Apr 03 2020

In Lieu of Live Events, How Nonprofits Can Continue Fundraising

Organizations need to shift their thinking to keep pulling in donations.

Live events are the lifeblood of nonprofits. Being able to directly appeal to donors in person is critical not only to raising money, but also to keeping donors engaged and invested in the cause. Now, many organizations are facing a tough dilemma: what to do if those events have been postponed, or even canceled. 

At a time when many nonprofits are in desperate need of donations, their main source of fundraising has been taken away.

“This has been a huge area across the board,” said Aruna Ravichandran, chief marketing officer for Cisco’s Webex. “Various events are shutting down worldwide.” 

While the current social distancing restrictions stem from extraordinary circumstances, other disasters such as weather events or military conflicts can also prevent events from being held. Nonprofits need to have plans in place to continue fundraising when these kinds of disruptions occur, and technology is the key to helping them get there.

Nonprofits Can Shift to Virtual Events

The nonprofit sector isn’t the only one affected by event cancellations. Professional organizations have been scrambling to adapt their gatherings as well, as they also depend on the revenue from these events to fund other initiatives. One solution they’ve arrived at is still holding the event, but through a different medium.

“All of those events are actually being translated into virtual events,” said Ravichandran. “There is an opportunity to still get people together, but get them together in a virtual way.”

Nonprofits can do the same thing. Organizations can use videoconferencing tools to hold live events. Not only can speeches and presentations be livestreamed, but potential donors can engage through comments and chat tools, creating real-time interaction that mimics what attendees would’ve experienced at a live event.

If it’s not possible to have live presentations, organizations can upload videos in the style of a webinar. The presentations can span different topics and goals, engaging donors on their own time. Nonprofits will need to make sure their networks can handle a high volume of activity, or they may lose donations.

MORE FROM BIZTECH: Read how mobile fundraising tools power the donations nonprofits need.

Other Platforms Nonprofits Can Use to Raise Money

In-person fundraising, regardless of whether it’s tied to an event, is limited, meaning organizations are going to need to reach potential donors in other ways. Nonprofits that are keeping track of their donor data can use that information along with customer relationship management software to create targeted campaigns.

Social distancing also places a higher value on mobile giving. Reaching donors where they are with their smartphone or tablet can be crucial to maintaining a flow of donations. Making the process simple with things like text to donate tools, mobile applications and mobile-friendly web pages can be the difference between getting a donation or losing a donor.

Finally, nonprofits have to make sure that their electronic donation systems are strong, as that will be the primary way people will be able to give. Networks need to be able to handle high volume, and the information being given by donors needs to be protected. Without the right infrastructure in place, those who don’t have another way to give might never come back.

Being forced to cancel live events is a blow to nonprofits. But by going virtual and using donor data to increase targeted campaigns, organizations can keep donors engaged and giving.

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