Sarah Cox: How to continue fundraising in a virtual world

The world of fundraising looks very different now than it did last year. Nobody could have predicted what charities would be up against now compared to just 4 months ago. Even up until February, plans were being made for fundraising events by charities all over the world, but just a month later plans had to be all but abandoned, with the need for the services provided by charities only gaining in momentum.

Ansvar is an insurance company owned by a charity, working closely with charities every day, and we have been keen to learn how to keep up fundraising efforts during this once in a lifetime event.

The saying goes: “Necessity is the mother of invention,” which is so relevant in our current global crisis. Charities have had to come up with new and inventive ways to continue to raise the necessary funds to continue their work virtually. Gone are the large sporting events, sales, shows and performances that were key fundraising fixtures, and now comes a new wave of events people can partake in from the comfort of their own home in lockdown.

In this blog post we will be sharing some of the best ways charities can continue to raise the funds they so rely on through virtual means.

Online crowdfunding

We reached out to Helena Conibear, the CEO and founder at The Alcohol Education Trust (AET) who shared how Crowdfunder has positively impacted their fundraising during this time. She said: “We worked with www.crowdfunder.co.uk and found their step by step tuition in how to make your campaign engaging and compelling really helpful. As a small charity with limited in-house expertise we found that really important.”

With many charities working to a tight budget and limited resources, it can be hard to know where to start and where is best to focus your efforts. It’s really reassuring to know how helpful Crowdfunder are with this guidance.

Another option when it comes to online fundraising is a site called The Big Give. This option is a little more work than Crowdfunder due to the fact that you need to have pledges lined up in advance, before making your project available for match funding from an impressive array of funders. Helena from AET gave it her stamp of approval saying “it is very worthwhile – it is about identifying a very specific project or action and planning well ahead.”

Keep your supporters engaged

It’s important to remember the people who have previously supported your charity, you already know that they are keen to help with your cause, and will be more likely to see the value in the work that you do. Keep in regular contact with those who are signed up to your newsletters and follow you on social media. Remind them how they can continue to help through online donations, or any virtual events you may be running that they can attend.
You could run a games or quiz night which have proved very popular since we have been staying at home. Would you normally invite your patrons to an awards evening? Why not stream these events and ask for online donations, giving an update on the amount raised throughout the event? You could even spread the awards over a week or so to elongate the amount of time they have to donate.

Run online events

We are so lucky that we have so much technology at our fingertips that means we can connect face to face via screens when we can’t be together in person. Even the biggest music festival in the country is running a virtual event this year, Glastonbury has become GlastHOMEbury, recreating the festival experience at home (bonus: clean toilets and minimal mud!) Perhaps your charity could take inspiration from this and run your own festival of sorts, volunteers could share their talents with your audience asking for a donation in return.

Are there some crafts or skills that you can teach over video conference platforms such as Zoom? Remember that people are (for the most part) still staying at home, so they will appreciate the opportunity of trying something new or different from their home.

The power of social media

The mental health charity, Mind, have created a virtual event called ‘Run the Squiggle’ where they are encouraging people to track their run using apps like Strava, Fitbit or Mapmyrun and recreate the squiggle that is their logo with their route. People are sharing their run with the hashtag #runthesquiggle, donating £8, and then nominating a friend to join. This campaign is helping people keep mentally and physically fit, whilst also contributing to a great cause.

Of course these social media powered fundraisers are not limited to running, but with the gyms being closed it seems they are a popular option that don’t require any special equipment, and can be done anywhere.

Get creative!

The impact of COVID-19 has been huge, but one positive that has come from it is the sense of camaraderie that we are all in this together. We have seen more acts of kindness and charitable acts in the past 4 months than we may have ever seen before we were all forced to take on a different pace of life and spend time reflecting on what is really important.

Now is the time to try any ideas that might have seemed a little unorthodox, because there is no such thing as normal at the moment. Use this to your advantage and see how truly generous people can be towards your charity.

Sarah Cox is the Managing Director of charity and faith insurance specialist, Ansvar, the sponsors of this piece.

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