We’re weeks into the coronavirus crisis – and although it feels like we’re in an episode of Black Mirror, it doesn’t look like anyone’s going to be shouting ‘Cut!’ anytime soon.
Virtual charitable fundraising activity has now exploded, but it’s hard to see how much of that has delivered great results. The truth is, there’s SO MUCH COMPETITION and (weird analogy alert) it’s hard to sell aubergines on your stall if everyone else’s stall is full to the brim with aubergines.
So, can virtual fundraising work? Absolutely – but here’s some considerations before you (virtually) take off:
Where to start?
Find your people
Launching a virtual fundraising activity to your online audience is clickably easy – but will the relative few that see your posts/updates actually DO anything?
Now’s the time to call in your fundraising superheroes. You know these guys – they’re the ones who take part in ALL your events AND raise loads of money. They like doing stuff, telling their friends and getting recognition. And now, they can’t leave the house.
So, rather than asking everyone to do something you’ve dreamt up – consider first asking your very best fundraisers what they’d like to do (and how you could support them). Give them a ring, slide into those DMs; or, write them a letter (by the way, you have written to your donors lately, right guys? Right??).
Tell them how brilliant they’ve been for your charity and how you’re coping these days – and what you need money for right now. Then, ask how you could support them to raise these much-needed funds from home. Have a few options available, but get ready to hear their new ideas and inspiration too. And they’ll be delighted you reached out to them.
You’re used to delivering events in a physical space, down the local park or at a local landmark. But those traditional events (see point 5) are looking less and less likely. Events fundraising simply won’t look like it did in 2019.
But, there’s probably a wealth of knowledge in your charity that will come in handy. It’s time to gather your digital gurus and pick their brains for what you’re hoping to do; if your events team has never done a social media campaign, these gurus will help you to harness the internet and maximise engagement for your new virtual fundraiser, beginning to end.
What should we do?
Hands up if you’ve done a charity quiz…yep, us too. They’re fun, keep our minds occupied, satisfy that competitive streak in us and bring us together.
But with all that competition, it’s time to step up your game – let’s not host just another pub quiz. How about one based on your location or patch? A quiz featuring one of your celebrity patrons? Do something different that sets it apart – and that speaks to your supporters. And, harkening back to point 1, get your Superfundraisers on the case.
If you’ve had enough of brain exercise, we’ve seen auctions, fitness classes, cook-a-longs, gaming watch parties – and even a ‘twerk-a-thon’ (we’re not even going to try to explain that one to Ash…). The only limit to what you can do is your imagination 😉
Get started on Plan B
Of course, these ‘mini money makers’ are important; but for your big ticket events, the 5ks and Midnight Walks, it’s time to create Plan B.
Because, let’s face it, if every charity postpones its summer fundraising events to September, we’re likely to see a plethora of runs/rushes and walks. But, there simply aren’t enough people to fill the places – particularly if some are going to be wary of large crowds.
So, with mass participation events in jeopardy this year, it’s worthwhile to think about how you can put your flagship event online. We’d suggest focussing on the events that really matter to your supporters – and keep virtual events as part of your long-term planning.
Use the recent successes of the Local Landmarks and 2.6 Challenge to inspire you and think about how you can create something that looks and feel like those biggies you love, at least in spirit. You’ll need to mobilise your supporters early on to make that work, so Plan B should be in the works right now (don’t wait until it’s too late to do something different).
Remember, though, ALL virtual events need to be mindful of your supporters’ circumstances. They’re at home like you, with work and childcare commitments. And who wants to sponsor someone doing something that they could easily to themselves (unless you’re Captain Tom – sorry, Colonel Sir Tom)? Include a simple entry fee (the easiest way to get an upfront donation) to be a part of something a) simple to do, b) appropriate for groups and families and c) cheap to enter.
Tell them they’re the best
Social is allllll about sharing – and being seen to do so (we bet you got nominated for a few ‘Run 5, Donate 5, Nominate 5’). So just posting your virtual run, walk, fashion show/insert kooky fundraiser here once and hoping for the best isn’t going to cut it. You’ve gotta put a plan in place to be shouting, loud, about how great those who take part are – take the time to share, thank, promote and gratify your supporters.
Give supporters a positive experience of fundraising for you – and they will come back again. Encourage photos and videos of participants, offer stupid prizes for the most entertaining participants – just something that gives them a buzz and makes them feel great (we’ve seen great corporate fundraisers using their connections to pull some really cool prizes together).
Our Account Director Amy learned about this first-hand doing her recent Facebook Birthday Fundraiser for Age UK – all that ‘You’re amazing’s’ and emoji love helped keep the algorithms working in her fundraising favour. She also managed to double some donations by sharing some, ahem, terrible photos. She’s now up to £570 – just for getting older 😱.
Remember, it’s a marathon…
We’re in for a long, slow re-entry into ‘normal’ – but let’s look at this as a chance to develop new skills and say hello to some new audiences.
Good luck to you and your teams. If you’d like to ask for help or an opinion, we’re here for you (or you can just invite us to your event!).