Virtual Fundraising Event Resource Guide
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of life, including the way we go about fundraising, but Seattle Children’s commitment to caring for every child regardless of a family’s ability to pay remains as steadfast as ever, and we count on our many guilds and community partners to provide vital support to our clinical programs, research and care for our patients and their families.
Seattle Children’s is following the recommendations of the Washington State Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as they pertain to events and gathering sizes. We urge supporters to follow the most up-to-date advice when planning their fundraiser.
Getting Started: What to Consider
- Identify your audience. What are your goals for this event? Who do you want to connect with and how can they best be reached?
- Communication is key. Initiate communication early and often to engage the intended donor audience, what will the other pieces of communication to your donors be?
- Personalize the experience (including communications before and after the event) as much as possible.
- Be concise and engaging – 30 to 45 minutes of content and 15 minutes of Q&A (if needed) seem to be a sweet spot.
What type of virtual fundraiser are you hosting?
The type of fundraiser you host will determine what type of tools you may need!
- Endurance Event: Any event that includes a physical component and involves fundraisers asking for pledges to their physical challenge. Some examples could include a virtual dance marathon, virtual 5k, virtual golf tournament or something new!
- Party/gala/cocktail party: Any event that is a celebration without an auction component and includes a program that informs and entertains your guests.
- Game night: Any fundraising event that includes a game that is played – a board game or online game with a fundraising component.
- Auction: Any event that includes a virtual/live/online auction fundraiser. Please note that Seattle Children’s cannot apply for a raffle or auction license on your behalf.
- Concert: Any fundraising event that includes a music component that is live or pre-recorded.
- Other: Create something new!
Virtual fundraising ideas
- Host a virtual bake sale. Make your favorite goodies, sell them and ship them or deliver curbside to friends and family for a sweet treat! Create a personal fundraising page as a way to collect donations and have “customers” place an order by posting a comment on your page.
- Get fit and fundraise. Make a donation page and request pledges from friends and family for doing a number of sit-ups, jumping jacks, pull-ups or more! Use our online fundraising platform to tell your story, post updates on your progress and connect with your donors via email.
- Challenge other departments, from a distance. Inspire some healthy competition by creating a fundraising page for each team or department and have each team share their page with their networks to raise money for a prize – and bragging rights!
- Donate a percentage of proceeds from a product or sale. Let your customers and clients help you reach your fundraising goals! Offer customers a chance to donate at point of sale or to purchase specially marked items where a portion of the proceeds benefits your fundraiser.
- Host a virtual happy hour. Turn your virtual happy hours into fundraisers by adding a theme and asking attendees to donate a set amount.
- Get crafty for a good cause. Whether it’s painting, knitting, embroidery or something new, selling and shipping homemade items is a great way to fundraise while staying home. With the increased daily use of masks, considering making and selling them to friends and family.
- Host a game night. Play your favorite games while fundraising! Whether you ask for a donation as entrance to play, or the game losers make a donation to the winners’ favorite fund, you can turn an online or board game tournament into a night for good.
While these ideas are here for you to consider, any project or passion can be turned into a fundraiser! Have an idea, or need help determining a fundraising component? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are a guild member, contact us at email@example.com.
Know the Legal Guidelines for Fundraisers
Seattle Children’s needs and appreciates your support! As a community fundraiser, we know you’ll represent the very best of what Seattle Children’s stands for by following these guidelines. We also want to be sure all your efforts pay off and that we can accept all the funds that you raise.
- Seattle Children’s is unable to advance money, solicit sponsorship revenue or sell tickets on behalf of your group.
- Printed materials and other materials should state that your event is benefiting Seattle Children’s.
- All necessary permits and certificates of insurance required by city ordinance or otherwise are the responsibility of the fundraising group.
- Seattle Children’s does not hold a raffle license. If you are a nonprofit (school, church or charity) and wish to conduct a raffle, you must obtain your own license. For more information, please contact the Washington State Gambling Commission (WSGC) online or by phone at 800-345-2529. Please note that, per WSGC regulations, private citizens and businesses cannot conduct raffles. Additionally, raffle tickets may not be sold online.
- Due to confidentiality commitments, Seattle Children’s is unable to release patient, family, donor, volunteer, employee, physician or other mailing lists for the purpose of solicitation of funds or participation in your event or project.
- Seattle Children’s requires that individuals under the age of 18 have a mentor or adult advisor to oversee the coordination of a school or community event or project.
- If circumstances warrant, Seattle Children’s may opt out as a beneficiary of the event, promotion or project at any time with no obligation.
- In addition to the guidelines stated above, there are state and federal laws that can affect how money is raised for charity online. No raffle tickets or liquor may be sold online. Also, please keep in mind potential tax consequences of selling products or merchandise online, especially if on a continuous or ongoing basis. For example, in certain circumstances, sales tax must be collected from the customer and remitted to the appropriate state (or states), even when fundraising for a charitable cause. If you plan to fundraise by conducting sales online on a recurring basis, please consult a tax advisor.
Promoting Your Fundraiser
There are many ways to get the word out about your fundraisers. Below are just a few. Whenever possible, create pre- and post-elements such as emails, print mail pieces and follow-up surveys to keep your supporters informed and solicit their feedback. Always personalize your communications with supporters if possible.
- Describe your event, why it’s going virtual, the benefits of this format and the need to support Seattle Children’s.
- Include a description of what the audience can expect.
- Consider sending multiple emails in the weeks prior to your event to get people excited and ready to participate.
- The final pre-fundraiser email should give clear instructions for any actions your supporters need to take, such as how to log into the event, how to register and how to donate.
- Create an event on Facebook to promote your event and invite family and friends.
- Make sure your Facebook event is set to Public so that others can share your event on their timelines.
- Invite Seattle Children’s to be a “Co-Host” of the event, so our social media team can interact with your guests or answer questions.
- For guild events, invite the Guild Association to be a co-host as well.
- Tag Seattle Children’s in any and all social media posts related to your fundraiser.
- For guild events, tag the Guild Association as well.
- Include photos or videos in posts to increase audience engagement.
- While it can be beneficial to create a Twitter account specifically for a fundraiser, it is often easier to utilize one’s own, existing Twitter account to reach the public when promoting an event.
- Incentivize engagement by offering a small prize to one randomly selected user who retweets a promotional tweet to reach a larger audience.
- Create urgency by adding a deadline to engage, for example, “Retweet by Monday at noon for a chance to win a prize.”
- Tag Seattle Children’s in any tweets you send for a chance to have us reshare your post.
- Use appropriate and related hashtags to further promotion of your fundraiser.
- If you are hoping to make your fundraiser annual, consider creating a specific Instagram account for the fundraiser and developing a unique hashtag.
- Share both pre- and post-event photos for your fundraiser to increase engagement with your audience.
- Be sure to tag Seattle Children’s in any posts or stories.
- It is easier for our Social Media team to reshare your post or story than to create a post from scratch, increasing your chances of being promoted by our team.
Your Technology Plan
A virtual event means communicating with and entertaining your supporters from a distance. Fortunately, there are many different tools available to help you host a live event, engage with your supporters and collect donations. Below are some platforms and best practices to consider.
Livestreaming is the act of recording and broadcasting video simultaneously, without pre-production. Many video software and social media platforms allow for livestreamed video. If you are considering utilizing livestreaming for your virtual event, check out some of our tips and tricks on livestream platforms below.
Once a video is created, it will reside on the page or profile for viewers who missed the live event. Videos are eligible to show up in an individual’s news feed during the live event, as well as after the event has ended. They can be customized and have a controlled audience once the event has ended, meaning your content will only be available to those you choose. Page followers and visitors may get a notification when a page or individual is “going live” and have the ability to comment during and after the stream.
Video chat and voice calls between computers, tablets and mobile devices. Only available for iPhone users, good for one-on-one conversations.
This platform combines chat, video meetings, file storage (including collaboration on files) and application integration. The service integrates with Office 365.
A video-chatting platform that allows for voice calls between computers, tablets and mobile devices.
A livestreaming platform for most gaming fundraisers. It has a comments section for audience engagement and allows viewers to give without leaving the stream. The funds donated to twitch pages must be linked to the streamer's PayPal, meaning the video host would have to transfer any funds made from the fundraiser to Seattle Children’s post-stream.
A user-friendly video service that allows for the video to be viewed after the livestream has ended and has a comment section that allows for audience engagement. YouTube videos are typically capable of being embedded into most web pages or shared easily. This platform also allows you to set up to six camera angles or shots for your event to show or alternate between.
Zoom is a video conferencing tool that provides both video conferencing and screen sharing capabilities.
- Capture card
- LED panels/ring light for high-quality video with great lighting
- Boom mic/lavalier (lapel) mic for hosts
- A wireless HDMI transmitter/receiver to send your livestream in high quality
- Smart phone
Consider researching and implementing one of the supplementary fundraising platforms below for your virtual event! Please note that some of these platforms may require an additional fee to access.
- Seattle Children’s personal fundraising pages
- Greater Giving
- Active Network
- Add a polling app or offer a Q&A chat during your fundraiser.
- Create small breakout sessions or chat rooms to re-create the connections that are typically enjoyed at in-person events.
- Allow your hosts to answer questions from the audience.
Preparing for Your Event
Every virtual event is different, but pre-event preparation is key whether you are hosting a virtual 5k or a virtual game night. Below are some tips for smooth sailing.
- Create an outline of your event. Pre-event preparation should be more comprehensive than for typical events. Provide a very clear sense of the order of talking points, who will take the lead in subject matter of audience questions, etc.
- Rehearse live elements with speakers, guests or emcees.
- Introduce your hosts (if you have a separate auctioneer and host) to ensure a positive donor experience.
- Edit and produce some elements ahead of time. Some pre-production edits can even make your event seem live.
- Professional editing and production can require expertise and be an additional expense. For Seattle Children’s recommended production specialists for your virtual event, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Guild members, email email@example.com.
- Log into your platform(s) at least 30 minutes early.
- Create a buffer for guests to see as they log onto the event. This can include an image or logo and would ideally include a countdown clock or graphic that shares your official start time, for example, “we’ll be starting at 7 p.m. Pacific time,” and music or audio so that guests can be reassured that their volume is working correctly.
- If interaction is a primary objective, consider a smaller audience size (15 or less) to foster a more intimate setting. If small enough, take the time for introductions.
- Headset use is encouraged: Headsets often have a built-in microphone, which can ensure high-quality audio for when you are speaking and cut out background noise.
- Lighting is important: Light can play a major role in how others are seeing you. Make sure the light source is not behind you and your room is well lit.
- Background is visible: When joining from home, background is important, as others can see what is happening. Choose a spot with a neutral background which doesn’t distract your participants.
- Quiet location is important: Try to avoid noisy common areas. Instead, join from a quiet location whenever possible.
- Camera angle: By using self-view, you can test the angle of your camera and position yourself. Look into the camera lens while talking to make eye contact with your audience.
- Mute button: Keep your microphone muted whenever you are not speaking. Additionally, mute all attendees of your virtual stream.
- Speed test: Check your connectivity strength by performing a speed test. There are many websites which can help, like Fast.com. We suggest having more than 1024 Kbps (1Mbps) bandwidth to support HD resolution meetings.
- WiFi: If using WiFi, make sure your signal is strong, and stay as close as possible to the WiFi access point. A wired/ethernet cable is preferable, when possible, as it offers a more stable connection.
- Laptop battery: For laptops, make sure your computer isn’t in a low-battery state. Plug in the power cord and, if using Windows, change your power settings to “high performance.”
- Limit household bandwidth: Try to avoid having other activities competing for internet use at the same time as your virtual meeting – for instance, if you have quality issues, ask others in the household to refrain from watching streaming videos, downloading files or playing online games during your meeting.
Keeping Your Audience Engaged
We know there is a lot to consider when hosting a virtual fundraiser and we are so grateful for your support! When in doubt, remember these key tips:
- Incorporate video into your event to create a visual variety.
- Add music to amplify the energy of your event.
- Include a chat feature or message board and ask your host or auctioneer to connect with guests through the chat or message board.
- Consider delivering custom cookies or appetizers to attendees prior to your event. A small gesture can make a lasting impression on your supporters!
- Keep it short and sweet! You will be more likely to maintain a donor’s attention if your event is less than an hour.
- As a fundraiser for a children’s hospital, consider inviting a child to co-host your event or provide them a role in your event, such as giving instructions on how to bid or donate.
Additional Resources for Guild Members
Classy is Seattle Children’s internal virtual fundraising software of choice. The software can host a variety of events, from a simple donation page to a ticketed event with a peer-to-peer fundraising component and live streaming. Learn more about the types of fundraising pages Classy can offer below, and if you think your guild would benefit and be a good fit for a Classy page, connect with the Guild Association to learn more about having a page created for your event!
There are five different campaign types on Classy. Choosing one depends on your specific goals.
Crowdfunding campaigns invite people to make a donation. But before people see a donation page, they see a landing page. On this page, you can use media and text to show the impact of donations. Doing so helps people understand and become supporters of your cause.
Crowdfunding platforms are best for story-driven campaigns, or campaigns that are set to run for a specific length of time (e.g., one month or a few weeks.) They are a great way to create a sense of urgency with your target audience.
A donation page is a checkout form where supporters can submit donations. You can create a standalone donation page to use as your main donation form. Then you can link to the page from a donation button or social media, or email it to gather gifts.
Peer-to-Peer campaigns allow supporters to fundraise on your behalf. On your campaign page, supporters can set up personal or team fundraising pages. Then, they can ask family and friends for donations that go to your nonprofit.
Peer-to-Peer campaigns are a great way to expand your network of supporters. They also empower supporters who want to get more involved with your cause. Supporters can also submit a direct donation rather than setting up a fundraising page. That way, people can still give to your cause even if they don’t want to set up a page.
Registration With Fundraising
Registration With Fundraising campaigns combine Peer-to-Peer campaigns and Ticketed Events. Supporters still pay to attend your event, but they also set up personal or team fundraising pages. This allows supporters to ask family and friends for donations before or during your event.
Registration With Fundraising campaigns are great if you’re ready for more advanced fundraising events. They work well with events like marathons, walks and dance-a-thons.
Ticketed Events allow you to sell tickets to fundraising events. No matter what type of event you host, you control the number and types of tickets you offer. You can even create promo codes to attract even more attendees.
Hosting a Ticketed Event is a great way to engage current supporters and attract new ones. It also allows you to gain some face-to-face time with those who support your cause. It’s also available for those who cannot attend your event but want to contribute.
Streaming platforms supported by Classy pages
- Facebook Live
Recommended Classy campaigns by event type
- Endurance event: Peer-to-Peer + outright, run as a registration event.
- Party/gala/cocktail party: Peer-to-Peer + Registration Page, run as a registration event, could include a live/pre-recorded video component.
- Game night: Peer-to-Peer page (individual or team page).
- Auction: Classy crowdfunding campaign + video component to link to live/pre-recorded auction, but would need outside auction software such as Greater Giving.
- Concert: Classy crowdfunding campaign, paired with streaming software, e.g., Vimeo, Twitch, Facebook, etc.
Concluding Your Fundraiser
Congratulations! You have successfully held a fundraiser for Seattle Children’s. Now that your event or promotion is over, here are some next steps:
We love to hear about community fundraiser’s events and promotions! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 206-987-2153 at the conclusion of your fundraiser so we can begin the event or promotion reconciliation process. If you are a guild member, contact us at email@example.com.
While we’re sure your donors or sponsors were thanked throughout the duration of your event or promotion, we recommend another thank-you at your event or promotion’s end as well. This allows your donors to share in the success of your fundraiser and will encourage them to participate again!
There are many ways Seattle Children’s can receive funds, but our preferred method is via check. Checks can be mailed to our office at:
Seattle Children’s Hospital
Attn: Community Events and Programs
PO Box 5371
Seattle, WA 98145-5005
You worked hard on your event or promotion, so why not share the positive impact you’ve made with your community? Be sure to tag us in your post for potential promotion and use #CommunityFundraiser.
Want to host your event or promotion again next year? There's no time like the present to begin planning! We are happy to help grow your fundraiser into an annual event.