Posted by Cecily Smith on Aug 04, 2020
Here are six important considerations that go into a successful online-fundraising event.
1. Mission
The "why" about fundraising is more important than ever. Your event message needs to be short, simple, relevant, and centered on your mission. Who are we helping? What impact will a donation have? Make the stories resonant and personal. Have someone record short videos of why they donate or how they've been helped. Throughout your online event, keep relating mission and impact.
2. Planning
A successful online event is usually a mix of live interaction, pre-recorded video, and slides. The planning andwork ahead of time is even more important than the event itself. The audience needs to be engaged and involved - chat box, real time social-media interaction, etc.
Get your club together and share ideas. Can you relate an online event to a past real world success? E.g. the ribfest shifts to online BBQ-cooking demonstration with recipes shared. Pivot from a live auction into a virtual event with silent auction. What other "entertainment" ideas can you access?
Decide your platforms. Who is good with technology? Graphics? For a club that has generous donors and access to auction items, but is challenged by the technology, companies like One Cause, Bidding For Good, and Snap Raise charge a fee, but also have the software and expertise to help with the tech of online events. Will you integrate with Facebook Live or YouTube? Online platforms all have great tutorial videos to help.
Can you have any real-world integration? A recent success had a $500 "Party at Home" package for local guests: Gift card supporting a local restaurant, donated wine, cause-related swag, and locally purchased treats were packaged and arranged to be dropped at doorstep.
Do a run-of-show: Plan to the minute what will be happening, who is responsible for each aspect, how long speakers have, etc.
Practice! Run through the event with all the live and video aspects several times, and plan on how to handle technical glitches that may happen anyway.

3. Campaign
Your event is not just a one- to two-hour show. It should be a campaign leading up to the event, posting on social media and through e-mail, and local news, if possible. Get your activists helping to promote the event. Throughout the campaign, share videos and mission impact, and start the auction early, generating excitement for event day. Donation link and event hashtag should be consistent.

4. Accessibility
Having an event online allows people to attend that in the past might have had geographical or financial restrictions. Don't charge "admission" as you don't want to self-limit funds raised - online you can have many more people there, and a good sell of your mission can raise more than a ticket price would have.
5. Sponsors and Donors

Reach out to your past sponsors to ask for their help. Can they do a short video sharing why they help? During the campaign and the event, make sure to show sponsors several times. For past big donors, make the effort for individual calls and invitations, and walk through any tech coaching needed ahead of an event.
6. Thank You

Say "thank you!" Multiple times! Share how the money will be used. You can prepare a thank-you graphic ahead of the event to be shared to all. If you have access to mailing addresses, prepare cards ahead of time that can be mailed right after the event. For sponsors and bigger donors, send a hand-written thank-you.
There are so many innovative and successful ways clubs are now fundraising online. If your club would like to have a more detailed presentation about virtual fund-raising, contact Cecily Smith at to schedule a date.
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