Dec 13, 2021

Should you include virtual elements in in-person fundraising?

virtual elements in in-person fundraising

When planning a fundraiser, there are many different types to consider. You may spend considerable time deciding what will bring the most donors and money for your particular cause. Among these options, you may be trying to figure out whether to make your fundraiser entirely or partially virtual. 

If you’re still unsure about this decision, we will answer any questions you may have in this article. By the end, you will understand the increasing use of technology in fundraising and the many benefits virtual fundraising offers.

The rise of virtual fundraising

As technology continues improving, the use of technology in previously analog events is increasing as well. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, almost all areas of life were forced to either stop or move online, so it’s not surprising that virtual fundraising took off. As millennials and Generation Z get older and become more involved in fundraising, it is essential to understand that they rely on technology to help manage their daily lives.  

As such, they expect most events to have at least some kind of virtual element, even if said event is primarily offline. Considering this, it’s not surprising that 64% of nonprofits planned to invest in new technology at the beginning of 2020. One piece of technology that has seen an increased use at nonprofit fundraisers is fitness trackers. 

Marathons like 5Ks are common fundraisers, but they can be time-consuming and difficult to fit into a person’s schedule. Through the use of fitness trackers such as Fitbits and smartwatches, donors can participate in 5K events whenever and wherever is most convenient for them. 

Many other different digital platforms are also emerging as legitimate and prosperous places to host fundraisers. Twitch, a live streaming platform created for gamers, has raised over $80 million for nonprofits. As virtual fundraising becomes more prominent, it is important to understand the benefits of adding virtual elements to your fundraisers.

5 reasons to include virtual elements in in-person fundraising

If you’re looking to start hosting hybrid events, here are a few reasons this fundraiser type can help you find success:

1. Helps expand your reach 

The first reason you should include virtual elements in your in-person fundraising is that it helps expand the reach of your fundraiser. When you host a virtual event, users can share it online with their friends and followers. This enables you to reach a whole new community of possible donors. Users may even post a link directly to a live stream of the event, allowing new donors to discover your campaign and donate to it all within a matter of minutes. 

Depending on the virtual elements you add, donors don’t even have to attend the event to donate. Life happens, and sometimes people just can’t spare an extra hour but still want to give to a good cause. With technology like text-to-donate, donors can give no matter how busy their schedule is.

2. Allows people who cannot physically attend the fundraiser to participate

People who attend in-person fundraisers are typically somewhat local to where the event is held. Most people are either unable or unwilling to drive or fly multiple hours away to participate in a fundraiser. By introducing virtual elements to your event, you open up the possibility for anyone in the world to attend. 

This element isn’t only limited to donors — it expands to talent as well. Let’s say you want a specific speaker to speak at your nonprofit fundraiser, but they are in another country. Technology allows them to still present their work, even if they can’t be there in person.

3. Reduces costs

No matter the event, there will always be some overhead costs. Unfortunately, these expenses often come out of the overall money that’s donated. By participating in virtual fundraising, you can significantly reduce overhead costs, increasing your net fundraising dollars. One of the highest overhead expenses for in-person fundraising is the cost of renting out the location’s venue. 

There are also the costs of getting tables, chairs, decorations, and food, and staff and security need to be hired and paid for the event. Virtual fundraising eliminates these costs, saving you money and adding to your net fundraising.

4. Is more inclusive and accessible

When hosting fundraising events, you want to ensure everybody interested in donating to the cause can attend. Unfortunately, sometimes people with physical disabilities or limitations are unable to participate in fundraisers because the events can’t accommodate their disabilities. Outdoor locations can be especially tough for donors in wheelchairs or with crutches and walkers to access safely. 

People with physical limitations may also be wary of attending an in-person fundraiser for fear that there may be too many stairs, not enough places to sit down, or other concerns. Virtual fundraisers make these problems obsolete and allow your charitable cause to include everyone.

5. Virtual and hybrid events often outraise in-person events

Perhaps the biggest reason to include virtual elements in fundraisers is that virtual and hybrid events often outraise in-person ones. This fact shouldn’t be that surprising after considering the above points. The reduced cost of virtual fundraisers frees up more money to be donated. By increasing the reach of your campaign, it is visible to more people, multiplying the number of donors.

Geographical boundaries are removed, allowing anyone from anywhere in the world to participate in fundraising. People with disabilities can now join the fundraiser without fear that the event will be inaccessible. Virtual fundraising brings in more donors looking to give without the increased cost of accommodating those people, which is necessary for in-person fundraising. And, a hybrid fundraiser is the best of both! 

Additional benefits of virtual fundraising

The above points aren’t the only benefits of virtual fundraising. For example, changes in the weather can completely disrupt and cancel in-person fundraisers, but it has no impact on virtual events. An even more vital benefit of virtual events is that it allows people who are sick to stay home and not feel bad about not being able to contribute in person. 

Virtual fundraisers are also less of a time commitment, as donors don’t have to spend time traveling to and from the location. They take away the time spent on getting people signed in, checking their coats, seating them, and performing many other small tasks that take up time. 

Another amazing advantage is that you can capture more donor information. See what area most of your donors are from, what kinds of jobs they hold, what their marital status is, and more. From this information, you can see who primarily makes up your donors so that you can focus on appealing to that group. Conversely, you can also see what groups of people you are missing and figure out ways to pull them in. 

Finally, virtual fundraisers allow donors to easily set up recurring donations, increasing the amount of money donated over an extended period.

Learn more about GiveSmart today

As we travel deeper into the digital age, it is key that nonprofits stay relevant with the times. Virtual fundraising elements can endless value bring to your nonprofit, and GiveSmart wants to help you utilize them. No matter what area of your fundraiser you want to improve, GiveSmart has the knowledge and tools to help. We offer resources to assist you with anything from online fundraising to silent auctions to peer-to-peer fundraising and more. 

GiveSmart gives you industry-leading solutions such as mobile bidding and auctions, ticketing and seating management, and virtual and hybrid fundraising. Whether you need a little help with an existing idea or don’t know where to start, we can lead your fundraising efforts to success. If you’re ready to take your fundraising to the next level, contact us today or request a demo.


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The Rotary Club of South Whidbey Island

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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.

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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.

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Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County