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If the real world poses problems for fundraisers, in many ways it۪'s even more difficult to come up with proven virtual fundraising ideas. The sheer volume of things on the Internet, from pesky pop-ups to Wikipedia wormholes, means we're only ever a couple of clicks away from a new focal point, and the rate at which we absorb all that information means so much content is here one second and forgotten the next.
Long before the coronavirus pandemic moved a good chunk of our world online we all knew one of the biggest challenges facing brands is audience engagement. Nowhere is this question more crucial than in fundraising, wherein the act of grabbing attention can mean the difference between drumming up support for a worthy cause, or not. So how can we drum up this kind of engagement at a virtual fundraiser?
As one of the world's leading ticketing and virtual event platforms, Eventcube has seen a host of virtual fundraising ideas tried and tested. Some have wound up on this list of 12 proven virtual fundraising ideas, others are probably best left on the shelf. Having spent some time separating wheat from chaff, let's cut to the chase and concentrate on the concepts that did work, and when you're done here we recommend looking at these virtual event planning tools that can make pulling any of these off much easier.
Our 12 proven virtual fundraising ideas are:
Auctions are a tried and tested way to fundraise and luckily they translate particularly well online. Participants can join from wherever they are in the world and bid on given items. With virtual venue software like we offer at Eventcube, you can build a totally custom experience - perfect for something like an auction. Create private chat rooms where viewers can place bids, store content of items for sale that can be viewed at any time and create breakout rooms for 1-to-1 video calls for clients that want private discussions.
As with several of our suggestions, you'll probably want to bring in some partners that can donate exciting prizes to pique the interest of would be players, or teams. We'd also recommend trying to create bespoke rounds that tie an overall theme together relating to the brand or cause. Apart from that, this is also pretty simple sell tickets, ask questions, test knowledge or skills, crown victor(s) and hand out the spoils.
Eventcube has an unbeatable platform for hosting your livestream event, and whether you want to run this for free or choose to sell tickets, it's possible to incorporate options for the audience to donate as they watch. This model has proved particularly successful within music and performing arts during the pandemic, with special performances laid on by collectives, labels and more, with the intention of drumming up the funds they need to survive.
It's probably important to talk about managing expectations at this point clearly you may not be able to secure the services of Hollywood movie A-listers or stadium-filling rock stars, but that's not to say you can't get some prominent figures on side to record unique messages to members of your audience think local sporting heroes and industry idols wishing someone Happy Birthday.
There are a number of ways to monetise this, from simply putting individual messages up for auction, to specific donation targets triggering new, live improvisations. The format is so popular entire businesses have sprung up around the idea.
If your brand sits within a field that requires specialist expertise in order to create whatever it is you create, then those skills should be seen as something that can be turned into revenue streams, even without commercial clients.
Members of the public are keen to learn from the best, so whether you're a water-colourist, cook or expert at handicraft, it may be possible to sell online 1-2-1 time with hobbyists who want to improve their own efforts.
This proven virtual fundraising idea really relies on a level of personal connection and emotional investment. As such we'd say it's most effective with small members clubs, social enterprises, grass roots organisations and fan-led societies.
Much in the same way patrons can leave their legacy on the wall of a museum, set up a digital area of your website as a place to remember the inner-circle of supporters who made today possible in exchange for a donation, of course.
Platforms like Substack have exploded in recent years, proving that newsletters can be potential revenue sources for content creators but those creators don't necessarily have to be in the business of creating content.
By getting people signed up to a monthly fee you can plan for the future more effectively, and this really only requires a decent offering in return. That could be anything digital you can think of including exclusive articles, behind the scenes videos or even exclusive desktop wallpapers.
This can really be used in digital or physical, real world form. Piece together a fun, useful or fascinating goody bag of stuff that will appeal to your audience, but don't tell them what the pack contains.
Instead, set a reasonable value based on what's inside, and then put these up for sale online obviously ensuring price point allows for leftovers after costs.
You may remember influencers from our recent blog post on 13 event marketing strategies (that actually work). Well, here come the YouTubers, Twitterati and Instagram sensations once more, confirming that nothing beats the power of trusted faces.
To encourage donations, the classic approach would be to tie those familiar folk to one of our other virtual fundraising ideas, relying on these recognisable spokespeople to drum up support. But there's no accounting for originality in this world, so think outside the box.
Just because it's a virtual fundraising event doesn't mean it has to be stuck in a box (unless it's a mystery box, of course). Thanks to the wonders of live video, it's possible to orchestrate all manner of a-thons, wherein participants throw themselves into an endurance test to see how long they can hold out for.
For example, long-distance running. Funds can be raised simply as a way of the public showing support for those involved, encouraging them to keep going, but for something more exciting how about placing bets on competitors in the same way you might wager on a horse race?
Guest talks are always a lot of fun, but they can also be a great way to encourage people to throw their support (and cash) behind a cause or organisation. You can easily organise a guest talk, so this really comes down to good curation rather than technical expertise.
Choose a speaker, or a selection of speakers with direct links to the subject or issue you want to focus on, add a donate button to the stream and then watch as the audience becomes more engrossed in the subject, and more willing to help.
In December we blogged about virtual Christmas office parties, and our tips included sending packs of food or drinks to staff at home, and have them cook, eat, mix and drink-a-long with each other via the now all-too-familiar video call screen. Digital gala dinners kind of work in the same way, so hampers of goodies are sent out to those who buy a ticket, with online entertainment laid on to keep them interested while they gorge.
Prior to the nightmare of COVID-19, this may have sounded like a stretch, but given the high standard set by home-cook and delivery restaurant meals in 2020 we honestly believe it's a recipe for success (ahem!). Not least as it opens up attendance, and donations, to a wider audience a feast hosted by American Ireland Funds in New York raised $3.5million this way, with more than $600,000 coming from audiences in Ireland.
That's it for now folks! Thanks for spending your time with us and we hope we've helped to inspire you with these virtual fundraising ideas. If you're looking for a platform to help run your next virtual event, Eventcube's virtual venue, conferencing and events platform could be a great option. Feel free to book a free demo with us here to learn more.
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