6 methods to shift your cancelled fundraising event into a virtual event

Erin Todd

Erin Todd

Inbound Marketing Specialist

How to transcend the coronavirus concern and build a strong virtual fundraising action plan

Your physical fundraising event may be canceled, but your cause is not - fundraising must go on!

But how do you revive the momentum or shine a light on your cause when everything seems overshadowed by the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak? 

We talked at length about what nonprofits need to know about the coronavirus concern and how to act quickly in the midst of this uncertainty. 

When you are making moves to cancel or alter your event the first key is to communicate to your participants why their support is needed now more than ever. Don’t miss this moment to authentically communicate and connect with your audience. Your community will bond with your plight at this time where things feel vulnerable and they will act when they have clear guidance on how they can help. Reach out to your participants with a sense of urgency and tell them they are pivotal at this time. 

Here we want to arm you with 6 ways to take your in-person event online and quickly transform it into your virtual meeting ground with your community and to keep your 2020 goal on their minds as we navigate the days ahead.

1. Virtual Conference or Organization Hosted Livestream

This is the top method for events like galas or ticketed events with a captive audience. The next best thing to an auditorium is a camera set up where your speakers, performers and hosts can still deliver their message. A prominent person within your organization can host a livestream and deliver your message to your community in an authentic and real-time way. With DonorDrive, donations can be collected on the same viewing page as the livestream, evolving this into a modern-day telethon instead of just a broadcast.
 

2. Virtual Walks

With walks we don’t need to reinvent the wheel, we simply need to create a virtual place for participants to congregate instead of walking together. Instead of canceling your walk, change the name of the event and adjust your communication to your audience with how they can virtually connect with you on event day. 

Having a virtual option for walks is often a good practice from the get-go, so those with conflicts can still participate and fundraise.

Encourage all of your participants to keep fundraising and continue to fundraise just as they were. Prompt them to get creative to complete challenges when they hit milestones at home like hopping on the treadmill, walking their neighborhood, doing burpees, climbing stairs and tell them not to forget to post selfies and share their activity. Spotlight your most engaged participants and tell their stories, to share their creative ideas and are inspiring others.

“We had to make a split second decision to turn it into a virtual event or simply cancel, we felt that we had to do something virtual to still celebrate with the community and provide the networking and resources they would normally receive at the Walk.” 
Andrew Edwards, Senior Director of Field Fundraising, Epilepsy Foundation of America 

3. Virtual Rides

Virtual Rides to date have followed the format similar to virtual walks, but streaming technology is creating ways to make them even more engaging. Stationary cycle gear has come a long way. Riders can set up on an indoor bike trainer, creating a race experience where riders are virtually connected and race against each other in real time.

4. DIY Based on Signature or Legacy Event

For many nonprofits, their unique fundraising event activity is a signature part of the charity’s brand and it's the creative activity people want to participate in. It's very important to remember your roots and play on them when creating your virtual fundraisers.


Another great example of virtualizing an event is how Covenant House created Sleep Out America. They took their signature event the Sleep Out which was a limited seat annual event and opened the experience nationwide by creating a way to virtually participate so their community could expand and experience the activity of facing homelessness while raising money to end it remotely.

5. Charity Streaming  

We of course cannot overlook charity streaming during these times. As people are sequestered at home many are tuning into YouTube, Twitch and Mixer to pass the time. Tell your participants to use this time to become champions for your cause, communicate to them the needs of your cause during this downturn and allow them to set up a charity stream where they can collect donations while they interact with their audience.

You can also rally your community to jump in to support your cause around one key awareness day. 

As always, charity streaming doesn’t have to follow the gaming model. Almost any activity can be broadcasted so encourage your participants to showcase their talents for your cause. 

6. Virtual Drive

Make a specific fundraising goal to accomplish one challenge your cause is facing and ask your participants to put their energies into promoting this campaign. It could even be specific to responding to what is happening in the wake of the coronavirus. Food drives and aid for the most heavily affected, and supporting healthcare are great ways to spur donations during this time.

Key things to remember to make the most of your virtual event

There are endless possibilities of how your virtual fundraising could take shape. But these 6 core types of virtual fundraising methods are a good start to get your team thinking on how it might work for your organization. 

Take time to discuss with your team what streaming needs to look like to be compelling to your community and build on that. Aim to achieve keeping your community connected as best as you can. Today, solidarity is just as important as fundraising itself. 

Virtual events have often been an afterthought in the peer-to-peer fundraising world, but current events are bringing them to the forefront. So what steps do you need to take today and what type of virtual fundraising event is going to work for your community? Let's dive deeper into the ways you can create your virtual fundraising event and position it in such a way to still drive awareness and donations while things are in limbo.
 

Ready to learn more about how DonorDrive can help you?