No one in the not-for-profit sector needs a reminder of what it’s been like working in the shadow of the COVID pandemic. In Canada, as in most countries, lockdowns, restrictions on public gatherings, and live events severely limited opportunities to raise money for charitable causes.
In November of 2021, Imagine Canada, surveyed 1,000 charities and found revenue fell 43 percent during the Covid crisis. Canadian nonprofits and charities that depend on galas and other major - or minor - live fundraising events were hardest hit by lockdowns and restrictions on in-person gatherings.
In fairness, at the beginning of the pandemic, Canada, like the rest of the world, was floundering in unchartered waters. Office staff were suddenly working from home, coping with children’s home learning, adapting to ZOOM meetings and the short walk from the kitchen to a hastily assembled home office.
COVID regulations forced fundraisers to cancel events after months of planning. Major galas were suddenly wiped off the calendar as organizers struggled with the realities of the pandemic and its devastating effect on in-person fundraising events.
Faced with an unprecedented challenge, many charity fundraisers rose to the occasion, charting new waters and exploring new techniques and innovative solutions to overcome the effect of COVID social obstructions.
Larger nonprofits have been moving toward digital fundraising for the past several years. The world pandemic lent new urgency to their efforts. At the same time, smaller charities ill-prepared to weather the challenge had little choice but turn to technology for help.
Innovative digital fundraising systems offer a sleek, modern solution to giving programs and silent auctions easily delivering programs to a larger audience. Participants are attracted through mailing lists, social media, and utilize communication channels through smartphones, tablets and home computers for more engagement and better results.
As people began to accept lingering COVID restrictions, more creative individuals looked to restoring live events – with limited attendees, distancing guidelines, live and recorded streaming content.
Undoubtedly the eventual return of full in-person events will have a negative effect on the popularity of virtual and hybrid events. However, indications are that fundraisers have experienced the advantages of a hybrid or virtual events and have learned how to boost numbers and improve results.
The future of digital fundraising
A little more than two years after the first lock downs, the COVID shadow though less threatening, still lingers. Charities are re-grouping to make up for lost time and opportunity. Those who managed the challenges of the last two years, with digital solutions are profiting now. Having maintained their presence and services during bad times, they advanced their brand and their supporters welcomed the convenience of new fundraising technology.
Digital fundraising makes it easy to custom design, build, test and manage fundraising events…then deliver to a select crowd or attract bidders through social media and other promotional opportunities. Information collected through each event can be easily cross-checked against donor lists and giving statistics can be analyzed to help future planning.
During COVID, small nonprofits discovered that by carefully choosing a trusted, competent, digital fundraising services provider, they too could use technology to increase awareness of their cause, better serve their supporters, enhance the donor experience, and improve their internal protocols. This trend is sure to continue and as technology improves and digital fundraising programs become easier to use, more small organizations will be drawn to their convenience.
Volunteers and third-party fundraisers form an important part of any nonprofit or charity organization. Digital fundraising events with one person on a laptop computer can manage a live, virtual or hybrid funding event or silent auction – no matter the audience size – reducing volunteer dependency, saving time and dramatically reducing stress.
Before digital fundraising, building donor relationships consumed a lot of time, energy, and resources. Few smaller nonprofits could afford the time and expense. Now technology makes it easy to collect supporter names, connect with donors and build relationships.
The acceptance and use of digital fundraising can only grow, driven by improved technology, multi-featured, easy-to-use platforms and the public’s universal acceptance of smartphones and tablets. Add to this the demands on nonprofits to modernize their fundraising methods and improve donor relations and retention.
Let’s pray that the next leap forward for fundraising digitation is not spurred by a world pandemic.
Checking in with a seasoned volunteer recently after her first use of MobilBid’s bidding platform, she commented, “Having used your platform, I hope I never see another paper bid sheet as long as I live.”
Dale Carter is Director of New Business at MobilBid, an advanced, full-featured mobile bidding platform designed to streamline charity silent auctions and scalable to meet any need. Toronto-based parent company, Net Directories Inc. has served in the nonprofit sector for more than two decades. firstname.lastname@example.org