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11 Virtual Fundraising Ideas to Attract and Engage Donors

fundraising ideas to attract

11 Virtual Fundraising Ideas to Attract and Engage Donors

With most of the world in lockdown mode, virtual fundraising is more pertinent than ever for nonprofits that are still in critical need of donations. Fortunately, technology opens the door for many virtual fundraising opportunities, you just need to take the right approach. To help you brainstorm, here are 11 ideas that will help you attract and engage donors

#1 Run A Gift Matching Drive

People want to make an impact, which is why gift matching drives always work so well to encourage donations. When a person sees that their money will effectively be doubled thanks to a sponsor matching whatever they give, they know that they’re going to make an even bigger impact than they normally could, and it will push them to donate.

Gift matching drives work well in a virtual setting, and you can push them through your newsletter and social channels very effectively while giving your matching sponsor some great exposure, which is exactly what they’re hoping for. The key is to solicit sponsors in advance so you know who will be matching donors’ gifts.

#2 Enable Facebook Fundraising

If your organization is listed as a nonprofit on Facebook, you can effortlessly add a “Donate” button right to the cover image on your page. Simply doing so will enable donors to donate without a second thought, so it’s a must-do if you haven’t already. Of course, for any means of donating to work well, you’ll have to make sure your followers on Facebook are aware of the Donate button and then encourage them to use it.

The reality is, the “Donate” button is only going to lead users to the donation page on your website, but there are benefits to having it setup anyway. For instance, your Facebook page acts as a source of lead nurturing information before they visit your donation page. If your donation form is setup with your donor management software, it can also help you collect more data about them automatically.

#3 Start Using Amazon Smiles

Most everyone shops on Amazon, but a surprising number of people don’t yet know about Amazon Smiles. At no extra cost to the consumer, anyone can go through and shop for anything they normally buy, with a small percentage of their purchase being donated to charity. Amazon users can select which charity the donation goes to, and your nonprofit could set itself up to receive such donations.

For this to work, you must first register in Amazon’s nonprofit database and then let your donors know that they can shop through Amazon Smiles and help you out in the process. It won’t cost them a penny extra, but the dollars can really add up for your organization.

#4 Encourage Wishlist Collections

Donors want to know what kind of difference they are making. That’s why many nonprofits find wishlist donations far easier to solicit than monetary donations. A person may only find it reasonable to donate $15 or $20 in cash. That same person, however, may find it far easier to give more if the donation is supplies. That’s because donating supplies helps donors feel closer to the end result. It also makes it that much clearer how their donation is helping.

For instance, churches that help the local community may have a wishlist for donated food and bottled water. They may go so far as to ask for hygiene products, bedding, clothing, and so on. You can set up a wishlist on Amazon or another platform to get these. These lists feature specific products that donors can purchase and send directly to your organization.

#5 Host An Online Auction

Auctions often garner more donations than other forms of virtual fundraisers. That’s because donors are actually leaving with an experience or fun item of some kind. Experiences go best at charity auctions, especially exclusive experiences that wouldn’t be accessible otherwise. That’s because a sense of scarcity and the inability to compare it to a “retail value” helps to drive big donations.

Charity auctions also translate very well into the online space. Online auctions also see significantly reduced costs as opposed to in-person auctions. You’ll just need to find the right day and time to start your auction to ensure your donors are able to attend. There are a few different methods of approaching this. Think of something reminiscent of eBay bidding that lasts over a period of a few days — or maybe a live virtual video auction comparable to a traditional one.

#6 Open An Online Store

Schools have long recognized the power of merchandise, like school pride water bottles and hoodies, to raise money. However, the fact is that any nonprofit can get behind this method, especially with the advent of drop-shipped t-shirts and other easy-to-setup online stores.

For instance, you could have a few custom designs made and open a Red Bubble shop, allowing your nonprofit to sell everything from stickers to clothing items that proud supporters would be happy to purchase at a premium and put on display to show their love for your organization.

#7 Try Checkout Charity

Most everyone who shops online is familiar with checkout charity. It’s that simple line at the end of the payment process that asks, “Would you like to roundup and donate $[X amount] to [Charity Name Here]?” This donation method is highly effective because the potential donor is already in the buying mindset, and the roundup or fixed small amount (such as $2) looks minimal compared to however much they’re spending. It’s like impulse gifting, and it’s great news for your organization.

To set this up, you’ll want to reach out to some stores and ask about partnering to add your charity to their checkout. That may sound tricky, but if you find some small and/or local brands that align with your work, you can find great success, so long as you frame the benefits the store will be receiving (such as the positive association consumers will have when they see the brand supporting a good organization).

#8 Launch a Crowdfunding Campaign

So far, all of the virtual fundraising ideas covered here are focused on getting as many donations as possible. Just about all of them can work in the long-term, running constantly or regularly. However, many donors respond best to one-off campaigns, which is why crowdfunding has taken off. Crowdfunding is a great addition to the many ways you can collect donations online, and it’s easy to get going with thanks to the many crowdfunding platforms out there.

With a crowdfunding campaign, you’re still asking donors for monetary donations, but it gives a community, “all in this together” type feel and a sense of urgency because a crowdfunding campaign has two things: (1) a set fundraising goal and (2) a deadline for meeting the goal. These two aspects are also built around something even more important: A purpose.

For instance, a church may be crowdfunding $14,000 in 4 months to send a youth group on a mission trip later in the year or raising $25,000 to fund a recreation center for the local community. These campaigns give donors a specific purpose to get behind and you can go further by pre-setting suggested donation amounts and/or milestone goals to help them know the impact they are making.

#9 Plan a Planned Giving Blitz

A “blitz” in the world of virtual fundraising is basically a day, or series of a few days, where you blast out emails and social media posts to reach as many of your leads and supports as possible with hopes of them making a donation. Many organizations run a fundraising blitz on a day that’s significant to their cause or supporters. For instance, domestic abuse relief organizations often run these on Valentine’s Day.

However, you can take the concept a step further and focus your blitz around planned gifting, that way the fundraiser keeps giving back as time goes by. To pull this off, you’ll need to encourage a “subscription” or recurring donation. This may be best done by providing a gift in return. Evoke a sense of scarcity by making the gift a limited time offer. Additionally, you should offer it only if they commit to a monthly or weekly gift of so much.

#10 Orchestrate a Social Media Takeover

Partner with a local business or relevant brand and ask to take over their social media for a day. The point is to share interesting statistics and other content through their social media channels. This spreads awareness about your work and cause while interacting with a new audience. These new folks may not be familiar with your nonprofit.

Just as with other partnerships, the initial outreach and planning for the takeover may require a bit of time. Once you find the right brands to partner with, though, everything else is fairly simple. You’ll need to share interesting, informative content to get the word out. You can maximize the takeover’s impact by doing it at the same time you’re running a virtual fundraising campaign, too.

#11 Offer Gated Content

Everyone loves the feeling of exclusivity and having access to something special that isn’t available to the general public. That’s why this concept works so well in the world of marketing. Your organization can take advantage of “gated” content on several platforms. These include your blog, email newsletter, or even a quarterly magazine.

By creating special content that you only make available to donors who “subscribe” with a regular donation, you’ll quickly increase how much you’re collecting. The best part is, the content they’re receiving will also help bring them closer to your organization. It will encourage further participation with your future fundraisers and events.

Virtual Fundraising Is Only One Piece of the Puzzle

Your virtual fundraising efforts can go a long way in bringing in donations. It’s important to realize, however, that this isn’t a “one-and-done” solution. You need a focused giving strategy to be successful. Schedule a Discovery Call with the experts at DonorWerx today to learn how we can help you achieve this.

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