5 Virtual Fundraising Event Ideas for Schools & Universities
By Gabbi Tiangco April 28, 2022
twitter facebook email instagram

What is a virtual fundraiser?

Over the last 2 years, the typical 5k run, bake sale or gala had to be foregone and virtual fundraisers emerged. Virtual fundraisers are online fundraising events that gather people together online using technology such as event software, video streaming, and donation platforms.

However, virtual fundraisers are not just alternatives or replacements to in-person events. Despite the struggle faced by this loss, virtual events have proven to be even more efficient, providing more accessibility to a wider audience, decreased overhead costs, and less logistical planning.

Why are virtual fundraisers important for schools and universities?

Raising money can be uncomfortable, but for college students it is essential to be able to run operations and programming. And for certain organizations where philanthropy is at its core, producing fresh ideas year after year can get tiring and repetitive. The emergence of virtual fundraisers allows for new and innovative ways to reframe classic fundraisers by adding new layers of creativity. Whether your campus is back to being fully in person, navigating hybrid methods or still virtual, the beauty of a virtual fundraiser is that it allows ANYONE to contribute to your initiative.  

How do you create a successful virtual fundraiser?

Brainstorm a creative event idea fit for your audience 

Before anything else, you'll need to decide who your audience is and what event format will best fit their needs. Take into consideration where they will be attending, their ability to adapt to technology, which elements of the event will be most important and engaging for them, and what about the activity will get them to donate. With virtual fatigue, the more unique and participative the event can be, the better! 

Select event tools and platforms that will maximize your fundraising goals

By now you've probably already heard of a myriad of different event platforms and streaming tools. With so many solid options out there, narrowing down the selection can be overwhelming. But this process can be made simple by asking the following telling questions:  

  • Can I customize the features to my specific brand needs? 
  • What features do I need for my event to be a success? 
  • How easy will it be for my team to set the event up, and for attendees to onboard? 
  • Is the attendee experience engaging? 
  • What integrations might I need, and do they have any partners that will make planning convenient? 
  • What does the platform cost? 

The last question is one of the hurdles non-profits and organizations find most difficult, especially for fundraisers. However, several event tools (like Cadence 😉) have special discounts for non-profits and educational institutions! Choosing the right event platform relates directly to the next step—landing your sponsors.  

Utilize your alumni and personal network to secure sponsors

When finding sponsors for your virtual fundraiser, it's vital to present them with a lucrative opportunity where the value of the package you're offering is clear. Access to your audience is one of the most important, if not the most important, needs you will have to provide for them.  

That being said, making clear who your audience is will matter more to your sponsors than the event type. With the right platform, high sponsorship visibility and access to your attendees will be key features that can easily score you a variety of different sponsors. So, tap into your alumni offices to see how to maximize the tools they have to put you in front of deep pocketed alumni!  

Take advantage of all your marketing channels to promote your event

In publicizing your event, organization is your best friend. Set a content schedule for each email and social media post that will be released leading up to your event. Have your team members share the posts on their personal LinkedIn pages, post the event promo on FB groups, personally email people in your network that you think would be a great fit, etc. Get as many eyes as possible on the event out there, emphasize the cause that they are supporting and provide the relevant information to be easily accessible by your target audience.  

Lastly, provide simple alternative ways for them to donate if they cannot attend the event.  

Conduct a run-through before launch 

While there is less logistics and physical labor involved with setting up a virtual event, the pre-preparation is a different ball game in and of itself. You'll want to do a rehearsal of sorts with a dedicated team entrusted to make sure that things run smoothly on the day itself. These people need to be natives of the technology you're using; testing out the links and platform features, learning about common issues that might arise and how to trouble shoot them, etc.  

One of the best ways to prepare is to have team members enter the event as if they were attendees and mark the show flow from start to finish.  

You have the steps, and now the planning truly begins. But don't worry! Here are five fundraising ideas to help get you started:  

5 Virtual Fundraising Ideas


1. Paint and Sip

Paint and sip parties aren't revolutionary, but they are a fun and easy activity to turn virtual. Put your own unique spin on the activity by partnering with a cool, local artist or favorite faculty member to lead the demonstration online. Run a double header and have a mixologist join the party so your guests can start by learning how to make a cocktail, which they can then sip on while painting afterwards! You can send the ingredients and materials ahead of time as part of the package. For under 21 fun, the beverages can easily be made liquor free too—no problem.


2. A Dessert Tasting Around the World

As one of our favorite sayings goes, there's always room for dessert! Dessert might be one of the few universal things that everyone can agree on. Some prefer scoops of ice cream, others fancy a slice of pie, and many will gobble up a freshly baked cookie. While we may not be able to travel as freely as before, there's no doubt that sweets can make their way to your mouth without a hitch.

What could be a better way to bring people together than sharing in the joy of eating such delicious treats like Filipino Halo-Halo, French Apple Tarte Tatin or Japanese Mochi with some amazing chefs and foodies?


3. Untalented Show

If there's one thing we know for sure, it's that our need for good, escapist entertainment is more dire than ever. With all that is going on in the world, who wouldn't benefit from a good laugh? Talent shows and singing competitions are everywhere, so why not host a show where us average folks can bust out our more uncommon, and maybe even weirder talents that don't usually get as much showtime? 


5. Video Game Tournament

Did you know that Nintendo was one of the companies that surged in demand during the pandemic? Nintendo switches were flying off the shelves with more adults and kids glued to their TV screens playing Mario Kart and Animal Crossing. So, whatever the game of choice may be, you can captivate the competitive spirit in a campus wide competition with a small fee, and then have it livestreamed on your website for people to join in on and watch. Entice people with an awesome grand prize as well, thanks to the kindness of your sponsors of course!

Bring your virtual fundraising ideas to life with Cadence!


Now you'd be happy to know that for all the questions we listed about selecting event tools and platforms that will maximize your fundraising goals, Cadence can give a resounding yes. With our all-in-one platform, you can plan a virtual, hybrid or in-person fundraiser that allows you to:

  • Highlight your sponsors and connect them directly with attendees  
  • Customize your event to your brand's needs  
  • Take advantage of our platform integration with the amazing fundraising platform, Givebutter  
  • Provide an aesthetic event experience that will keep your attendees engaged before, during and after your event all at 50% of our regular license 

Cadence can help you create a successful virtual fundraising event that will save you time, energy, and money all while giving your attendees an unparalleled event experience. Book a personalized demo here.

Gabbi Tiangco
Gabbi Tiangco
Gabbi is a Digital Marketing & Partnerships Manager at Cadence. She loves purposeful branding, gets hyped off of innovative sustainable practices and can survive on cheese alone. Her dream event is a boat-in concert (think drive in movie but with boats during sunset) and she'll never get tired of listening to Seth Rogen’s laugh.
Gabbi is a Digital Marketing & Partnerships Manager at Cadence. She loves purposeful branding, gets hyped off of innovative sustainable practices and can survive on cheese alone. Her dream event is a boat-in concert (think drive in movie but with boats during sunset) and she'll never get tired of listening to Seth Rogen’s laugh.