What kind of virtual event is right for you?

We know many nonprofits depend on annual events to raise money, and virtual events might take some trial and error. Organizations may have to hold smaller, more frequent fundraisers to close their fundraising gaps, or get creative in moving existing events online. The good news is that grassroots donors still want to make a positive difference in the world by supporting you! We came up with some questions to help you think about what kind of virtual fundraising event is right for your nonprofit:

  • What are your values?

  • If you don’t have a nonprofit values statement, think about what values enable your work. What’s important and meaningful to you and your nonprofit? As an example, a direct service organization could say they value the shared empathy and empowerment of their staff, volunteers, and clients. An education nonprofit might say they value equitable access to learning opportunities.

  • What tone has your organization or organizational leadership set?

  • Who does your nonprofit serve? Consider how your nonprofit speaks with your community, how leadership shows up in external meetings, and the tone of your conversations with clients or constituents. For example, are your online and offline communications calm, energetic, action-oriented, or formal? How do you define your voice?

  • Why do your supporters trust you to do this work?

  • Who are your supporters, and why do they trust you to do this work? Maybe you’ve been working toward your mission longer than any other organization in the sector. Or maybe you were recently formed to address a shortcoming you noticed in a particular area. For the former example, a nonprofit could give a virtual history lesson and talk about how their work has progressed and how they want it to grow in the future. For a new nonprofit, you could do a virtual Q&A with one of your earliest funders and talk about how your work fills the gap. Think about what value you bring to supporters, and make a celebration of it!

  • What are your needs?

  • How much money do you need to fund your work for the next quarter? If all your attendees donated $5, how many attendees would you need to meet your goal? Will you need to sell tickets through an event form beforehand? Or would volunteer commitments be as valuable as donations right now?

  • What do your values, tone, supporter trust, and needs add up to?

  • Maybe you’re a small conservation organization trying to give people a behind-the-scenes look, so you stream a laid-back tour of the buildings or land you preserve and talk about what goes into maintaining them. Or if you’re a longstanding direct service organization, you could ask a founding member to make a video explaining why they founded the nonprofit and how it’s grown.

    Can’t decide between virtual event ideas? Ask your advocates what they think! Create a poll on Twitter or Facebook, or send out an email to staff and volunteers asking for input.

Logistics

Whatever kind of virtual event you decide on, if you film it on Facebook or YouTube you can embed it on a contribution form so attendees can donate without navigating away from your video!

Once you have an idea for a virtual event, use this checklist for tips on making it go as smoothly as possible. Click these links for guides on using Facebook Livestreams, Facebook video, and YouTube videos, which can all be embedded on our contribution forms. Livestreams are a great option for interactive Q&As!

Afterward, download the data from your event’s contribution form and send folks who attended a heartfelt thank you email. If you’re looking for feedback on your event or more ideas for future events, this is also an opportunity to ask your supporters questions to keep the conversation going!

More ideas for virtual events:

  • An organization with a longstanding history in the community could have someone sort through historic materials on camera while explaining how their work has adapted to meet the community’s needs.
  • Organizations with a strong emphasis on self-care could film a series of videos on mindfulness, self-care arts and crafts, or host a virtual dance-a-thon.
  • Does your nonprofit have nutritional programming or enthusiastic home cooks on staff? Consider giving virtual cooking lessons with a suggested donation!
  • Nonprofits urgently in need of funds could hold a virtual fundraising race using supporter forms and make daily announcements on who’s in the lead, with consent from supporters. Try making it fun by having your announcer dress up in formal wear or as a mascot for your organization and film their announcements!
  • A newly formed organization could get some of its founding members together (virtually) to discuss why they felt it was important to do this work now, and how they hope to serve their community.

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