Virtual Fundraising in a Time of Chaos

Virtual Fundraising in a Time of Chaos.
Yes. Now!

Funding nonprofits is more important than ever before. Social distancing is changing the way we live, work, socialize… AND FUNDRAISE

Now is the time to demonstrate support for nonprofits and organizations taking care of the most vulnerable populations in our society. What can we do collectively to keep the nonprofit sector strong and robust in this new world?

We’ve heard a lot of talk from orgs not wanting to ask for money right now due to people feeling vulnerable, unsure, shaky job security, etc. We ask you this: If we don’t band together today to support those less fortunate, then WHEN??? Will there be a better time in the foreseeable future to do so? We think not. The time is now.

While our government is busy trying to assuage the collective pain, let’s discuss nonprofits’ role in today’s workforce. Over 10% of our nation’s workers are employed by nonprofits. 10%!?! If we allow nonprofits to become underfunded, they will be forced to lay off these dedicated champions – adding a huge number of Americans to those already negatively impacted.

Can we afford to ADD to this problem rather than providing a solution? In addition to layoffs, consider the people in our communities who are already in crisis (NPO service recipients). Imagine hungry people. Sick people. The unhoused. The mentally ill. Vulnerable children. The abused. Now imagine the sudden surge upon our already fragile economy and overly stressed social systems. This keeps me up at night!

We implore you to SUPPORT LOCAL CHARITIES now. Give of your resources, time, and talents in any way you can to be sure this does not happen. 

For all of you NPOs – CONTINUE TO FUNDRAISE (yes, right now!) so that your vital work continues to benefit the world. How? By making a huge pivot in the way you’ve always done your work. This is no time to sit on your laurels and hope for the best. Do the work. Go into full preservation mode. Innovate your practices. Get ‘er done! And keep your doors open as a result. 

Here are some online and innovative ideas to implement:

Savvy Social Media Campaigns

Do run savvy social campaigns tied to your marketing and communications efforts. Social media was MADE for this moment. Post more across all platforms. Go live. State your needs directly and transparently. Be authentic and real. Ask for donations. Release moving video with well-written narrative. Build a social movement around your good work. Entice a whole new demographic to support you. Deepen relationships with those who already support you. The possibilities are endless and the only thing limiting you is your imagination. Need help reimagining your options? Get in touch. We love getting creative around here and are your biggest champions!


Leverage technology to work FOR you during this unprecedented time. Use any means of it to keep in touch, massage messaging, gather support – from your staff, volunteers, service recipients, donors. Set up video chats with large donors whom you would normally be having coffee or dinner dates with, to keep soliciting their help. If you’re not already familiar with Google video chats, Zoom, FaceTime, Skype… it’s time to educate yourself on these virtual meeting platforms. Simulcast meetings, performances, or would-be gatherings. Broaden your audience. Spread some joy. You can do it! And if you’re struggling, reach out.

Online Auctions

Just because it doesn’t fit in your virtual live (or canceled) auction doesn’t mean you can’t sell it! Consider combining your virtual event with an online auction. Or host a stand-alone online auction instead. Your event software company can help you upgrade to a solid mobile bidding platform. Guests use their phones from home to bid and get instant notifications when they’ve been outbid – thus garnering greater competition and support of your cause. 

Online fundraising auctions allow you to get around not being able to gather. Bonus: Skip the venue, catering, vendors, and most of your hard costs while recouping some of your lost revenue. Another benefit? You can broaden your reach by inviting even more supporters from your extended network to bid and support you. The good news? During this challenging time, many software vendors are offering one-time upgrades and steep discounts to help you go online. Some are even offering free services! Now’s the time to take advantage of their generosity.

Manage expectations, however, as much of our preliminary research suggests that most packages sold in a passive online fashion bring only about 30-40% of what they might have in a live auction environment. For those of you needing to yield better results, read on about Virtual events (which are currently earning much more!).

Online Giving Campaigns

In these trying times, many donors are asking the following question – HOW CAN I HELP? They’re not focused on acquiring more stuff. They’re putting off planning trips and experiences, and that may very well continue for some time, but they do still want to help. It’s the perfect time to set up an online giving campaign. There are various ways to do this and your software company can help you set up. One method is using a donation page on your website – anyone can get to it; it’s publicly accessible. People enter their credit card numbers and can authorize a one-time payment OR better yet, a recurring payment – say, $10 a month for the next 12 months. (Beefier monthly donations if your supporters can afford it, of course!) With this sort of campaign, it’s easy to upload a powerful video at the top of the page to drive support. But keep in mind, this method might not allow donors to follow progress toward a goal (depending on your back-end software). 

That may require a different type of online giving campaign – one in which people log in with their own special codes, so it’s not publicly accessible. This method is more commonly used for a fund-a-need – a.k.a. a special appeal, that donors have learned about from a catalogue or online marketing push. Both online giving campaigns are effective – you can also do a hybrid of both – you just need to decide which forum is right for your particular fundraising goals and donor demographic. 


If your donor base is community-oriented and would really love to hear from you during these times, pivot to a virtual fundraiser. It is happening all over the nation and you can glean some important details from our experience. We learned a lot diving into the virtual fundraising world head first! And we are more than happy to walk you through the details of how to execute yours. They’re effective, relatively easy to pull off with the right team and guidance – and are yielding fantastic results!

So what will it be? Will you dive into the wild world of Virtual Fundraising Events? Or do you prefer to start smaller or more passively? We may as well make lemonade during our hours (days? weeks?) at home. Contact us and let’s juice life’s lemons together.


Virtual Fundraising Events