You can still rally supporters while staying a safe distance apart. Creative virtual event ideas help raise funds for your good cause while protecting the health of your community.
Supporters are feeling Zoom fatigue during the coronavirus pandemic — their days are full of webinars, virtual meetings, digital icebreakers, and video conferencing.
It's vital to bring creativity to your virtual campaigns to keep event attendees engaged.
We’ll help you find innovative ways to encourage interaction, foster human connections, and offer an activity beyond staring at a screen.
Below, we share creative strategies to bring to your virtual fundraising events, based on real Givebutter campaigns. From cooking classes and happy hours to virtual auctions and walk-a-thons, these campaigns will get your creative juices flowing.
7 innovative virtual event ideas for your organization
You don't need an in-person event to rally community support.
These organizations prove that with a little creativity, you can raise money for a good cause from the comfort of your home.
1. Organize a virtual walk-a-thon 👟
The pandemic brought physical activity to a crashing halt — and it wasn't just due to gym closures. In a study by Stanford University, reduced mobility was listed as one of the four causes of Zoom fatigue. We aren't walking to work or attending in-person meetings anymore, which can cause physical and mental strain.
Get supporters moving by organizing a virtual walk. The STARability Foundation organized a virtual endurance event to raise funds for individuals with disabilities. Volunteers chose to sell tickets for two events (a 3K fun run and a stroller walk for supporters) while offering various sponsorship tiers ($250-$1,200 packages). Supporters cheered one another on in real-time through the supporter feed while squeezing in exercise during the pandemic.
2. Host a virtual gala and silent auction 💎
Studies show that how we dress can have a direct impact on our confidence and self-esteem. With so many of us feeling a little lethargic wearing the same pair of sweats each day, why not give supporters a reason to dress up?
A virtual gala can be a fun way to gather supporters together online. In 2020, the Center for Adoption Support and Education (C.A.S.E.) raised $86K in online donations through an online auction and gala. The organization took advantage of live streaming and Facebook Live to broaden its supporter base and surpass its fundraising goal. While they were only able to fit 318 people in a room at past, live events, they had 1,200 views for their online event.
3. Cheers over a virtual happy hour 🍹
With restaurants and bars operating at a limited capacity, your supporters are probably in need of a good night out in lieu of their normal karaoke night or improv show. Have everyone raise their glasses to your good cause by way of a virtual happy hour.
Mixology classes, cocktail kits, and wine and cheese pairings are just a few ways to bring happy hour to your supporters' homes. The Children's Center, which provides specialized programs to kids with special needs, put on a virtual happy hour to raise funds and awareness for their organization. Plus, they partnered with two local businesses — a pizzeria and a brewery — to put on the event.
The registration fee covered the cost of cocktails (or mocktails), a pizza kit, trivia games, and a raffle entry. Supporters joined together online to learn how to make pizza and drinks while learning about the Children's Center.
4. Host a cooking class 🍜
Hosting a cooking class in a virtual space teaches supporters a new skill while getting them on their feet and into the kitchen. (Besides, the best skills always have food involved.)
ConnectiKids, a nonprofit organization committed to improving the lives of children in Hartford, organized a cooking demo as a fun virtual event idea. A local celebrity chef and cookbook author demonstrated a signature cocktail, entree, and dessert to raise funds for community youth programs.
The event planners took advantage of the live stream feature for the event and used the add to calendar feature prior to the cooking demo. Even though some supporters couldn't make the event, they still surpassed their goal by using the Can't attend? Donate! feature.
5. Start a little friendly competition 🏁
Due to social distancing protocols, many sports and club events are on hold. But that doesn't mean you can't ignite a little competition into your online fundraising campaign.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a great strategy to get your most loyal supporters involved in your cause. They invite their network to give, which increases the overall attendance for your campaign. When you introduce gamification elements like a leaderboard, participants get extra incentive to work hard.
That's exactly what Aspire! Afterschool Learning did to raise $140K in their first virtual fundraiser ever.
By leveraging peer-to-peer fundraising, the organization was able to acquire 300 new supporters and surpass its goal by over $40K.
Plus, they had a pretty catchy peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. Their "MASKerade" theme was a hit with supporters, and their hashtag easily gained traction on social media.
6. Think outside Giving Tuesday 🎁
On Giving Tuesday in 2020, nonprofit fundraising nearly hit the $2.5 billion mark — a 25% increase from the year before. While it's no secret November and December are the most popular months for raising money in the nonprofit sector, there are still 10 other months to create a next-level campaign.
Fenwick High School created its own giving day in February. As their fifth annual day of giving, they successfully raised $189K in just 24 hours through their fundraising page. Campaign organizers were drawn to the Givebutter fundraising platform due to its long list of integrations, particularly the ThankView integration. Once they began using the platform, they realized various fundraising tools — personal videos, team members, and the supporter feed — helped bring new life into their donation page.
7. Create a social media challenge 📲
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Lexy Burke, a social media influencer, raised over $105,000 on TikTok — then gave it all away.
Lexy started the viral “Venmo Challenge” because she saw other influencers ask for small contributions as a source of income. She asked for small contributions — ranging from 50 cents to $1 — then donated the money to struggling waiters, musicians, and people who are homeless. Nearly 70 people benefited from Burke’s campaign, highlighting the power of social media in any fundraising strategy.
You can use the same tactic to boost fundraising efforts in your organization. The Reflect Organization, a national mental wellness nonprofit with college chapters, raised $75K in their virtual fundraising campaign through a "three-dollar challenge." The premise was simple: Supporters donated $3, then challenged friends to do the same. This offered a low-cost, zero-barrier point of entry for donating. Everyone can afford to give $3 to help people, thereby helping the campaign go viral.
Use Givebutter to launch a downright fun virtual event
Givebutter's virtual event platform makes it easy to launch an innovative campaign.
With over 70 tools at your fingertips — including live stream, supporter feeds, and custom thank-you messages — you can easily organize your next virtual event to rally your community.
Plus, Givebutter offers some of the lowest fees in the industry. We give supporters the option to cover credit processing fees, and 95% choose to do so. The average fee spent on Givebutter is just 0.52%, meaning you keep more of the money you raise.
Ready to launch your best virtual event yet? Get started with your free account today and put these virtual event ideas into practice.
Rachel is a fundraising and marketing consultant for nonprofits whose aspiration since she was 16-years-old is simply this: help others, help others.