10 Virtual Fundraising Ideas in College that Boost Sales

Stay safe during COVID with these online fundraising campaigns

With colleges and universities around the country adopting hybrid models, reducing classroom capacity, or suspending in-person activities, online fundraising ideas for college are essential. Despite these new obstacles to college fundraising, the important political, environmental, and charitable causes that college students care about continue to need support. In addition, many students have turned to donations to offset the rising cost of college and increased unemployment rates.

College fundraisers cannot be put on hold due to COVID-19. Fortunately, organizations can turn to virtual fundraising ideas to continue securing donations for community programs, tuition, student groups, and emergency needs.

Know your audience (hungry and broke college students) and cater to their needs. Quick and affordable food sales, laid-back social events, and social media-based programs will be highly successful on college campuses.

Let us help your group meet its goals with these virtual fundraising ideas in college:

1. Cookie Dough

The cookie dough fundraiser for schools is a classic that everyone loves. With Americans eating 300 cookies per year and groups earning a profit of 40%, the fundraising potential of cookie dough is unlimited.

Selling cookie dough online is easy and effective. Simply register to obtain your unique seller link, share the online shop with friends and family, and track sales over time.

2. Online Raffle

Colleges, K-12 schools, and nonprofits alike use online raffles as a straightforward, recognizable fundraising method. Simply establish a fundraising goal, secure a prize(s), sell virtual raffle tickets, and draw the winner(s).

The best raffle prizes will appeal to your audience of college students. Think of exhilarating experiences that students would love –wilderness adventures, music festivals, outings with a local celebrity, or a travel package.

Be sure to review your state and college regulations regarding raffles. You may be required to file forms or pay taxes.

Learn about 14 Online Fundraising Ideas for Sports Teams

3. Virtual Event

Moving fundraising events online has been a great solution to COVID-19 concerns for college organizations. Reduce your event expenses, volunteer time, and logistical headaches while keeping your supporters safe with an online event.

Turn to nonprofits around the country for inspiration on innovative events. For example, Dysautonomia International hosted an interactive, virtual race in 2020 that allows participants around the world to walk/run/roll in the race via an interactive app.

4. Sell Products Online

Goodies & Gifts Online and Gifts & More Online are popular fundraising ideas for college clubs with their diverse product offerings ranging from as low as $6 all the way to $45. With hundreds of items to choose from, college students enjoy the store’s cookies, baking mixes, gourmet dry mixes, chocolate, coffee, snacks, masks, and jewelry. Their parents and siblings appreciate the kitchen items, magazines, books, toys, and candles.

Participants raise money using their unique store link and don’t have to sell face-to-face.

5. Crowdfunding Campaign

Put the focus on your cause with peer-to-peer fundraising. Encourage a spirit of healthy competition with a peer-to-peer fundraiser. Supporters ask their contacts to donate online via social media marketing. Each participant creates their own webpage that highlights their personal passion for the cause and explains the fundraising impact.

Built-in campaign features like badges, trophies, and leader-boards push students to reach for the stars. Start by selecting a crowdfunding platform and brainstorming marketing strategies with your team.

6. Silent Auction

Like online raffles, college groups enjoy the familiarity and structure of an online silent auction. A raffle or silent auction poses a great opportunity for forming relationships with local businesses – personal asks for in-kind donations have the greatest success.

Free auction platforms, like Handbid and Bidding Owl, make publishing and hosting online silent auctions quick and easy. Be sure to secure a variety of items that appeal to college students with a variety of interests to maximize donations.

7. Passive Donations

A great way to keep funds coming in all year long is to use passive donation programs, like AmazonSmile. People shop and AmazonSmile donates.

The RoundUp app is another example. Donors round up their purchases to the nearest dollar. The change is then donated to your college group. Although passive programs don’t typically bring in significant funds in the beginning, the small gifts can really add up over time. And it’s free to join.

8. Donation Letters

A mail fundraising campaign where your group asks for contributions by sending handwritten letters is a simple low-cost college fundraising idea with the potential for high earnings. The most impactful letters tell a story about the mission of the organization and how donations make an impact.

Including a prepaid remittance envelope or directing supporters to a donation form on your website make it easy for them to give. Here are some inspirational examples of fundraising letters.

The most important thing? Immediately thank you donors! A quick phone call or handwritten note can go a long way towards encouraging your donors to give again next year.

9. Instagram

Get the word out about your college organization’s cause using Instagram. This is a powerful way to engage with your audience. As with any tool, it doesn’t do the work for you but you can use it to accomplish a task. It’s a good idea to plan with a few best practices in mind when employing Instagram as part of your social media strategy.

People want to see their donations at work and stories are a great way to showcase your cause and share progress. Be sure to learn what your audience wants by staying on top of trends (hello hashtags!).

10. Pledges

The walk-a-thon (or jog-a-thon) is not just a great form of exercise. For each completed lap, donors commit to a certain dollar amount. Prior to the event college group members ask their network of friends and family to donate. Let the donor decide on the dollar amount.

Prepare a form that members can use to gather names, contact information, and the dollar amount the donor agrees to donate. Placing your group name and purpose at the top of the form to help sell your cause is also a great idea.

Create some fun competition by offering a special prize to the college student who raises the most money.

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