Sunday, April 11, 2021
Public Relations

Virtual events – a lifeline for charities during lockdown

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How do you fundraise for charity in times like these?

With park fairs, church fetes, tombola stalls and social challenges like marathons out of the question, what can we do to give much-needed help to the disabled, abandoned pets, children’s hospitals and many more?

According to GivenGain, a world leader in online fundraising for charity founded by two South Africans, the answer is simple – go virtual.

“Fundraising around events is the lifeblood of charities around the world,” says Jannie Smith, GivenGain Regional Manager, SA and Sub-Saharan Africa.

“But when we can’t have physical mass events, there’s still an opportunity to do it online. Many events have shown the way in going virtual and making use of online fundraising.”

Innovative initiatives

The Internet has in fact opened up huge opportunities for non-profits – pandemic or no pandemic, and GivenGain has been there from the start.

Since 2001, this platform has assisted donors and fundraisers in 194 countries to support the work of charities in 70 countries, by starting online fundraising projects for any charity registered on GivenGain, anywhere in the world.

Whether individually, as a team or as part of an event, GivenGain lets anyone fundraise for a charity of charities of their choice, says Smith.

Virtual events

He says events are scrambling to get on board the virtual bandwagon.

“With no public events being possible, a significant source of funding for charities disappeared overnight, and many charities faced having to close their doors. That’s when events, private individuals, groups and celebrities went virtual to support good causes.”

Iconic events that have used GivenGain to continue their fundraising in 2020 include the Detroit Free Press/TCF Bank Marathon, which raised US$666,921 in 2020, the VIRTUAL Women’s Mini Marathon in Ireland, raising €523,510, and the South African Sanlam Cape Town Virtual Marathon, which raised nearly one million Rand (£48 000).

Of course, virtual events won’t replace real-world events completely. Organisers will welcome the opportunity to resume mass participation events, but the past year has shown the sector just how effective online fundraising models are at sustaining fundraising.

For many events, if is a chance to spread the net wider to more entrants and fundraisers globally.

And don’t just think of event as sports gatherings either. Next-generation fundraising will make use equally of marathons and cycle races, live-streamed concerts, online gaming events and social media donation drives, giving fundraisers more options, donors more ways to give and charities more income.

The African challenge

It’s easy to see why online crowdfunding could be an effective force for good in South Africa – which was hit the hardest of all African nations by COVID-19.

“Whether you’re a charity or a supporter, all you need is an Internet connection to get started. Crowdfunding from the GivenGain website, which got about 38 000 unique visitors in February, is a great platform to draw attention to your cause,” says Smith.

It’s really quick to get started”, he adds. “A new fundraiser on GivenGain can be up and running with a fundraising project within three minutes”.

Smith says the average fundraiser on GivenGain gets 20 donations of R375 each, raising an average of R7,500 each time they run a fundraising project.

GivenGain offers free fundraising tips and advice on e-mail and the GivenGain blog (blog.givengain.com), as well as a complete set of FAQs on support.givengain.com.

Looking ahead

“Virtual events won’t go away, nor need they replace physical events when COVID disappears,” concludes Smith.

“In fact, they can augment each other, spreading the attraction for events wider than just local participants. And if fundraising is part of the virtual event, it can help event organisers win global philanthropic support for the charities they benefit as part of the event.”

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