May 30, 2020 Lauri Stone

Virtual Fundraising… Please Don’t Come but Do Send Money

Galas, 5k runs, charity auctions, travel raffles, golf tournaments… canceling or postponing these traditional fundraising sources is like canceling large portions of annual revenue as COVID-19 packs a punch, sidelining traditional fundraising this spring season. Yet, during this crisis, human nature has shown us that giving and helping is a natural response, and coming together “will get us through.” This hits right to the philanthropy core of its heart and soul and as such, nonprofits are transforming their work and in many cases, have responded overnight to urgent new needs in their communities.

There’s still the need to recover missing donations. Thankfully, with crisis brings innovation, and nonprofits are cleverly creating virtual events that actually look like a lot of fun while they get donations back on track. With a little online ingenuity along with utilizing software tools, mitigating the loss of fundraising dollars as well as keeping the supporters and participants engaged is a reality in our virtual world where everything we are doing is online.

Here are a few ideas and software platforms to consider for your nonprofit:


The “Uninvitation”

This was actually pre-COVID and Tech Dump was clearly ahead of the game in November of 2019 (a long, long time ago) when they held a first-ever virtual fundraiser with zero attendees but a request to purchase a ticket to not attend.

Photo credit: Tech Dump

“Thank you for not coming: The Ultimate Zero Waste Event”

They unapologetically promised “no searching for parking. No dressing up. No small talk. No cheesy swag bags. No live auction. With still all the benefits supporting Tech Dump’s social enterprise mission.” How creative and (little did they know) prophetic. Clearly, they’ve got this fall’s fundraising in the bag.




The “No Run” Runs, Bikeathons, Hikes, and Climbs

We are seeing more nonprofits holding their marathons virtually, with a heavy reliance on social media as the main communication and engagement channel. While some nonprofits use fundraising software platforms, others are even creating apps.

The March of Dimes has created several virtual ways to raise money and awareness by promoting an ongoing virtual march, “turning steps into dollars” by creating an app called Step Up! that converts steps to donations. Social media is the main vehicle by encouraging social media challenges and shares with their “Tik-Tok Dance Challenge” and “See a Step, Take a Step” events.

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is hosting its fundraiser, the Big Virtual Climb coming up June 13, 2020.  They are in prep mode now, holding registrations for this event, describing tools that will be used when everybody climbs the same number of steps that would “take everyone to the top of San Francisco’s iconic Salesforce Tower. 61 stories. 1,762 steps.”

The Big Virtual Climb will commence with an “emotional and uplifting Opening Ceremony before sending you off to your personal climb…and we’ll even provide you with a heart-pumping music playlist with motivational messages to keep you climbing toward a cure!” We can’t wait to see how this fundraising event goes and will keep an eye out on social media for the coverage.


Virtual Tours

If your nonprofit centers around a physical location, then virtual tours are a great way to go. Much as our colleges and universities are using virtual tour technology to attract new students, so too, should nonprofits to stay connected to boost donations.


Peer-to-peer and Crowdfunding

There are some great crowdfunding websites that are user-friendly and some only charge fees if your campaign reaches its tipping point. Start Some Good, GoFundMe, RocketHub, Classy, Fundly are just a few popular crowdfunding platforms for both individuals and nonprofits. Nonprofits can create online campaigns with many automated features.

These platforms help create effective online fundraising campaigns to be showcased and promoted on the website, through email marketing, and through social media channels. There are many features and tips to this option and planning ahead with the right software platform can make a big difference.

Virtual Event Software

We all know very well the live-streaming platforms; Zoom, Go-to-Meeting, and social media live streaming like Facebook Live and YouTube Live. But for online auctions, virtual marathons, and peer-to-peer/online fundraising, here’s what’s out there:

These platforms are with a heart, showering a little love for the nonprofits by offering discounts (if the platforms are not already free) in light of the COVID-19. After all, giving for charity and good cause is always noble. Giving during such difficult times is downright heroic.


Using a CRM or Donor Management Software

There are several popular software tools on the market designed to simplify tracking of all things nonprofit fundraising. Much like CRMs that became invaluable tools used throughout sales organizations globally, CRMs now cater to specific industries such as nonprofits, higher education, and government. is a prime example of tailored solutions commonly used in the nonprofit sectors. Salesforce is also a platform with whom Sanmita has partnered, which means if you are currently using Salesforce, check with a tech marketing firm (like Sanmita) to be sure that your platform is properly optimized for your specific needs since there are so many features.


Using a CRM to manage your donors is excellent option for any nonprofit organization. The value of managing donors through detailed profiles, communication/activity tracking, wealth screening/prospecting, and marketing plans can all be managed with the right platform.  Using a dashboard with reports, notifications, and pledge tracking are other features of software designed to ask for donations and keep administrative tasks to a minimum. The software also notifies you of important, timely tasks like follow-up.

Knowing thoroughly what is going on with each and every supporter of your organization is valuable. This includes identifying those donors whom you haven’t quite met yet but who can increase your donation outreach.


Fundraising during social distancing has its challenges. With all of the technology available in the market, it is still a very good idea to consult with an expert who not only understands the technology and the features but one who can size up your nonprofit organization’s needs, recommend, and employ the best solutions. Finding the right ways to fundraise with the right technology and campaign, which works for your nonprofit is a thoughtful process with many factors to consider. It’s always a good idea to consult with an agency and preferably one who specializes in working with nonprofits.


Reach out to Sanmita for a courtesy consultation to go over the right fundraising management software, virtual platform, and campaign for your nonprofit organization. If you are currently using for your CRM, let Sanmita have a look to be sure your CRM is fully optimized. Sanmita works with nonprofits and understands the many layers, challenges, and successes inherent with nonprofit organizations. If you contact us, you will have nothing but a few minutes to lose and we all have plenty of those, right now, to spare.


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Lauri Stone

Lauri Stone is Director of Client Relations at Sanmita, Inc., a web design and development firm offering strategy, design, and technology services to higher education, government, and nonprofit entities. She comes to Sanmita with over 25 years of experience in media marketing and advertising and is located in Los Angeles, California.