The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the way people give to charitable organizations—like most businesses and organizations adapting to the new normal, fundraising is also now virtual. In this new setup, driving donations while engaging donors successfully requires a digital approach, one that focuses on meeting donors where they are.
According to the Charitable Giving Report, in 2020, online giving in the United States grew by 21% compared to 2019 and donor retention rates also showed improvement for the first time in many years.
There are several innovative online fundraising methods nonprofits are now exploring. As more people work remotely and opt to donate virtually rather than through in-person events, these fundraising methods are emerging as the new path forward.
Here are 5 popular online fundraising ideas to increase your donations
1. Implement an online raffle or a 50/50
50/50 raffles are a quick, easy and fun way to raise money for a cause. In an online 50/50, ticket sales are held through a dedicated website. The concept is similar to that of a normal raffle but instead of a pre-decided prize, the nonprofit organization or charity equally splits the total amount collected from the sale of tickets (which are a form of donation) with the winner. The donors earn a chance to win large sums of money which makes 50/50 draws very appealing.
The revenue from the sale of tickets is called “the pot”. A 50/50 fundraising raffle is also known as “split the pot”, “50-50”, “5050”, “cash raffles”, or a “50/50 raffle”. This simple, easy, and cost-effective method of raising funds far outpaces traditional fundraising efforts, making it the smarter choice for savvy nonprofits.
2. Hold a virtual run or marathon
Whether during the pandemic or outside of it, a virtual run or marathon is an excellent way to generate funds for your nonprofit. Most organizations require an entry fee to join the run and then request donations from their friends and family to fund their training and run. As distances are logged individually rather than in a group setting, the nonprofit collects both the entry fee and any donations from friends or family.
Virtual runs are much easier to plan and organize than traditional 5Ks as there’s no requirement of venue, government permits, large-scale coordination, volunteer recruitment, and insurance. Instead, people around the world can participate, greatly increasing donations and participants. The virtual nature of this event also makes coordination and communication easier for distribution of swag items.
3. Organize a virtual auction
Another option for online fundraising is virtual auctions. The success of a virtual auction is dependent on how well you define the rules for your participants, promote your auction items online, and set up competitive bidding options.
Additionally, you can use your virtual auction to ask for donations during the event separate from the items up for auction. Consider reaching out to donors who were outbid on their desired item and share that they can still donate their bid to your organization directly. Keeping your donors engaged during the event improves the success of your virtual auction.
4. Offer online classes or a webinar
Organizations that specialize in certain skills or have volunteers with unique talents can organize online classes or webinars. Hosting a virtual class or setting up a private online event/webinar with an admission fee are excellent ways to garner engagement and donations for your organization. From cooking classes to computer tutorials, there are multiple ways you can encourage your donors to sign up and fundraise.
5. Conduct virtual tours to showcase your cause
Before 2020, online open houses were rising in popularity. The convenience of taking a virtual tour right from your laptop is simply far too tempting for individuals who live busy lives. The pandemic acted as a key catalyst for this trend making virtual open houses and tours more appealing than ever before.
One of the best ways to use this approach is to display the areas of your facilities that could use some improvements. For example, if your organization caters to animal welfare and you need a new dog run or kennel upgrades, you can use the virtual tour to show your facility as it is, pointing out where donations will go and how they will contribute to your cause. Remember to use social media to amplify donor reach.
If your nonprofit doesn’t have facilities, you can use a virtual tour to show how you and your volunteers continue to dedicate time and resources to your cause while working from home. You could even point out how you’ve found creative methods to continue working towards common, shared goals.
Learning about how your nonprofit or charity is managing operations can be inspirational and motivational for potential donors. And when circumstances don’t allow for an in-person visit, a virtual tour can be equally effective.
Various studies have indicated that online fundraising strategies provide a greater potential for donor reach and retention. Therefore, one of the ways to successfully build a long-term sustainable fundraising strategy is to go virtual and support your campaign with a strong promotional and marketing plan.