Compared with physical events, a virtual event can be a lot more accessible. Meaning your supporters can participate from anywhere, at any time, with any device. Virtual events are also an easy way to tap into new donor bases, through the power of social media, social donors and Ambassador fundraisers.
However, the virtual marketplace is crowded with nonprofit organizations jockeying for awareness and supporters during the pandemic. There are many causes, events and real-life priorities vying for donor attention.
How do you not only stand out, but capture today’s donors? The key ingredient to event success is simple: building human connection and creating community. Truth is, that is easier said than done in today’s virtual world!
This means your virtual event success hinges on your ability to engage supporters and create virtual community. You need to find ways to bridge the digital void and shape your donor’s experiences, so that they understand your mission and want to be a part of it.
In this guide, we will cover best practices and real-life examples for capturing donor attention before, during, and after your virtual event.
Let’s dive in!
The Law of Attraction says we are what we create. As fundraisers, that means creating positive experiences and energy that attracts supporters, moving them to participate, and eventually donate.
The good news for today’s virtual world is there is more opportunity to grab attention. And the job of engaging supporters starts well before they hop online for our virtual fundraiser!
Here’s 10 easy steps to follow before your event, to start building connection.
Whether your virtual event is pre-planned or in response to unforeseen circumstances, your pre-event messaging should always include:
Remember, to create positive energy we have to give off positive energy. So what we say matters to our donors. Choose your language carefully. Here’s a few guidelines to positive communication that creates trust, and human connection:
The task of promoting your virtual event should not fall solely on your social media manager or communications person.
Expand your reach and add a personal touch to your marketing by involving key stakeholders.
You don’t need an army! Just a few passionate supporters, who can help refine your messaging and generate ways to spread the word. Easy places to look for your marketing warriors are:
Since virtual events have a larger audience than in-person events, they are a perfect opportunity to showcase your champions to the masses.
Find creative ways to share all the good work, passion, and impact driven by your supporters. People want to be involved with a positive and winning organization.”.
Be sure to talk and show why your cause is doing great work, and bring a human face to those that power its success.
Creating community can be easy, using social media. Use social posts to:
Building connection doesn’t stop at on virtual event day! When it comes to the giving experience, you have to continue during the event, to capture their attention, motivate them to give and make them feel connected to what’s going on.
Here’s a few best practices to follow during your event, to deepen connection.
Frequent communication is key to maintaining momentum and keeping the auction top-of-mind with your supporters.
If your virtual event includes a raffle or other chance drawing, make your winners feel like rock stars and roll out the red carpet with a live drawing!
Finally, when it’s almost time to close the event, do so with a bang! Make sure everyone knows the specific close time and how close you are to reaching your goals.
By including a live stream with your event, you can use a scoreboard to showcase your top bidders and donors. Few things will excite your guests more than seeing their name flash across the big screen!
Do any of your staff, volunteer, or constituents have a special physical or artistic talent – such as dancing, playing a musical instrument, magic tricks, or stand-up comedy? If so, a virtual event is the perfect place to showcase them. Announce that this person will perform their talent live online for your community, but only if you meet or exceed your goals!
Your auction software should allow you to identify your event’s top contributors, such as bidders who place the most bids, donors who donate a certain amount or greater, and raffle ticket buyers who purchase a certain number of tickets. Be sure to reward them for their generosity with prizes like unique swag items, high-end electronics, entrance into an exclusive drawing, and anything else that would appeal to them and encourage maximum participation!
Your supporters are investing time and money to participate in your virtual event, and it’s your job to let them know how much you appreciate them.
Do this with targeted thank-you text messages and social posts as they make bids and donations, and don’t be surprised if their reaction is to bid and donate even more! Bonus points if your shout-outs match with your event’s theme!
Creating community and connection doesn’t stop with the last bid. In today’s virtual world, nonprofits are finding ways to keep the virtual afterglow going.
The key is to be prompt and to be sure you follow-up! In our recent Social Donor Study, 20% of all donors said they were never followed up with. That’s 1 in 5 that never heard from the nonprofit.
Don’t let that be your cause! Keep the positive vibes flowing. Be sure to:
Last – but certainly not least – empower your donors to strengthen their support and stay involved with your organization throughout the year. These tactics will vary from one nonprofit to the next but may include: