Aug 12, 2021

5 insider tips for successful virtual fundraising events

woman being recorded by a man

The world may be attempting to ease restrictions recently, but one thing we know from our client base is that the nonprofit sector shouldn’t be focused on returning to normal pre-covid fundraising. Instead of postponing or canceling upcoming fundraising events, our most successful customers are transitioning their in-person events into virtual or even hybrid virtual/in-person events. 

One of the first clients to do this was Friends of Youth. In early March of 2020, Friends of Youth planned to hold their annual Celebration of Youth luncheon. Unfortunately their nonprofit is located in the Greater Seattle Metropolitan area, one of the first epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the luncheon is an important source of annual fundraising for Friends of Youth, their team knew they couldn’t afford to forgo it. If your nonprofit is in a similar situation, then these 5 insider tips from Friends of Youth can help your own team successfully pivot your in-person fundraiser to an engaging, successful virtual event. 

5 Tips from nonprofit friends of youth on how to hold a successful virtual fundraiser

Friends of Youth prerecorded their live fundraising event and livestreamed it through Facebook Live

1. You don’t have to go live

Just because your nonprofit is utilizing a livestreaming service like YouTube Live, Instagram Live, Twitch, etc. doesn’t mean your video needs to actually be live. Friends of Youth chose to display pre-recorded videos using Facebook Live and then hosted a live Q&A session with virtual attendees afterwards. So you can pre-record all of your event or just portions if you’d still like to capture a live feel.

Friends of Youth post about options for being refunded

2. Give registrants the option to be refunded

If your nonprofit has already sold tickets to an in-person event, you don’t have to immediately refund all ticket holders. Many nonprofits are offering supporters the option to submit their ticket as a donation instead of being refunded, which many chose to do. Friends of Youth gave ticket holders the option to donate in advance if they were unable to attend the virtual event.

Friends of Youth post asking for donations

3. Don’t be afraid to ask for


Even if your nonprofit’s mission isn’t directly related to those impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, like a food bank or hospital, your nonprofit doesn’t have to stop asking for donations. Friends of Youth helps children, youth and their families come out of difficult situations. Friends of Youth explained to event attendees that especially in these difficult situations their beneficiaries need support now more than ever.

Friends of Youth post about text-to-donate steps

4. Make it easy to donate during the event

During the Celebration of Youth event, the Friends of Youth team displayed text-to-donate instructions on the bottom of viewers’ screens. In addition, the team displayed a live event thermometer behind Q&A speakers, showcasing donor names in real time. With the right tools, they recreated the exciting giving environment of an in-person event.

5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

Let’s face it, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced everyone, including nonprofit professionals, to change the way they operate on a day-to-day basis. Friends of Youth’s Director of Development, Lynn Juniel didn’t hesitate to reach out to her Digital Fundraising Strategist for ideas on how to hold their luncheon without jeopardizing supporters’ health. Together they very quickly transitioned the entire event into a virtual one. If your team works with a marketing agency don’t be afraid to ask for assistance using technologies like livestreaming services. If you are already using an online fundraising platform, inquire if there are some technologies like text-to-donate and landing pages your team can incorporate into the virtual event.

Request a demo

Using these first-hand tips from Friends of Youth can help your nonprofit successfully host a virtual event without making any rookie mistakes! Our goal at GiveSmart is to help nonprofit organizations create and manage successful digital fundraising campaigns, raise more money and retain donors longer. Request a free demo with one of our fundraising experts to learn, step by step, how GiveSmart can simply help set up your campaigns while transforming your results.


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