Virtual fundraising ideas to raise money online

Linda Persson
Editor
16
Min to read

Probably one of the few positive side  effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, was that  many charities had to adapt their fundraising efforts to the virtual space. Virtual events are cheaper to undertake and you can do many more iterations to find just the right setup. They are here to stick around!

In this blog post, we'll explore a variety of virtual fundraising ideas that your charity can use to reach new donors and engage with your supporters.

Why should charities do virtual fundraising  events?

Virtual events are a great way for you to improve your fundraising efforts for a number of reasons.

Firstly, virtual events are much more accessible to a wider audience. With a physical event, attendees are limited by their location and availability to travel. However, with a virtual event, anyone with an internet connection can participate from anywhere in the world. This can significantly increase the number of potential donors and fundraisers who are able to participate in the event.

Secondly, virtual events are generally much cheaper to organise than physical events. There are no venue rental fees or travel costs for attendees to consider, which means that a higher proportion of the funds raised can go directly towards the charity's cause. Additionally, virtual events often have lower overhead costs in terms of staffing, catering, and other expenses.

Thirdly, virtual events can be easily promoted through social media and other online platforms. This allows charities to reach a larger and more diverse audience, which can also increase the number of attendees and donors.

Fourthly, virtual events can be easily customized to meet the needs of the charity and its target audience. For example, charities can host a virtual marathon, bake sale, or talent show, depending on their goals and resources. This flexibility allows charities to get creative and find an event format that resonates with their audience.

Finally, virtual events can be recorded and shared on social media and other platforms, which allows charities to continue to generate funds and engage with their audience even after the event has ended. This can be especially valuable for charities that rely on repeat donors and fundraisers.

Overall, virtual events are a cost-effective and convenient way to improve fundraising results and reach a wider audience. By taking advantage of the benefits of virtual events, you can significantly increase fundraising impact and in the end support your cause.

15 virtual fundraising ideas

We have found 15 different ideas for virtual fundraising events. Some of them are conventional and some are more novel. Their are both those that fit P2P fundraising where charities will need a solution like BetterNow and their are those where the main income will be from other sources like tickets and merchandise. 

The events can be categorised by activity. This categorisation can help you to choose an event that aligns with your goals and resonates with your audience. We have categorise them by these five groups:

Physical activity-based events: virtual marathon or walk, virtual yoga or fitness class, virtual nature hike or outdoor adventure tour 

Creative or artistic events: virtual talent show or concert, virtual comedy night or open mic night, virtual art exhibit or gallery tour 

Food or beverage-based events: virtual bake sale or cooking class, virtual cocktail class or wine tasting

Social or entertainment-based events: virtual trivia night or game night, virtual book club or discussion group, virtual movie night or watch party, virtual silent auction or raffle

Specialty or niche events: virtual escape room or scavenger hunt, virtual gardening workshop or plant sale, virtual pet parade or adoption event 

We will below present all the events ideas with a clear description of how they work in relation to fundraising. We will give a quick rundown of the resources needed together with its benefits and downsides. Finally we will rate all ideas on a scale from 1 to 5 🚀 for potential and 1 to 5 🤓 on difficulty to get right.

Physical activity-based event

Virtual marathon or walk

Participants can sign up to walk or run a set distance at their own pace and location. They can track their progress using a fitness app or website, and share their results on social media. Can be any endurance activity, so also works for cycling, cross-country skiing, swimming and any running distance.

How the fundraising aspects works: Participants can set up individual fundraising pages and ask friends and family to sponsor them. Charities can also offer incentives, such as t-shirts or medals, to participants who reach certain fundraising milestones. For example, participants who raise €150 or more could receive a special medal.

Resources needed: A website or platform to host the event and track participants' progress, a way to process donations (basically, you need P2P fundraising software), and marketing materials to promote the event.

👍Benefits: Low cost, easy to promote, can reach a wide audience, can be customized to fit the charity's goals and resources. Very high fundraising potential.

👎Downsides: It requires a certain level of physical fitness, may not be suitable for all audiences. Requires a marketing budget for recruiting participants.

Fundraising potential: 🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀

Difficulty in organising: 🤓🤓🤓

Virtual yoga or fitness class/challenge

Participants can sign up to participate in a virtual yoga or fitness class led by a instructor. The class can be hosted on a video conferencing platform or through a website or app that allows for interactive workouts.

How the fundraising aspects works:  Participants can set up individual fundraising pages and ask friends and family to sponsor them or make a donation in exchange for their participation. You can also sell virtual "tickets" or "passes" for the event. For example, participants could pay €10 to attend the fitness class or €5 to access a series of workouts. Potentiale is high of it involves P2P fundraising, and low if it is just ticket sales.

Resources needed: A website or platform to host the event and facilitate the workout, a way to process donations (such as through a fundraising platform or a donation form on the charity's website), and marketing materials and channels to promote the event.

👍Benefits: Fun and interactive, can reach a wide audience, can be customised to fit the your goals and resources.

👎Downsides: May require a professional instructor or other specialised resources, may not be suitable for all audiences. Reliant on professional workout platform to facilitate the classes.

Fundraising potential: 🚀🚀 to  🚀🚀🚀🚀(if P2P)

Difficulty in organising: 🤓🤓

Virtual nature hike or outdoor adventure tour

Participants can sign up for a virtual nature hike or outdoor adventure tour, where they can explore a variety of scenic locations from the comfort of their own homes. The tour can be hosted on a video conferencing platform and can include interactive elements such as live Q&A sessions and trivia games.

How the fundraising aspects works: If the hike is of ‘tough’ enough, then this works well with P2P fundraising, so participants can set up individual fundraising pages and ask friends and family to sponsor them or make a donation in exchange for their participation. If it is short an easy adventure, then it may be more appropriate to just encoruage participants to make a donation in exchange for access to the tour. You can also sell virtual "tickets" or "passes" for the event. For example, participants could pay €10 to attend the tour or €20 to receive a digital guidebook.

Resources needed: A website or platform to host the event and facilitate the tour, a way to process donations (such as through a fundraising platform or a donation form on the charity's website), and marketing materials to promote the event. If P2P fundraising is added, then you need a solution like BetterNow.

👍Benefits: Educational, promotes environmental conservation, can reach a wide audience.

👎Downsides: May require additional resources for tracking and processing donations, may require expert guides or other specialised resources, may not be suitable for all audiences.

Fundraising potential: 🚀🚀 to  🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀(if P2P)

Difficulty in organising: 🤓🤓🤓

Creative or artistic events

Virtual talent show or concert

Participants can sign up to perform a talent, such as singing, dancing, or playing an instrument, and share a video of their performance on social media. Alternatively, the charity can host a virtual concert with professional performers.

How the fundraising aspects works: Participants can set up individual fundraising pages and ask friends and family to sponsor them or make a donation in exchange for their performance. Donations can work as votes on talents. The charity can also sell virtual "tickets" or "passes" for the event. For example, participants could pay €10 to attend the concert or €5 to watch a particular performer.

Resources needed:  A website or platform to host the event and share content, a way to process donations (such as through a fundraising platform or a donation form on the charity's website), and marketing materials to promote the event.

👍Benefits: Fun and interactive, can reach a wide audience, can be customised to fit the charity's goals and resources.

👎Downsides: May require professional performers or other specialised resources, may not be suitable for all audiences. Requires a fairly large supporter base to recruit talents from.

Fundraising potential: 🚀🚀🚀🚀

Difficulty in organising: 🤓🤓🤓🤓🤓

Virtual comedy night or open mic night

Participants can sign up to perform stand-up comedy or other acts, such as poetry or music, and share a video of their performance on social media. Alternatively, the charity can host a virtual open mic night with a mix of professional and amateur performers.

How the fundraising aspects works:  Participants can set up individual fundraising pages and ask friends and family to sponsor them or make a donation in exchange for their performance. The charity can also sell virtual "tickets" or "passes" for the event. For example, participants could pay €10 to attend the comedy night or €5 to watch a particular performer.

Resources needed: An interactive video platform to host the event and share content, a way to process donations (such as through a fundraising platform or a donation form on the charity's website), and marketing materials to promote the event.

👍Benefits: Fun and interactive, can reach a wide audience, can be customised to fit the charity's goals and resources.

👎Downsides: May require additional resources for tracking and processing donations, may require professional performers or other specialised resources, may not be suitable for all audiences.

Fundraising potential: 🚀🚀

Difficulty in organising: 🤓🤓🤓

Virtual art exhibit or gallery tour

Participants can attend a virtual art exhibit or gallery tour, where they can view and learn about a variety of artworks from the comfort of their own homes. The exhibit can be hosted on a website or platform that allows for virtual browsing, and can include interactive elements such as live Q&A sessions with artists or curators.

How the fundraising aspects works: Participants can make a donation to the charity in exchange for access to the exhibit or tour. The charity can also sell virtual "tickets" or "passes" for the event. For example, participants could pay €10 to attend the exhibit or €20 to receive a digital guidebook.

Resources needed: A website or platform to host the event and facilitate the exhibit or tour, a way to process donations (such as through a fundraising platform or a donation form on the charity's website), and marketing materials to promote the event.v

👍Benefits: Educational, promotes the arts, can reach a wide audience.

👎Downsides: May require additional resources for tracking and processing donations, may require expert guides or other specialised resources, may not be suitable for all audiences.

Fundraising potential: 🚀🚀

Difficulty in organising: 🤓🤓

Food or beverage-based events: 

Virtual bake sale or cooking class

Participants can sign up to bake or cook a dish at home, then share a picture or video of their creation on social media. Alternatively, the charity can host a virtual cooking class with a professional chef, where participants can watch and learn how to make a particular dish or type of cuisine.

How the fundraising aspects works: Participants can set up individual fundraising pages and ask friends and family to sponsor them or make a donation in exchange for the baked goods or cooking class. The charity can also sell virtual "tickets" or "passes" for the event. For example, participants could pay €20 to attend the cooking class or €10 to receive a virtual recipe book.

Resources needed: A website or platform to host the event and share content, a way to process donations (such as through a fundraising platform like BetterNow or a donation form on the charity's website), and marketing materials to promote the event.

👍Benefits: Fun and interactive, can reach a wide audience. Have a very wide target group, everyone like cakes! Involves P2P fundraising.

👎Downsides: May require additional resources for tracking and processing donations, may require a professional chef or other specialised resources. Need marketing budget for attracting participants.

Fundraising potential: 🚀🚀🚀

Difficulty in organising: 🤓🤓

Virtual cocktail class or wine tasting

Participants can sign up to participate in a virtual cocktail class or wine tasting led by a professional mixologist or sommelier. The class can be hosted on a video conferencing platform or through a website or app that allows for interactive tastings.

How the fundraising aspects works: Income wil come from selling  virtual "tickets" or "passes" for the event. For example, participants could pay €20 to attend the cocktail class or €35 to receive a virtual tasting kit.

Resources needed: A website or platform to host the event and facilitate the tasting, a way to process donations (such as through a fundraising platform or a donation form on the charity's website), and marketing materials to promote the event.

👍Benefits: Fun and interactive, can reach a wide audience.  Can be customised to fit the your supporters and resources available.

👎Downsides: May require additional resources for tracking and processing donations, may require a professional mixologist or sommelier or other specialised resources, may not be suitable for all causes due to alcohol consumption. Tasting kits require either a partner or warehouse/logistics access..

Fundraising potential: 🚀

Difficulty in organising: 🤓🤓

Social or entertainment-based events

Virtual silent auction or raffle

Participants can bid on a variety of items or services, such as gift baskets, experiences, or artwork, through a virtual auction platform. Alternatively, the charity can host a virtual raffle, where participants can purchase virtual "tickets" for a chance to win a prize.

How the fundraising aspects works: The charity can use the proceeds from the auction or raffle as a fundraising mechanism. Getting items sponsored for the auction means the profit can be substantial. For example, the charity could set a minimum bid or "ticket" price and use the excess funds as a donation.

Resources needed: A website or platform to host the auction or raffle that also can process donations (such as through a fundraising platform or a donation form on the charity's website). Sponsors for auction items.

👍Benefits: Can attract a wide range of donors, can offer a variety of interesting and unique items or experiences, can be customised to fit the charity's goals and resources.

👎Downsides: May require additional resources for tracking and processing donations. Require sourcing or creating items or experiences for the auction or raffle.

Fundraising potential: 🚀🚀🚀🚀🚀

Difficulty in organising: 🤓🤓🤓🤓

Virtual trivia night or game night

Participants can sign up to participate in a virtual trivia or game night, where they can compete against each other in teams or as individuals. The charity can host the event on a video conferencing platform or use a website or app that allows for interactive games.

How the fundraising aspects works:: The charity can also sell virtual "tickets" or "passes" for the event. For example, participants could pay €5 to attend the trivia night or €3 to join a particular game. Winners receive various sponsored prices.

Resources needed: A website or platform to host the event and facilitate gameplay, a way to process donations (such as through a fundraising platform or a donation form on the charity's website), and marketing materials to promote the event.

👍Benefits: Fun and interactive, can reach a wide audience, quiz questions can be customised to fit the charity's goals and resources. Main benefit is increased engagement with existing supporters, not fundraising.

👎Downsides: May require additional resources for tracking and processing donations, may not be suitable for all audiences. 

Fundraising potential: 🚀🚀

Difficulty in organising: 🤓

Virtual movie night or watch party

Participants can sign up to watch a movie or TV show together online through a video streaming platform. The charity can host the event on a video conferencing platform or through a website or app that allows for interactive discussions.

How the fundraising aspects works: Participants can set up individual fundraising pages and ask friends and family to sponsor them or make a donation in exchange for their participation. The charity can also sell virtual "tickets" or "passes" for the event. For example, participants could pay €5 to attend the movie night.

Resources needed: A website or platform to host the event and facilitate the discussion, a way to process donations (such as through a fundraising platform or a donation form on the charity's website), and marketing materials to promote the event.

👍Benefits: Fun and interactive, can reach a wide audience, choice of movie can fit the charity's goals and resources. Main benefit is increased engagement with existing supporters, not fundraising.

👎Downsides: May require additional resources for tracking and processing donations, may require licensing fees for the movie or TV show, may not be suitable for all audiences. Very limited fundraising potentiale.

Fundraising potential: 🚀

Difficulty in organising: 🤓

Virtual book club or discussion group

Participants can sign up to participate in a virtual book club or discussion group, where they can read a selected book and discuss it with others online. The group can be hosted on a video conferencing platform or through a website or app that allows for interactive discussions.

How the fundraising aspects works:  You can sell virtual "tickets" or "passes" for the event. For example, participants could pay €5 to attend the discussion group or €3 to receive a digital copy of the book.

Resources needed: A website or platform to host the event and facilitate the discussion and  a way to process donations (such as through a fundraising platform or a donation form on the charity's website).

👍Benefits: Fun and interactive, can reach a wide audience, can be customized with book that fit your cause. Main benefit is increased engagement with existing supporters, not fundraising.

👎Downsides: May require additional resources for tracking and processing donations. Very limited fundraising potentiale.

Fundraising potential: 🚀

Difficulty in organising: 🤓

Specialty or niche events:

Virtual escape room or mystery game

Participants can sign up to participate in a virtual escape room or mystery game, where they must solve puzzles and clues to progress through the game. The game can be hosted on a video conferencing platform or through a website or app that allows for interactive gameplay.

How the fundraising aspects works: The charity can sell virtual "tickets" or "passes" for the event. For example, participants could pay €10 to access the escape room.

Resources needed: A website or platform to host the event and facilitate the gameplay, a way to process donations (such as through a fundraising platform or a donation form on the charity's website), and marketing materials to promote the event.

👍Benefits: Fun and interactive, can reach a wide audience, can be customised with book that fit your cause. Main benefit is increased engagement with existing supporters, not fundraising.

👎Downsides: May require specialised resources or content for the escape room or mystery game, may not be suitable for all audiences. Very limited fundraising potentiale.

Fundraising potential: 🚀

Difficulty in organising: 🤓🤓

Virtual gardening workshop or plant sale

Participants can sign up for a virtual gardening workshop or purchase plants from a virtual plant sale. The workshop can be hosted on a video conferencing platform and can cover topics such as plant care, design, and sustainable gardening practices.

How the fundraising aspects works: Participants can purchase plants or donate to the charity in exchange for access to the workshop. The charity can also sell virtual "tickets" or "passes" for the event. For example, participants could pay €10 to attend the workshop or €20 to receive a bag of seeds.

Resources needed: A website or platform to host the event and facilitate the workshop or plant sale, a way to process donations (such as through a fundraising platform or a donation form on the charity's website), and marketing materials to promote the event.

👍Benefits: Educational, promotes sustainable practices, can reach a wide audience.

👎Downsides: May require additional resources for tracking and processing donations, may require expert speakers or other specialised resources. Best suited for environmental causes.

Fundraising potential: 🚀🚀

Difficulty in organising: 🤓🤓🤓

Virtual pet parade or adoption event

Participants can sign up to participate in a virtual pet parade or adopt a pet through a virtual adoption event. The event can be hosted on a video conferencing platform and can include a variety of activities such as pet-themed games and contests, meet-and-greets with adoptable pets, and educational sessions on pet care.

How the fundraising aspects works: Participants can make a donation to the charity in exchange for access to the event or to adopt a pet. The charity can also sell virtual "tickets" or "passes" for the event. For example, participants could pay €10 to attend the event or some amount to adopt a pet.

Resources needed: A website or platform to host the event and facilitate the adoption process, a way to process donations (such as through a fundraising platform or a donation form on the charity's website), and marketing materials to promote the event.

👍Benefits: Promotes animal welfare, can reach a wide audience, can be customised to fit the charity's goals and resources.

👎Downsides: May require additional resources for tracking and processing donations, may require expert speakers or other specialised resources. Best suited for animal causes.

Fundraising potential: 🚀🚀

Difficulty in organising: 🤓🤓🤓

How to select the right virtual charity event 

With more than 15 ideas, we also wanted to help you choose among these. When it comes to finding the right virtual event for your charity, there are several key factors that you should consider.

Firstly, you should consider your target audience and what type of event will appeal to your supporters. For example, if a charity is trying to raise funds for animal welfare, a virtual pet parade or talent show might be more appropriate than a baking sale. By understanding the interests and passions of their audience, you can select an event that is more likely to attract donors and fundraisers.

Secondly, you should consider your own resources and capabilities. Virtual events can range from simple, low-effort events like a social media challenge to more complex, resource-intensive events like a virtual conference. By considering your available time, staff, and other resources, you can choose an event that is feasible and sustainable for you.

Thirdly, think about the goals you want to achieve with their virtual event. For example, are you looking to raise a specific amount of funds, engage with a new audience, or raise awareness about the cause? By setting clear goals, you can choose an event that is most likely to help you achieve these objectives.

Finally, you should consider the costs associated with the virtual event. While virtual events are generally cheaper to organise than physical events, they can still have costs such as marketing expenses, external consultants and staff time. By budgeting carefully and seeking out sponsors or partners to help offset these costs, charities can ensure that the virtual event is financially viable.

Overall, finding the right virtual event for your charity involves considering the audience, resources, goals, and costs associated with the event. By carefully evaluating these factors, you can select an event that is well-suited to your specific situation and cause.

Advice on fundraising and participant engagement

The goal of most of these events is to raise funds. Even though many have long term benefits through increased supporter loyalty, most fundraising departments is also judged and evaluated based on teh income raised. That is why we have include his section with a little fundraising advice. 

General fundraising advice

Some general advice in terms of fundraising for these type of events:

  • Set clear donation goals: Clearly communicating the fundraising goals for the event and how donations will be used can help motivate attendees to give.
  • Set clear expectations: If you don’t communicate that the vent is fundraising event, people won’t know that it is expected from them to donate. Make sure the framing of the event both in the marketing materiale and during the event is about donations and fundraising.
  • Use a variety of fundraising methods: In addition to asking for donations, consider incorporating other fundraising methods into the event, such as auctions or raffles. This can help increase overall revenue and can also make the event more engaging for attendees.

Advice when doing P2P fundraising

If you are running a P2P fundraising event (which tend to be those with largest potentiale) then there is some additional advice.

  • Encourage personalisation: Encourage participants to personalise their fundraising pages and messages with stories, photos, and videos that showcase their passion for the cause and how their efforts can make a difference.
  • Provide resources and support: Offer resources and support to help participants set up their fundraising pages, create compelling messages, and reach out to potential donors. This can include templates, tips, and one-on-one coaching.
  • Celebrate and recognise achievements: Recognising and celebrating the achievements of top fundraisers can be a great way to motivate and engage the entire team. Consider highlighting their efforts on social media or through emails, or offering special incentives or rewards for top performers.
  • Offer incentives: Consider offering incentives for different donation levels, such as t-shirts, hats, or other branded merchandise. This can be a fun way to reward donors and can also help raise additional funds.

Engagement advice for virtual events

One of the most challenging aspects of running virtual events i to keep participants engaged. If you are used to physical events and you rely on ‘reading the room’ this will be a big change for you. Luckily there is a lot of data to use and interactivity features that can be utilised instead.

  • Use interactive features: Many virtual event platforms offer features like live chat, polls, and Q&A sessions to encourage audience participation. Utilising these features can help keep attendees engaged and make the event feel more interactive and personal.
  • Encourage social sharing: Encourage attendees to share photos or videos of themselves participating in the event or to share the event on their social media channels. This can help raise awareness and drive more traffic to the event.
  • Host guest speakers or panelists: Inviting guest speakers or hosting panel discussions can add value and interest to the event, and can also help attract a larger audience.
  • Be data driven: Most virtual event tools have a wealth of metrics that you can use to asses the engagement in real time or after the event.

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