If your nonprofit has to cancel a fundraising event due to coronavirus (also known as COVID-19), you’re probably wondering, “What do we do now?” But although you’re no doubt deeply disappointed and probably pretty frustrated that your plans have suddenly changed, know that the tough decisions you’re making for the health and safety of your donor community won’t go unnoticed. Your donors love you enough to give to your cause and register for your gatherings, after all.
What are some fundraising event alternatives during COVID-19?
Rather than letting recent events keep you and your community apart, there are many ways to bring your donors closer than ever and keep funds flowing toward your mission.
- Update Your Community via Email
- Allow Guests to Donate Ticket Amount
- Make a Video to Engage Event Guests
- Host an Online Auction
- Stream Your Live Entertainment
- Utilize a Matching Gift Program
- Mail Your Party-Favors to Guests
- Engage Donors on Social Media
- Launch a Crowdfunding Campaign
- Promote Your Monthly Giving Program
Donor Engagement Strategy #1: Update Your Community Using This Email Template
Letting donors know your event is a no-go isn’t an easy task. To help turn a disappointing cancellation into an engaging invitation to connect in other ways, here’s a Mad-Libs style email template that enables you to pop event alternatives right into your update.
Note: Consider spotlighting the ideas you plan to use in your event cancellation email, so event guests are immediately aware of other ways they can fund your cause and stay connected with your organization. We’ve provided some examples in the template below, but we encourage you to tailor your email to the ideas that work best for you and your donors.
[EVENT NAME] is cancelled for the safety of our [NONPROFIT NAME] Community.
Dear [FIRST NAME],
Thank you for being a part of the [NONPROFIT NAME] Community.
While it was a difficult decision, our team decided to cancel [EVENT NAME] which was scheduled for [DATE] at [TIME] because we care about your safety and wellbeing.
Although we won’t be gathering in person, [NONPROFIT NAME] is offering [#] ways you can support our goal of raising funds for [EVENT BENEFICIARY] and join in on the fun from wherever you are.
We believe that with your help, we can lessen the impact of coronavirus on our mission of [MISSION]. Thank you for your support during this challenging time for our organization and our community as a whole.
[#] Ways You Can Continue to Support [NONPROFIT NAME]
#1. Let Us Know If You’d Like to Donate Your Ticket
While [EVENT NAME] was cancelled, you can choose to donate the cost of your ticket to benefit [EVENT BENEFICIARY] or let us know if you’d like us to provide you with a refund. Please tell us your preference in this single-question survey.
#2. Score Something Awesome in Our Online Auction
Just because we can’t meet doesn’t mean you can’t win a treat. We’re hosting an online auction from [DATE] to [DATE]. Get details,see what’s up for grabs, and place your bids on our auction page.
[SEE THE AUCTION]
#3. Catch [ENTERTAINMENT] on Facebook Live
Even though we won’t be gathering in person, the show still goes on! [PERFORMER] will be [WHAT THEY ARE DOING] on Facebook Live on [DATE] at [TIME]. Follow us on Facebook so you don’t miss it!
[FOLLOW US NOW]
#4. Check to See if Your Employer Will Double Your Donation
Right now, every little bit helps. If you’re able to donate today, find out if your company will match your gift to us checking right from our donation form. In just seconds to check and submit a matching gift request.
[DOUBLE YOUR GIFT]
#5. Help Us Raise Money for [EVENT BENEFICIARY]
Although [EVENT NAME] is cancelled, we’re continuing to pursue our goal of raising [EVENT FUNDRAISING GOAL AMOUNT] for [EVENT BENEFICIARY] through our [CAMPAIGN NAME] Crowdfunding Campaign online. We’d love it if you could join us by creating your own fundraising page and sharing it with family and friends. Every little bit helps!
[CREATE YOUR PAGE]
Example Of This Email
Donor Engagement Strategy #2: Give Guests the Option to Donate Their Ticket Amount
Many of your guests will gladly donate the funds they paid to attend your event to help your organization stay up and running smoothly during this difficult time. All you have to do is ask! To keep things organized on your end and make it easy for donors to communicate whether they’d like to donate their ticket amount or request a refund, consider sending a short survey with your event cancellation email asking them to choose their preference.
Donor Engagement Strategy #3: Harness the Power of Video to Connect with Donors
There’s a reason YouTube is the second most popular search engine behind Google. Videos are a great way to connect with donors during this time and beyond, and tools like CauseVid are specially designed to enable nonprofits to easily add videos to their email communications.
You can accompany your ask with a heartfelt story about the person, pup, or cause you’re supporting, show donors the impact of their gifts, and deliver a personal video message to donors from your staff thanking them for all they do.
Donor Engagement Strategy #4: Host an Online Auction and Invite Your Whole Community
Give your donors the opportunity to bid on all the awesome items you can showcase in an online auction. Auction management software like ReadySetAuction equips your organization to bring your entire community together online to bid on coveted items that benefit your wonderful mission.
ReadySetAuction includes an easy-to-use website builder where you can promote and host your auction. Once your auction is live, donors can place bids from anywhere, plus they’re automatically alerted the moment they’re outbid, making this event alternative fun and engaging for everyone who joins.
Want to add wow-factor to your auction lineup? Check out this catalog of luxury auction items you can place up for grabs at no cost to your organization.
Donor Engagement Strategy #5: Showcase Your Planned Entertainment on Facebook Live
Chances are the band or speaker you booked for your event feels for your organization and will want to know how they can help. Instead of putting their show to a halt, give them the option to shine online by taking their appearance to Facebook Live for your entire donor community to see.
Be sure to let your donors know that the show still goes on by communicating the date and time that your event entertainer will appear on Facebook Live. Not only will this dazzle your donors who were looking forward to seeing them, but it will also help you gain new followers on Facebook as you promote the event.
Remind your gracious Facebook Live hosts to encourage viewers to donate to you and ask them to refer to your donation form link in your profile’s About section or in your organization’s post announcing the start of your Facebook Live event.
Donor Engagement Strategy #6: Ask Donors to See If Their Company Will Match Their Gift
Many donors don’t take advantage of matching gift options offered by their employers because they don’t want to deal with the process or they don’t even know that option exists. Fortunately, a tool like Double the Donation enables donors to check for this perk and provides simple steps to submit a request right from your donation form. Just add Double the Donation to your online form and encourage donors to check.
Donor Engagement Strategy #7: Invest in a Party-Favor Packed Direct Mail Campaign
Those favors that were meant for your event don’t necessarily have to go to waste. Consider creatively packaging favors or S.W.A.G. in a direct mail campaign that lets your donors know that even though your event was cancelled, they’re still at top of mind.
Donor Engagement Strategy #8: Extra Engage Cooped-Up Donors on Social Media
Many of your donors who follow you on social media are staying in, working remotely, and practicing social distancing to stay safe. Check in on them and show them that you care by reaching out to them on social media.
Need some ideas? You can post social media updates like:
- “Just checking in! How’s everyone doing?”
- “What are you doing to have fun while staying in? Tell us in the comments.”
- “We need a pick-me-up. Share photos of your furry assistants who are helping you as you work from home!”
You’ll know what your community will respond to best, so reach out in the ways that best reflect their interests.
Donor Engagement Strategy #9: Launch a Crowdfunding Campaign for the Event Beneficiary
The fundraising goal associated with your cancelled event isn’t impossible to achieve! Let donors know that you need their help in these difficult times and invite them to pitch in through crowdfunding. DonorPerfect Crowdfunding allows your donors to quickly and easily create their own fundraising pages so they can raise money for you by sharing their page with family and friends.
Getting started doesn’t have to be a hassle. Here’s a nonprofit crowdfunding campaign kit packed with templates to help you and your donors maximize the reach of your fundraiser.
Donor Engagement Strategy #10: Promote Your Monthly Giving Program So You’ll Always Have Revenue to Rely On
On average, nonprofit organizations who create monthly giving programs through DonorPerfect achieve a 90% retention rate for their members. In times like these, a monthly giving program can ensure that the funds you need are available to your organization and those you serve. Don’t have a monthly giving program? Launch yours today using DonorPerfect’s free Monthly Giving Starter Kit.