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How to Run an Online Fundraising Event: Definitive Guide

How to Run an Online Fundraising Event: Definitive Guide

Fundraising is no simple task. Ask anyone who has been part of a fundraising committee or event. It takes a lot of organization and preparation. It’s hard enough to come up with an idea for how you’re going to raise funds, but let that be the end of it. With our definitive guide on how to run an online fundraising event, you can wave goodbye to the rest of the stress. 

Have a read, prepare yourself, and get back to the enjoyment of fundraising.

What are Online Fundraising Events?

Traditional fundraising has always been popular, there’s nothing quite like running a bake sale or a carnival in the name of a good cause. However, there is more demand than ever for online fundraising events. In recent years, the barriers that come along with traditional fundraising have become too much for smaller budgets and success is difficult. 

An online fundraising event is, as you may have guessed, online. But what does that mean? Well, it allows you to run multiple formats of fundraising, it might be in the form of an online class, a demonstration, performance or something more interactive such as bidding auctions. 

There is no ‘normality’ to online fundraising events. That’s why they’re so popular. There are fewer restrictions on location, budgets and of course the volunteers who give up their time. In fact, let us walk you through some of the benefits of hosting online fundraising events.

Pros of hosting Online Fundraising Events

If you’re a little dubious as to why you should opt for an online fundraising event instead of one in person, then you should keep on reading. Afterwards, we know you’ll be wondering why you didn’t make the switch sooner.

Less stress and simple procedures

When you move to online fundraising, you immediately remove the need for a lot of technical logistics that involve several different people. There’s no land or building to rent, so you don’t need to deal with the owner, scheduling their staff to operate bars, organizing security for the event or even paying for cleaners to clear up afterwards. There is none of that. Just click a button to turn on an event and another button to close it.

Your entire process for setting up the event is much easier. Plus you save a lot of money. No building to rent or staff to pay for means you can keep more profits in your pockets. Do you see how much easier your life could be by hosting an online event?

No restrictions on invitations

Inevitably, the more people you invite to a fundraising event, the more money you can raise. Which is great unless you have a capacity limit. But what are the capacity limits online? There aren’t any! Invite as many people as you can. Use all your powers via your database, social media and supporters to get the word out there. And once signed up, see here for more details about our guest messaging option so you can communicate clearly and effectively on the fundraising campaign.

Note – if you’re running a virtual gala with a live host, it’s important to be aware that there will be some sort of limitations to invitations online, but it all depends on what type of server you’re hosting on. Most platforms will be able to give you an indication for how many people can log in at once, but much like your ‘unlimited calls and texts’ mobile phone plan, you will really struggle to reach the limit, so you won’t notice the difference.

Getting that all-important data

One thing that can be difficult to know with in-person fundraising events, is why they were or were not a success. As much as you may ask for reviews, you’re less likely to receive them if they need to be jotted down while people are trying to enjoy themselves at your event.

The benefit of an online fundraising event is that you aren’t just relying on reviews. During the event you can evaluate what is and isn’t working, making adjustments as you raise money, maximizing profits. Plus, the processes are all automated so that funds are received, receipts are given, and data can be safely stored in a secure database.

What you need

Like any fundraising event, you will need a few things to get you started. Don’t worry, the list is nowhere near as long as you’d expect and can all be done in less than an afternoon. Take a look.

A reset on your ideas

Fundraising online looks different to fundraising in person. You’ll need to amend your ideas of carnival games, bake sales and raffles to an online format. Be prepared to think big. Getting a fresh perspective on fundraising ideas is essential.

Remember you are not limited by numbers – so if you’re setting up an online fantasy football league, don’t limit yourself to just 10 teams in a league, you can have as many as you want! There’s no promotion and relegation in the virtual world so invite as many teams as you’d like. 

While events like silent auctions in person take a lot of manpower and various teams such as catering and security to get going, you don’t need them online. Instead put your resources into online advertising, promotions and searching for the best items to sell.

A supportive team

Some aspects of online vs offline fundraising are extremely different, but this one is the same. You will always need a supportive team around you. Not necessarily the same team, mind you. Even if you’re a one-person-band for this fundraising event, you can do it with just some support for your idea. Services like Givergy help provide all the technical work so you just need to bring your idea to the discussion table. 

Of course, for charities to set up online fundraising events there are a whole host of people that need to be involved in order to approve an event. Luckily though, it’s all involved in the set up. As soon as that idea is signed off, the process can be simple again through the use of platforms like Givergy.

A target you can all agree on

Perhaps one of the hardest and most difficult things to agree on before an event is a target. You know the fantastic cause you’re raising funds for, but how much will you raise? Your initial instinct might be ‘as much as possible’ but studies show that this isn’t always a strong marketing technique.

By focusing on a target, those who are donating will know what they’re to aim for and it will help boost their donation. If you say ‘we’re happy to receive anything’ more often than not you will receive a minimum. If you state that you’re still $1,000 away from your target, people will push their donation to match the urgency of the target. As much as people love to give money to a good cause, don’t expect them to give more than the minimum. Just make sure the minimum is a good amount for your charity. Take a look at our donation options for more advice on this. 

Step by step – how to run your online fundraising event

Spread the word

The absolute first step you need to consider is how you’re going to promote your event. There’s no location involved so you won’t be able to put up posters in hallways. However, you have the power of online communities. 

Facebook groups are incredibly powerful, especially when trying to raise funds for a good cause in the local community. Everywhere has a local group these days, it might be a ‘Mums in Westport’ or ‘The Chit Chat of Huntingdon’ or even a ‘What’s On in Raleigh’. Join these groups and post as much as you can about your event (following the group rules of course). This is free advertising and it’s a great way to invite new people.

Of course, spreading the word to your contact list is far easier. Sending invites and links via email, text and even using your social media pages. It’s all very simple to do and it’s free, you just need to put in the time to make it happen.

Set up the event using your platform

Whatever platform you go with, you will need to set it up and plan ahead. Think about timings. How long do you want to run for? will each segment last? Who will speak when? What instructions will be explained to your supporters and how?the audience? In addition, what will be your fundraising activities? An auction, raffle, donations only?

Making these types of decisions can happen at a later date but most of the time they occur when you’ve decided on what type of event you want to host. 

Enjoy your event and send out your thanks

If you’ve done all the planning possible, running the campaign event itself will be smooth sailing. Of course, every good planner will have a contingency for if something goes wrong but that’s the beauty of hosting online virtual fundraisers – other than a loss of connection to the server (incredibly rare)signal, there isn’t much that can go wrong.

Givergy can help you run your Online Fundraising Event

Here at Givergy, we provide an award-winning fundraising platform that helps you raise more for your event or live auction.

Take a look at some of our services including live fundraising events, live auctions and payment options

Ella Jacques

Ella Jacques

Global Client Services Manager at Givergy

Ella heads up the global Fundraising & Events team. A key part of Givergy’s growth for four years, Ella has a passion for event planning and ensuring her and her teams’ clients exceed their fundraising targets. Furthermore, Ella’s exposure to some of the highest-profile fundraising events gives her a unique insight into the newest and most innovative way in which charities are engaging with their audiences.