Things to Consider When Hosting a Virtual Fundraiser
Many of my clients have asked for tips about moving their fundraisers online or engaging more fully with virtual fundraising efforts. Here is my first tip, consider using this time to explore stopping your fundraising events (yes, you read that right). Special events are the hardest and most labor-intensive way to raise a dollar. They cost (on average) $.50 to raise $1.00. Yes, they do provide prospecting and community building, but for fundraising they are not the most effective way to use your time or that of your volunteers. Our world has been flipped on its head, and I’m encouraging my clients to use this time to reflect on how they can do things differently than before. However, if you are you are pushing ahead with a virtual fundraiser, here are some helpful tips:
1). Relationships still matter, they will always matter. Even with a virtual event, you must work to engage donors in building a relationship with you and your organization. Fundraisers, your contact with donors should be higher now than it ever has been. Reach out via Zoom, phone, text, or email and engage!
2). Ask people to give at the same levels you would have asked them to give at your in-person event.Describe your urgency and include a deadline. Special events work because you have a captive audience and you are asking them to give right now. Work to replicate that sense of urgency and the immediate ask.
3). Make sure you are sharing how you plan to use the money raised, why is it critical to your mission, and keep telling them how their donation makes an impact.Add how COVID-19 has impacted your work.
4). Try (if possible) to include an in-person component to your virtual event.Maybe the participants get something sent to their house, maybe they have an action to complete that links to the organization’s mission. A shared activity is another way to connect them to your organization and its community of supporters.
5). Include a live portion to the event, but don’t expect that moment to be when your money is made. A virtual live auction will never take the place of a real live auction. Make sure you do three test runs of the technology prior to going live!
6). Include a social media component that asks participants to ask their communities to support your organization. Provide templates and ideas for them to copy and share. Use this event as a time to widen your net and have board members and event supporters share their love for your mission with new donor prospects. Move past just a virtual event, to a virtual campaign(include email, peer to peer via social media, written, and virtual event).
7). Use this time to consider moving away from special events. Focused instead on a campaign strategy where you engage with donors, sharing your mission, your needs, and directly asking for their support. Instead of spending time with silent auction procurement and seating charts, engage directly (via phone for now) with donors. Share your struggles and accomplishments and ask for their support.
8). Use video to share your story! Maybe you’ve always wanted to do this, but thought you need a professional videographer. COVID-19 has taught us that content is king, so get out your phone camera and start shooting. People want to see your mission in action.
9). Take the time to set up a strong online giving page.You may have to invest in this, but this is something you can use for a long time. Make it clear and concise. Allow them to give a gift in honor or memory, or give to a specific area within the organization. Lots of great examples out there, OCF has one of the best!
10). Whatever you do, do not stop asking! Your mission is important and it needs to be funded.