5 Fresh Fundraising Event Ideas for Nonprofits in 2021

December 15, 2020 Brian Isaac

It’s 2020, and fundraising has gone virtual.

And for good reason: virtual fundraising unites your supporters virtually in a fun, exciting, and unique fundraising opportunity, regardless of their ability or where they’re based.

With virtual fundraising, you also have the freedom to create and manage your own branded fundraising events and supporter challenges, without the complicated logistical headache, risk, or resource strain that typically accompanies physical events.

So why are virtual fundraising events so powerful, and how can you get started for your supporters?

First, let’s go over a few reasons why you should consider running a virtual event or fundraising challenge for your cause.


Top 6 benefits of virtual fundraising events

1. Activate your entire community

Round up your existing community and gain new supporters alike. Virtual Fundraising Events are available to everyone around the globe.

2. Any competitive activity welcome

Combine your fundraisers’ obsessions with their passion for your cause. Lead your supporters in epic fundraising challenges - trekking, running, baking, singing, gardening, or even competing in thumb wars - to raise money for your cause.

3. Shareable and scalable

Enable your supporters to automatically track and share their progress using the apps they love, raising money before, during, and after the event and increasing reach over time.

4. Leading fitness app integrations

Switch on leading fitness apps like Strava and MapMyFitness tracking to connect your fundraisers' efforts to their supporter page.

5. Zero equipment or overhead costs

Focus your efforts on fundraising returns, not logistics. No permits, road closures, course marshals or vendors.

6. More engagement, more often

Engage your supporters by incorporating virtual Q&As, polls, Q&A, live chats, and more. 

As you can see, virtual fundraising events are simple to set up, cost-effective, and accessible to not only your current supporters, but anyone around the world! 

And with fitness tracking app integrations, people can track their fitness progress alongside their fundraising, giving them extra motivation to make a difference for organisation.


Free, fast virtual fundraising, for everyone on your team

Nonprofits are using Blackbaud's powerful tools to raise billions through world-class virtual fundraising events and challenges.

Now available in Australia and New Zealand, absolutely free!

Join free today, no subscription required.


Now let’s look at some fresh, fun, unique, and EASY virtual fundraising ideas you should consider trying in 2021.

5 new virtual fundraising ideas for 2021 

Stream the season away 

‘Tis the season to be streaming!

With PS5 and the new XBOX video game systems releasing just last month, it’s the perfect time to host a virtual gaming event for your organisation. 

Discover the awesome Superhero Streamers program Cure Cancer put together for its supporters: a Christmas-themed stream-a-thon that encourages supporters to play games, bake, sing, or anything in between to show off their superpowers and raise money for life-saving cancer research.


Virtual Scissors, Paper, Rock Tournament 

It's time to get creative. But that doesn't mean you have to go over the top with equipment or complicated rules. 

Everyone already knows how to play scissors, paper, rock - now it's time to put a fundraising spin on it! 

Motivate your supporters to get their mates together, create an online bracket for free, and play the classic game with a best-three-out-of-five winner-takes-all duel.


Donate your hair 

You may have heard of Hair with Heart or a similar program that asks supporters to cut their hair or shave their head, donating their locks to charity! 

Cutting your hair is a daunting task, especially for those who have grown it out for years. But nothing motivates like a good cause. 

And because it’s a big deal, your supporters will get friends, family, and colleagues behind them for support and to see the big day happen.


Complete a solo or team fitness challenge 

Example: collectively swim the length of the Great Barrier Reef 

Your supporters don’t need major community fundraising events to get active and raise money for the cause. Sometimes it’s as simple as hiking the distance of a famous peak or trail in an area that is related to your cause, or getting a team together to bike the length of a famous route. 

For example, if your organisation is involved in protecting the oceans, a creative idea for your fundraisers would be to ask them to collectively walk, run, or swim the length of the Great Barrier Reef in kilometres...that’s 2,300km long! For each participant in the challenge, you’ll access their network as well, collecting donations from people who didn’t know about your organisation previously.

A great example of this is the Trussell Trust's Step Up September virtual fundraising event, which encourages its supporters to choose and complete a distance based on an iconic UK walking track.


4 Future-Proof Online Fundraising Ideas You Should Try in 2021
Online fundraising is fun, exciting, and unites your supporters, regardless of their ability or where they’re based. Here are a few ways you can excel at fundraising online in 2021.


Virtual morning tea 

Invite your closest friends to a morning tea like none other: it takes place on your computer or phone, and the only entry fee is a donation to your chosen charity! 

Bring your favourite tea, play games (who has the most exotic tea, who can wear the funniest hat, etc), and prepare for a morning of joy as you get together with others for the best reasons. 


Setting up a fundraising challenge 

It’s clear that the above all generally revolve around the idea of a fundraising “challenge” or objective-based goal you can set for your fundraisers: reaching a certain number of kilometres, doing a set number of push-ups, competing in a game, or similar. 

That’s no coincidence: based on our data, fundraisers raise more when put up to a challenge! It’s stimulating both mentally and physically, and supporters love getting their friends, family, and colleagues involved in their giving journey. 

But setting up a challenge correctly is both an art and a science. Thankfully, we’ve got the data and experience to show you how to do it so that you maximise your fundraising efforts. 

It all starts with creating the right challenge for your organisation.


The Challenge 

Designing the right virtual challenge for your organisation starts with understanding your audience. This is the most important step. 

The key is to ask them to do something they’re already likely to do. 

Answering the questions below will help narrow down what’s most relevant to your cause when going into Virtual Event mode. Keep in mind that your organisation will certainly have a better notion of the best priorities like where & when to invest your time & energy; these are just to get you started: 

What are their needs as a supporter? 

What’s their motivation? 

Where do they hang out online? 

What types of media do they consume? 

What is truly interesting and relevant to them? 

It’s essential to align your event to your cause AND your audience, and to ensure your message comes across clearly and to the right audience. 


BONUS TIP: The formula for a perfect campaign mission statement

Once you’ve identified your challenge, you can craft a campaign mission statement for your supporters. Complete your campaign mission statement by plugging in your target audience demographics into this template: [Concept] + [Target audience] + [Supporter Benefit].

Here’s an example:

We will… 

[create a fitness campaign] 


[women aged 34-45] 

so that… 

[they feel supported to improve their fitness] 

And finally,  

We will know our campaign is successful when… 

[4,000 people record fitness activities via their fitness app connected to their fundraising page] 

Now, we have a strong campaign mission statement! 👇🏼 

We will create a fitness campaign for women aged 34-45 so that they feel supported to improve their fitness. We will know our campaign has worked when 4,000 people record fitness activities via their fitness app connected to their fundraising page. 


The Website 

So you've established your challenge and crafted a strong campaign mission statement...now let's make it a reality! 

Your website is the central location where your fundraising will take place, your donations will be tracked, and your supporters will shine. Reach out to a Blackbaud account manager to discover options for building a tailored website specifically for your organisation or cause.


The Acquisition 

Now that we have our ideal audience, our call-to-action, and our website, we can start acquiring supporters! Here are a few ways you can acquire your audience online: 

  • Send an announcement to your email list 
  • Publish consistently on your social media channels 
  • Launch Facebook ads and sponsored Instagram posts 
  • Leverage any corporate partnerships and relationships 
  • Activate your supporters with a friendly phone call
  • Send direct mail announcements 
  • Provide incentives to join your challenge 


Easily quantify your virtual fundraising impact

The virtual fundraising landscape we're living in requires us to unite our networks and build relationships with our supporters.

Our newest eBook, combines the advice from our region's fundraising experts on the most important considerations in navigating philanthropy’s transformation:

  • Donor Loyalty
  • Donor Journeys
  • Analytics
  • Corporate Partnerships
  • Social Media
  • Volunteers

Are you ready to rethink change? Download Making Waves: Mobilising, Organising, and Galvanising Todays Supporters today!


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