Examples of Successful Nonprofit Fundraising Campaigns During the COVID-19 Crisis

March 27, 2020
5 minutes

As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, stress within the nonprofit sector increased and deepened. But resolve and planning also crystallized, which is no surprise—nonprofiteers have been facing enormous challenges forever.

During the COVID season of unprecedented separation, hoarding, and fear, nonprofits kept moving the progress of missions across the world. We've heard your calls that this wasn't easy, that pivoting so sharply gave you metaphorical whiplash, your worried voices saying that approaching donors with additional asks and taking traditional fundraising efforts online seemed impossible.

In the days following shut-ins and shut-downs, we also witnessed the nonprofitsphere fire up like it's never done before. Your successful fundraising campaigns shone brightly, lighting the direction that giving is going.

Here are some of the most innovative, exciting, and successful campaigns that stared down COVID-19 fundraising challenges—and won.

DigDeep's World Water Day campaign (updated for 2021)

With their initial 2020 goal set at $90,000, DigDeep quickly blew past that by relating their water-focused cause on the need to have water for handwashing. This tactic allowed DigDeep to exceed even their second goal of $120,000, meaning they more than doubled their World Water Day contributions from 2019 to 2020.

In 2021, DIGDEEP took it even further and doubled their 2020 goal—and then smashed that by over $10k!

DigDeep's World Water Day 2020 Campaign Site

Carolina For The Kids' 2020 UNC Dance Marathon

CFTK has been dancing for 21 years in support of UNC Children's Hospital. In 2020, not only were there worries of COVID-19 contamination, but campus was closed down and students were gone. By pivoting to a virtual dance marathon and expanding social media outreach, CFTK was able to brighten the lives of sick children considerably. Watch their reveal video to see how much CFTK was able to raise through their new virtual dance marathon format.

charity: water's COVID-19 crisis campaign

charity: water connected a water crisis campaign to the spread of COVID-19 using a quiz that brought to life the urgency caused by a lack of water around the world.

charity:water's COVID-19 crisis campaign site

Beyond Blindness' Destination Independence Virtual 5k Walk

Beyond Blindness (previously Blind Children's Learning Center) took quick action to protect vulnerable members of their community by taking their 16th annual walk online. Weekly workouts on Facebook Live, as well as professional footage of students completing the walk kept donors engaged.

A screenshot from Blind Children's Learning Center's Virtual 5k Walk

Epilepsy Foundation Texas' #EFTX Virtual Walk to End Epilepsy

This virtual peer-to-peer campaign is unusually engaging, with t-shirts to earn and discussion questions to answer live during the walk, which the nonprofit asked all donors to stream on the platform of their choice.

Epilepsy Foundation Texas' Virtual Walk to End Epilepsy campaign site

Children's Miracle Network Hospitals Extra Life campaign

This one is big. It's an outlier, meaning we're not going to tell you, "It's easy! You can do this in 20 minutes with your smartphone!" Backed by Twitch.tv, the annual Extra Life campaign is already partly virtual. But COVID-19 led CMN to turn the 2020 campaign into a 100% virtual event, Extra Life United: Online Edition. Check it out if you want your mind to be boggled.

Extra Life United 2020 Online Edition campaign site

Basset Hound Rescue of Southern California's Virtual Spring Games

Jumping right into the spirit of social distancing, BHRSC took their annual Spring Games virtual with video and photo challenges for donors, like a talent contest, costume contest, and even a social distancing photo challenge! Raising money for a dog rescue may sound unrelated to something as global as coronavirus, but BHRSC reminded supporters that pet rehoming and owner surrenders increase greatly in times of recession.

Basset Hound Rescue of Southern California Virtual Spring Games 2020

These nonprofits made their missions happen in the midst of mayhem. You can, too.

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