10 Insider Tips to Nail Your Next Virtual Year End Event
The world’s first livestream took place in 1993 and a coffee pot was instantly made famous. Virtual events are not a new concept to the modern world, but with live events being canceled, the popularity of hosting digital events has hit a new high.
From your volunteers and donors to your partners and shareholders, your nonprofit must have had a list of different events and galas lined up for the year, keeping the vast audience in mind. But so many activities could not go the way they were planned, and that’s when strategic re-planning became a requirement. In the face of the current crisis, online fundraising has secured its place in the nonprofit world. Then we have virtual events; these can be hosted like a small discussion or a full-fledged conference or webinar.
When you look around, you notice that people are staying home and life has changed tremendously. At the same time, the world is spending a lot of time online, and social media platforms have become one of the biggest focus areas for businesses and brands.
When your nonprofit decides to turn a fundraising event into a virtual one, there are different aspects that have to be considered. Learning the right way to host a livestream event by reading up and researching is a great place to start. In this article, let’s go through 10 insider tips that can help your nonprofit nail its virtual fundraising year-end event.
1. Identify Your Goal
In order to create a strategy, you should first determine your goals. To do so, there are a few questions that your nonprofit must answer:
- What is the purpose of your virtual event?
- Which cause are you going to raise funds for?
- Will your focus be on getting many participants who might not necessarily donate, or do you want only those attendees who are likely to donate?
Answering these questions will help you outline not just your goal, but your target audience and your timeline as well. Once you have that in place, you can start working productively on the next steps that follow.
2. Strengthen Your Team
Be it a one-time virtual event or a longer campaign, the real impact comes when the team executing the plan is well-briefed and all the teammates are on the same page. Here’s what you can do to strengthen your team:
- Call for a meeting with your staff
- Discuss the details of your virtual event
- Brainstorm on the different aspects – promotion, execution, engagement, monitoring, etc.
- Assign responsibilities
- Be clear to avoid confusion
Remember, great teamwork makes the dream work!
3. Be Relevant
If you want to be heard, you have to be relevant. Pay attention to what is happening around you and pick your fundraising causes according to the season of the year. Your nonprofit can’t fundraise for Easter in November or December! These are the months meant for year-end giving campaigns or holiday fundraisers. Or, if your nonprofit is planning to raise funds for schools, you can check out these ideas and strategize a plan to convert them into digital fundraising activities that can take place during the school year.
4. Choose a Good Hosting Platform
One major aspect when it comes to virtual fundraising events is the hosting platform that you decide to use. Start by reading about different virtual fundraising ideas for nonprofits, and make sure you have a clear direction for the event you’ll be hosting. The livestreaming platform that you’re using has to be suitable for the kind of event that you are hosting.
Some of the factors to consider before you make your final pick:
- Price of the tool or platform
- Number of participants allowed
- Features of the platform
- Intuitiveness of the tool
5. Remember Timing is Important
Regardless of the size of the event and platform that you’ve picked, your organization should go for the right date and time to host your digital fundraising event. It’s important to make sure that there are no events or holidays that would compete or interfere with your selected date. When it comes to selecting the time, you must first decide if you want to do this globally or in a single time zone. Then, you should:
- Plan multiple sessions as per time zones for a global event
- Take a poll for the ideal timing using Instagram polling sticker
- Make use of analytics to see when your audience usually comes online
In case you wish to know different ideal slots for posting on different social media platforms, here’s a quick guide.
6. Know Your Audience
Your event can’t happen without an audience. As you plan the lineup of events, your team has to make sure that the event includes topics and activities that will interest your audience. You can create an online survey or organize a quick Q&A session on social media or email where you ask your supporters for their preferences. Know their likes and dislikes, and know them inside out.
7. Focus on Promotion
When you’re promoting your virtual event, your main focus should be on talking about how your event is being held for a cause that your audience can really connect to. Create images and videos that will interest your audience and lead them to your registration page. Since most virtual fundraising events come with no registration fee, make sure that you highlight that as well. Let people know why they should come and how their attendance will contribute to the greater good. Excellent storytelling helps your promotion get better results.
For example: In a campaign by WATERisLIFE, the hashtag #firstworldproblems was used to tell a story that resonated with the audience. It showcased the minute things that we see as problems in the first world. Then it goes on to reveal how tiny our problems are, as compared to the daily struggles individuals in developing nations face. The campaign showed how privileged we are and emphasized the importance of helping the needy. Your organization can also make use of creativity to promote your virtual fundraising campaign.
8. Get Creative
Don’t be afraid to level up. Be open to experimenting with creative designs for your event. Your branding should remain the same, but your organization can play with colors, patterns, and images to make it attractive and catchy. Try the following:
- Update your design elements
- Show that this is a “virtual event”
- Save time by keeping your basics the same— all you need is a slight upgrade
Also, your website’s homepage should tell the visitor what your organization does, and provide information about the new campaigns and tools that you’ve launched. For instance, Feeding America, a hunger relief organization operating throughout the United States, has an excellent website. It uses real-to-life, appealing images and colors that complement each other. Their call to action buttons are precise and it also has a “need help” button.
9. Prioritize Communication
When you’re organizing an in-person event, your content for communication comes very easily because you have done this multiple times before, so you have your old copies to refer to. But when it comes to virtual events, you need to start everything from scratch. Be thoughtful about the words and lines that you use. Don’t forget to talk about simple donation tools, such as text-to-give, that your audience can always opt for. Here are some communication strategies you can implement:
- Speak with empathy
- Tell your supporters that you value their support
- Talk about responsibility towards the less fortunate
- Talk about your virtual event
- Provide a registration link
- Use the tone of gratitude
Once you send out your communication through email and social media, you can keep following up with relevant social media and blog posts about different talking points and profiles of speakers for your online event. At the time of your event, keep promoting your cause and donation options between the intervals.
10. Be Ready for Technical Issues
You should always be ready for technical problems! Conduct a dry run before your event. Although your plan B should be to make plan A work, you can always be ready with an activity that you can livestream in case any glitches occur. This could be a musical act or even a quick online game. To prevent technical issues, pay attention to your set-up, how your speakers will look on the screen, the background, audio quality, and the lighting.
You might have hosted a virtual fundraising event before, or this could even be your first time. In both cases, there are details that can be overwhelming at times, but you can always overcome them using the right tools and creative strategy. Your virtual year-end fundraising event can be your nonprofit’s stepping stone towards growth and bigger accomplishments, so give it your best shot!
About the Author
Vish Vass, Senior Vice President and Managing Director at GiveCentral, believes in helping to perfect the act of giving. In the process of helping nonprofits fulfill their mission through the power of GiveCentral, he’s acquired extensive knowledge that he loves to share with fellow professionals. Modernizing nonprofit fundraising with the use of technology is his core focus.
Connect with Vish Vass on LinkedIn.