One of the greatest ways to fundraise is to have an event. But events have expenses and limitations. With virtual fundraising, you can reach a lot more donors at once—and they don’t even have to leave the comfort of their own home.

11 Virtual Fundraising Ideas

  1. Art and Photography Shows
  2. Costume and Fashion Galas
  3. Collection Exhibits
  4. Holiday and Seasonal Showcase
  5. Travel and Adventures
  6. Community Happenings
  7. Activity Competitions
  8. Design Contests
  9. Pets and Kids Spotlight
  10. Food and Cooking
  11.  Daily Routines

Non profit organizations need to do fundraising all year long, whether that means applying for grants or hosting events. When it comes to in-person events, there are a number of costs involved, both in terms of time and money. You will typically have to rent a space, like a ballroom or banquet hall, hire a caterer, decorate the venue, and line up speakers, presenters, or entertainment. All of that can add up quickly and certainly takes a lot of time.

Virtual events, by contrast, are a great way to fundraise. Not only do they take far less time and money to set up, they also have a greater reach than an in-person event. This is because you can market the virtual event on your social media channels and email contact list. While an in-person fundraising event is limited to attendees, a virtual fundraising event can reach exponentially greater numbers of people just by the power of sharing a link.

Of course, you will still need some sort of platform to host your event, even if it’s not going to be a ballroom or social hall. This platform should ideally manage everything for you, including the finances. That’s one of the great things about doing virtual fundraising—if you pick the right platform, like, all you need to do is a bit of marketing and let the power of grassroots fundraising do the rest!

How Do You Host a Virtual Fundraising Event?

One type of event you can do is a photo contest. As you can probably guess, the basic premise of the contest is that participants submit a photo and everyone votes on their favorite one, making a small contribution in the process. The winner or winners collect a cash prize, while the rest of the money is deposited into your nonprofit’s bank account. This type of event is incredibly fun for participants because people like sharing photos, seeing other people’s creativity, and voting on their friends and family’s contributions. If you don’t believe us, just take a look at social media, which is built on this premise!

Virtual Fundraising Made Easy with

The platform makes setting up virtual fundraisers a breeze—if you don’t believe us, request a demo today! We will set up a landing page for participants to submit their photos, and give donors the ability to vote with a few simple clicks. The event will be hosted on our servers and domain, which means you don’t have to do any coding. We’ll take care of everything for you!

No Extra Staffing Required

You don’t have to hire extra employees or contractors to staff the event. No need for a party planner. No catering company. No linen service. No entertainers or vendors. This keeps your costs down while eliminating stress and headaches. If you’ve ever planned an event, you know that juggling all these duties is a full-time job in and of itself.

More Money for the Cause

Of course, spending less money on setting up an event also means more money going toward the cause. It does sometimes happen that when all the expenses are added up for an event and all vendors are paid, the nonprofit realizes they are left with a little (or a lot) less than they would have liked to have raised. This can happen because of the cost of the event, but also because of how much was donated (or not donated). By hosting a virtual event, you can keep your overhead extremely low and collect more for the organization.

Easy Way to Gather Donor Contact Info

Another great benefit to virtual fundraising is that you will have an easier time collecting contact info! When you host an in-person event, it can be difficult to collect contact info from everyone attending. This is especially true if the event is not an invitational, such as a booth or tent at a street fair. People don’t always want to write down their email or phone number. With a virtual event, especially a photo contest, all participants contributing and voting will have to provide contact information, which you can later use for further fundraising efforts.

Harness the Power of Crowdfunding

Virtual events also have a much greater potential for crowdfunding. Crowdfunding, as you probably know, is when a fundraising goal is met by contributions from a pool of donors. The internet and app-based technology has made crowdfunding easier and more effective for businesses and nonprofits. A photo contest can be a great way to crowdfund because it’s fun and participatory. Contributors will want votes, and so they’ll be inclined to share a link to the contest with friends and family members via email, text, and social media. The power of social sharing is very strong, and word of mouth can travel far on platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.

Covid Friendly

In today’s social distancing environment, virtual events are much more accommodating. Some people may not feel comfortable going to a large event, while others may not enjoy mask restrictions. Participating in a virtual fundraiser with your cell phone is safe and convenient.

Photo Contests are Fun!

Lastly, virtual events are fun! Especially a photo contest. As mentioned, people love to share, look at, vote, and comment on what other people are doing—it’s just part of being human. That’s why people are always on social media. You can leverage this entertaining pastime and turn it into a fun grassroots fundraising activity.

How Do You Promote a Virtual Fundraiser?

The hardest part of learning how to host a photo contest is figuring out how to promote it. The first thing you will want to do is start spreading the word. Start by sharing a post or hosting a Facebook live on your organization’s social media accounts, then ask staff and volunteer teams to promote the event on their social media channels.  

You might also consider paying for social media advertising. Social media advertising is very affordable, and can be targeted toward people most likely to donate. You can set your ad to appear in front of people by age, geographic region, and interests. For less than $10 a day you can get your fundraising event in front of several thousand potentially interested donors or participants.

Finally, make sure everyone participating in the contest knows that they need to share the photo contest link with friends and family members. This is in their best interest anyway, since they’ll need to encourage people to vote for their entry.

You could also plan your virtual fundraising event for a day that’s conducive to your cause, such as giving Tuesday or a day/month that’s associated with your mission, like Earth Day or Pride Month.

11 Fun Virtual Fundraising Ideas

If you’re interested in hosting a virtual photo contest for your nonprofit, consider one of these engaging themes:   

1. Art and Photography Shows

Give participants the chance to show off their painting, sculpture, or creative craft by hosting a virtual talent show. Just set the parameters for the contest so that it’s not too open ended, because the lack of focus will make participation less appealing.

These parameters don’t just have to be about the content, but they could also be about the medium. For example, a photography contest would allow contributors to showcase their camera skills. A landscape painting contest would let creative participants show off their ability to capture nature.

2. Costume and Fashion Galas

Some people love to dress up and look glamorous. Photos for this fundraiser don’t have to actually come from a soiree or red carpet event. People can get dressed up in their own living room or bedroom and snap a pic of themselves in the mirror. You can even make this type of fundraiser silly by having participants dress as their favorite character/

This virtual gala is an idea that could also be paired with an in-person event, doubling the impact of the event itself—whether that event is a silent auction or a speaker with a catered dinner. Not everyone can attend in-person events these days, so this gives people the ability to participate on their own terms.

3. Collection Exhibits

Many people like to collect things, whether that’s baseball cards, Legos, or plants. Give people the opportunity to put their unique and interesting collections on display!

This can be a fun opportunity for people to browse through zany or impressive collections and vote the one they find the most interesting or off the wall. You might be surprised to learn who collects what.

4. Holiday and Seasonal Showcase

Tis the season…to fundraise! One reason that holiday and seasonal contests work so well is because everyone gets excited about holidays. Another great thing about these types of events is that they are good all year round. True, people tend to get very excited about the winter holiday season, but there is also a lot to celebrate in the spring, summer, and fall—like Halloween and Thanksgiving in October, and the Fourth of July in summer.

You can also pair this virtual event with some sort of seasonal giveaway as the prize, especially if the photo contest focuses on a similar item. For instance, if your photo contest highlights the best holiday season decorations, some of the prizes could be bespoke ornaments or stockings. If the photo contest lets everyone showcase their gardening skills, the prize could include gardening tools or a gift certificate to a nursery.

5. Travel and Adventures

Travel is exciting, after all, it’s one of the most popular topics to peruse on social media. Give participants the opportunity to share their favorite travel photos around the world! Whether it’s a beach in Fiji or unique-looking food in the Middle East, photos like these are appealing and fun to vote on.

Travel photos provide a virtual tour to all the exciting places people might want to visit someday. Part of the appeal of this particular event idea will also be in the caption descriptions. Contributors should share interesting information about the photo, like a few fun facts about the place pictured or a cultural lesson they learned.

6. Community Happenings

Put your nonprofit front and center for this virtual event and ask people who have participated in your nonprofit activities to post pictures of themselves or others at work. Whether your nonprofit serves food to the homeless or cleans up beaches, people will be interested in seeing how your organization benefits the community.

The appeal of this type of contest is such that even people outside the orbit of an in-person event will be interested in participating by virtue of a common interest. For instance, if they care about the cause you work with, they’ll be inclined to make an online donation and vote on their favorite picture, even if they’ve never interacted with you before.

7. Activity Competitions

Activity competitions are another fun way to host a photo contest. This might be similar to a virtual walk or virtual fundraiser, but it will be a little different since the focus is on photos, not the activity itself. And yet, if you are having some type of in-person event, you can post pictures of the activity or have participants submit their own for potential donors to vote on.

If you’re wondering what kind of activity we’re talking about, it might be something like team-building activities or a ropes course. It could also be fun and zany like a scavenger hunt. You could also create a series of photo contests and ask participants to photograph a particular type of item in their location: for example, one week you might task participants to take a pictuer of themselves near an iconic water fountain, and the next week it might be near a local neon sign. Each week, participants can go to the online fundraising page and vote for the winner.

8. Design Contests

There are a number of contests that can fit into this category, from designing the best pillow fort to designing the best landscaping arrangement for a front yard. From the zany to the boutique, design contests allow participants to show off their creative side and gives other participants ideas.

9. Pets and Kids Spotlight

Pets and kids are another great opportunity for a photo contest. Your nonprofit does not even have to work with animals or children, although it would make a lot more sense if it does. You can combine this contest with others mentioned, such as the best pet Halloween contest or best photos of kids traveling.

If you are hosting a photo contest that features minors, make sure you obtain permission to photograph and/or communicate with parents that the picture will be featured on the voting page where anyone with a link can see it and vote.

10. Food and Cooking

Everyone loves to eat, so give your photo contest participants the chance to show off their culinary skills. Food is a very popular browsing category on social media, so this could be another great opportunity to showcase something people enjoy looking at and voting on with a small contribution made toward your cause. You can even cater the event towards a particular food item, such as the best-looking cake or the biggest burrito.

11. Daily Routines

This virtual fundraising idea may seem a little bit off the wall, but it’s becoming a popular theme on every social media platform. One common example you might have seen is “what I eat in a day.” Users take pictures of their food and write a caption about it. But breakfast, lunch, or dinner are not the only opportunities to showcase a daily routine. Potential donors can browse through pics of whatever routine you pick, whether it’s making breakfast, what you do when you get home, or hitting the gym.

The premise of this virtual fundraising campaign is a little different than the others we’ve outlined, since much of the appeal is in the story of the caption. But at the same time, it can bring a little personality to your fundraising page because participants will be sharing their life in photographic form.

Photo Contests Amplify Virtual Fundraising Efforts

Your nonprofit organization needs supporters to contribute financially in order to thrive. Virtual fundraising events are a great way to meet your nonprofit’s fundraising campaign goal because it encourages your community to get involved with a bit of friendly competition.   

And with by your side (along with a bit of creative marketing), you’re sure to be one of our many online fundraising success stories. Don’t put your virtual fundraising off another day—set up a photo contest today!