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Fundraising Tips

30 Awesome Online Fundraising Ideas for Any Organization 

November 28, 2023

From 2019 to 2021, online giving increased over 42%. Even with a drop in online donations since the COVID-19 pandemic, the percentage of online gifts has remained a popular option for donors. Online fundraising ideas help individuals and nonprofit organizations raise money for less money and with less effort.

In this article, we'll discuss the benefits of virtual fundraising, different online fundraising ideas for individuals and nonprofits, and tips to help make your next virtual fundraiser a success.

Here are our top fundraising ideas, grouped by categories:

Illustration of an online fundraising website that is used to raise money

What is Online Fundraising? 

Online fundraising includes all the ways organizations and individuals can raise funds on the Internet. Emails, social media, and virtual fundraising platforms have made raising funds easier and more affordable.

The Benefits of Virtual Fundraising? 

Virtual fundraisers can benefit nonprofits and their donors and sponsors in various ways.

Larger audience

Virtual fundraising means no limits to who you can reach. Nonprofits can use video conferencing platforms, social media campaigns, peer-to-peer fundraising, and other online fundraising ideas to share their message and connect with existing and new audiences.

Cost-effective

Thanks to the influx of online fundraising websites, hosting a virtual fundraiser can be more cost-effective than in-person fundraising events. YouTube, Facebook, and other social media platforms are free to use. Nonprofits can use these tools to connect and build relationships before, during, and after their virtual fundraisers. Many virtual fundraising tools let nonprofits collect donations, sell tickets and products, and collect donor information. Zeffy is the only fundraising website to offer all these services for free!

Zeffy, a free fundraising platform

Convenient

Mailed fundraising campaigns and in-person events cost more and take more effort and time than many virtual fundraising ideas. With virtual fundraising, nonprofit organizations can share their mission, raise funds, and build donor relationships in one place. Online fundraising strategies like peer-to-peer and crowdfunding campaigns help nonprofits save money and time, and donors and volunteers support their favorite charities.

More fundraising options

So, what are good fundraising ideas? Virtual fundraising can open a world of new fundraising ideas and options for smaller organizations. A few of these include:

Immediate Feedback

Donor feedback is one of the most important benefits of online fundraising. Virtual fundraising tools give nonprofit organizations real-time tracking and responses that can help them immediately adapt their donor appeals and communication strategies.

Real-time tracking

Online fundraising software can also offer real-time tracking and reporting for nonprofits. Tools like Zeffy automatically add donor contact and gift information to your organization's data management system. This allows nonprofits to create reports and share campaign details online and during events. Other tools offer live event displays to share this information and further excite their audience.

A smartphone used for remote fundraising

Live chats

Social media has made chatting with your donor base easier than ever. Live chats let nonprofits respond to comments and reviews immediately online. This limits the opportunity for someone else to control the narrative. Nonprofits can also host online chats during virtual and hybrid events to keep online attendees excited.

Better Sponsor Perks

Corporate sponsors contribute to nonprofits for personal and marketing reasons. Nonprofit organizations that can offer the best sponsor perks will win their support.

Nonprofits can send emails and social media posts with video updates from sponsors. This allows corporations more opportunities to connect with your audience and sell specific products. This also makes it easier for nonprofits and businesses to track viewer responses.

If you've already started building relationships with local or national businesses, you can ask them to sponsor your event with a matching gift. When sending out sponsorship appeals, find a few companies that can make larger gifts. Since this type of campaign makes it easier to track donor response, you can offer businesses direct marketing opportunities to donors who have shown interest in the campaign.

Nonprofits benefit from collecting donations from both businesses and donors. They also have better insight into what campaigns influence their audience.

An illustration for environmentally friendly nonprofit events

Environmentally Friendly

Fears of climate change are on more people's minds today. Virtual fundraising efforts are another way to limit nonprofits' environmental footprint and cater to donors' needs. Environmental nonprofit organizations can use virtual events to highlight this ecological effort.

More Secure

No one will turn down a cash donation, but the popularity of virtual fundraising has made collecting donor funds much more secure. Nonprofits don't have to worry about misplacing gifts or using restricted donations incorrectly. Online fundraising software lets organizations input donation amounts, donor contact information, and details on their gifts.

These virtual tools also have security features like encryption, PCI compliance, data protection, and privacy policies.

30 Online Fundraising Ideas to Raise Money

Online fundraising campaigns and events can support meaningful exchanges between communities, raise awareness for your cause, and raise money from a national or worldwide audience.

Different fundraising ideas for kids and schools

Online fundraising ideas for schools 

Fundraising for schools is often performed by Parent Teacher Associations (PTA) or Organizations (PTO). These groups are led entirely by volunteers and have a high turnover. Virtual fundraising is an excellent idea for these groups because it's easy to run, collect, and share donor details.

Wishlist Drives

A Wishlist Drive is a simple online fundraiser for schools. All schools must do is add the list of needs to their website and send emails or social media posts to parents and the community. Your school can keep the wishlist on your website throughout the year or develop a campaign with a specific start and end date.

Sign up and start fundraising for free today

Online Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger Hunts are fun in person and online. Schools can create a theme or focus on school spirit to develop an online scavenger hunt. You can encourage classrooms to compete against each other or open it to the larger community.

Once again, an online fundraising strategy with a theme for your school is an excellent place to start. Once you have a theme, choose a list of items for teams to find or activities to complete. Teams can register for the event and collect pledges from friends and family to support your school.

Virtual College Prep

A virtual college prep campaign will not immediately raise funds but will help schools build and strengthen relationships with students, parents, and the community. Schools can offer online webinars, classes, and meetings with teachers and college admissions counselors. Schools can involve many organizations throughout the community to fund these online lessons.

A book for a read-a-thon fundraiser

Read-A-Thon

A read-a-thon, like a walk-a-thon, is a way for schools to excite students and parents while raising money. Individual students or classrooms can sign up for the read-a-thon and raise funds with peer-to-peer campaigns.

Start your online read-a-thon fundraisser with Zeffy

Virtual Food Festival

With an influx of immigrants to many communities, a food festival can be an excellent way to educate children about different cultures and encourage more involvement from these new families. Schools can host hybrid food festivals by selling tickets to an in-person event and live-streaming the event for donors worldwide.

Schools can sell food and items with their logo to make additional funds with an online fundraising tool that offers eCommerce. Schools can also film videos of local chefs making a popular meal and link to local restaurants or groceries where supporters can find items to make on their own.

Virtual Trivia Night

Trivia nights are also a fun fundraising idea for schools that can be held in person or online. Parents and students can create trivia contests on school history or activities. School groups can sell tickets or register event attendees online.

If the event is entirely virtual, schools can request donations during the trivia game or add a raffle or silent auction to increase excitement. Ask your PTA members to solicit businesses for the silent auction or raffle and offer sponsorship perks like online marketing before, during, and after the event.

Virtual Talent Show

Television shows like American Idol, The Voice, and American's Got Talent reflect America's obsession with talent shows. Schools can benefit from this obsession by hosting virtual talent shows of their own. Luckily, there is no shortage of talented students to choose from. The chance to perform for people worldwide should inspire them to participate.

All your school needs is an indoor or outdoor arena and a quality sound system and video recorder. Your smartphone may even be enough. You can stream a live event or record each performer and combine them into a show with sponsor videos and other fundraising ideas.

Most people won't pay to watch a virtual talent show, so you can create an online giving page and add a raffle, silent auction, or sell products to raise funds. You can also ask people to vote for their favorite acts with online donations. The individual or group that raises the most can win bragging rights and a prize.

A website for online fundraising

Online fundraising ideas for individuals 

Nonprofits that turn supporters into fundraisers have a better chance of reaching a larger audience and collecting funds. The online fundraising ideas below are simple for individuals or groups to run independently. 

Offer Your Expertise

Whether you're a businessman, librarian, counselor, or gardener, all individuals have skills and expertise they can offer the community. Individuals who want to raise money for a cause can offer their skills for free to nonprofits or sell their services for a tax-free donation.

E-Card Campaign

E-card campaigns are another unique way for individuals to raise money for their favorite charity. Nonprofit supporters can start a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign and offer their services in writing thank you cards or holiday cards for friends and family in exchange for a donation. People can also contact local businesses to see if they could use their expertise in exchange for a tax-free donation.

Virtual Happy Hour

Happy hour is a beloved after-work tradition for many. The COVID-19 pandemic made getting together difficult, so a new tradition was born with virtual happy hours. Even after the pandemic, friends and family who live far from loved ones can connect with others thanks to this virtual activity.

Products like Zoom or Microsoft Teams make hosting a virtual happy hour easy. Just set a time and encourage participants to mix a similar drink. Then, enjoy time together online. Zoom limits most online meetings to 45 minutes, so if you want your event to go longer (like an actual hour), you'll need to invest in a paid subscription.

The best way to make this virtual event into a fundraiser is by live-streaming a talk with your favorite charity and asking for donations. You can also add other fundraising activities like product sales or raffles.

Online Cooking Class

Online cooking classes are another easy fundraising idea for individuals. If you have a group of supporters who love to cook or bake, you can encourage them to file a video or livestream a cooking class. Individuals can host these online fundraising events, and nonprofits can share them with their audience.

If you're ready to host this event, share a date, time, and ingredients list before the virtual event. This makes it easier for people to join and participate online. During the lesson, you can host an interview with someone from your favorite charity or find a way to connect the meal to the organization's mission.

When you finish the meal, you can sell it online or include a raffle to receive an enticing kitchen tool!

Virtual Movie Night

Who doesn't love a movie night? Individuals can host online movie nights and raise money for their favorite charity with raffles or online donations. Livestream a popular movie or ask the organization for a film idea that matches their mission.

Virtual fundraising ideas for charities

Online fundraising ideas for nonprofits 

Nonprofits have quickly realized the importance of online fundraising ideas. There's no better way to reach a larger audience and easily raise money.

Multiplayer Video Games

Nonprofits can add a level of competition to a virtual fundraising event with a multiplayer video game. Entice more to join by adding a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. Ask players to collect donations to win prizes like gift cards to local game stores. If you can work with a game developer, you may be able to offer in-game rewards and loot for top-level fundraisers.

Choose a date and time to play, and share players' live streams on social media or your website. Nonprofits can create fundraising goals for the campaign and individual players. Organizations can use a fundraising thermometer to display how close teams are to meeting the goals.

A multiplayer video game can help you find corporate sponsors you'd never thought of. Contact local and national video game stores and game developers and learn the best ways to get corporate sponsors with your peer-to-peer fundraising campaign here.

Virtual Tour

Nonprofits that work in a separate country or onsite at their facility can also offer virtual fundraising tours for their supporters. A virtual tour can either be a gift for VIP donors and members or a way to spread your organization's mission and programs to a larger audience.

Nonprofits can connect these virtual tours with a crowdfunding campaign to raise funds for a specific project or program. When donors see how their donations impact the organization and people in real life, they're more likely to give more. Be sure to share interviews with beneficiaries and focus on storytelling instead of facts and figures.

Sign up and start fundraising for free today

Video Telethon

Back in the day, telethons were typical fundraisers for public television and other prominent nonprofits. Today, nonprofits of every size can host video telethons with video conferencing platforms like Zoom, Google Meet, and Microsoft Teams.

The first thing to do is create a program that will appeal to and draw in an audience. You can include a virtual talent show, interviews with people who've been impacted by your organization, and other unique ideas to help you stand out.

Choose a time and date to livestream the event and promote it on social media and via email. Remember to create a landing page on your website for the telethon and create an online donation page where supporters can donate and purchase raffles and products.

Matching Gifts Drive

One of the easiest ways for nonprofits to raise funds online is with matching campaigns. Nonprofits can use online fundraising websites like Double the Donation to share companies that match gifts with their donors. Nonprofits can also ask local businesses to sponsor programs or events with a matching gift campaign.

Recurring Giving or Membership Drive

Another simple online fundraising campaign that nonprofits must host is a recurring giving or membership drive. Recurring gifts provide consistent support that nonprofits depend on to run events and charity programs. The best way to educate donors and solicit recurring donations is with a fundraising campaign and continued updates and perks for their long-time support.

Emergency Campaign

Unfortunately, climate change has made climate emergencies a far-too-common occurrence. Many nonprofits fund activities and programs in other countries. These organizations must raise funds quickly, and their supporters may not be able to afford what they need. Online emergency crowdfunding campaigns and events can help raise the necessary funds in these cases.

DIY Volunteer Day

Corporations latched onto volunteer days and volunteer benefits to convince employees to sign up and stay. DIY Volunteer Days allow corporations and individuals to continue these perks. Nonprofits can post volunteer opportunities on their website and connect with local companies to see which businesses are willing to pay their employees for their volunteer time or match their time with a monetary gift. People can sign up online, and nonprofits will send proof of their volunteering to the company.

Virtual Silent Auction

One of the easiest fundraising events to host as a nonprofit is a virtual silent auction. Silent auctions can help organizations connect with people who don't know them and start relationships with businesses. Zeffy helps nonprofits host a virtual silent auction for free!

Create an event form and add all items and baskets you auction off. Add a custom question that asks supporters for their bids. When the bids start to come in online, you can edit the description amount to match the last bid amount. Make it easy for auction winners to purchase the item online by adjusting the final price for the object and adding their name.

Before your event, promote the date and time on social media. You can also highlight a weekly silent auction item or basket with compelling images and descriptions to catch people's attention. Finally, let people sign up for a bid number before the event to help it run smoothly.

A fitness challenge for fundraising

Online fundraising ideas for sports teams 

Sports teams need fundraising to help pay for team jerseys, rental fees, and other necessary items. The following online fundraising ideas make this process easy and affordable.

Equipment Drive

An equipment drive is similar to a wishlist. Sports teams can make a list of needed supplies, post it on their or their school's website, and share it regularly via emails and social media posts. Creating a campaign with a start and end date is the best way to achieve your fundraising goal for an equipment drive. Donors are more likely to give when there is urgency.

Online Store

Zeffy helps smaller organizations sell items for free! Add images, prices, and descriptions to your online store, and start selling. Zeffy automatically collects buyer data so you can contact them in the future.

Zeffy also lets you add your team logo and colors to the landing page, including sizing options and discounts. Team supporters can purchase a team hat or shirt with a credit card, Apple Pay, Google Pay, or check.

Sign up and start fundraising for free today

Fitness Challenge

Fitness challenges are like any other peer-to-peer campaign. Sports teams can develop a challenge and create a donation page to share the team's fundraising goal and campaign details. Team players and other community members can create their own donation pages and ask for pledges from their friends and family for every skill they meet or hour they exercise.

Online Raffle

An online raffle is another way to connect with new audiences. Playoff games may excite enough people to buy tickets, but raffles are another online fundraising idea to help your sports team the rest of the year. Your sports team can choose one or several raffle ideas, including:

This year's Lincoln Band Car Raffle fundraiser was a big success. People purchased tickets to win a 2024 Subaru Crosstrek from all 50 states. Students sold tickets under their names and were entered to win a prize, too!

The Lincol car raffle winners

Virtual Walk-A-Thon

Healthy living is a primary reason many join sports teams, so a virtual walk-a-thon can be an excellent addition to your calendar. In-person events, like a walk-a-thon, can take a lot of time and funds to run successfully, but a virtual walk-a-thon can be much simpler.

Your team can choose a date and time or let people walk independently. With peer-to-peer campaigns, walkers can collect pledges based on time or distance. Your team can share individuals' fundraising and walking successes on social media posts.

Online fundraising ideas for clubs

Sports teams aren't the only community or school group that people enjoy. Groups like Toastmasters, 4H clubs, and church groups can all raise funds online.

Webinars

Webinars can help these groups raise funds without much extra time and money. Groups can ask experts in their field to share their online sources or develop one together. People can sign up to participate for a small fee. In addition to the funds they can collect, this also gives them access to contact information they can use in the future.

Virtual Comedy Night or Poetry Reading

If your club is active in the arts, a virtual comedy night or poetry reading may be a fun option. You can sell tickets to an online event, but while people may enjoy the show, they won't pay much, if anything, for online entertainment. You can find sponsors for funding in exchange for marketing to your audience, ask online attendees for donations, and sell products with your club's name and logo.

Online Plant sale

Online plant sales have been effective for many organizations. If your club chooses the right fundraising software, you can take and share quality images and details about each plant, along with the story about your club and campaign. Remember, people are shopping not just for plants but for a good cause.

Virtual Escape Room

Escape rooms are everywhere! Your club can jump on this trend with virtual escape rooms and challenges for teams and individuals. Zoom allows you to create breakout rooms for online participants. When people join the escape room, you can send them into different rooms where they can solve problems and quizzes together in groups. Teams can register for a fee and compete for a prize, or you can ask teams to create fundraising pages and solicit pledges based on how many problems they solve or how long it takes to get out.

Sign up and start fundraising for free today

7 Steps to Set Up a Virtual Fundraiser 

Virtual fundraisers may be less stressful and expensive but require careful planning and support.

Decide on financial goals

Before any fundraising event or campaign, nonprofits must decide on their financial goals. When deciding on this, you should look at past events and campaigns to know how much you raised and set realistic expectations.

Online fundraising ideas like auctions, raffle tickets, donation pages, and peer-to-peer campaigns can all do double duty to help you raise money and connect with donors. You can also connect with major donors to see where their annual gifts can be best used for your organization.

Choose an online fundraising website

Another crucial step in developing online fundraisers is to choose the right fundraising platform. If you're a new or smaller organization, it's essential to use most of the donations raised on your organization's programs. This is where an online fundraising website like Zeffy can help.

Zeffy is the only 100% free online fundraising platform available. You won't have to pay for sign-up, monthly, platform, transaction, or credit card processing fees. You also won't have to ask donors to cover them.

A free platform doesn't mean you're missing out either. With Zeffy, you can host online auctions, collect donations, and sell event and raffle tickets and products.

Sign up and start fundraising for free today

Form a fundraising team 

Successful virtual fundraising events require a solid fundraising team. Your board members must be active members of this team. You should also find volunteers with expertise in online marketing and social media. Once you've built your team, you should assign members different activities and goals, like:

Plan your campaign

How you plan your campaign depends on the type.

Peer-to-peer

Peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns can raise more funds when you encourage competition. In the beginning, ensure your team finds a handful of volunteers to fundraise online. If you have any online influencers in your donor base, ask them to participate and promote your fundraiser.

Train all volunteers on how to find success with these campaigns and provide regular updates to keep them interested. Creating a fundraising challenge with prizes will help you collect more volunteers and entice them to raise more.

Virtual or hybrid event

Planning a virtual event will include finding corporate sponsors, marketing and selling tickets, and adding other fundraising options like auctions and raffles. Once again, your fundraising team should be responsible for most of these activities.

Social media and email marketing will be the best ways to promote your event. Weekly updates on sponsors, auction items, and donations collected should excite your donor base.

Sell products

Selling products online can be easy, but planning for this campaign is still essential. You'll want to combine in-person and online fundraising efforts. Ask volunteers to sell products to their friends and family and connect with local businesses to see where you can sell in person.

Create an online campaign page

An online campaign page that shares your organization's branding and makes it simple for donors to give will help drive donations.

Branding

Branding for your nonprofit includes a logo, colors, and voice. Adding branding to your donation pages and forms helps strengthen trust in your organization. Additional visual features like videos and images will help your nonprofit's storytelling.

Simple donation forms

Compelling stories and images are the best way to encourage gifts, but you must keep your forms simple. Customized donation forms with gift options that fit specific donor segments will limit the time donors have to spend. Read on for more donation form best practices.

Send Emails and Social media

Now that you've developed fundraising goals and plans and built your team, it's time to promote your online fundraising event. The best way to do that is with social media. Engaging content that tells beneficiary stories and shares details on your nonprofit's programs will catch people's attention. Since social media is primarily a visual tool, quality images, and videos are essential.

Before and during virtual events, you must send regular updates via email and social media. Segmenting donors by their program interests will help you choose how to reach different donor types. If you've added a peer-to-peer campaign to your virtual fundraiser, you must take time to respond to donor and volunteer questions and promote different volunteer campaign pages on your social media account.

Thank donors and volunteers

After your event, you can send thank-you updates to volunteers and donors for their participation in your campaign. You should send personal acknowledgments to all donors within 48 hours of their donations. You can also thank donors by sharing how much you raised and how donations will be used.

Analyze and Plan for Next Year

Analyzing event data and adding details on what and why donors gave will help you plan for next year. Donor management tools like Zeffy automatically send donor receipts and update donors' gifts and purchases. Zeffy also allows you to add notes and segment donors based on their giving preferences.

How Big Brothers Big Sisters of St. Thomas Elgin Raises $3,000 Annually With a Virtual Fundraiser

The donation form of Big Brothers Big Sisters online fundraising

Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) hosts a Gift of Flight raffle every year with Zeffy. For $5, donors can win a roundtrip flight for two to any WestJet destination! $20 gives donors five tickets.

BBBS combines in-person and online raffle ticket sales to raise $3,000 yearly with this lottery. Adding a QR code to their marketing pieces directly linked donors to the online donation form, increasing online sales.

The Best Online Fundraiser Platforms to Raise Money 

Online fundraisers won't work without the right tools. We've chosen the best virtual fundraising platforms for different needs.

Zeffy 

100% free

Zeffy is the only 100% free online fundraising tool. That means you can keep each cent your fundraiser earns and earn more trust from donors. Donors give more when they know where their gifts go. Being transparent about how funds are used and limiting funds spent on events will also help increase the funds you raise.

Zeffy the free online platform for fundraising

Donorbox

Swift checkout

The last thing donors want to do during an in-person or virtual event is to wait around to spend money. Donorbox's UltraSwift™ Pay and Live™ Kiosk make it easy for donors to pay via credit card, Apple Pay, and Google Pay online and in person.

DonorDrive

Livestream fundraising

Whether you host a multiplayer video game or a telethon, live streaming is necessary for online fundraising events. DonorDrive seamlessly embeds nonprofit and personal fundraising pages to live streaming platforms like YouTube, Twitch, and more.

Ready to Launch Your Next Online Fundraiser? 

Donors' interest and preference to give online has consistently grown over the last two decades. With this continued popularity and the development of more tools to make online giving effortless, it's clear online fundraising isn't going away. After learning ways to raise money with best practices and online fundraising ideas, are you ready to launch your next online fundraiser?

Zeffy makes it easy and affordable for individuals and nonprofits to host virtual fundraisers for less effort and money. Sign up for free to start fundraising with online donation pages, raffles, and more.

Sign up and start fundraising for free today

A few other interesting articles about fundraising:

Fundraising for Nonprofits : Essential Guide + 12 ideas

101+ Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits

Read-A-Thon Fundraisers: The Ultimate Guide for Success

10 new tips for your next fundraising campaign

Top 3 No-cost Ways to Promote Nonprofit Fundraising Events

How to organize a fundraising event for a nonprofit organization