For years, many organizations relied heavily on in-person events for fundraising. This was partly due to the fear that unless people were physically in the same room together, donations would diminish.
We’ve been designing and producing virtual fundraising events for about five years, and we can safely say that those fears are unfounded. Not only do virtual fundraisers deliver on average the same level of giving, but in some cases more money is raised than in an in-person fundraiser.
Increased giving is only one of the many advantages of a virtual fundraiser. Here are some advantages that may cause you to consider adding a virtual fundraiser even if you still plan on an in-person fundraising event.
Virtual fundraisers aren’t impacted by the weather.
If you’ve ever planned an event scheduled for a time when there might possibly be heavy rain, snow, excessive heat, excessive cold, or tornados, you’re familiar with that anxious feeling that starts several days before the event and continues until everyone is seated. The fear that fewer people will attend is real. When groups of people are a no-show because of weather, it reduces your available donors and it alters the overall mood of the event. Both of these conditions decrease the amount of money you can expect to raise. Virtual events, however, can take place regardless of the weather conditions. We’ve also found that virtual events that occur during bad weather often see an increase in average donation amount, because people are grateful they didn’t have to be out in inclement weather.
Virtual events can be accessible and inclusive.
Virtual fundraisers don’t usually present the same physical, geographical, or socioeconomic obstacles to attendance that in-person events can. People with physical disabilities, lack of child care, or inability to travel may be unintentionally excluded from an in-person fundraiser, even though they’re committed to the organization’s mission and might even be high-level donors. Virtual events allow more people to participate, which grows your donor base and your goodwill.
Virtual events can maximize donations.
Virtual events usually don’t require the same level of investment as in-person events. This means that more dollars raised can go to the organization. Virtual fundraisers also allow for more immediate capture of donations. There are more opportunities and tools for immediate online giving, which reduces the chances someone will intend to give but then forget to mail the check or log on to make payment.
Virtual fundraisers open the door to global attendance and global entertainment.
People are much more likely to participate from anywhere in the world when they don’t have to worry about the costs or logistics of travel. Think about supporters who may have moved out of the region, former staff or board members, and alumni or previous beneficiaries of your organization’s work. It’s easier for them to attend and donate, and it’s a way for them to reconnect with others who share a common value. Virtual events also open more possibilities for guest speakers and entertainment, because travel isn’t necessary.
Virtual events can be more condensed.
Because virtual fundraising events don’t require as much – or any – time for travel, coat check, finding seats, or other micro-tasks that happen in in-person events, they can be shorter than physical events if that helps grow participation. Alternatively, they can be of a similar length but with more time allocated to the substance of the event.
Virtual fundraising events can be an amazing way to strengthen relationships with existing donors and connect with new donors who might have been unable to attend an in-person event. With a strategic plan and creative execution, you have the opportunity to reach more people and raise more dollars than you may have thought possible.