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Building a Virtual Fundraising Action Plan

Published:  03/24/2020

This post is part of our special series on fundraising during crisis and represents the opinions of an AHP affiliate.

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 coronavirus outbreak?  

At DonorDrive, we've talked at length about what nonprofits need to know about the coronavirus concern, and how to act quickly in the midst of this uncertainty.  Here we want to arm you with six ways to take your in-person event online and quickly transform it into a virtual meeting ground with your community, keeping your 2020 goal on everyone's 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 Walk

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 to show 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, or climbing stairs. Don't forget to remind them to post selfies and share their activity. Spotlight your most engaged participants and tell their stories, to share their creative ideas and inspire others. 

This is exactly the strategy the Epilepsy Foundation of America used when they found out they needed to cancel their Miami Walk. They had three days to convert it into a virtual event and communicate the change to their community.  

“We had to make a split second decision to turn it into a virtual event or simply cancel," said Andrew Edwards, the senior director of field fundraising at the Epilepsy Foundation. "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.”   

They changed the title and imagery of the walk, communicated the change to all of their participants, and created a Zoom webconference for people to congregate in. They chose Zoom because their team members were familiar with the tool, and they wanted to see the faces of their local epilepsy community. Now the Epilepsy Foundation is in the process of converting 16 more regional walks to be virtual in the coming weeks.  

3. Virtual Ride 

Virtual Rides follow the same format as 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 they are virtually connected and race against each other in real time. 

If connected to a streaming platform like Twitch, they can broadcast their race to an audience tuning in. With DonorDrive, the rider can set up alerts to see when donations come in or when they reach a preset milestone where they can interact with or perform for their fans while they pedal. 


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.