Webinar Recap: The Social Guide to Modern Event Fundraising

on October 04, 2018

Didn’t have a chance to catch our webinar The Social Guide to Modern Event Fundraising? Not to worry, we’ve got you covered.

Fundraising has always been an inherently social thing. And fundraising events are no different. That’s why our very own Tre Mascola and Jess Herndon recently hosted a webinar sharing how to incorporate the social aspects into your nonprofit fundraising events.

Watch and listen as they share the most powerful ways you can amplify your next event by adding social fundraising. They’ll also talk to nonprofit experts from Experience Camps, the Pat Tillman Foundation, ROMP, and more to gain insights into the social aspect of their own fundraising programs.

Watch the video of our webinar, The Social Guide to Modern Event Fundraising:


We want to change the way nonprofits are thinking about their events. And by finding opportunities to add social fundraising, we’re confident your next fundraising event will have better engagement, reach more supporters, and raise more money. Here are insights from 8 nonprofit experts to share how they’ve added social fundraising to their fundraising programs.

Let your supporters voices act as a megaphone for your cause

If you haven't heard by now, or haven't seen any of the reports, social shares carry a very real value for nonprofits, so having your event supporters share will add directly to your events. There are three key places that we like to think about for sharing optimization. One is just on the event page, the second is after a ticket is purchased or a registration's completed, and, perhaps the most important one, is immediately following a donation.

Here’s what Sarah from Experience Camps had to say about the success they've had in empowering their supporters to share their own stories:


“CrowdRise is such a great vehicle for us because it allows people to connect to the real stories of the people who are asking them to give. They feel good about connecting to our cause, but they feel good about it because they're helping a friend who might have lost their dad or a mom or a sister or a brother, and they might have not even known that. So, all of a sudden, there is this even deeper level of connection to somebody that they may not have known that well or might know a little bit or might know really well but didn't know that part of their story. It just builds those bridges to individual people that, I think, creates a really strong network, and a really strong chain of support that keeps this going.”

Sarah, Experience Camps

Get creative with ticket types

People come to your events for a reason, so you want to think about what can you sell or give away for free in your event registration that will encourage people to be more social. Discounted group tickets are an obvious one. Maybe giving them a dollar off their registration if they commit to sharing on all their social media platforms. T-shirts when they're done well, they can really create an amazing awareness opportunity. We like to make branded shirts available only to fundraisers who achieve a certain level of fundraising. We think that's a really cool way to let them wear that shirt to the event, give them some notoriety, showcase what they're doing, and hopefully build hype for next year so that people can continue to grow on the program.

Here’s what Michael from Wolverine Human Services had to say about leveraging all the social ticket types in the world:


“We want to give our donors, our stakeholders, and golfers tons of options to participate within our golf outing, and we know that's not just a basic ticket. However, we do offer the single ticket. We also offer our foursome, or group ticket. Then we also offer our group tickets with sponsorship packages. So we have outlined not only the ability to sponsor the entire event, but the ability to purchase a hole sponsorship and have your group featured with and throughout the event as well.”

“There are three levels of sponsorship on there, and those sponsorships, once again, are conformed to all our donors. Some people would be afraid to put a $5,000 sponsorship or a $10,000 sponsorship on there because they don't think any donors would ever have the means or the ability to do that. Our donors have the means to do that, but more importantly, they understand that CrowdRise is a safe and secure platform to do it on. We're super pumped to be able to offer every single type of ticket, as well as every type of sponsorship on there, and it's all be extremely easily managed through the CrowdRise platform and then draw all that data back into our Salesforce, as well.”

- Michael, Wolverine Human Services

Use fundraising minimums for entry

Fundraising, instead of purchasing entry, is something that we always, always encourage partners to check out. With fundraising minimums, you can hold people accountable for the commitments that they're making. The best part about this is that most fundraisers go above their minimum. So even when asked to raise $100 for entry, most of them will go above and beyond that, so that the charity ultimately ends up raising more money than had they just asked for a donation or had they just asked for a ticket sale.

Here’s what Dani from BvB Dallas had to say about their annual Powder-Puff tournament, and how they use fundraising minimums for entry into their events.


“We really hold everyone responsible for what they come out there for. And we will never let someone fail at it. We have actually never had someone not be game day eligible in our organization, and we are very proud of that. We raise our goal numbers every year. I think when I started, I had to raise an even $1,000, and now we’re up to raising $1,300 per person. Before me, it was like, "Okay. You just have to hit $500 in the season." But with every year, the increase it's really important for everyone to know that we're behind them. You are responsible for this amount, but you're not doing it alone. So we kind of put that in the contract and then of course working with them on their pages.”

- Dani, BvBDallas

Dani has done a great job of growing that program. As your community and your supporters become more and more familiar with this sort of fundraising mechanism, you'll see some natural increases in growth in how successful they are. And the more you're able to support them and motivate them throughout, obviously, the more successful and the faster you'll see that growth.

Create engagement with contests and incentives

For us, it really is all about making giving back fun. Having fundraisers be in teams allows for more encouragement and it allows for friendly competition, and really, that's perfect for events where people who are naturally grouped, like a Powder Puff football game, or golf outing. With team leaderboards, you can showcase high raisers so that they get the call out they deserve, and create that friendly competition that we've talked about for the top spots.

You can also offer incentives for can't buy items that are more of an experience, like sitting at the high-raisers table at an event, or being part of a top-level fundraisers club of “change makers.” Now you're really building that brand and that passion around fundraising throughout the year, as well.

Listen to what Ellen from the Pat Tillman Foundation had to say about leveraging contests to motivate fundraisers.


“This year, we offered a promotion where, after the lottery closed, any current team funder runner, alumni team runner, or anyone they referred, we would pick up their registration fees for the Chicago marathon, and we would give them one of our automatic spots. These folks are kind of already vetted, so we're not as concerned about how they're going to be as a team member. Also, they've already kind of bought into who we are and what we do. They're actually running for us because of who we are.”

- Ellen, Pat Tillman Foundation

Leverage your volunteer supporters

We want to talk now a little bit about social volunteer engagements. Volunteers are obviously great and the life blood of some of these organizations, but we want to make sure that we're not limiting how they can help. When you have an event, are we asking them to register online just like they were a participant? This will provide us with more social share opportunities. Or we could even offer a special ticket, like we talked about a little bit earlier.

Lauren, or LP, from the Range of Motion Project was one of our very first partners at CrowdRise. The first year that they used CrowdRise was also the inaugural year for their Climbing for ROMP event in 2015. They've seen massive year over year growth, and have done a great job of really relying on their event participants and volunteers to drive that participation the following year. They allow their participants to organize their own satellite events in addition to the main flagship event. They've seen crazy success. Here’s what Lauren had to say about their program.


“We offered seven volunteer programs this year to Guatemala and Ecuador. It's $1,500 dollars for a 10 day trip, but that includes everything: food, transportation, lodging, etc. It's a pretty good price, but it's a lot of students that are looking to come down, and that's a pretty hefty cost for a student that's already paying for school. Giving them the option to fundraise their trip fee has changed our programs. We're getting a lot more enrollment because it's an easy sell for them to be like, “I'm a physical therapy student” or “I'm a prosthetics student, and I'm going to Guatemala in August to help in this clinic. Will you donate to my trip?” It's been super successful too, so we raised a ton of money that way for our volunteer program.”

- Lauren, Range of Motion Project

Build momentum with authentic communication

Communication is key to keeping supporters going throughout the fundraising portion of your event, and there's a couple ways you can build momentum through communication. One is to simply start the conversation. Welcome them to the team. Remind them of the value that they're bringing to the organization simply by lending their voice. Congratulate them on reaching milestones, and try and congratulate them with messaging that they'll actually share with their friends and post about.

CrowdRise by GoFundMe users on particular plans can also send email check-ins to fundraisers at different progress points. So if somebody has a thousand dollar fundraising goal, they're going to receive an automatic message in their email, as well as in their activity feed on the platform, that says, "Great. You hit 50% today. Go send a message to all your donors and thank them for all their help." You can also send them tips that help ensure they meet their goals, or set fundraising minimums.

Going back to Dani from BvB Dallas, here’s how her team acknowledges fundraising milestones to build their exclusive community.


“When it comes to pushing our participants, I'm an advocate of just being a cheerleader for them. Every time they raise a certain amount, and I'm on the page, and I notice they've hit $500, that's a big deal. And I'm going to cheer lead them for it. If you hit a $1,000, that's even bigger, especially if you hit game day eligibility.”

“We hear so often, that, ‘Oh my gosh, I don't think that I can hit $1,300 in 10 weeks. That's impossible. That's so discouraging, I can't do it.’ And, like I said, we have never had someone not do it. And to be able to say that, and then to be able to know that all those people who have come and had that doubt, it gets completely washed away. And usually the people who doubt themselves the most are the ones who hit $7,000 or $10,000. And I love going up to them being like, ‘I'm glad you didn't stop. And I'm glad that you got outside of your box, and you made it happen because that's huge for you.’ So it's just being a cheerleader is my biggest proponent.”

- Dani, BvB Dallas

Use the social dynamic and add SMS

Let’s talk about social dynamic of adding SMS or texting to your event, because I think that could be really, really important. People are always on their phones, even at your events, even when you don't want them to be, and I think it's time that we use that to our advantage. Text and mobile interactions are super quick. They're easy. They can actually happen in real time at your event. We can get additional donations to help you hit goals. We can have people sign up for recurring memberships. We can even do a donate-to-vote campaign where they can contribute funds to pick who they want in the dunk tank or whatever activities you are doing.

You can also use it just to sell more tickets. Maybe that's sweepstakes and raffles or maybe we're already looking ahead and we can do presales for next month or next year's event.

Check out how Rhona with the Greater Pinebelt Community Foundation is using their text-to-donate tool:


“The text-to-donate option is very appealing to us as a community foundation for several reasons, but one of the main reasons is we do a lot of our communication with our donors, our active donors, through email. We're noticing in our constant contacts of emails that there's more people that aren't opening emails than are.”

“So, for instance, a good rate of opened emails for us, at this point, is 24% to 26% of recipients are opening the emails, and this is the number that's higher than the average, but its still meaning that we have 70-something-percent of our subscribers that aren't opening the emails. So when we started researching, we're noticing that text messages have a much better response rate, and we found that text to donate option with CrowdRise and have been using that for a couple of different campaigns and we are very excited to say that the feedback that we've gotten has been positive.”

“We've sold tickets for Bourbon Celebration, which is one of our big, annual fundraisers by using the text-to-donate feature, and we use the word 'Bourbon,' and it's helped us in that aspect. We've also used it to raise funds for some of our memorial funds that we have at the community foundation, and one of the things that we were a little worried about with text-to-donate and CrowdRise was that people wouldn't feel comfortable to do the donating through their phones, but that didn't seem to be the case. We ran a text-to-donate at the same time that we ran an email campaign, and we were receiving more donations through our text to donate option.”

- Rhonda, Greater Pinebelt Community Foundation

Encourage DIY fundraising for your cause

It's obvious that not everybody will be able to attend your events. But we want to make sure that this doesn't mean they can't get involved, that they can't contribute or be part of the fun in their own way. So, DIY allows these supporters to really create their own events or campaigns to benefit your charity. They can sell their own tickets to dinner, or a barbecue, or bowl-a-thon, or golf event, etc. They can do things like requiring a registration for gathering, a 5k, a small walk, cycling group, or a car club - whatever they're into really.

Again, it's really about empowering these people that are the most committed and the most likely to take advantage of these opportunities to do so.

Here’s what Michael at EB Research Partnerships had to say about one particularly special DIY event for them:


“I think a huge, incredible, amazing, inspiring example for us was Plunge for Elodie, in March of this year. This was two young parents who have a little girl, Elodie, with EB. I think she's one or two years old. And they wanted to do something for EB Research Partnership. Emily, Elodie's mother, is on our board of directors, and they didn't know exactly what they wanted to do. They wanted to give back and do a fundraiser. But they wanted to think outside the box and not do a golf tournament, or a gala, or a wine and cheese party. They wanted to do something fun and meet their community where their community is at, which I think is the best recipe for success when planning your own event. Thinking about how you can use your own skill and network and community to impact the causes that you really care about, and Plunge for Elodie was a perfect example.”

“I think there initial goal was $25,000, maybe $50,000. And before you knew it, every day we would just be donations pouring in on CrowdRise. And they ended up raising over $150,000, which was more than triple their goal. They had no idea they would raise that sort of funding. And I think the biggest part was that you had these really driven event leaders who are so committed to raising funds for a cause they felt so passionately about. But also were very savvy in social media and technology and platform fundraising. So CrowdRise really provided them a tool that they could plug into their already successful model.”

- Michael, EB Research Partnerships

Another great example of a successful DIY event was a supporter organized slow roll, put together by Colby, former Director of Lifestyle at Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Here’s what he had to say about the event:


“I got involved with my own Lifestyle fundraiser this past summer. I have been doing a ride through New York City for the past four years that I call the ‘Slow Roll.’ Basically it's the least serious bike ride you could ever go on. You're on super casual bikes, going maybe six, seven miles an hour, and it's all about stopping at restaurants, beautiful parts of the city, and just experiencing a 30 mile ride that has no time cut and no official apparel or race bikes by any stretch.”

“This past year, I decided to turn it into a fundraiser, and I was fortunate enough to get two rides together with roughly 30 people between them, and was able to raise close to $3,000 across those rides. I think the most endearing part for me is a lot of coworkers, friends, and family came out for it. Just hearing from folks, ‘I'm doing this because my mom's not here anymore.’ I think what's really fun with getting involved with your own fundraising campaign, whatever it might be, is the stories come out of nowhere. It just really hits home in a way that's not expected. So the ability to kinda live what I do, but then also get in touch with folks and hear a side of them that if we hadn't done that ride, there's no way I could have possibly known that. It was a really special experience for me.”

Colby, former Director of Lifestyle at Leukemia and Lymphoma Society


Thanks so much to all of our nonprofit partners for giving us their incredible stories and wisdom about getting social with their fundraising events.

Gary Wohlfeill

Gary Wohlfeill is the Director of Marketing at CrowdRise. He works with partners to develop highly engaging fundraising campaigns, and leads the marketing team in developing the CrowdRise brand. Gary has been named as having the “3rd best haircut of people under 6 feet tall at CrowdRise" and hopes one day to slip to 4th.