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How To Host A Successful Online Fundraiser

Author: Adie M.
NPO team working on an online fundraiser

In recent years, online fundraisers have been a popular avenue for raising money, both for donors and nonprofits. And four years since the COVID-19 pandemic moved us all online, this trend shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon. 

Whether you use crowdfunding, peer-to-peer fundraising, or any other virtual method, there is an audience waiting to engage with a digital fundraising program.

However, getting started with online fundraising can seem quite confusing, especially if your nonprofit isn’t too savvy on the tech side. In this article, we will guide you on how to host a successful digital campaign to raise money for your cause in just eight steps.

8 Steps To Host An Online Fundraiser

Thankfully, an online fundraiser won’t have all the same logistics as a physical event. It can often be the easier option to oversee. However, there are a few basics that you have to cover.

Here are eight steps to help you ensure you have a seamless virtual experience for your donors.

1. Establish Your Goals

Before getting into the details of your event coordination, start by setting your goals. Figure out what you want to achieve. Of course, the primary goal of any fundraiser will be to raise money. However, you can have goals adjacent to this like increasing brand awareness, getting more volunteers, or putting a spotlight on your cause.

Whatever they are, this step will help you keep them in the forefront of your campaign and make decisions that help you achieve them.

2. Choose An Online Fundraiser Type

With your goals in hand, you can choose a fundraising option to help you meet them. Here, there are many existing options to choose from. Some of the kinds of fundraisers you can go for include:

  • A virtual auction
  • Paid webinars/ masterclasses
  • An online gaming or trivia event
  • Crowdfunding
  • Peer-to-peer programs
  • Live streamed walkathons
  • Donation matching
  • Digital workshops
  • Merchandise shops

You can select an option that suits you from any of the ones above or do your own research to find a fundraiser that works for you. However, you can also get creative and come up with a model that is entirely your own.

3. Create An Event Checklist

Once you’ve determined the kind of fundraiser you want to host, it will make it easier to start consolidating logistics. What resources will you need to make the event a success? To help you keep track of and start bringing together the things you need, make a checklist. Items you can add to your list include:

  • Fundraiser committee
  • Invitations & promotional items
  • Auction items (if a virtual auction)
  • Images
  • Software
  • Marketing materials
  • Promotions strategy

This list will also help you stay on top of your budget, tracking the cost of each item as you progress.

three people sitting in front of laptop

4. Outline A Timeline

Unlike in-person fundraisers which can have a limited time span (usually the day of the event), an online fundraiser can run for extended periods. How long you can [extend] yours will depend on your resources and goals. 

Crowdfunding, for example, can go on for as long as you need to, until you reach your goal. However, options like a silent auction may lose their steam and appeal to donors if they’re open for too long.

Determine a timeline for your campaign, right from deadlines for finalizing the items on your resource checklist to the end of the fundraiser. This will help you monitor your progress and organize elements like marketing that you need to sustain throughout the campaign.

5. Determine Your Software Needs

Every online fundraiser has a specific type of software that it needs. Some, like Zoom for webinars, or social media platforms for live streams may be free to access. However, if you’re running something like a virtual silent auction you may need tailored software.

At BiddingOwl, we’ve got comprehensive auction software that you can use for several virtual events. You can adapt it to different virtual events including silent auctions or other charity auction types. It also offers features such as ticketing, donation management, proxy bidding, watchlists, and more. An efficient software system will help you handle the technical aspects of your fundraiser with ease. 

6. Ensure You Have Effective Payment Options

Having an efficient and functional payment portal is a must. Donors want convenience and immediacy when it comes to making payments. If there is too much hassle for them to give money or make bids, they may give up.

Make sure you have versatile payment options that are convenient and easy to use. The easier the process, the more likely they are to move all the way to checkout.

Our auction software supports Stripe and PayPal integration, refunds, all currencies, and other payment requirements.

7. Test Your Event

At this point, you’ve got all the pieces of your online fundraiser in place. Before going live with it, do a test run. 

Ensure your tech does everything you need it to and works from various platforms. Have people try and participate from a distance and use different devices. 

Also, try and test out different scenarios of issues that could come. Have troubleshoot plans and assign roles to different team members to solve them.

8. Market The Fundraiser

Finally, you can share your online fundraiser with the public. Start building hype around your event. Share the date, time, and other details on social media, your website, and other digital platforms. Send information to your existing network via email. Ask your donors, staff members, and other contacts to spread the word.

The more people that know about your online fundraiser, the greater the numbers you can attract to participate.

Read 6 Best Fundraiser Marketing Tips And Strategies to help you put together a brilliant promotional plan.

NPO team at laptop


Learning how to raise funds online is a necessary nonprofit skill in today’s charity landscape. Many potential donors and supporters spend much of their time online. 

Bring your fundraising campaign online with these nine steps to connect with audiences all over the world. Once you’ve done it the first time, it will be a skill you can keep in your charity back pocket for years to come.