Apr 9, 2020

How to host an online fundraising event

online fundraising event

Are you considering hosting an online event to raise money for your nonprofit organization, school, or charitable cause? Virtual fundraising offers many benefits, such as increased accessibility, faster results, less time required for planning and execution and lower costs.

Whether you’re hosting your first online event or have already made them an essential part of your fundraising strategy, you’ll want to find ways to maximize the results. Implementing the following tips for online fundraisers can increase your success:

  • Highlight your mission: Prospective donors want to know why they should donate their hard-earned money to your nonprofit. Your website’s homepage should prominently feature your organization’s mission statement, as well as how your online fundraising event aligns with that mission.
  • Make it mobile-friendly: Many individuals — especially those under the age of 60 — will be accessing your event via their smartphones or tablets. Make sure you optimize your site’s pages for mobile device compatibility so that donors have the optimal mobile bidding experience. In particular, check that the font on your donation page is easy to read and navigate on a smaller screen. Offering a text-to-donate option offers donors an easy way to make an immediate donation from anywhere, any time.
  • Make it competitive: Injecting some friendly competition into your event is a fun way to enhance virtual fundraising results. Integrating gamification elements — such as points, badges, wine pulls, raffles, levels, and challenges — can increase engagement and motivate donors to give a little more.
  • Integrate social media: Remember the Ice Bucket Challenge that ultimately raised more than $100 million to help fight ALS? This is an excellent example of how nonprofits can use a social media campaign to inject some fun into the event. The challenge went viral and drove a large volume of viewers and participants to the organization’s website to donate. The Soaring Owls Foundation did a stellar job embracing social media with its online virtual fundraiser, they shared their story of recent success with us here (episode 3).
  • Establish incremental giving levels: Creating buttons featuring different donation options ($10, $25, $50, etc.) along with a brief explanation of the impact of the dollar amount (helps a little, helps more, helps a lot) gives donors a clearer understanding of the true value of their contributions to your cause. If possible, consider offering small gifts that become more enticing at higher levels. Also, give donors the option to make the amount they’ve chosen a recurring donation (monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, etc.).
  • Provide testimonials: Include video testimonials delivered by individuals who have had their lives improved with the help of your organization. Doing so is another effective way to enhance a virtual fundraising event. Donors will feel better about giving, as they’ll know that their money is going to a worthy cause.

Related:
How to attract an audience for your virtual fundraiser
Benefits of online fundraising
Text-to-donate fundraising statistics
How to increase recurring donations
Online + virtual customer success stories
Webinar Series: Nonprofit pivot success
GiveSmart’s online donations
GiveSmart’s mobile bidding

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What our clients say

We needed a platform to make sales online and to track and display ads for our sponsors. GiveSmart was perfect. We ended up making close to $15,000 more than we had hoped for. Definite better ROI than we anticipated. The interface is easy to use and provides plenty of options to get help if needed.

Michelle M.

The Rotary Club of South Whidbey Island

Using GS has created ease in auction bookkeeping, payments, and generating post-event thank you/tax letters. While we were online during COVID, our interactions with our GiveSmart via phone, email, and zoom were seamless. A representative always got back to us within the day. I would recommend GiveSmart to anyone doing a large online event.

Julie G.

MicroFinancing Partners in Africa

GiveSmart is highly flexible - you can use it for [a] simple registration and check-in, to full-scale galas with complex order forms, onsite upsells, live auctions, seating management, and more.

Jamie F.

Hope Chest for Breast Cancer

GiveSmart is easy to use and ideal for virtual events and can be used for in-person events to manage the silent auction, seating charts, and check-in to the event. Being able to use the platform for unlimited events within the contract year is very useful and being able to add other users and volunteers for different levels of access is helpful as well.

Dawn L.

Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County