Online fundraising events webinar (Skills Match) resources and recording

4 Dec 2020 Sandra Bailie    Last updated: 4 Dec 2020

Online events webinar with guest speakers from Graham Group,Cancer Focus NI and Volunteer Now was held on 1 Dec as part of Skills Match. 

The three speakers shared their experience fo running online fundraising events and gave us some tips and ideas. This was part of the Skills Match programme which links the skills of individuals in the business sector with charities. Click here to find out more and register for free.

Emer Murnaghan, Graham Group and WaterAid

Emer spoke about Water Aid, the charity that she is involved in fundraisng for. WaterAid works with partners in 28 countries to transform millions of lives by improving access to clean water, toilets and hygiene. The highlight of the fundraising calendar is usually the Gala ball and it normally raises about £45K. They were going to give it a miss this year and plan for next year but then they remembered what the charity is about, and that people still needed clean water regardless of COVID 19. They ran an online Gala Ball in November 2020 and raised more than they expected, same as other years £45K

Emer shared her learning from this event:

  • Think about what works well at usual event and then start to imagine your virtual event
  • Have a host/compere – they used Sarah Travers
  • Make it fun, have entertainment – they used Ryan McMullan, Paddy Raff
  • Set up online donations– they used Just Giving
  • Leadership and encouragement from chair and committee
  • Loyal corporate sponsors really helped
  • Use social media often and well – in run up and during, and encourage supporters to do the same
  • Have a raffle and spot prizes
  • Focus on what the money is going towards –  video of impact and work of Water Aid
  • Take on the challenge - Don’t let COVID 19 get in your way
  • Remember what drives you

Rosie Forsythe, Cancer Focus NI

Fundraising is not just about raising money; it’s about raising awareness of Cancer. Cancer Focus NI is a local NI charity there to help you improve your health and support you and your family when you’re affected by cancer. They work in patient support, cancer research, prevention and information, and all funds go to the work in NI. Cancer Focus have had to adapt their fundraising methods to suit the new environment when so much fundraising before was through events, street collections and face to face relationships and this ended overnight.

Rosie shared some advice from her experience of fundraising during this time:

  • Continue to build relationships with people through phone calls and zoom
  • Get back to basics and think of yourselves as start up
  • Look at the opportunities
  • Train yourself and your team
  • Act quickly when you have an idea - Push outside comfort zone
  • Bring everything back to your cause through a clear easy to understand message
  • Phone people – talking makes a big difference
  • Be bold, be brave, jump on your ideas


What worked well:

  • Physical events - virtual  marathon 4,000 people raised £58K, 5K runs, tiptoe tinsel walk for families
  • Just giving and text donate – has been successful
  • Be creative new virtual events
  • Convert events to virtual if you can
  • Marketing is key – use celebrity ambassadors, and others to share your message
  • Developed new platform on website for events
  • Giving in celebration - birthdays, wedding favours, retirement - use Facebook
  • Virtual campaigns worked well – girls’ night in, cash for tash

Racquel Rodrigue Keenan, Volunteer Now

Volunteer Now promotes and supports volunteering across Northern Ireland.  They build recognition for volunteering and provide access to opportunities and encourage people to volunteer. They also provide support and training on involving volunteers, governance and safeguarding. Racquel is involved in the events team and recruiting and coordinating volunteers. Over this period of COVID they have not had any events to provide volunteers for, but they have continued with: Online training sessions, Volunteer get togethers and Tai Chi session for staff. They have also held Men’s health days – one day events with slots of workshops and the Millennium Volunteers Ultimate Award Ceremony. This was the first time it was held online they had guest speakers that appealed to the audience, presented certificates and everyone got a Just Eat voucher.

Racquel shared her top tips for holding online events:

  • Set up waiting room and use a holding slide
  • Explain etiquette and functionalities of platform you are using – housekeeping
  • Provide one link only for all day events
  • People tend to talk faster online so events tend to be shorter
  • Prepare written scripts
  • Make it entertaining and engaging
  • Make it interactive - Use polls, quiz and videos
  • Provide a supplies pack for the session in advance eg chickpea curry
  • Use pre recorded videos from speakers and experts if they can't attend on the day

How can involving volunteers help?

  • Consult with them on programme content
  • Proofread documents or edit videos
  • Help with digital production
  • Source facilitators and speakers
  • Host breakout rooms

Watch the webinar here:'s picture
by Sandra Bailie

Head of Organisational Development

[email protected]

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