2020 changed the way we think about a lot of things. From spending time with others to the concept of workspace to even setting foot outside our own front doors, the world looks different this year.
And in an organization whose fundraising is built on relationships, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
In fact, a virtual fundraiser brings certain benefits to the table that you couldn’t access any other way. Rather than seeing virtual fundraising as a last resort, think of it as an opportunity to make the most of your available tools and build on those critical relationships.
Here are a few ways a virtual fundraiser allows your organization to think outside the box.
Unfortunately, the days of hosting large public gatherings without a second thought may well be over, at least for a little while. With the coronavirus pandemic still raging strong, safety is the single greatest concern when hosting any event.
And while large public gatherings aren’t safe yet, virtual events are a safe, low-risk way to bring people together.
Plus, when organizing a fundraiser, you have to think about responsibility. Your donors have to trust that your organization is responsible before they’re willing to give. A virtual fundraiser is a great way to demonstrate responsibility in the pandemic.
It’s Fast to Implement
Coronavirus aside, there are several serious benefits to hosting a virtual fundraiser. One of the big ones is simplicity.
A public event is an undertaking. You need a venue, a setup crew, a plan for the evening, people to work the event, and catering, just to name a few. A good in-person fundraiser can take months to plan effectively.
While a virtual fundraiser does take planning to execute well, at the end of the day, the basic components of a virtual event are a good camera and a strong Internet connection.
It Saves You Time and Money
As you can guess, a camera and an Internet connection carry another big advantage over a venue and staff: they’re much, much cheaper. However, the savings go beyond simply money sunk into the event, and the time saved extends well beyond the event itself.
Think about what happens during a fundraiser. A lot of donors don’t give during the event itself. Instead, they mail a check. That translates to a lot of time down the road: waiting for the check to be sent, waiting for the check to be delivered, manually entering the check into your gift database, creating a thank you message, and sending out a tax receipt.
With a virtual event, donors give online, which means incoming gifts are already entered into the database, generating an automatic thank you message and a tax receipt. You need to put some thought into the thank you message, but all the work involved in waiting for the gift is replaced by a few easy clicks.
It’s More Personalized
However, that does not mean virtual fundraisers are impersonal. In fact, virtual fundraisers give you more opportunities for personalization than any other type of fundraiser.
Let’s say your fundraiser is linked to an email campaign. Every time you send an email, you can target the message based on the audience, ensuring the right readers get the right message at the right moment.
When your event rolls around, you can make the event still more personal. Instead of donors sitting through every event, you can create breakout mini-events tailored to specific donor groups. That way, each group gets a message that’s relevant to them.
The net result? Donors feel like you’re paying attention, and that makes them more likely to give.
It’s Easier to Analyze
Of course, virtual events don’t just give the impression of paying attention. A virtual fundraiser actually gives you the tools to notice more of the details.
During an in-person event, your team has to focus on working the room. Analyzing the event’s success is highly subjective and not based on any standardized criteria. The net result is that you may overlook areas where your fundraiser could do better next time.
A virtual fundraiser allows you to take control. Instead of cobbling together a picture after the event is over, you can put analytics tools to work in real-time, understanding how the campaign is working so that you can make adjustments as needed.
It Improves Donor Relationships
We understand that fundraising teams may have reservations about a virtual fundraiser. You know that fundraising isn’t about numbers–it’s about people and relationships. You may have resisted virtual fundraisers in the past for that very reason.
We’re here to say that virtual fundraisers aren’t a barrier to the donor relationships your organization needs to succeed. If anything, those relationships can actually be strengthened by virtual fundraisers.
In much the same way that virtual fundraising reduces friction for you, it also reduces friction for donors. They don’t need to go through the process of finding their checkbook after the fact. In fact, they don’t even need to wait to give. And in the meantime, you can reach out to them with targeted messaging. That way, they have the sense of connection they need to make a gift.
It Expands Your Reach
However, while virtual fundraising allows you to focus on targeted groups, it also allows you to widen the scope of your fundraising.
The one barrier to in-person events is that they’re in person. In other words, someone has to be there in order to attend, and if they can’t be physically present, attendance is out of the question.
Virtual fundraising eliminates those reservations. Now any interested donor can join the event as long as they have a good Internet connection. Plus, with your team able to hop around conversations quickly, you have more opportunities to connect with donors as they arrive.
Preparing to Host a Virtual Fundraiser?
We know this year has been challenging across the board. But we also know that organizations have the foundation they need to rise to the challenge. It’s all about leveraging tools–and your relationships.
At BrightDot, we know that every person has connections, and every connection is a step closer to where you want to be. That’s why our campaign coaching is built on relationships, no matter what your campaign looks like. If you’re ready to take a people-oriented approach, get in touch to learn how we can help your team adapt.