A UK report on virtual fundraising performance during the pandemic has launched, shining a light on opportunities for charities, and the key determiners of campaign success.
The Virtual Fundraising Monitor, a research report by mass participation agency massive and created in partnership with JustGiving, examines data shared from 150 virtual fundraising events delivered in the UK by charities including British Red Cross, Breast Cancer Now, and Alzheimer’s Society since lockdown began, along with publicly available figures. It reveals which activities, from running to walking, and cycling, have been most popular, how they have performed in terms of income and participant numbers, and what makes a virtual event a success, as well as offering insight and guidance to help charities with their own campaigns in the virtual arena.
Of the 150 campaigns, 45% were new events launched in response to the pandemic, with the remainder adaptations or developments of campaigns already planned.
Analysing their performance, the research identified a number of key determiners of success, with guidance for running virtual events including:
– Events with clear and simple asks do better: clear and simple asks, like the MS Society’s 100K Your Way which asked people to run, walk, or cycle 100km typically recruit 40% more participants and report higher fundraising levels than those that leave it to their supporters to decide how they would like to raise funds.
– Stand out comes from your cause: A clear ask is critical but connecting your event to your cause also significantly and positively impacts success. British Red Cross’s Miles for Refugees, for example, sees fundraisers pick a distance to aim for over a month, which represents a part of the journey a refugee would make to reach safety. This event went from raising £27,000 in year one to £2m in year four with over 7,000 sign ups.
– People need opportunities to connect, even virtually: whether they’re virtual or not, events work because they bring people together through shared experiences. Online touchpoints such as Facebook groups or Strava clubs, that let people share their experiences, are one of the most valuable engagement tactics for helping virtual events succeed in terms of supporter experience and money raised. Breast Cancer Now for example sets up Facebook groups for all of its fundraising challenges, and its June Walk 300,000 Step Challenge saw more than 4,000 people join its Facebook group for this event.
– Virtual events still need marketing: allocating budget for this, as well as for building the virtual event, plays a key role in determining success. Research by JustGiving cited in the report also backs this up, finding that charities with event plans looking two to five years ahead were more likely to report stable or income growth than those with just one-year plans.
– There is opportunity for every charity: with people’s daily lives changing significantly during the pandemic, many have found themselves with the opportunity to try new activities, establish better habits or create space to think about causes and the way they live their lives. This creates opportunities for charities, as does the removal of many of the barriers to entry typically experienced by smaller charities with physical events.
Commenting on the report, Sally Falvey, Head of Corporate Marketing at JustGiving said:
“The Virtual Fundraising Monitor shines a light on the incredible wave of creativity and innovation that has been unlocked in the charity sector this year in response to COVID-19, and the dramatic acceleration we’ve seen at JustGiving in the number of charities launching virtual events.”
“It’s reassuring to see that the report reveals that some of the bedrocks of event fundraising remain the same – we don’t have to throw out the entire rule book just yet, but there are emerging trends and differences shared that will help all charities benchmark their virtual events performance as they continue to adapt their fundraising.”