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What to Do if Your Fundraising Event is Cancelled Due to Coronavirus


If you are like many of our MobileCause nonprofit clients, your spring fundraising event planning was going great. Everything was falling into place, sponsors were lined up, tickets were already being sold, supporters were excited, and then…. Coronavirus.

Your spring fundraising event is suddenly cancelled, postponed or in limbo.

Things are now scary, confusing, stressful and chaotic. And we’re only talking about your fundraising event!

If this is you and you are wondering, “What do I do now?” here are some strategies that will enable you to raise money, even if your fundraising event was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

What to Do if Your Fundraising Event is Cancelled Due to Coronavirus

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1. Make it a Virtual Fundraising Event

Continue to hold an “event,” simply make it a virtual one. Have some fun with it. Tell supporters they don’t have to get dressed up, drive across town, or worry about what’s being served. They can ‘come’ in their sweats or jammies, make and enjoy their favorite meal and have a front row seat to watch the gala or luncheon.

Live stream your virtual event on Facebook Live or YouTube and broadcast it through your event page. By using your event page to share the live stream, you have your impact metrics, donation link and information about your organization all front and center. By live streaming you can still give your planned presentations, show videos, and present awards and keynotes. You’ll want to continue to use text-to-donate, and just like at a live event, remind the audience multiple times throughout the virtual event to donate. Display the event thermometer and donor wall on your event page so everyone can see the progress toward your fundraising goal and donors continue to be recognized.

Pro Tip: If you have already sold tickets to the event, don’t assume you need to give an immediate refund. Ask your guests if they would like their ticket purchases to be considered a donation, with the applicable tax benefits that come with a monetary donation.

2. Create a Day of Giving

Keep the date of your fundraising event and pivot it into a dedicated day of giving. Let supporters know that rather than celebrating your org for a few hours at a gala, you are now going to take 24 hours to recognize and honor all the great work you’ve been doing. Tell supporters that rather than bringing friends to the fundraising event, they can help spread the word by sharing the day of giving and bring in new donors.

Create a dedicated day of giving campaign and drive all campaign promotion to the event page, a dedicated web page that acts as the central hub with links to all forms and pages of your campaign. Include a countdown clock on the event page so donors know there is a finite amount of time to donate. If there were sponsors already secured for your fundraising event, they can also be sponsors of the day of giving and be showcased on the on the event page with links to their website.

3. Establish a P2P Challenge

If you were planning a gala or luncheon, you likely enlisted table captains to help bring in attendees. Continue using these dedicated supporters by making them Ambassadors in a peer-to-peer fundraising challenge. Rather than have them fill tables, challenge them to fundraise the equivalent amount.

Enable Ambassadors to set up a dedicated peer-to-peer fundraising page with pictures and stories of their involvement with your organization. Provide them a unique keyword and shortcode for easy (and remote) donation collection. Give them templates, images and powerful stories they can share on social media and via email to help drive traffic to their fundraising page. Create a different challenge every week and reward the winner with fun and inexpensive prizes for the most raised, biggest increase week-over-week, highest number of new donors, and most social media posting.

Need more assistance transitioning your live fundraising event into a virtual one? Join our live webinar on Wednesday, 3/18:
How to Increase Attendance at Your Next Fundraising Event (Live or Virtual)

What to do if Your Fundraising Event is Postponed Due to Coronavirus

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If your fundraising event is not cancelled but rather postponed as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, here are a few tips:

Communicate in real-time that your plans are changing and keep supporters in the know of what’s happening. Email is good, text message is better. There are a lot of coronavirus emails being sent these days and already-low email open rates are dropping. With text message you have an extremely high open rate, 90% of all text messages are read within 3 minutes of being received, and people are glued to their mobile devices now more than ever.

Don’t have the contact information you need to keep in contact with supporters? Create an online form to capture the relevant information of your event registrants so you can keep them up-to-date as your fundraising event plans evolve.

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Whether your fundraising event was cancelled or postponed, here are some final tips that are germ and virus-free and will help you have an effective virtual fundraiser with no social distancing required! 

Virtual Event and Campaign Tips

  • Drive campaign promotion to an event page with all information and desired actions
  • Set up text-to-donate so donors can give anytime, anywhere, from any device
  • Display a campaign thermometer to show your progress
  • Share a donor wall to acknowledge supporters
  • Live stream the campaign with updates and achievements to keep engagement
  • Use mobile messaging for real-time communication with supporters and volunteers

If you need additional assistance creating a virtual fundraising event or campaign, or assistance transitioning your live event into a virtual one, the Digital Fundraising Strategists of MobileCause have been guiding, advising and helping nonprofits setup and promote their fundraising events. We can help you too.

VP, Digital Fundraising Services



Our goal at MobileCause is to help nonprofit organizations create and manage successful digital fundraising campaigns, raise more money and retain donors longer. Request a free demo with one of our fundraising experts to learn, step by step, how MobileCause can simply help set up your campaigns while transforming your results.

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