Nonprofit Technology

5 Ways To Build Out Virtual Programming For Your Nonprofit

By | 6 min read | Published

Don’t beg—connect, engage, and motivate donors to help make a difference.

Nonprofit marketing is a challenge, particularly as it pertains to fundraising. While you’ll have regular donors and supporters that contribute without asking, others may need constant reminders or an extra push. Nowadays, the best way to do this is by building out your virtual programming.

In this article, we give an overview of five ways to build out virtual programming for your nonprofit. You’ll learn how to go above and beyond the typical “please donate” messaging commonly used with little success in various types of nonprofit organizations. We’ll also clue you in on the best technology, software, and tools to make your fundraising efforts a snap.

Our aim is to help small to midsize business owners, such as yourself, integrate virtual programming into their nonprofit strategy, enabling them to raise mass donations quickly, easily, and efficiently.

What is virtual programming?

Virtual programming refers to programs or events (e.g., fundraising campaigns) that occur primarily online via internet-based platforms and software. Participants, such as nonprofit donors, interact through websites, third-party applications, social media, text management systems, etc. This approach is often used as a replacement for in-person participation.


Text-to-donate fund drives take advantage of the prominence of cell phone use worldwide. This fundraising strategy allows supporters to contribute via their phones. For example, it’s a perfect way for churches to collect tithes in addition to (or as a replacement for) their regular collection plate, or for other nonprofit organizations, supporters always have a convenient way to donate right at their fingertips.

To use text-to-donate, you’ll first need to set up a customized texting number. Then you can promote the number through your different marketing channels (i.e., email, website, social media). For example, your congregation might announce the following during a church service: Text “tithe” to 53335, after which church members will receive a link where they can submit their payment.

Get all the software features your business needs: Fundraising Software – Top Features Comparison and Guide


Peer-to-peer fundraising

Peer-to-peer fundraising is a way to boost fundraising by tapping into the power of social proof. People tend to follow their friends and family members, from choosing products to buy to finding reputable causes to support. This type of fundraising works wonders because your existing donors already believe in your nonprofit organization, so their friends and family will trust in you too.

A peer-to-peer fundraising campaign starts with a designated webpage on your corporate site or managed through a third-party provider. Many third-party providers make it possible for your existing supporters to create their own personal fundraising page, including setting individual donation goals and keeping track of the donations they solicit on your organization’s behalf. Then, the supporters share the fundraiser with their connections primarily through social media. Whether through your site or a third-party, connections with new supporters can be continuously nurtured even after your campaign has ended.


Online donation pages

One of the easiest ways to solicit funds is by having an online presence. An online donation page on your nonprofit website is a must-have. Here, you explain your organization and the causes it supports. Use storytelling and other approaches to evoke the emotions of your target audience. That way, they’ll be more likely to support you by donating.

Your donation page can be a simple section of your website, and should include a way for supporters to make a monetary contribution. This can be accomplished by setting up a merchant account or using a third-party payment processor (e.g., PayPal or Square) to accept credit cards, e-checks, and similar virtual payments. Consistently promote your donation page on emails, social media, brochures, and other marketing you put out.


Hosting virtual 5K fundraising runs

5K running marathons have become very popular ways for nonprofits to raise funds in support of a myriad of causes, from medical research to humanity projects. In response to the need for social distancing in 2020 and beyond, more organizations have turned to hosting virtual 5K runs. While running events are the most popular, you can also promote other activities such as swimming, walking, skating, etc.

To get your 5K event going, you can organize it yourself on your website or use third-party software. Supporters can register for the event, do their run, and turn in their finishing time. Having merchandise available for participants to purchase, such as t-shirts and medals, is a great way to expand your fundraising efforts.


Other unique virtual fundraising ideas

There are many ways to garner support from your community. The best methods will greatly depend on your target audience—where you can find them, how they like to donate, and what motivates them. Consider trying different approaches to find the one most suited for your organization.

Some of the ideas other nonprofits have found effective include:

  • Matching gifts
  • Online auctions
  • Crowdfunding
  • Virtual events (e.g., concerts, exhibits, etc.)
  • Sell e-cards or custom t-shirts
  • Annual giving days

Many of these ideas can be executed fairly easily, especially when using fundraising software for nonprofits. Promotion and collecting a great number of donations doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg, but it does take a bit of creativity and ingenuity to be successful.

Find the right virtual programming software

Raising the funds required to help you run your organization and support your cause doesn’t have to be impossible. Rather than using the same old tired methods, consider reaching existing and potential donors through text-to-donate, peer-to-peer fundraising, online donation pages, 5K fundraising runs, and more. Not only does taking a unique approach help you get noticed, it can also make giving more engaging and even fun.

At Capterra, we know all too well how difficult it can be to find the right technology. That’s why we’ve done all the grunt work reviewing 50,000+ products to provide you with information about all of the top nonprofit software available. You can browse a list of all available fundraising software and donation software, or see top-ranked ones that made our best fundraising software and the best donation management software shortlists.

Looking for Nonprofit software? Check out Capterra's list of the best Nonprofit software solutions.

About the Author

Michelle Harris - Guest Contributor

Michelle Harris - Guest Contributor

Michelle Harris is a strategist specializing in management and marketing. She is a Ph.D. candidate researching finance decision-making.

Related Reading


No comments yet. Be the first!

Comment on this article:

Comment Guidelines:
All comments are moderated before publication and must meet our guidelines. Comments must be substantive, professional, and avoid self promotion. Moderators use discretion when approving comments.

For example, comments may not:
• Contain personal information like phone numbers or email addresses
• Be self-promotional or link to other websites
• Contain hateful or disparaging language
• Use fake names or spam content
Your privacy is important to us. Check out our Privacy Policy.