Five Tips to Create a Great Virtual Fundraising Event

August 18, 2020

How to Create a Great Virtual Fundraising Event

Melissa Cameron | Senior Counsel – CSR & Philanthropic Services

Because of COVID-19, we’re all pretty used to the idea of virtual events. But how can you create a great virtual fundraising event? How do you make the occasion compelling and exciting when your attendees will only see it on a computer screen? Surprisingly, the ideas below are not that different from general tips for creating a successful in-person event. When brainstorming how to create a great virtual event, make sure you keep in mind these five simple tips.

Communicate, communicate, communicate

Trust us – it’s worth repeating. To create a great virtual fundraising event, it is important that you communicate. Involve your stakeholders, board members, donors, staff, etc. in the planning process. These relationships are vital to your event’s success. If you’re forced to transition an in-person event to a virtual venue, ensure you talk to your stakeholders. Keeping them updated about your event will not only help them feel engaged and heard but will also help them realize they are part of the decision-making process. And don’t simply communicate with them about your ideas. Give them space to communicate their desires and ideas for the event. After all, these are people who care about your organization and will be your ambassadors in bringing potential donors.

Keep it short and sweet

Staring at a computer screen with a keynote speaker is very different than being in the same room as that speaker. Studies have shown that the average human attention span continues to shorten considerably. Even the individuals who love your organization and want to support it will have trouble staying tuned-in to a long virtual event. To create a great virtual fundraising event, it’s important to keep the festivities under an hour. This will help ensure stakeholders and attendees stick around for the entirety of the event.

Make it interactive and meaningful

If you want to create a great virtual fundraising event, staring at a talking head for an hour isn’t going to be engaging for your audience. Memorable virtual events are the ones with dynamic content popping up on the audience’s screens and encourage audience interaction. Utilize options such as video platform breakout rooms where people can chat with other attendees or perhaps board members and those benefiting from your mission. You can also conduct a Q&A or have ever-changing messaging on the screen. If applicable, consider giving sponsor recognition through a scrolling banner. Fundraising reminders or guest shout-outs are also fun, interactive options. Use the screen to deliver the message of how critical your organization’s mission is to the community and how you plan to utilize funds to fulfill that mission.

Bring the event to your audience

Goodie bags and swag bags are often the most exciting part of an event for attendees. How can you uphold this tradition wen you seek to create a great virtual fundraising event? You can always organize the delivery of item(s) to your audience prior to the event but be sure the gift aligns with your organization’s mission or the theme of the event. For example, if you’ve traditionally conducted a wine tasting during in-person events, you might consider delivering a bottle of wine to your audience members’ homes or businesses. Or, if the event is a “fiesta,” you can send some fun wearables for guests to don during the event and share screenshots of the festivities on social media. Although you can still create a great virtual fundraising event without a giveaway, providing something tangible can often help your audience feel more connected.


It’s really important that your team rehearses the event in its entirety at least a few days before going live. A run of show is imperative for you to create a great virtual fundraising event. Although technical difficulties during a live event are sometimes unavoidable, practicing can ensure you help identify and avoid many issues. It’s also good practice to record any interviews beforehand, stick to a script for the duration of the program, and have someone poised and ready to troubleshoot if technical problems arise.

Whether we like them or not, virtual events have become the norm. In order to create a great virtual fundraising event, follow the steps above to keep your audience engaged for a personal – yet professional – event. For more information on virtual fundraising events, check out our CSR and Philanthropic Services webpage and our main blog page. We are here to help with all your CSR initiatives and event needs!