A Guide to Virtual Fundraising Events: How to Use User-Generated Video to Maximize Your Impact

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Like the rest of the world, when March 2020 came around, you had to pivot all your operations online. That meant, of course, day-to-day work, but it also meant events. From holiday gatherings to important fundraising events, everything had to go online.

That meant changing your planned strategy. For anyone who’s attended any virtual event over the last year and a half, some are certainly better than others. Some look like they’ve been planned for years. Others look like they've been put together in an instant. 

However long the lead time, what’s important to realize is that online giving is becoming a more comfortable part of people’s routines. Online fundraising revenue has increased in the last year by 23%. Only 16% of folks prefer to donate via snail mail

Video, of course, can be a powerful driver for donations. Why? In the article, The Ultimate Guide to Nonprofit Marketing in 2021, HubSpot lists six reasons why video is such an effective tool for online fundraising, including:

  • Video content can be processed more quickly by your audience.
  • Video inspires empathy and showcasing emotion in ways other media just can’t.
  • Video offers a compelling, simple way to educate an audience.
  • Video content is highly shareable, especially when it’s authentic. 
  • Videos are fun to watch and hold viewers’ interest.

Doing an online, video-focused fundraiser can be quite successful. But you want your event to raise as much money as possible for the cause it’s supporting. There are a few things you can do to maximize your impact from your virtual fundraising events—which are certainly here to stay. One of the most important tactics to incorporate into your strategy is to include user-generated video content. 

Look at this case study for SickKids Foundation. Based in Toronto, Canada, they’re known as the leading charitable funder for child health research and care in their region. Their annual fundraising event is a big draw, but in 2020, it had to become virtual. In order to maximize their video event, which was a month-long campaign, they collected over 120 co-created videos from fundraisers, ambassadors and sponsors. With powerful testimonies, they were able to exceed their goal for registered fundraisers and generate an amazing $1.6 million in donations.  

Or consider the transformation of the League of American Orchestras Third Annual League Giving Day. They had an ambitious goal—raise $75,000 in just 24 hours. To do so, they collected videos from members all over the country about why the League was important to them. In sharing these powerful videos, the League surpassed their fundraising goal, and continued to use the videos as part of an engagement campaign.

We know that video drives engagement. Surveys have shown that viewers say they remember 95% of a video’s messaging. And, when you center your virtual fundraising events around powerful user-generated video stories that demonstrate the impact your organization has on the real people at the heart of your mission, you give potential donors compelling and authentic reasons to support the cause. 

Virtual fundraising events are certainly a different experience than in-person. But, when virtual fundraising events are human-centric and include authentic video content from real people, they have incredible potential to deliver your message to a broader global audience.


Nonprofit Fundraising Statistics [Updated for 2021]. (2021). Double the Donation. 

The Top Nonprofit Fundraising Statistics You Should Know. (November 2020). MatchPro

The Ultimate Guide to Nonprofit Marketing in 2021. (February 2021). Hubspot

2020 Video Marketing and Statistics: What Brands Need to Know. (October 2019). Social Media Week.

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