Get Creative with 10 Virtual Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits

by Karen Vela  |   |  Fundraising  |  0 comments

3 min to read ✭ In this post, you’ll learn some creative virtual alternatives to in-person fundraising events.

If we have learned one thing from fundraising during a pandemic, it is that virtual events are the new normal for nonprofits and – if done well – can meet or exceed expectations. There are plenty of virtual fundraising ideas for nonprofits and you can choose which ones work best for you!

The most successful nonprofits have experimented with new ideas that appeal to their base while attracting new supporters who find online events much less of a commitment when exploring causes to support. Virtual fundraising ideas for nonprofits are much cheaper to organize and pull off, allowing you to see what works and what doesn’t without a heavy lift.

Thankfully, there are many tried and true formulas for success with virtual fundraisers and we are here to help you get ahead of the fundraising trends in 2022 with these top 10 ideas. 

How to Turn Your In-Person Event Virtual


Virtual is the new normal when it comes to events. On the bright side, you can attend in pajamas and skip paying for Ubers or sitting in traffic! COVID-19 may have created some roadblocks to hosting incredible in-person events, but the show must go on! We’re here to get your creative juices flowing with some ideas for your next virtual fundraising event.


Host a Virtual 50/50 raffle

Who doesn’t love a good raffle? They’re fun, interactive, easy to pull off and it’s easy money in your coffers that shows donors you don’t have to spend a lot to raise a lot. 

There are many easy-to-use raffle technologies that create a seamless experience for your supporters and your organization on the back end.


With creative ticketing options that allow a person more chances to win, you can increase your yield exponentially as the prize grows and generates more excitement for a big payout. As an added bonus on the night of the event, you’ll have a captive audience who will tune into any programming you include while they wait to see if they’re the big winner!


Virtual Live Auction

Can you say bidding war? Virtual auctions are a lot of fun for participants and allow you to engage regularly with your audience leading up to the event if you’re encouraging early bidding. The more prizes the better but a few high-worth desirable items like a chef’s dinner or trips can bring in some big bucks, especially if you’re good about marketing the items and following a solid plan for hosting an online event. Check out this recent webinar we hosted for some tips or read our post about ReadySetAuction software that makes the experience seamless.


Virtual Fundraising Livestream Ideas

If 50/50 raffles or auctions aren’t your thing, a straightforward virtual fundraising idea for nonprofits is a live stream. It is easy to do and full-proof for raising money from almost everyone who tunes in. Do you have a campaign that needs some love? A program update or impactful story that you want to share? An awards event you typically host that needs to go virtual?
Put it on Zoom, Facebook Live or Instagram Live and then post the recording to YouTube for those who missed it. Encourage your best supporters to promote the event on their networks as well. 


Virtual Fundraising Fitness Classes

This idea is a win/win/win for you, your audience, and whatever local fitness instructors who are looking to cross-promote their services. Virtual fitness classes took off during the pandemic with gyms closed and people quickly realized that they could just turn their cameras off to get over any awkwardness they had about working out from home. 

Any good local fitness instructor will see the value in partnering with you to offer a class or series of classes and then convert the participants into regular customers after your event.


Virtual Gala

Virtual Galas have been the biggest surprise of the pandemic because they proved to be doable and successful, two things that seemed impossible when in-person events went dark in early 2020. Virtual Galas or Un-Galas are a great way to engage your biggest supporters, particularly your board, in peer-to-peer fundraising where they sponsor a virtual table or sell tickets to the event or host a personal fundraiser page to support the event with an established goal. 

The biggest advantages of a virtual gala are that your actual event overhead costs go way down from an in-person event and they’re a great way to showcase your event to anyone anywhere because you’re virtual! Check out this success story about how Upaya Social Ventures netted more than $300,000 from a virtual gala. Not all virtual fundraising ideas for nonprofits are attainable, but we know this one is!



Can webinars really bring in some money? Yes, easy money while demonstrating transparency and engagement with your core followers. Webinars are a good way to have a deep dive into one of your programs and give supporters a chance to see your work more in-depth and ask questions about it. Try a webinar with your CEO hosting “office hours” and see what happens. Gather a panel of experts in your area of focus and have them discuss the big challenges in the community so supporters can see your leadership. Think about what your supporters would want to know more about and offer it up. 


Virtual FUNdraising

The most nimble fundraisers stepped in to fill the social void during the pandemic with fun activities like cooking classes, mixology classes, movie nights, trivia nights and game nights when people needed a break from Netflix. These events are a great way to develop new supporters as your core supporters will likely invite friends to join them for the fun and you can convert them into ongoing supporters and participants. These events might not bring in as much money as other efforts but they’re building brand loyalty and increasing your donor base with little effort. 


Viral Challenge

Remember the ice bucket challenge? Brilliant, right? People love to show off and compete with friends and brag about it online. What’s the next big viral challenge sensation? Is there something your donors would jump at that can hopefully be tied to your mission? Brainstorm some ideas with your team, build a new campaign webpage to promote the event, plant some seeds with your biggest supporters, and give it a try!  


Virtual Endurance Event

If you’re a nonprofit that typically relies on a big event like a walk-a-thon or bike ride and you’re still hesitant to host it again, you can turn it virtual by encouraging participants to complete the challenge on their own time by a specific date. The participants would raise money like they typically would and share it with their networks on social media before, during, and after they complete the challenge and you can encourage some fun competition for fundraising bragging rights among the participants. Check out what the Esophageal Cancer Action Network raised with their Virtual 5K with an 11x yield and 75% increase in overall donations. 


Virtually Connect Donors with Beneficiaries

Imagine you donated $500 to a cause that helps build homes for families in impoverished countries. How incredible would it be to meet the family that your gift benefitted? That’s the power of virtual communication. Think creatively about ways you can truly demonstrate the impact of gifts to your donors. Remember to appeal to those emotions!


So which of these creative virtual fundraising ideas for nonprofits will you try first? It’s a good question to hash out with your team. You may choose to start small with an easier event to test the waters and build from there. And maybe these virtual fundraising ideas for nonprofits are just foddering for an even better idea that your team will come up with.

Karen Vela

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