Virtual Fundraising Races: 5 Keys to Making Them Work

Erin Todd

Erin Todd

Digital Marketing Manager

No matter what situation we find ourselves in, you can create a fun, engaging and competitive virtual experience for participants and donors to interact with.  

Organizations are growing more comfortable with the idea of virtual fundraising, and virtual fundraising races are one of the biggest reasons why.

For example, in May 2020, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia hosted its 31 Day fitness challenge as a virtual experience, increasing their fundraising by 181% YOY. 

To be truly engaging, the virtual component of your fundraising race needs to be more than just a video call. While live streaming is a great way to engage people in real-time, you want to build more touchpoints throughout a longer period to increase the opportunities for individuals to fundraise for your cause.  Also, your community wants to be able to make an impact together – especially since they can’t be physically together. 

We must raise the bar for virtual fundraising races in 2021. So, we put together 5 keys to help you create truly remarkable races, reignite camaraderie and competition, and keep fundraisers engaged and moving for your cause. 

How to Create a Dynamic Virtual Fundraising Race

1. Sync Fundraising with Activity

The goal of your virtual fundraising race is to get people moving together, no matter where they are.

The best way to do this is by synching your fundraising with real participant activity. By leveraging activity tracking devices (Fitbit, Apple Watch, Garmin) or apps (Apple Health, Google Fit), participants around the globe can highlight their activity on their fundraising pages.

You can then encourage your participants and teams to complete activities when they reach specific milestones or incentives towards fundraising goals. For example, participants can motivate donors by saying: “Every time I get a $50 donation, I’m going to do 50 burpees on live stream.” 

2. Help Participants Visualize the Race

The best virtual fundraising races show the race actually happening.  

You can help participants visualize the race by incorporating a virtual racetrack that participant avatars can move through (synched with real activity captured from the device or app). Participants can watch each other and themselves move through the map, so they can stay competitive and engaged with that visualization of the ranks. Take things a step further by letting them unlock fun surprises and milestones as they progress in real-time through your virtual map.

One of the best parts of an in-person race is being in a group of like-minded people who care about the same cause. Features like live chat make it easy to nurture this atmosphere, allowing participants to talk about why they’re participating, how they’re staying active, and how to keep one another motivated.

3. Feature Sponsors

One of the most challenging aspects of running virtual events is incorporating sponsors in a meaningful way. 

At an in-person race, participants would see large banners, receive exclusive promotions or swag, and they would hear audible mentions through the microphone from the mainstage. All of that can evaporate in a virtual environment if not done properly. It’s still important to create exclusive opportunities for sponsors to have a lot of visibility and airtime to participants. Sponsors deserve more than a “Special thanks to our sponsors” email. 

With the right virtual environment, you can do a myriad of creative things that will boost sponsor engagement with your fundraiser community.   

Here’s how:

  • Add sponsor logos to the virtual track design. 
  • Develop timed push notifications and direct calls to action in the content within the virtual event experience. Highlight sponsors along the journey in fitness milestones.
  • Create a livestream opening or closing ceremony for dedicated sponsor announcements.
  • Incorporate sponsored content (videos, articles, posts). Allow participants to comment on these pieces of content so you can inform sponsors about who is engaging. 

4. Engage Donors in the Fundraising Journey

It’s important to keep your donors engaged throughout the fundraising journey.

Activity pledges are a great way to tie participant activity to donations. For example, if a donor can pledge to give $5 per mile (up to a certain limit), it motivates participants to do more activity and in-turn raise more because their activity and fundraising results are tied together. 

Set up announcements or encourage participants to send progress updates to their donors to keep donors up-to-date with the impact they are making.

Also, remember: Faster donations often lead to more conversations. Make it easy for donors to quickly donate (less than 30 seconds is ideal) – without having to leave the fundraising page to load the donation form on another site. Provide mobile-friendly donation options, too.   

5. Track Fundraising Progress in Real-Time

Take every opportunity to feed rewards and accolades to your participants to keep them logging back in and engaging with your event. Using activity streaks, daily averages, the progress towards personal and team goals and milestones, and activity achievement badges are all great ways to show how your participants are moving—and raising funds—for your cause.

Showcasing this information in real-time will motivate and encourage participants to move and donors to give!

Virtual Fundraising Races in the Long Run

Virtual fundraising experiences remove geographic and scheduling boundaries, which create opportunities to expand your audience and boost participation. They are here to stay and, as long as you can provide them with entertainment and goals to stay engaged with, will play a key role in fundraising strategies long after the pandemic is over. The effort you put in now to create an awesome virtual experience will continue to pay off.

Want to create dynamic virtual fundraising races easily and efficiently? DonorDrive and MoveSpring can help. See how it all comes together in our webinar or tell us more about your fundraising goals.

Ready to explore how DonorDrive can help you?