By Sarah Baker, a Digital Fundraising Strategist at MobileCause, where she helps nonprofits accelerate their fundraising and engagement efforts through giving and marketing strategies.
For the past year, virtual events have come to the rescue in helping nonprofits continue to fundraise during the pandemic. While many organizations before this time had ways to give online, the idea of exclusively fundraising virtually was new. Though perhaps daunting at first, it’s forced nonprofits to innovate and get creative with how to stay connected with supporters and raise the funds needed for their mission. Athletic events and luncheons went virtual. Galas, contests and performances went virtual. Many thought it couldn’t be done, but nonprofits did it, and often with incredible results.
What we’ve learned along the way is that adding virtual elements into your fundraising and in-person events has incredible benefits. In fact, it should be a vital part of your fundraising strategy year-round, even as the pandemic restrictions lift. Let’s take a look at a few of the reasons why incorporating virtual components into your in-person fundraising event is essential to your success.
1) It Expands Reach and Brings in More New Donors
Did you know that 73% of nonprofits say their biggest challenge is bringing in new donors?1 There’s hardly a more effective way to do so than by adding virtual elements such as livestreaming to your fundraiser.
When you livestream or host your fundraiser online, even in part, your supporters can share widely and you can reach donors just about anywhere around the globe. You are no longer confined to your local community to attend your event and support your cause. We know one nonprofit who went from attendees in 4 states to 24 states for their event, while another turned their annual Seattle gala into a worldwide fundraiser, just by going virtual.
Maybe you livestream during an important performance or speech and then also host it on your website. Perhaps you try a social media play-by-play of the highlights of your event. Whichever route you choose, using virtual components is a powerful way to increase reach and bring in those new donors you need.
2) Enables Those Who Cannot Attend to Still Participate
With virtual events, local supporters who cannot attend in-person can still be a part of special moments and participate in activities from afar. Physical limitations and scheduling conflicts no longer need to keep supporters from joining in on your fundraiser. Guests can watch the moving presentations, run a virtual 5K, prepare a special cocktail, vote on the cutest puppy or bid on auction items, all from wherever they may be.
The same way a virtual broadcast or replay of your live event can bring in donors from around the world, using online peer-to-peer fundraising can give everyone a way to get involved with your nonprofit and its mission. Invite your biggest supporters both near and far to sign up as a fundraiser, whether they are attending in-person or virtually. On average, peer-to-peer campaigns bring 5.6 donors for each fundraiser participating, so it’s a highly effective way to boost “attendance” while broadening the possibilities of who can attend your event and when.
3) Increases Giving, Often Outraising Previous In-Person Events
It’s not surprising that adding virtual elements to your in-person fundraiser can help increase giving considering how much it can expand your reach. The reduced overhead costs of virtual events can also help you net more than previous in-person fundraisers. For a fully virtual event, you don’t need to rent a space, spend money on tables, chairs, A/V equipment and much more. With hybrid events, the power to raise more lies in the expanded reach of adding virtual components.
For future galas, luncheons, and dinners, your nonprofit should continue to offer a virtual broadcast to make your event accessible to a broader audience and help you raise more donations. In fact, one nonprofit we know raised nearly 4 times their goal by using a virtual fundraising event and many others both netted and grossed more than their previous in-person events.
Continue to offer ways for donors to give online, whether that is from supporters’ desktop or mobile phone. Use an online donation form on your website, promote a text-to-donate keyword at your event and across your social media profiles. Using these methods no matter what your upcoming fundraising event may be ensures you are reaching your donors in the most convenient and efficient way, and that will always help you reach and surpass those goals.
With more than a year of virtual events now in the rear-view mirror, we can look at all the ways nonprofits have had to change their plans and adapt to new times. These lessons have proven fruitful in so many ways and offer an opportunity to hold in-person fundraising events that are even more efficient and more effective than ever before.
To discover some actionable ways you can reach, or even exceed, your fundraising goals with virtual elements as part of to your events, download this free infographic, 7 Ways to Help Your Virtual Fundraising Event Achieve In-Person Results.
MobileCause is more than simply comprehensive online and event fundraising software. We offer nonprofits one-on-one expert strategy from our Digital Fundraising Specialists plus 24/7 customer support that’s there when you need it most. MobileCause has become the trusted fundraising partner for nonprofits looking to scale their fundraising quickly and efficiently, without paying any transaction fees, so you can grow your mission like never before.