Sarah Cox: Virtual fundraising during a pandemic 

03 Nov 2020 Expert insight

Sarah Cox from Ansvar, an insurance company owned by a charity, explores how to keep up fundraising efforts during this (hopefully!) once in a lifetime event

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The world of fundraising looks very different now than it ever has. Nobody could have predicted what charities would be up against now compared to this time last year. 

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 for now are the large sporting events, sales, shows and performances that were key fundraising fixtures, and we have to think of events people can partake in from the comfort of their own home or local surroundings. 

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 Crowd Funding

We reached out to Helena Conibear, the CEO and founder of The Alcohol Education Trust (AET) who shared how Crowdfunder has positively impacted their fundraising during this time. She said: “We worked with 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. 

Games nights and quizzes have proved very popular since the beginning of lockdown. You’d normally invite your patrons to an awards evening, so 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 two evenings 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 which means we can connect face to face via screens when we can’t be together in person. Even Glastonbury, the biggest music festival in the country ran a virtual event this year, 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.

With Christmas on the horizon, are there some crafts or skills that you can teach over video conference platforms such as Zoom? Remember that with local lockdowns, some people are 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, created a virtual event called ‘Run the Squiggle’ where they encouraged people to track their run using apps like Strava, Fitbit or Mapmyrun and recreate the squiggle that is their logo with their route. People shared their run with the hashtag #runthesquiggle, donating £8, and then nominated a friend to join. This campaign helped 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 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 few months than we may have ever seen before, and many of us have been 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


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