Virtual Fundraising for Nonprofits: Connecting with Donors Online

The game has changed…so must you. Here are a few ways for nonprofits to fundraise in a digital world!


With COVID-19 impacting every corner of the globe, many fundraising activities that involve local galas, auctions, and volunteer activities will have to shift online. Now more than ever, non profits will also need to mobilize and raise funds to help with the many effects of the COVID-19 pandemic that has left people homeless, unemployed, and in dire conditions.

Whether you’re a non profit seeking ways to continue fundraising online, or a volunteer hoping to contribute. Here are some online fundraising ideas:

1.   Flash fundraiser

Flash fundraising events can be done online and involve a one-off online event that leads viewers to a fundraising web page where they can contribute funds to a cause. This page can be a web page or even a fundraising event that is launched using tools on Facebook or other online fundraising tools. The important aspects to follow when doing a flash fundraiser is to promote the fundraising event across email and social media. Include a fundraising goal and total contributions thus far that is continually updated throughout the day.

2.   Peer-to-peer fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising involves a collection of fundraising pages that can be set up online by participants. Each of these participants can then promote their own personal fundraising page to their network and try to raise funds. All these personal fundraising pages can be aligned to a broader donation cause. Many tools are available to help build and coordinate such peer-to-peer fundraising events.

3.   Virtual games fundraiser

Hosting games that raise funds for a cause is challenging when everyone is social distancing. However, virtual games can be hosted where donations can be pledged to participate. Even simple fundraising ideas involving online virtual games such as Jackbox TV can be used.

4.   Virtual gala

Hosting a gala is a time-tested way for raising funds but with social distancing this can be a challenge. However, hosting a virtual gala using video conferencing tools can be the next best step and something everyone will take part in given the lack of community and social interaction these days. Set up an event sign up page and host a livestream where anyone can join in. Use the participant list to send out a link to a donation page where they can contribute during or at the end of the event.

5.   Crowdfund

Crowdfunding using platforms such as GoFundMe is an effective way to fundraise during this time. All these platforms have a huge audience and set of tools to help set up a fundraising page and spread the word out. The best part of Crowdfunding is the immense reach to interested parties and network effects you can tap into to raise funds online.

6.   Open mic night

One of the more fun ways to raise funds while social distancing for your non profit is to host entertaining events for audiences such as an Open Mic Night. These are easy to set up and involve using platforms such as Zoom to have participants join. In advance of this, you can set up a participant list using simple tools such as Typeform so anyone can register and perform at the open night. Typeform will even allow you to collect a donation during registration.

7.   Social media takeovers

With everyone at home, daily social media usage is growing and it’s one of the best ways to piggyback and spread the word on a fundraising opportunity. Reach out to popular accounts with large followings and ask if you can take over their account for a period to spread the word about your fundraising initiative.

8.   Online auctions

Online auctions can be hosted to help raise funds where any winnings are either shipped off or even auction items can be a Skype date with a celebrity or an online cooking class. All of these can be hosted online using platforms such as eflea and a big benefit to an online auction is the larger participation rate it allows. Anyone can place a bid from anywhere and everything can be tracked digitally and automatically.

9.   Donation matching

Donation matching can be effective in rallying a crowd to donate knowing that a corporate sponsor or individual will match final donations by a specific multiple. If you’re able to get a corporation on board, these matching donation drives can be introduced mid-way through as an extra push to your charity campaign and drive up donations before the timeframe ends.

10. Recurring donation pledge

Recurring donations are an effective way to develop long-lasting streams of funds and they’re easy to execute online. If paired with a marketing campaign you can get many participants through social media and email to pledge a monthly or quarterly donation to a cause. You can also tie specific gifts to certain recurring amounts they pledge.

With all these virtual fundraising ideas there are a few key components that ensure its success. Leverage online platforms that already exist in helping set up various donation or fundraising pages instead of building one from scratch. Always pair any fundraising initiative with a marketing campaign that can drive awareness through email and social media. Finally, the more engaging and unique a fundraising initiative is, the more effective in gathering donations and loyalty towards future causes so try to be creative and host more challenging but fun fundraising ideas such a virtual gala or open mic night. Ultimately, remember that regardless of how you get your fundraising initiative in front of an audience, always ensure you’re communicating the cause and impact clearly. Include clear instructions on how to donate and have call to actions throughout to encourage donations.

Fundraising is needed now more than ever with many communities struggling during this pandemic. We hope the above tips will help you with online fundraising for nonprofits.