Summer fundraising is usually all about getting outside, getting into your community, and mingling with your donors. But COVID-19 has changed everything. Here’s how to fundraise during this uncertain summer.

So, usually around this time, Mightycause publishes lists and hosts webinars about summer fundraising. Our suggestions are usually based around in-person events: Pool parties! Fun runs! Cookouts! Ice cream socials! And under normal circumstances, those are great community engagement events that can help you get through the slower summer months. But, as we’re all aware at this point, nothing is normal. COVID-19 has turned the world on its head.

How do you tackle summer fundraising during a pandemic?! It’s not a question we ever thought we’d be answering on our blog, but here we are. Let’s dig in. 

The challenges of summer fundraising in 2020

Lots of states are relaxing lockdown measures and stay-at-home orders. But, make no mistake, COVID-19 is still at the forefront of many people’s minds. COVID-19 is still infecting people, and there’s still no vaccine. So, while people are more willing and able to go to the salon or brave the grocery store with less fear, it’s unlikely most communities will be gathering in large groups over the summer. Social distancing measures and masks are still recommended by the experts.

And, on top of everything else, we’re in the middle of a recession. It’s important note that charitable giving is actually going strong and steady — and even growing in some areas. But the fact that many people’s financial situations feel uncertain and precarious changes the way nonprofits need to interact with their donors and communities.

4 Easy Steps to Putting Together a COVID-19 Fundraiser

Rethinking summer fundraising

The good news is that nonprofits truly don’t need to reinvent the wheel here. They just need to get a little creative. And modern fundraising has most of the solutions already baked in!

Virtual event fundraising

We didn’t foresee the world moving school, work, and meetings online. But we did create tools that allow nonprofits and individuals to host fundraising events online. So, instead of needing to go back to the drawing board with summer fundraising, all you need to do is leverage the tools we have to bring your event online.

summer fundraising: screenshot of team page

Events on Mightycause allow you to organize people together around a cause, manage your event, raise money, and engage your community. And it’s all done virtually. An event on Mightycause can be anything from a walk-a-thon to a read-a-thon to a virtual gala. The core of a good event is getting peer-to-peer fundraising going, which gets your cause’s biggest supporters talking about your work, donating, and gets new supporters in the door. So, sure, a virtual event doesn’t have people gathering, but they’re all about community and getting people engaged!

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Recurring donations

It’s completely understandable that nonprofits may not be able to host big, blowout fundraisers right now. Times are uncertain. We’re in the middle of a pandemic and a recession. But one thing that could be a game-changer for your organization and an approachable ask for your donors is focusing on recurring donations.

A recurring donation is an ongoing investment in your cause. It’s a monthly contribution, usually a smaller amount, that provides recurring and consistent support. Recurring donations not only help nonprofits grow their programs and services, but they help you cultivate lasting, meaningful relationships with supporters. Donors who give on a recurring basis have a higher lifetime value to the nonprofits they support, and typically give to specific campaigns on top of their monthly donations. So, instead of spending time putting together an ice cream social, why not put together a recurring giving campaign?

Why Recurring Giving is So Important During COVID-19

Summer Fundraising Ideas

So, we know it’s one thing to talk about our events product, but another thing all together to figure out how to make that work in such unprecedented circumstance. Here are some ideas to help inspire your nonprofit’s summer fundraiser!

Virtual gala

Did your Spring gala get canceled, or postponed indefinitely? Well, the bad news there is that the Fall and Winter aren’t safer bets for being able to finally hold your gala — there’s supposed to be a second wave of COVID-19 at the end of the year. A better move would be just figuring out how to host it online.

Instead of ticket sales as the main moneymaker, why not focus on peer-to-peer fundraising? If you had planned speakers, get them on a Zoom meeting or Facebook live! Our Events product is perfect for a virtual gala.

Read-a-thon

In addition to baking lots of bread, people are spending quarantine reading books. So, why not host a read-a-thon?! They’re tried and true for education environments, but can be easily adapted to many nonprofit causes. You can even put together a reading list for your participants that will help them learn more about your cause, and ask your participants to ask friends & family for support with our Events tool.

Virtual fun run/walk-a-thon

We’ve already established that you can’t gather a bunch of people in a single space for the foreseeable future. But running and walking outside individually is still allowed. A virtual fun run or walk-a-thon can get your supporters raising money, walking or running for a cause, and engaging with your nonprofit! Just create an Event, get people to join in, and allow people to set their own walking/run goals to participating in whatever level is doable for them.

Golf tournament

Golf courses are still open! (And tailor made for social distancing.) A charity golf tournament could be a great way to raise some funds and rally people around your cause, even as many places are still in the process of re-opening.

Charity Golf Tournament Planning Tips

Board fundraising challenge

Now is a perfect time for your board of directors to set up and get involved in fundraising! The financial well-being of your organization is part of your board’s responsibility to your nonprofit, and the current circumstances might require them to get more involved in your fundraising activities. Having them start an Event where your board members compete to raise the most money for your nonprofit brings in funding while providing a meaningful show of support for your work.

“Sleep out” for charity

This idea is already being done on Mightycause! Check it out. If your nonprofit addresses homelessness or housing issues, a virtual “sleep out” can help raise awareness and money for your cause.

summer fundraising ideas: screenshot of virtual sleep out

Virtual food drive

A virtual food drive is simple, easy, and has powerful messaging! It can work for both nonprofits and companies, schools, groups, and individuals. Capital Area Food Bank raised more than $35,000 in their most recent virtual food drive!

screenshot of Capital Area Food Bank's virtual food drive

Virtual pet photo contest

We’ve seen a few fantastic pet photo contests on Mightycause lately! Snooty Giggles Dog Rescue raised more than $26,000 in their calendar contest, and Homeward Trails had a successful “Up Close and PAWS-sonal” pet photo contest. Snooty Giggles used our Event fundraising product, while Homeward Trails built a page on their website to accompany their fundraiser. It’s a fun, easy way to engage pet lovers at a distance!

dog with a mask on

Download our Event Fundraising Handbook for more

cover of event fundraising handbook

Whether you’re hosting an online or virtual event, our Event Fundraising Handbook has everything you know to make your fundraiser a roaring success. Download it for free to learn more about utilizing our Events product for your summer fundraiser!

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