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Virtual fundraising: 7 creative ideas for nonprofits


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From peer-to-peer fundraising to social media movements like the Ice Bucket challenge, virtual fundraising has quickly become one of the most popular ways for nonprofits and charities to raise money. In fact, 71% of all donations made to nonprofits come from individuals, which means online outreach can be a great way to generate revenue.

Virtual fundraising has no need to worry about sourcing the perfect venue or dealing with bad weather. Plus, without being restricted to a physical location, online fundraising efforts can have a much wider reach and attract supporters from across the country or even the globe.

During uncertain times where it’s difficult or even impossible for people to gather physically, taking your organization online can also help you stay connected with your community and your team. That’s why we’re offering three months of RingCentral Office® for free to nonprofits who need to set up an online communications and collaboration system ASAP. 

And to help you kick-start your virtual fundraising efforts, we’ve compiled this list of creative virtual fundraising ideas to generate buzz and attract donors to your nonprofit or charity.

1. Build a dedicated donation landing page

Unlike web pages, which typically have many goals and encourage visitors to click and explore, landing pages are designed with a single focus or goal, known as a call to action (CTA). It’s this focus that makes landing pages the best option for inspiring your website visitors to click that donate button and support your cause. 

To create a high-performing donation landing page, make sure your page has an attention-grabbing headline, a compelling subheadline, impactful images and media, and a clear explanation of who you are and what you’re doing. Testimonials and impact statistics can also help boost your credibility and build trust. 

2. Produce an online auction

It’s pretty simple to turn an in-person auction into a virtual event. Just like a silent auction, the highest bid wins and the proceeds go to your cause. Prizes could include goods like gift baskets or artwork, services like a free consultation or software subscription, or experiences like a video call with a celebrity. 

You can use silent auction software to take care of most of the work for you. It will accept bids, let supporters know when they’ve been outbid, and accept payment when the auction has closed. You can then promote the event through your online marketing channels, like your website, email list, or social media accounts. 

3. Plan small-group virtual discussions

To engage your community around the key issues you’re tackling, you can host small-group virtual discussions using online meeting tools like RingCentral Video. You could even bring in local politicians, journalists, or other notable community figures to drive more interest. 

Planning an event like this is relatively simple. All you would need to do is confirm the date, time, and featured guests, and then allow people to register for the event using an event registration platform. During the event, you can make a contribution request by posting a link to your dedicated donation page using your video conferencing tool’s chat function. 

4. Create a virtual gala

Skip the pricey venue and host a virtual gala this year. You can still have the same performances, awards presentations, and keynote speeches that you would have at a physical event, but stream them live online using a video conferencing platform. 

You can sell tickets or collect a donation in exchange for access to your virtual event and use peer-to-peer fundraising tools to allow your board members and community leaders to host virtual gala tables and reach out to their networks to spread the word and garner contributions. Last but not least, you can incorporate slideshows and videos featuring program participants, volunteers, and donors to showcase the impact of your efforts and highlight your attendees’ contributions. 

5. Start a podcast 

A podcast can deliver information to your listeners while also helping you connect with them in a way that written words alone can’t achieve. Thanks to its auditory format, podcasts give listeners the feeling that they know the person speaking on the podcast. This parasocial relationship can help you build a strong relationship with your audience and earn their trust, making them more likely to support your cause. 

Ask yourself: are there any participant, volunteer, or donor stories that could be turned into an audio narrative or interview? Or perhaps there are strong speakers in your organization or community who are passionate about your cause and can help you share a message? Focusing on telling stories over simply delivering information will help your podcast stand out from the crowd. 

6. Host a virtual talent show 

Does your nonprofit support creative or performing arts communities? Hosting a virtual talent show is a great way to demonstrate your organization’s impact while also giving your community a platform to showcase their abilities.

Once you finalize a date and time and secure your performers, you can sell tickets in advance using an event registration app and host the virtual event using a video conferencing platform. You can also record the event to accommodate people who can’t make the live event, but still want to support your cause. 

7. Launch a fundraising challenge

In a similar fashion to 2015’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, you can challenge your supporters to take part in a virtual fundraising campaign to raise money for your cause. You could start a readathon, an all-day game challenge, a physical challenge like doing a number of push-ups or plank, or something silly like a TikTok dance challenge. 

Not only will you create a stronger relationship with your supporters, but by encouraging your supporters to get their friends and family involved, you can also use this as an opportunity to raise your nonprofit’s profile. 

The power of virtual fundraising

Whether you’re looking to raise money, build brand awareness, or simply keep your community engaged and connected, a virtual fundraising campaign for your nonprofit organization can help you achieve all these goals while also maximizing the reach of your communication efforts. 

Start by giving your staff the communication tools they need to make your fundraising goals happen. RingCentral Office® combines team messaging, video, and phone in a single platform so your entire staff is always aligned on campaigns—and we’re offering three months for free to nonprofits.

Learn more about how nonprofits fit into a world of flexible work in our post, “How Nonprofits Can Thrive in a Work-from-Home World.”

Originally published Apr 16, 2020, updated Aug 14, 2023

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