. Decide a date and time for your event and decide on how you will price your event. A standard movie ticket is anywhere from $5 to $20 depending on where you live, so a donation in that range would be an appropriate fee for “admission” to your virtual evening.
Feel free to encourage additional donations before the movie, during intermission, and afterward. Suggest that attendees take pictures of their movie night setups—complete with popcorn, snacks, drinks, and cozy ambiances—and post them on social media with a designated hashtag. To watch the movie all at once, obtain permission to livestream it from a platform that everyone can access simultaneously. Then just sit back, relax, and enjoy the movie!
52. Online Trivia Night
Trivia is a classic, popular pastime for many people. Coming together on a team and competing to see who knows the most is a satisfying way for your supporters to show off their skills! Choose a theme for your trivia night by brainstorming topics affiliated with your organization or surveying your audience to see what they would prefer. Some common trivia themes are broad subjects like movies or history, or more specific ones like Harry Potter or The Office.
Go with whichever theme you think will inspire the most attendance and have everyone join a virtual conference with team breakoff capabilities. To raise funds with this event, consider charging a fee for participation or encouraging teams to peer-to-peer fundraise to meet a minimum participation threshold beforehand.
53. Virtual Gaming Tournament
If members of your community are into video games, you could easily hold a virtual gaming tournament. Even before everything shifted online, people were playing video games together on their couches and communicating via headset. All your organization would have to do is choose the game and design the tournament bracket.
Have participants pay a fee to play and consider allowing a “viewing party” to gather virtually to watch the tournament via livestream. You could opt to charge a small viewing fee as well to maximize fundraising at this event.
54. Virtual Happy Hour
While everyone enjoys a nice post-work happy hour drink, sometimes it’s not possible to gather in person to do so. Happy hours are easily transitioned to the virtual sphere with video conferencing software.
Consider setting a topic for your happy hour to guide discussion. Topics could range from “Get-to-know-you” happy hours where your supporters can make connections with others who support your cause, or they could be more focused on topics related to nonprofits or your organization specifically. Suggest a donation for attendance to make a profit for this event.
55. Live-Streamed Q&A
A live-streamed Q&A could be a great fundraiser for your supporters to get questions answered from a prominent figure, local or otherwise. The key is selecting a speaker your supporters will want to hear from—a business leader, celebrity, or activist who has some involvement with your mission would all be effective choices.
To launch your live-streamed Q&A, advertise the event ahead of time and make sure your supporters know how to access the livestream on the day of the event. Charge a fee for tickets to attend virtually or suggest donations during the event.
56. Virtual Talent Show
Talent shows are always entertaining to watch, no matter how talented the performers really are. It’s a chance to get together with a community and watch people you know show off what they’re good at! Whether you’re a church, community group, or nonprofit, a talent show is effective for bringing all of your supporters together and raising funds at the same time.
To raise money associated with this event, ask that each participant pledge to raise a certain amount of funds leading up to the event through peer-to-peer fundraising. Then, ask supporters to buy tickets for access to the livestream on the day of your event. Make sure to award the highest fundraiser as well as the crowd’s favorite performance!
57. Online Comedy Show
For this virtual fundraising event, reach out to a few local comedians to see if they would be willing to donate their time for a performance for your organization. To increase attendance, try to choose more well-known comedians or comedians you know your supporters like.
Plan to host your event via livestream or video conferencing software. Charge a fee for attendance and provide attendees with directions on how to access the show prior to the event. You could incentivize donations during the event by having the comedians shout out the most impactful donors.
58. Virtual Raffle
A raffle is an especially effective fundraiser because of the built-in incentive for supporters to donate: a chance at winning the prize! For a virtual raffle, instead of selling physical tickets, sell online tickets via your website. To make sure people want to participate, advertise the prize far and wide. You may want to structure your event as a 50/50 raffle, where half of the proceeds make up the prize. Alternatively, you could solicit an in-kind donation of a desirable item and make that the prize.
Regardless, make sure to promote the purchase of tickets on your website and social media channels. Make sure to reiterate the good cause that all donations will support.
59. Virtual Penny Social
A penny social is a combination of a raffle and an auction. Participants purchase tickets before the event that they can use at the social to bid on items. A winning ticket is selected at random for each item and the item goes to the winner!
Because the likelihood of winning is higher than a traditional raffle, this option may lead to higher attendance numbers, which is always a good thing. Make sure to procure the perfect items for your audience by reaching out to local vendors and asking for in-kind donations. You’ll likely need a type of silent auction software to support this event virtually, so look into your options. Ahead of your event, create buzz on virtual and analog channels and hype up the prizes.
60. Online Karaoke Night
While karaoke is usually a fun in-person event to enjoy with friends, there are online platforms that support virtual karaoke, which can be just as entertaining! To begin, conduct research on virtual karaoke platforms to help you decide how to host your event. Once you have the logistics nailed down, begin to create buzz about the event across your nonprofit’s marketing channels.
To maximize fundraising at this event, sell tickets to grant admission plus ask for a donation to perform a song! Encourage your supporters to sing together in groups to maximize the donations for each song.
Whether you’re using a virtual giving channel like text-to-give, bringing your supporters together for an online concert, or executing a social media challenge fundraiser, the possibilities for virtual fundraising ideas are endless. Not only can virtual fundraising expand your audience and boost revenue, but it’s also often less of an up-front investment for your nonprofit.
Take advantage of the wide range of virtual fundraising software to streamline your virtual fundraising efforts and make the process more enjoyable for your staff and donors alike. For more fundraising tips and tricks, check out these additional resources:
- School Fundraising Ideas | 75+ Top Fundraisers: Some fundraising ideas are better suited to certain types of organizations. Check out our top ideas for schools to raise money.
- Fundraising Events | 75+ Ideas to Raise More in 2020: This comprehensive list of fundraising events is sure to have at least one idea you’ll love.
- Virtual Fundraising | The Complete Guide: As virtual fundraising becomes more and more prominent, you may need a brushup on how it works how to harness it in pursuit of your organization’s mission. Check out our complete guide on the topic for more information.