fundraising event online

Are you wondering what to do since your event had to be cancelled because of COVID-19? You’re not alone. 

I have created, marketed and directed online events for 10 years, from virtual career conferences to virtual leadership summits, masterclass series and both free and paid webinars. I’ve made thousands of dollars with these events, and now I am teaching others how to do the same. 

Last week for the first time, I put together a webinar on how to run a virtual conference. If you want that virtual conferences webinar recording and slides, just go to the link.  Afterwards, I chatted with quite a few people who are trying to replace the lost income from their fundraising events right now. I talked with a small environmental nonprofit in rural California, a school in the Virgin Islands, and an art nonprofit in Vancouver, BC. 

Everyone is going through the same thing. They can no longer depend on the income from their special events. Even if their sponsors don’t pull out, they need a plan B or C for the next event, instead of just putting it off til October.  

The good news is, we can save money by doing things online! Think about it. There is less that can go wrong. You don’t have to worry about the weather! Or people being too drunk to drive home! Since people are already home, it’s much much simpler! 

Here are four ideas or options for you with virtual events:

  1. Video fireside chat with your CEO/Board Chair and longterm supporters: ANYONE can do this. Literally anyone. Right now you could be doing this once a week or once a month to keep your supporters updated. International NGOs have known this for years. When your donors cannot see your programs, help them feel involved with calls. Ask donors for their advice. Give them updates from the field. And then invite them to the next event, which MAY BE any of the ideas below! I have no idea why more people aren’t doing this.
  2. Major Donor art/music tour of their house via zoom: What if your major donors could show off their art collections to everyone? Make sure you rehearse with them and it looks good, then let people have 5-10 minutes per person to show off their art/record collection! This can make major donors feel more involved, and others get to see how they live and enjoy their beautiful spaces. Plus you can ask for a donation after the virtual tour. 
  3. Online Auction: There are two ways you could do this. Normally I would advise against doing ANY auctions, but if you are bound and determined to do it, you can use online auction software like eBay or Etsy, or another one to have a sale and show people that time is running out. You could also make it be about the local artists, have them show the piece in video, talk about the piece, and have an emcee as well to rehearse with them so there is a consistent thread running through your online art show. This could help local artists get their work into the world, and your nonprofit takes a cut, and artist gets paid too! 
  4. Ongoing Virtual Art Tour of your artists/musician/dance studio: You can livestream on Instagram, or Youtube. Or just on Zoom. Have your artists/musicians show us around the studio! This is where the magic happens! Maybe they play a little song in there. Or maybe they do a little dance, live. Or maybe they make art live for your donors and show it to them with a mini-art lesson! I’m sure you’ve already thought of this, but if not, why not?

Even if you are not an arts nonprofit, did this give you ideas?

Do you have more virtual event ideas? Please leave a comment! 

Mazarine Treyz
Mazarine Treyz is a nationally-recognized strategist for fundraising planning and communications. She is the CEO of Wild Woman Fundraising and the Author of The Wild Woman's Guide to Fundraising, as well as other books. Creator of over 12 e-courses, 3 masterclasses and 3 books, she has coached and taught over 12,000 nonprofit professionals how to be better fundraisers since 2010. Mazarine is the founder of the Fundraising Career Conference and the Nonprofit Leadership Summit.