4 Virtual Fundraising Ideas for Community Centers

April 12, 2021  •   LPi

Women using smartphone camera to stream

Fundraising is a vital part of most community centers’ survival. It provides organizations with the funds necessary for everything from paying the rent to offering transportation and daily programs. As the nation continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, many families are choosing to stick closer to home. That can make it tough to raise money in more traditional ways. Fortunately, technology has made virtual fundraising a viable option.

There are a variety of technologies, from the popular chat platform Zoom to virtual auction websites, that your community center can use to stay on track with budgetary goals.

4 Virtual Fundraising Ideas

1. Virtual Paint and Sip Workshop: Many people have attended paint and sip classes held at restaurants, parks, zoos, and more. These one-night events give friends and families a chance to gather for an evening of fun as an artist walks attendees step-by-step through the process of creating a piece of art. It’s easy to move this type of fundraiser from a public venue to an online one. Your community center can hire an artist and use a video platform, such as Zoom, Skype, or Facebook, to connect participants. You’ll just need to create and share a supply list for those who wish to attend.

2. Virtual Auction: Whether it’s a live auction, a silent one, or a combination, this popular fundraiser is a staple for many nonprofit agencies. Fortunately, it’s another event that is simple to move online. Establish a committee of volunteers, just like you would if you were hosting the auction in person. Approach area businesses and individuals for items to auction off during your fundraiser. Platforms like 32auctions and BiddingOwl make it easy to host a virtual auction. You can load pictures of auction items, create bid sheets, accept payment, and more. You’ll need to decide if you want to offer shipping for bidders who are from out of the area or limit bidding to those who are local and able to pick up items.

3. Virtual Bingo Night: What’s a community center without game night? When concerns about COVID-19 prevent your organization from hosting one on-site, you can move it to an online platform. A good example is Bingo Maker. As the host, you create and email bingo cards to participants to print out. Then you’ll need an avenue for streaming, such as Zoom or Facebook Live. Decide how much you want to charge attendees and select prizes for the winners. Gift cards are easy to mail (versus picking up prize packs) if you are trying to maintain a safe physical distance. If bingo isn’t all that appealing to your community, check out other games such as a Trivia Night Fundraiser.

4. Virtual Run or Walk: If your community center has hosted or thought about hosting a run or walk fundraiser, you might consider a virtual event instead. It gives participants a chance to raise money on your behalf while maintaining physical distance from one another. Those who choose to join your event can ask friends and family for pledges as they typically would, but you’ll have more flexibility in terms of dates and location. It’s also less expensive to host. Participants can walk wherever they like, snapping pictures to share along the way. You can opt to mail T-shirts and bibs or schedule a pickup time that allows everyone to keep a safe distance.

Finally, a key to success when everyone is working from different locations is to share your schedules and collaborate digitally. Why Your Staff Should Share Calendars offers tips for doing so more easily.

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