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  • Fundraising in the time of coronavirus

Our fundraising needs to adapt to the times. There’s no question about it – life as we know it has changed right before our eyes.

We’ve had to adapt our ways of living – canceling holidays we’ve planned for ages, working from home & facing the reality that we have to cook 3 meals a day, giving up on the prospect of loo roll being restocked at our local Tesco or Sainsbury, and the heart-wrenching decision not to visit vulnerable family members & friends.

With the COVID-19 outbreak on everyone’s minds, we may be tempted to postpone or cancel our fundraising challenges & put our donation asks on hold. But we can actually do better for ourselves & the communities we work with who are especially at risk by testing our adaptability, resilience & innovation.

The truth is fundraising in the era of coronavirus is fundraising for the future. A number of charities have already begun moving towards virtual events in recent years in order to mitigate risks and lower costs. And there are no signs that this trend will let up anytime soon.

It’s time to put our digital fundraising & social media skills to the test. It’s time to get creative with how we engage family, friends, colleagues & supporters online. It’s time to inspire hope, positivity, and a sense of community at a time when many are feeling hopeless & afraid.

The keys to the future

How can we make digital fundraising interactive and effective?

Livestreaming is the way to go.

Pop stars are using livestream concerts from home to combat social isolation & engage directly with fans. An animal charity has held a virtual dog show. Drag queens have been putting on digital drag shows. has been running popular Spectacular Quarantine Quizzes. Now it’s your turn. There are a number of platforms to virtually livestream your fundraising challenge & connect with your supporters. The more straightforward live streaming platforms come directly from your social media accounts.

Set up a fundraising page & share it with your supporters during the live stream. On Facebook and Instagram Live, you can even set up a donation feature. Just select as the charity to support.

If you want to integrate your fundraising & streaming in a more high-tech manner, you can host a livestream event using Twitch, Tiltify, and Lightstream.

If you’re looking for a virtual option that is less faff, get people together on a group video chat! Now more than ever, we need to see people’s faces & hear them laugh. Check out these free platforms:

  • Zoom
  • Whereby
  • Google Hangouts
  • Skype
  • WhatsApp

Old school, new strategy

Classic challenge fundraisers can be adapted to the times.

1. Walk, run, or cycle together virtually.

Whether it’s a 10km walk, 5km run, or 10,000 steps-a-day challenge, you can still make your physical fundraising challenge an absolute success.

Check out this example from Mountbatten who’ve moved their ‘Walk the Wight’ challenge to a virtual ‘Walk the Wight your way’. Fundraisers are encouraged to get as creative as possible in clocking in their miles (even at home or in their garden). Or ‘Go the Distance for Bliss’ where you can choose when, where and how to complete the virtual challenge.

To avoid using public transportation & practice proper social distancing, get each team member to devise their own personal route close to home. You can use GoogleMaps which allows your friends to see and edit your maps.
Or encourage your team members to clock in their miles in whatever way works best for them. There are loads of fitness apps that allow you to track & share your progress. Try Strava, a social network for athletes, that allows you to record your activity, share with friends & followers, and leave comments on each other’s activities. Other great platforms are MapMyRun, MapMyWalk, MapMyRide, MapMyHike, or MapMyFitness.

Create a collaborative playlist on Spotify or AppleMusic that everyone can listen to. Let people donate a certain amount & choose a song. Share photos & videos along the way and host an end-of-challenge virtual get-together (or even virtual happy hour).

2. Host a virtual workout challenge.

Boost your endorphins by giving to an important cause and by doing a bit of exercise. Fitness instructors are likely facing a sudden drop in attendance. Some gyms are even moving to hosting livestream at-home workout classes. Reach out to your local HIIT, yoga, or pilates instructor & see if they’ll host a virtual workout challenge to support  Drop us a line if you want us to send you a template letter! Create a Facebook event and invite everyone you know & ask them to donate a specific amount to your fundraising page to take part.

3. Virtual trivia or quiz night

We need to adapt our social lives during the times of social distancing. What better way than by hosting a virtual quiz night from the comfort of your sofa with a glass of wine in hand. Set an “entrance” donation fee, choose a livestreaming platform & invite everyone you know! Try creating a trivia quiz on Kahoot! This video shows you how to host a Kahoot! live over video with participants.

4. Virtual gaming challenge

Charity video gaming events have really taken off in recent years. Check out all these charity live streams on Twitch! Make it a 24 video gaming marathon & get together all of your video-gaming friends & family. As mentioned earlier, Twitch is the leading platform for video game live streaming.

5. Virtual dance marathon or sing-a-thon

Get friends & family together online for 24 hours of dancing or singing. Create a Facebook event, choose your live streaming platform, encourage people to donate for a song on the playlist & get moving. If you want to do an online karaoke challenge, try using Karafun!

6. Sukuma wiki challenge

A tried & true classic that is designed for remote fundraising. In Kenya, kale is known as sukuma wiki or “stretch the week” because it’s a nutritious and cheap way to bulk out your meals to last all week. Use your creativity and cooking skills to only eat five ingredients for a week: sukuma wiki, kidney beans, tomato, flour & onion or garlic. Find everything you need to run your challenge here.
Take this challenge to the next level by livestreaming as you cook your meals. Get team members together & host virtual dinner parties. Who can come up with the best recipe?

7. Give it up!

We all have certain vices or habits that we can kick (or put at least put on hold). While we’re all stuck inside for the foreseeable future, give something up for a week while raising money for Provide daily updates on social media & share your coping methods with your supporters (without coffee, I’d likely look like a zombie. Pictures would be a big reward for my family & friends). Get creative & encourage people to join your team!

8. Fashion faux-pas & brand new trend?

Spend a bit of time going through your wardrobe & digging out some of your worst fashion pieces ever purchased. Every day for a week, see if you can put together the worst (or most forward-thinking?) outfit ever. Think of fancy-dress day gone wrong. Set rewards for your donors (add jewelry pieces, put on make-up, etc). Prefer to brighten it up? Follow in the footsteps of David Plant, a Charity Fast-Tracker, & turn it into a rainbow challenge & wear a different color outfit every day. Go live on social media each day explaining the story behind the pieces & allow your supporters to get a look at the full outfit. And yes – you must keep your camera on during virtual work meetings & conferences!

Outside of the box ideas.

Make things extra interesting for your friends, family & supporters & take your fundraising challenge in a new direction.

1. Paint your pet. Draw your dog (or cat). (No pet? Pick a houseplant or literally anything).

Bring your friends, family, colleagues & supporters together for a challenging online celebration of creativity. Paints, markers, crayons, make-up – any material is a go. Have each person take a picture with their final product next to their real-life pet (or thing). Prizes go to the best & worst.
(Not recommending drinking but sip & paint parties really are a trend these days).

2. Learn that language.

Communication is vital in our ever-changing world. Try and learn a new language (the basics, of course) & challenge your mates to do the same. This challenge gives you something to look forward to when things settle down (we need to think positive, right?) – you’ll be ready to hit Spain or France & do it right. Who knows, you might even be able to order at the restaurant!
Download Duolingo. Pick a goal (5, 10, 15, or 20 minutes a day)
See who can get the furthest in one week!
Get participants to send voice recordings or videos of them practicing. Set challenges like describing the ingredients you’re using to make dinner or point out objects in your house!

3. Family tree challenge.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my family in recent weeks & realized I don’t know enough about our history. I started making phone calls to family members & surfing the internet to learn more (I even found a picture of my great-great grandmother’s grave on Google).
With schools closed & children staying at home, bring everyone together to take up the Family Tree challenge & learn more about your family history. Who knows, you may even uncover long-lost relatives or long-held family secrets.
Try Find My Past or get creative & make your own family tree chart.
Call up family members & get them involved.
Share some amazing stories & old photos you’ve found out with your supporters on social media (For example, I might share that my grandma loves explaining how one of our ancestors helped spread the song Silent Night in 19th century Austria).

During times of uncertainty, we can use this moment to bring people together and rally around a good cause. Create a fundraising event or challenge that is going to get people smiling, laughing, moving, sharing stories, & working together to support the most vulnerable. All it takes is a bit of creativity, innovation, and collaboration. Please get in touch with us if you have any questions or ideas!


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