[GUEST POST] Virtual Fundraising Events: 3 Tips To Get Started in 2020

Virtual fundraising events have been on the rise for a while now, due to their convenience for both planners and attendees. If you’re in charge of events for a nonprofit organization, you’ve likely already dipped your own toes into the world of online fundraising experiences. 

But what’s the best way to even plan a virtual event? How can you get supporters excited about and participate in one? What’s the best way to engage attendees when you can’t meet face-to-face? 

To set your organization up for success, this article explores the top three tips you need to plan and host a successful virtual event. Online fundraising can be fickle because you have to rely on the internet and software tools. However, those same challenges can also be leveraged to your nonprofit’s advantage. Here’s what you’ll be learning about:

  1. How to choose your virtual event idea
  2. The essential virtual event tools to invest in
  3. Virtual event attendee engagement strategies

Equipped with dedicated event management software and donor engaging strategies, your nonprofit is sure to conquer virtual events. Ready to learn more? Let’s begin.

1. How to choose your virtual event idea

Choosing an amazing idea can be what makes or breaks your event. Even if you haven’t hosted a virtual event before, it’s helpful to review what has been successful in the past. Take a look at your past event data for clues. Often, pivoting a traditional fundraising event to the virtual sphere can be done with the right tools and execution. 

To help kickstart your brainstorming session, here are a few popular virtual fundraising event ideas you can try:

  • Live-streaming an event, like a charity online concert
  • Hosting an online fundraising auction 
  • Recruiting some supporters for a peer-to-peer (P2P) fundraising event
  • Planning a multi-day virtual conference

The above ideas are all effective ways to engage supporters even though you aren’t interacting face-to-face. Whether it’s buying event tickets or giving to a P2P campaign, the core fundraising elements are the same in your virtual event as it would be in an in-person one. However, you do need a dedicated arsenal of virtual fundraising tools to make that happen. 

2. The essential virtual event tools you need to invest in

A virtual event would be nothing without a dedicated platform to host it on and key tools to engage the digital attendees. Your own event needs to rely on effective tools, especially if you want your online experience to be a success.

Using the insights taken from Fonteva’s article on pivoting to virtual events, your software solution should encourage active engagement with attendees (and between them), optimize your online marketing strategy, and collect key data. Here are the essential virtual event tools you need:

  • Event registration tool
  • A live-streaming or video conferencing platform
  • Email communication resources
  • An online donation form
  • Report and data analysis software

While using different tools to target each of these needs is a convenient and cost-friendly choice, consider investing in a comprehensive all-in-one solution. This is, in fact, better in the long-run and will grow as your organization does. 

3. Virtual event attendee engagement strategies

A huge challenge virtual event planners face is how can they mimic the engagement of an in-person event. With a screen separating your attendees, it can be hard to keep them attentive, and there are fewer opportunities for them to talk amongst themselves. 

However, thanks to the advancement of technology, there are some fun ways you can get your virtual event attendees excited and motivated to participate. You just have to utilize your tools in smart ways.

For instance, consider the following strategies:

  • Incorporate gamification elements like digital badges to encourage a healthy air of competition between attendees. This is a great way to motivate your peer-to-peer participants!
  • Use chat features to allow your attendees to not only talk to each other, but also respond to speakers with questions.
  • Incorporate a live video component to engage participants in real time. Record this footage and upload highlights to your social media accounts for even further online engagement once the event is over.

Your event attendees are the most important part of this whole experience. After all, they’re the ones who contribute to your mission and take you one step further to achieving your organization’s goals. It only makes sense to make sure they have the best experience possible. This way, they’ll continue to be loyal supporters (and donors!). 

Virtual events can bring you closer to your donors than you might think. With the right tools and event idea, you too can engage supporters while everyone is in the comfort of their own homes. Good luck!

By Jake Fabbri, Vice President of Marketing, Fonteva

Jake Fabbri is the Vice President of Marketing at Fonteva with over 18 years of experience working in marketing management. He has experience with lead generation, content marketing, marketing automation, and events.

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