Fundraising was hard enough before the time of coronavirus. Today, as you know all too well, it’s much more challenging. Regularly scheduled events have been canceled. Meeting with potential donors is more difficult. And, depending on the focus of your nonprofit, you may be seeing regular donations drop off or dry up entirely.

So, how can you get through these tough times and raise money while keeping the health and safety of staff, volunteers, donors, and others at the forefront? Nobody’s saying it’s going to be easy, but creative fundraising ideas are emerging that you may want to consider. Here are a few.

Go virtual with your next event

We spoke with the development director for a women’s shelter whose major fundraising event for the year is an October gala. She’s not sure that in-person crowds will be allowed by then, so she’s not taking any chances; instead, she’s already planning to convert their regular gala into a virtual gala.

The general idea is to keep many of the usual elements of the gala—the silent and live auction, the “golden ticket” sales, the sponsorships, the speeches and videos—but with minor twists. Guests will log on and provide their credit card information so they can participate in the auctions and ticket sales. Attendance might be free (that’s yet to be decided). And the event itself will probably last only an hour or so, instead of the usual evening-long event.

Of course, you can shape your event to meet the mission and style of your organization. Maybe guests would be asked to dress up like they would for a regular gala. You could take questions during the event. You could try to find a celebrity to make a guest appearance. The key is to brainstorm ways to make the event enjoyable, recognizing that it’s going to be different this year—but it can be different in exciting ways that your guests will appreciate.

Set up an online fundraiser

Some organizations are hosting online fundraisers on their campaign landing pages, which can be highly effective, especially given how much time people are spending online right now. The fundraiser should generally be time-limited, and you may want to establish a specific goal. You can also consider creative techniques like livestreaming your event to create a telethon-like feel.

Partner with local businesses

Just about every small business is hurting right now, and looking for help. See if you can find creative ways to work with them in mutually beneficial ways. For instance, one nonprofit partnered with local wine sellers and restaurants to create a “Wine Country Drive-Through” event (nicknamed a “wine-through”).

Participants could pre-order wine, pizza, and ice cream from participating vendors. Then they drove through the event on the appointed evening, stopping at each vendor to have the food and drink placed safely in the back of their car. A portion of profits went to the nonprofit, which also helped get the word out.

Everyone involved benefited—the nonprofit, the small businesses, and the participants who got to get out of their homes for some safe fun that helped others.

We’re here to help

Insero & Co. is a public accounting firm with decades of experience working with businesses and nonprofits of all sizes. Our experts are available to provide consulting and other remote services—whatever you need to help you get through these difficult times.