Guest Blog

4 Social Distancing Fundraisers to Try This Winter

Fundraising this winter might seem like a challenge, especially in the age of social distancing, but there are ways to work around this. Explore our top ideas!
Fundraising this winter might seem like a challenge, especially in the age of social distancing, but there are ways to work around this. Explore our top ideas!

This post was contributed by 99Pledges.

If you're looking to fundraise this winter, whether you're raising money for a school, sports team, or other nonprofit cause, you may feel like you're hitting a rock. After all, the colder the weather gets, the more difficult it'll be to get people involved in your pandemic-friendly campaigns, right?


Fundraising doesn't stop when the weather changes. In fact, there are several creative ways you can get your supporters involved in your cause — even in the age of social distancing. Virtual fundraising events are on the rise, and they can reach even further beyond your typical supporter circles.

That's why this winter, we've compiled a list of the top social distancing fundraisers you can try. They are:

  1. Virtual "Thon”
  2. Crowdfunding Campaign
  3. Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser
  4. Online Auction

By thinking more outside of the box, you can find success in your fundraising efforts while still following the appropriate COVID-19 guidelines. Let's get started.

Social distancing fundraiser ideas

1. Virtual "Thon”

You've probably taken part in a "thon” event, whether that's a walk-a-thon, run, or even a read-a-thon. Typically, you would think these events can only be done at large in-person events. But there's actually a simple way to turn these bigger events into a socially distanced activity.

A lot of people will be staying inside when it gets cold out, but that doesn't mean your "thons” can't take place. Normally, a walk-a-thon fundraiser occurs in a large group setting. For a virtual walk-a-thon, however, encourage participants to log their walks in their neighborhood (if the temperature allows!), on a treadmill, or even by walking around the house. The important thing is to get those steps in and gather donations for the distance they choose to go to.

There are other forms of "thon” events, too. For schools looking to encourage a love of reading, read-a-thons are a great choice this season, especially while students are on winter break. Students can collect pledges from supporters based on the number of books or pages they decide to read.

Whether your supporters are on their feet or have their noses in a book, there are many ways to get creative and keep the engagement going. Just be sure you:

  • Identify your goals, whether it's to raise money for a certain upcoming event or to serve your mission.
  • Set a realistic fundraising amount, so you can keep people on track and have a number to work toward.
  • Share your cause, whether that's through social media, word-of-mouth, email, or other channels.

A virtual "thon” event can be successful, even in the wintertime when everyone is still socially distanced. Just be sure to think about the most effective ways in which you can engage your supporters and participants.

2. Crowdfunding Campaign

Crowdfunding is one of the top options on the list of social distancing fundraisers for schools from 99Pledges. In a nutshell, crowdfunding leverages the power of personal networks to raise money. Whether you're fundraising for a school or other cause, crowdfunding taps into a larger network of supporters.

Here's how it works:

  • The group looking to fundraise sets up a campaign using a crowdfunding platform.
  • The greater community shares the campaign page with friends and family to reach a larger network.
  • Supporters can then donate directly through the group's campaign page.

It's also important to share your organization's story on your crowdfunding page. Give supporters a compelling reason to donate to your campaign. This winter, and especially around the end of the year, people are already in a giving mood, so directing their attention to your fundraiser will boost the amount you receive!

Crowdfunding is an effective route to take this season, and it's already proven to be effective all year-round. Consider setting up a page for your cause so you can get closer to your fundraising goals.

3. Peer-to-Peer Fundraiser

Peer-to-peer fundraisers are similar to crowdfunding campaigns, but their structure is a bit different. During a peer-to-peer fundraiser, fundraising groups call on their supporters to raise money on their behalf.

The most noticeable difference between peer-to-peer fundraisers and crowdfunding campaigns is that each volunteer fundraiser gets their own donation page. That way, you can encourage friendly competition between fundraisers, allow participants to set their own goals, and reach out even further to more communities of supporters.

In addition to the perk of reaching a wider social network, peer-to-peer fundraisers are beneficial because they help supporters become more engaged and connected to your cause. You're essentially asking them to become advocates and champions of your organization, which empowers them to make a difference. 

Peer-to-peer fundraisers can be tied to larger events (including walk-a-thons!) so you can choose to combine your fundraiser with other events like the ones we've already mentioned. However you choose to pursue it, this form of online fundraising is one of many that can benefit your cause this winter.

4. Online Auction

Even though live and silent auctions aren't an option at the moment, you can still run a successful auction online. Using effective and straightforward auction software, each item will be listed on an auction website, where bidders can then browse and start making their bids.

One of the biggest upsides to hosting an online auction is the opportunity to expand your audience. Even if a physical event isn't happening, online bidders can come from anywhere and place bids on your items. This makes the event even more profitable. (It's also worth noting that live events can still incorporate an online component!)

Online auctions are essentially silent auctions that take place over the Internet, so it's easy to make this transition if you haven't already. By incorporating an online auction into your fundraising strategy, you can plan everything through one platform, keep track of your auction's performance through essential reporting features, and allow people from all over to participate.

If you are looking for the perfect software for your online auction, please feel free to reach out to Handbid here.

While it may seem like your fundraising efforts have to take a pause this winter, that's not the case at all. There are many easy and effective ways to generate money for your cause and still keep your supporters engaged. 

From hosting virtual events to using fundraising software to raise money online, you can allow your supporters to keep warm (and safe) while still interacting with them and offering a compelling reason to donate. Give it a try and continue raising money for your cause!

Brad Dowhaniuk from 99Pledges wrote this post on socially-distanced fundraisers for nonprofits.

Guest Author: Brad Dowhaniuk

Brad Dowhaniuk is the co-founder of 99Pledges, which provides schools and teams with an easy-to-use, web-based fundraising solution to manage and drive success in Fun Runs, jog-a-thons, baseball hit-a-thons, and much more.