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Your guide to nonprofit virtual fundraising events: 4 tips

May 16, 2021
A man sits in front of a laptop, which can be used to attend nonprofit virtual fundraising events.

Virtual fundraising offers many benefits for both nonprofit organizations and their supporters. From crowdfunding to mobile giving to peer-to-peer fundraising, the virtual format allows nonprofits to reach a larger audience and enables individuals to connect with nonprofits that they otherwise would have difficulty reaching.

Just as fundraising campaigns can be held online, so can fundraising events. By using your creativity, you can adapt almost any in-person event to be virtual and reap the unique benefits a virtual format provides. Let’s dive into four strategies you can use to elevate your next nonprofit virtual fundraising event.

1. Adapt to virtual expectations.

Your guests’ expectations for a virtual event are similar to those of an in-person event: attendees want the event to run smoothly and to be entertained. However, the way you meet those expectations will be different than if you were hosting an in-person event.

For virtual fundraising events, you will need to ensure that your technology runs smoothly. To host or live stream an event, you’ll want a high-speed internet connection and a high-quality webcam. Additionally, you need to have experience using your technology. For example, if you’re hosting your event on Zoom, spend some time familiarizing yourself with its features, so that on the day of the event, you’ll be able to navigate the application with ease.

2. Use FOMO to increase participation.

The fear of missing out (FOMO) is a powerful motivator for all individuals, including your nonprofit’s donors. To generate FOMO, try featuring an experience that attendees aren’t likely to have again, such as hearing from a popular speaker or artist. Additionally, you can choose to not offer a recording after the event so that donors must attend live.

3. Break content into chunks to keep attention.

Staying focused during a long online event can be difficult. To hold your supporters’ attention, break content into shorter chunks of time. Keep presentations concise and to the point and give your audience short breaks between activities. This will help them stay engaged throughout your event.

4. Encourage active participation.

Another strategy for hosting a great virtual fundraising event is to find opportunities for your audience to actively participate. For example, if you’re hosting a panel on Zoom, you can host polls or you might ask audience members to write any questions they have in the chat box. Panelists can then respond to the poll results or read the chat and answer questions in real time.

As humans, we’re driven by social connections. Getting donors to interact, even when physically separated, can significantly increase engagement. Consider organizing an activity such as an auction, where attendees interact by bidding against each other.

Additionally, you can introduce a physical, tactile element to your event to make donors feel more connected with the experience. This could mean sending swag boxes ahead of the event or creating t-shirts for participants to wear during a group picture where everyone turns their cameras on. The tactile element will help engage attendees and get them excited to participate in your event.

The bottom line: Think like a donor

For a successful virtual fundraising event, keep in mind that you want to deliver an exceptional experience for attendees. To center your donors’ enjoyment, ask yourself why they are attending your event and how you can use the tools at your disposal to meet their expectations. With the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to create stellar virtual fundraising events that have the power to skyrocket your fundraising efforts.

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