Webinar Recap: (Free) Virtual Events with Donations and Fundraising

Nonprofits are dealing with canceled fundraising events and a severe decrease in donations. It’s time to go back to basics: engage your communities while saving money and making money for your nonprofit. People need connection more than ever, and free virtual events (or a small registration fee) with donations and fundraising are a perfect way to engage donors and beneficiaries at no expense to your nonprofit. 

Here are some of the key resources from today’s webinar:

Want to discuss how GiveSignup / RunSignup can help your nonprofit raise more and save money with a virtual event? Request a demo.

Why should your nonprofit do a (free) virtual event?

  • Engage your community, and make it easy for everyone to get involved.
  • Raise money: Make a soft ask for donations and incentivize fundraising.
  • Save money: None or limited operating costs to put on the event. With GiveSignup/RunSignup you get a free website, free Facebook Fundraising, free email, free results, free online bibs and finisher certificates, free text messaging, etc.
  • Grow and cultivate your donor pipeline

What’s the best approach for my nonprofit’s virtual event?

  • Reset expectations for donation & fundraising levels.
  • This is and will continue to be an extremely difficult time for nonprofits. 
  • There is a lot of uncertainty. Start virtual, execute well, then see if it’s possible to offer or transition to an in-person event.
  • Keep your messaging focused on NOW. Tie your mission to COVID-19.
  • Keep things simple and easy.
  • Engage participants and thank your donors and fundraiser.

Create Your Virtual Event

It’s free to create your virtual event. Get started by clicking Get Started Free on givesignup.org or Create Race on runsignup.com. This will take you into the Race Wizard. Visit our Go Virtual Set Up page to learn more about setting up your virtual event.

After you finish going through the Race Wizard, you can customize the following on your Race Dashboard.

  • Customize Race Location
    • Race >> Race Page >> Race Location
  • Customize Donations
    • Donations >> Setup
    • Set an achievable donation goal. If you reach the goal, then increase it!
  • Enable Fundraising
    • Make fundraising optional
  • Enable Facebook Fundraising
    • Fundraising >> Facebook Fundraisers
    • This is the best way to raise more and save money. Our integration is available for free to every nonprofit, donations made on Facebook are free, and the amounts raised on GiveSignup and Facebook automatically sync so your fundraisers’ goals are always accurate.
  • Add a custom question to confirm virtual race understanding
    • Race >> Registration >> Questions
  • Edit confirmation email
    • Race >> Notifications >> General Settings >> User Registered
    • Include instructions on the next steps (i.e. submitting results, posting photos to social media with your hashtag) at the top of the confirmation email.

Design Your Website

You need a website for your virtual event, even if your event is free.

With GiveSignup / RunSignup, you don’t need any design or coding skills to build a website. Every event gets a free website. In addition to helping your nonprofit save money, GiveSignup and RunSignup free websites have additional advantages:

In addition to RunSignup resources, your nonprofit should take advantage of Canva. It’s free to create an account and you can easily create designs and images for cover pages, logos, emails, social sharing, finisher certificates, virtual bibs, and more.

Here is your checklist to go through when designing a website for your free virtual event.


You don’t need swag to have a successful virtual event. However, you may decide to offer swag as an add-on or through a standalone store. Your can also add a registration fee and include it with each registration. Here are some resources and considerations if you want to do swag for your virtual event.

Results and Engagement

There are 3 good options for your virtual event’s results.

  1. No Results
  • Works well for fitness challenges (i.e. 100 push ups a day challenge)
  • “Results” are done via social media. Use a hashtag and encourage people to post their accomplishment on FB, Instagram

2. Virtual Results

  • Easy for participants to submit their times.
  • Free result emails and/or text messages to participants during virtual event. This is a great way to engage and make the virtual event feel real.
  • Allow people to mark that they finished the run/walk/ride without submitting a time.

3. Tracking Options

  • Use a free option like Strava Clubs (RunSignup has a basic integration with Strava Clubs)
  • Use a paid option like Final Surge (www.finalsurge.com) – Integrates with all tracking apps. Pricing starts at $39 per month for 100 athletes (or $390 per year), with a 20% discount for nonprofits. Contact tim@finalsurge.com for volume pricing.

Another great option to enhance your virtual event in RaceJoy. RaceJoy is exclusively available through RaceDay Certified timers. RaceJoy is a mobile GPS tracking event that offers:

  • Live GPS tracking of participant’s location
  • Real-time cheer sending from remote spectators
  • Performance progress alerts at every mile without timing equipment
  • Monitoring dashboard with progress board for race organizers and timers (from the safety of your home)
  • Integration with RunSignup’s Virtual Results
  • In-app Communications (news alerts, audio sound files at points along the course, direct audio, and banner ads)

Here are your checklist items if you use GiveSignup / RunSignup for virtual results and engagement:

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