54+ Virtual Fundraising Ideas (Events for Schools + more!)

February 15, 2022
12 minutes
Four old-fashioned lightbulbs lay in a diamond-shape. They are enveloped in a yellow halo with a bright green background.

Some days, it feels like we’re already living in a virtual world. With COVID-19, meetings, coffee dates, and happy hours being moved online, set against backgrounds of outer space, or color-coded bookcases. Nonprofits, too, have gone digital, making virtual fundraising ideas a hot commodity. From virtual galas and concerts to online classes and 5k runs, there’s a digital event for every season and every reason.

Ready to do virtually everything and everything virtually? Let’s get started.

The 54 best virtual fundraisers

The past two years have been unbelievably difficult for pretty much everyone, and the nonprofit sector has struggled mightily. How do you have a luncheon when everyone’s masked? How do you have a bake sale when you can’t crowd around a table? But that’s what we do at nonprofits: rise to the challenge and adapt, knowing that we have no choice but to push forward. With a little planning and a good internet connection, you can take almost any event virtual. And with that nonprofit spirit of creativity and determination, you can make your nonprofit virtual event great. Here are our best online fundraisers.

Our favorite virtual fundraising event ideas

Think about what you love about fundraising events: Is it the community? The enthusiasm? The creativity? The food? (Yeah, we really love the food, too.) Here’s the good news: You can replicate pretty much all of the above on a screen. To spark your inspiration, try out the virtual fundraising event ideas below. And if you do want to take it offline? You can peruse all the fabulous fundraising ideas here. (No, they don’t all involve food. But a lot of them do!)

1. Interactive art auction

These types of virtual charity events are fun for the whole family! Ask a talented volunteer or a local artist to livestream themselves painting or drawing. But here’s the catch: for a donation, viewers can suggest what the artist should do next! You might end up with a pink dachshund-mermaid or a tree that grows cupcakes. Wrap things up with an online auction for the collaborative masterpiece.

2. A night at the theater

Here’s a cool part of pandemic life: lots of Broadway plays and musicals are now available to stream online! Invite your donors to dress up for a night on the (digital) town and tune into a stage production. From “Kiss Me, Kate” to “Hamilton,” it will be a night your supporters won’t soon forget. To make the evening really special, we suggest sending out the lyrics beforehand. After all, what’s the point of watching "Cats" from home if you can’t belt “Memory” at the top of your lungs?

3. Silent disco

You know when you’re at the club, and everyone’s like, “This song is sooo my jam!” and you’re like, “I wish we were dancing to ‘Spice Up Your Life,'” and then everyone rolls their eyes? Uh, us neither, but if you happen to relate, you’ll love a virtual silent disco fundraiser. You sell tickets to raise funds; after all, this is an exclusive club. Then, you introduce the fundraiser and mute their mics, and then everyone blasts their favorite track and dances late into the night.

Easy online fundraisers

We don’t know about you, but we tend to eat lunch at our desks, typing with one hand and shoveling a sandwich into our mouth with the other. If you don’t have time for a fancy-shmancy, super-involved online fundraising event, we see you. And we want to let you know that you can fundraise like a pro without breaking a sweat. Try these ideas for virtual fundraising events for some easy online fundraising.

4. Just ask

Yep, this fundraising method gets right down to it. Send some emails; send some texts; set up a donation page. Maybe your message is, “Hey, we really need to help rehabilitate abandoned quokkas, and we could have a big fancy fundraiser, but wouldn’t you rather we spent all the money on the quokkas in need? Thx!” It never hurts to ask.

5. Makeup tutorial

We still don’t know how to contour, and we really wish we did. Get a local makeup artist or, even better, drag queen to host a step-by-step Zoom makeup class. You can do it as a group tutorial or sell tickets for individual consultations and lessons—just be sure to cover how to do a perfect smoky eye.

Want more makeup virtual philanthropy events? You're welcome.

Bonus! Sell a makeup kit or even just lashes ahead of time so everyone has the proper colors for the class. Or just pull together a list so attendees can go to the drugstore.

Extra bonus! Get a TikTok or Insta makeup artist to guide everyone through one of those super-involved fantasy makeup looks. Maybe relate it to your mission somehow.

Bonus Bonus! Have a nail polish color custom made to match your brand colors and make your makeup tutorial into a nail art tutorial.

6. Save the puppy

Start a Facebook Live video featuring an adorable puppy. Say that you’ll make the puppy wear a really, really ugly sweater (or, worse, get a bath) if you don’t meet your fundraising goal. Wait for the cash to roll in. When you meet your goal, give that fluffy angel a biscuit for putting up with you.

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Virtual fundraising ideas for schools

Sure, remote classes have had their fair share of challenges, but we can do better when it comes to remote fundraising! Make the grade with these virtual fundraising ideas for schools.

Virtual fundraising ideas for school clubs

Whether you want to take a field trip, hire a guest speaker, or send each member a variety of cookies (that’s one way to foster community!), school clubs often need to fundraise to cover expenses. Luckily, even if you’ve taken Frisbee club online, we have plenty of virtual fundraising ideas for school clubs.

7. Virtual book club

Make fundraising for your club a family affair with a themed book club. For a suggested donation, families can join a monthly virtual book club, with each discussion led by a student club member. The French club might read Chocolat and Les Misérables (might need two months for that one), while art club reads Girl with a Pearl Earring and the Picture of Dorian Gray. Education, family bonding, AND fundraising? What a triple threat.

8. Swag bags

Whether it’s T-shirts, stickers, sunglasses, or kazoos, people love to show their school pride with customized swag. All you need is an online store and a fun design. Oooh, and we just had one more thought. Why not host a …

9. Student design contest

Have art and graphic design club students submit their ideas for a super-cool t-shirt design! Encourage friends and family to vote for their favorite—they might be a little bit biased, but as long as they’re paying $1 per vote, who cares? The winning design(s) will be featured on your awesome swag. Oh, how we love a double-trouble fundraiser!

Virtual fundraising ideas for elementary school

Fundraising with little kids is a lot of fun with these virtual fundraising ideas for elementary school.

10. Kid cookbook

Ask every kid in the class to submit their favorite recipe—ingredients, amounts, and directions included. Then, have the parents submit the actual recipe. Sell the final cookbook, which will be both hilarious and useful—plus, maybe you’ll discover a new favorite dish in sprinkle-hotdog pie.

11. Keep them guessing

We’ve all guessed how many jellybeans are in the jar, but what about how many socks are in the laundry pile? Post photos of all your mysterious and overflowing sinks, toy boxes, makeup bags, and garbage cans. Supporters pay a donation for each guess, and the winner of each category gets a gift card.

12. Reverse book club

Like a virtual book club—but in reverse. Rather than making donations to read books themselves, supporters donate funds that go towards buying books for the school library or classrooms.

Virtual fundraising ideas for high school

Tech-savvy high schoolers are already poised for real fundraising success in our increasingly virtual work. Take their efforts to the next level with these virtual fundraising ideas for high school.

13. Video game tournament

Here it is: the one time you’ll tell your kids to play more videogames. First, the youngins choose a weapon, be it Mario Kart or Mario Kart (um, we really like Mario Kart). Then, captivate your audience by livestreaming the gaming tournament right on your campaign website, thanks to your stellar fundraising platform. (Yes, Funraise makes embedding your livestream as easy as pressing “Start”—which, trust us, is the only easy thing about competitive gaming.) One more pro tip: you can up the gamification by adding a progress bar alongside your livestream.

14. Parents' video game tournament

Just like the above, but the parents play. Trust us—this is one online event no one will want to miss. There will be a lot of driving off cliffs, things will get vicious, and it will be ah-may-zing.

15. Original film fest

Ask students to film their own original short films and charge for admission. You can upload them to YouTube, so that friends and family (and maybe a talent scout or two?) can tune in at their convenience. Pair the festival with an online auction for bonus funds—auction items can include props from the films and autographed scripts. Think of it as investing in future collectibles for the next George Lucas.

Virtual fundraisers for sororities

Greek life is all about that fundraising, but it can be a challenge when you can’t throw an in-person event. For now, try out these virtual fundraising ideas for a sorority, which are almost as fun as a theme party.

16. New experience auction

An online auction is one of the classic virtual fundraising ideas for sororities. But 2020 was the year of decluttering and learning to make the best banana bread—a worthwhile skill indeed. So, for this virtual auction, auction off new skills and new experiences, courtesy of sorority members: a socially distanced soccer lesson with a varsity player, language lessons with a native Japanese speaker, or a cooking class with an aspiring nutritionist.

17. Fantasy league

Sure, you could host another fantasy basketball bracket—or you could do a Great British Baking Show fantasy league, with donors buying in to vote on who will take the ultimate prize—as well as who will win the most “Star Baker” awards throughout the series. Whether it's football, the Bachelorette, or quidditch, if you can dream it, you can fantasy league it.

Bonus: Each week, host a bake-off within the sorority house and have an objective judge (the sorority house guardian) choose the best representation of the GBBS challenge that week.

18. Text chain letter

Remember those chain letters that you had to send to 10 people or risk bad luck for the rest of your life? We do, and they were traumatizing. No one has the time for that now, but they do have time to respond to a quick test message! Text fundraising is easy and effective, and you can make it fun by asking everyone to give one and pass it on. Generate peer-to-peer fundraising momentum by texting each supporter and asking for $5, then asking them to pass it on to five friends.

Online fundraising ideas for fraternities

You can certainly partner with a sorority or two for the virtual fundraising ideas above—or you can hose your own. Next up, virtual fundraising ideas for a fraternity.

19. Virtual yard sale

Snap a photo of your must-go items to raise money for your fraternity. This fundraiser works particularly well at the end of the school year, when many students are chucking their desks and twin beds by the side of the road rather than storing them for the summer. If anyone has a creative streak, they can refinish or redecorate any items that have been a bit too well-loved.

20. Virtual beer tasting

Move over, Natty Light. This is a classy beer event! Host your very own virtual class in which you teach others about the hoppy world of beer. You can have each brother introduce their favorite beer and talk about why they like it, or you can hire a local beer expert in exchange for buying your beers at their small biz. Also, this is 21+, obvi, but feel free to add some NA options or do a soda tasting instead! We do love a good cream soda.

21. Virtual tour

When you can’t bring the supporters to your frat, bring your frat to your supporters. Give ‘em a behind-the-scenes tour of your fraternity in exchange for some cold, hard (virtual) cash. Share the history of your fraternity and field questions from the audience. If you have some favorite spots around campus, feel free to throw those into the mix as well.

Bonus: Since frat houses are notoriously run-down and disgusting, collect pledge money to fix the stairs, clean the toilets, or tackle spring cleaning. If the members can't get to their goals by a certain date, they don't get the goods!

Online fundraising ideas for nonprofits

Thanks to the magic of the internet, we can all stay connected even when we’re apart. There are so, so many creative virtual fundraising ideas for nonprofits out there. Here are a few of our favs.

22. DIY terrarium class

Where are our plant parents at? We see you. If you want to add to your growing brood—or, like us, aspire to a greener thumb—this virtual class is a great way to start. Partner with a local business to send a kit to each participant. Then, livestream a class with a terrarium expert (it’s a job; trust us), leaving time for participants to show off their creations and ask for tips and tricks.

23. Chopped: pantry edition

A cooking competition built for our pandemic era! Everyone gets on Zoom, and when the timer starts, you have 45 minutes to make an epic dish from nothing but ingredients in your pantry! You get a point for each item used (bonus points for using spam or canned textured wheat gluten). When time is up, everyone takes turns sharing their creation and voting on which sounds and looks the best. Winner gets a gift card to a local restaurant because, let’s be honest, no one’s eating what they made.

24. Milestone fundraiser

We’ve all seen a million and one birthday fundraisers on Facebook, so why not widen the playing field? Encourage community members to celebrate anniversaries, new jobs (or quitting old jobs!), new family members (furry or otherwise), and more with a fitting fundraiser.

Virtual fundraiser ideas for work

The office is where it all happens, 40 hours a week. If you’re looking to add a little fundraising to your daily 9-5 ritual, check out these virtual fundraising ideas for the workplace.

25. Yappy hour

The is one virtual happy hour that everyone will attend. Ask all your officemates to log on with their favorite fluffy friends (or non-fluffy! We love a chonky toad) for this virtual fundraising event. They donate the cost of a cocktail; the employer makes it a matching gift to up the impact. Send over some easy cocktail/mocktail recipes—and a recipe for homemade dog biscuits—in advance.

26. Zoom meeting bingo

Suffer through endless meetings-that-could-have-been-emails for a good cause! Create Zoom meeting bingo PDFs with categories like “Someone says ‘circle back’” and “Someone’s trying to speak while their mic’s muted.” For a pay-what-you-want registration fee/donation, participants get a bingo card. Throughout the day, everyone plays (be sure to tell clients in advance—you can even get them involved, too!). Winner sends it to the all-company Slack channel with a photo for proof. Maybe you can reward them with a meeting-free workday?

27. On a quest

The walk from the Shire to Mordor is 1,779 miles, while the Pacific Crest Trail will run you a cool 2,650 miles. Whether you prefer your epic journeys with a side of orcs or not, this peer-to-peer fundraising challenge is a great way to do some team building and some fundraising. The more miles walked, the more money raised. Consider giving out fun prizes for those who complete their epic journeys: “True Frodo” would be quite an honor for anyone.

Virtual fundraising gala ideas

With no excuse to dress up these days, supporters will be thrilled to don their fanciest false eyelashes and biggest statement necklaces for a virtual gala. And Funraise is your GALActic hub! (ok, we tried.) Choose a fun theme and then get planning—the best virtual fundraising gala is one that’s memorable and creative. Still stuck? Check out these virtual fundraising gala examples for some elegant inspiration.

28. Glamping gala

Some of us don’t love camping—something about the sweat, bugs, and tears? But everyone loves glamping, camping’s très fancy cousin. Grab a woodsy-chic virtual background and send everyone a glamping kit with supplies for vegan s’mores with their e-tickets.

29. The fanciest ball

Ah, the days of yesteryear, when everyone squeezed themselves into innards-squishing corsets and there were no antibiotics! Well, those parts weren’t the best, but those elegant balls certainly look inviting, don’t they? Give your supporters the party of their dreams with a virtual ball. Encourage everyone to dress to the nines—gloves, wigs, and layers upon layers of lace!

Bonus: Up the ante with costume changes! Announce guests every time they show up with a new look, and let them bask in the applause.

30. Monster mash

Heck, it doesn’t even have to be Halloween! Whether you’re a witch, zombie, or vampire-mummy-wolf (so much #goals), this gala invites everyone to be the best ghoul they can be. Have a virtual costume contest and share those costumes across social media platforms far and wide. Then, host a silent auction where everyone has to unmute and moan like the monster of their choice to bid. It’s not really silent, but it is really funny.

Side note... maybe ask everyone to practice their haunting noises in advance. Just so it's clear that they're playing a ghostly role.

Zoom fundraising ideas

Zoom: the next best thing to sitting down IRL with friends. You can see each other’s faces and chat in smaller groups if you need to talk about Cindy’s new bangs. And when it comes to Zoom fundraising ideas, the (pixelated) sky’s the limit—meetings, parties, movies, or webinars. Of course, you can also check out these fundraising ideas during COVID, many of which happen to be a Zoom fundraiser.

31. Cultural dessert tasting

You know what everyone can agree on? Dessert. Some of us prefer pie, some of us prefer cake, and some of us know without a doubt that cheesecake is the queen of all sweets. And here’s the thing: desserts are different—but always delicious—all around the world, so why not ask your supporters to make some marvelous mochi, terrific tiramisu, or great gulab jamun? Assemble boxes for pick-up, and then host a Zoom tasting class with the various chefs. Education and enjoyment? Sign us up!

32. Five-minute portraits

It’s like speed dating, but with art! For this Zoom-licious fundraiser, sell tickets for five-minute portrait painting/sketching/collaging (is that a thing?) sessions with an artist. The donor logs on at their appointed time, the artist draws ‘em, and when their five minutes is up, the next person’s session begins. Show up two minutes late and get a three-minute session instead. Mail everyone their signed portrait after the event—with a thank-you note and a reminder of how awesome your nonprofit is, of course.

33. Vegetable beauty pageant

Hear us out: we all have kinda-mushy veggies in our fridge. Everyone uses whatever they have around the house to turn their veggies into the most beautiful creatures ever. Each Zoom participant gets 20 seconds to “walk” their veggie down the virtual runway. And, of course, you can also tune in for a donation. Honestly, we’d pay an entrance fee to attend—can you imagine a butternut squash with little paper-clip legs and a lettuce wig?!

Social media fundraising ideas

In addition to getting your fill of baby photos and selfies, social media is a great way for nonprofit organizations to share their fundraising campaigns far and wide. Check out these social media fundraising ideas. Then, hope that one of them goes viral—but not in a COVID sorta way.

34. TikTok challenge

We are very cool, so we know everything there is to know about TikTok, no cap. (Told ya we were hip.) TikTok challenges are super popular, so they’re one of the best online fundraising ideas. Make up a challenge (dance with a squirrel, wear PJs and statement jewelry to the store, whatever), choose a hashtag, and encourage supporters to share it across social media platforms. Then, enjoy the results.

Bonus: There are always a bunch of trends going viral on the 'Tok, so take all of them and do 'em at once. Bake feta pasta while you're singing that one song with that funny beard filter and shaking your bon bon.

35. Client social media takeover

Ask one of your clients to take over your social media channels for a day (be sure to compensate them!) to give donors an inside look at your work and its impact. And yes, if you’re an animal shelter, let a lizard do your social media posts; if you help kids, having a kid do it is the best idea ever.

36. Classic crowdfunding

Choose a cause, any cause, and launch your crowdfunding campaign! Crowdfunding works best when it speaks to a specific issue—paying a new habitat for rescued lab animals or getting laptops to 50 children in need. Then, it’s all about reaching as many folks as possible. Thanks, social media!

Virtual raffle ideas

Who doesn’t love the chance to win big—or small for that matter? Whether it’s an all-expense-paid trip to Tahoe or a gift card to get your card washed, games of chance feel good! Raffles are a great way to fundraise for your cause, and your nonprofit can do it creatively and safely through online raffle ideas.

37. It's... a raffle

Get some great prizes, sell some tickets, draw some names. There are plenty of online tools to help you out, or you can go live with the prize on Facebook, Instagram, or your donation page.  

38. Reverse raffle

Just like the above, but in reverse. It works best if you’re auctioning off one biiiggg prize, like a trip or a moose. Here, the last remaining name or number is the big winner, so everyone hopes against hope that they’re not called. A reverse virtual raffle works well as a livestream event to build anticipation!

39. Mystery mailings

We all love mail, and we all love a deal. Have a raffle for mystery boxes, valued at $10-200. (But, spoiler, most of them are worth closer to $10). More tickets = more chances for surprises! Have a countdown on your campaign site (we’ve got a template for that), then livestream the results.

Virtual fundraising ideas for clubs

Your club has places to go and people to see—and even if it’s all taking place online, that requires your fundraising game to be on point! Before you plan another candy sale, check out these online fundraisers for clubs.

40. Virtual concert

This works especially well for performance-related clubs, but anyone can put on a virtual concert fundraiser. Reach out to local bands or acts to perform for your audience. Your club sells the tickets, embeds the event livestream into their (Funraise!) campaign site, and lets that magic donation button do its work.

Now that we think about it... maybe a non-performance club would provide incredible entertainment. A knitting club tickling the ivories, a sports club putting on a tap dance, or an outdoors club reenacting a live version of Dirty Dancing. Nobody puts Baby in a corner.

41. Club member talent show

Too much trouble to book a band? Keep things super chill and ask club members to show off their banjo skills for a night. Invite friends and family only in exchange for an online donation, and it’ll be a judgment-free zone!

Got no banjo players in your club? Don't stress; make one out of cardboard and stream a bluegrass playlist while pretending to strum the chords.

42. Board game night

There are plenty of awesome board games that work perfectly for a quiet night of socially distanced fundraising. We’re partial to Settlers of Catan, but there are also plenty of apps that will connect you across the void to play any game you want. We really like Tabletop Simulator, but fair warning that it’s not free. Just maybe stay away from playing “Pandemic” for a while. #toosoon

Virtual fundraising challenges ideas

Tap into your donors’ competitive spirit with these virtual fundraising challenges ideas.

43. Hardcore movie marathon

How many times have we all muttered “Just one more episode” to ourselves at 1:00 am? Well, this fundraiser is the best excuse ever to keep on watching. Challenge your supporters to a 12-hour (or go for broke with 24 hours) movie marathon. It can be Tom Hanks films, zombie movies, or Hallmark Hanukkah movies (there are four or five of those, we think!). As soon as you doze off or leave for anything but a quick bathroom break or snack grab, you’re out. Set up a campaign site, ask everyone to set up their own peer-to-peer page, and get comfy. When Netflix butts in to ask if you’re still watching, you’ll smile serenely and know it’s for the greater good.

Bonus: the last one sitting wins a prize. Probably the entire boxed set of Bosom Buddies or The Walking Dead.

44. Dance-off

Coronavirus has made a night at the club off-limits, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get your groove on. For a small entrance fee, supporters boogie down and raise funds for a good cause. This is a great peer-to-peer fundraiser if you have folks donate for every minute—or hour—danced. Customize your donation page with some pulsing lights and everyone can enjoy an evening out while social distancing.

45. Pet/baby/plant dance-off

Like the above, but you hold up your pet/baby/house plant and have them “dance.” They’ll definitely let you know when they’ve had enough, so this should be a quick fundraiser. Although we’ve heard cacti have a lot of stamina …

Fun virtual fundraising ideas

The best way to get donors to give to your cause is to make your nonprofit virtual events so fun that they don’t want to miss ‘em! Here are some fun and easy fundraising ideas.

46. Chocolate or candy tasting

Give the public what they want with this virtual class! Partner with local businesses to supply a variety of delicious (if not nutritious) candies for participants. Then, walk them through the subtle tasting notes. Too much effort? Talk through the relative merits of M&M’s versus Raisinets.

47. Cat talent show

Sure, you could do a fundraiser where supporters pay to enter their dogs. You could watch talented canines sit, speak, and roll over. But what’s more fun: dogs actually doing tricks or cats refusing to listen as their pet-parents beg them over and over to pay attention? We thought so. Encourage participants to post videos of their meow-y talented pet on social media, too, with a #purrfectlytalented event hashtag.

48. DIY spa night

We love a good beauty box, but those rose-scented tinctures add up! Instead, teach supporters to make their own candles, bath bombs, and/or soaps at a virtual spa night. Encourage everyone to wear pajamas, bring a tea or wine of their choice, and prepare for a night of creativity and relaxation. You can ship kits with all necessary materials in advance or focus on items people already have in their homes.

Facebook fundraiser ideas

Everyone and their great-grandma-once-removed is on Facebook, so take advantage of the popular social media and fundraising platform with these Facebook fundraising ideas.

49. Go Facebook Live

Take supporters behind the scenes with a series of Facebook Live campaign videos. Do a little promotion so everyone knows when you’ll be on the air. During the fundraiser, show everyone how their dollars are being spent and open it up to real-time questions. By doing multiple Facebook Live videos, you can tell a bigger story and build momentum.

50. Post a sad baby

Post a picture of a very fat, very sad baby. Tell your supporters that they can make the baby happy by donating. When anyone donates, celebrate your fundraising efforts by posting incrementally happier pictures of the baby or other happy cute animals.

51. Matching gift-a-thon

Soooo many companies have matching gift programs, and yet so often those dollars sit on the shelf all year long, unloved and unused. Don’t let that happen! Encourage your dedicated supporters to help out without spending any more of their hard-earned cash by using Facebook (and other social media channels) to shout out eligibility for matching gifts. P.S. Funraise’s integrations make it super easy to look up employers and request a match. And the easier it is for your supporters, the more likely they are to follow through.

Virtual movie night fundraiser ideas

Movies entertain and transport us—something that’s especially important during pandemic times. Keep your donors ooh-ing and aah-ing with a virtual movie night fundraiser.

52. Movie-pairing night

Sure, you’ve paired wine and cheese before, but have you paired cheeses with a movie? Brie and Jabba the Hut is a classic pairing, but you’ll have to trust us on Ewoks and gouda.

53. Participatory movie night

Don your corsets and your wigs, because it’s time to do the Time Warp again—but this time from the comfort of your living room. That was a lot of Rocky Horror Picture show references (or was it not enough?) for those not well versed in the film's rich history of audience participation. Here’s how it works: you stream a cult classic, donors buy tickets, and hosts perform alongside the livestream, encouraging the audience to interact with the film. The classic example here is Rocky Horror, but with a little creativity, you can do this stay-at-home fundraising idea for almost any movie—we love sing-alongs or monster movies, personally.

Bonus: This is a perfect opportunity to put the in-person performance on a live social media stream while the at-home donors stream from their television. Don't forget to encourage the popcorn-throwing!

54. Documentary Q&A

Screen a documentary that’s related to your cause, followed by a live Q&A with someone involved with the film or with specialized knowledge. People can submit their questions via chat throughout the film.

3 successful virtual fundraising events

With the ideas above, your inspiration bucket doth overflow. “But,” you whisper to yourself defiantly, “Can it truly be done? I’ll believe it when I see it!” We like a dose of healthy skepticism, and we’ve got you. Check out the fundraising campaign examples below for honest-to-goodness proof that successful virtual fundraising events are a thing.

1. LiNK’s Dual Virtual Galas

Liberty in North Korea (LiNK) relied on their dual galas to bring support and hope to North Koreans—and to raise hundreds of thousands in fundraising revenue every year. When they had to go virtual, they knew they had to go big: they held two virtual galas, one east coast and one west coast, but then they livestreamed them all over the world. In the end, they raised $1.6 million from 1,100 unique donors, 840 of whom were first-time donors. Their initial goal? $800,000. Talk about a real virtual success.

2. Boy Scouts of America’s Virtual Luncheon

The scene: Boy Scouts of America’s annual 1,000-person fundraising luncheon. The time: early 2021. The problem: COVID, like always. The solution: When BSA’s Heart of America Council needed to pivot their annual luncheon, they turned to Funraise to create a customized campaign site for their virtual fundraising event. They prerecorded much of the programming to reduce stress and technical hiccups, used their site as a centralized peer-to-peer fundraising page, then livestreamed the virtual event to thousands of attendees. The outcome: Their stretch goal was $620,000, and they ended up raising over $700,000. Boy, oh boy!

3. March of Dimes’ Virtual Walk-a-thon

2020 was supposed to be a lot of things, and one of those was the 50th anniversary of March of Dimes’ “March for Babies” fundraising walk. Instead of sitting down on the couch and eating a pint of ice cream, March of Dimes took “March for Babies” online, offering fun incentives and plenty of opportunities to connect and celebrate. It went so well that they decided to make the one-day event into a year-round one, raising more money than ever before.

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Final points for fundraising ideas online

Hopefully, these online fundraising ideas have added some pep to your step so that your organization can thrive as we continue to balance IRL with online. A few final takeaways:

•    While the coronavirus pandemic has forced many a nonprofit to rework their fundraising strategy, virtual fundraising allows you to continue your fundraising efforts and keep communications open.

•    Online fundraising lets you connect with a much wider audience, anywhere and at any time.

•    Review your fundraising plan, make a plan B, and then make a plan C. Things are bound to change again in the years ahead, so a contingency plan or two will ensure you can keep operating.

•    To keep your donors, foster those relationships through consistent communications and schedule creative, engaging virtual fundraisers.

•    Your normal donor and event messaging might not work right now, but keep it optimistic and hopeful! These past COVID years have been hard for everyone, and we need a light at the end of the tunnel.

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