The following is a guest post from Pathable, a software provider specialized in virtual events and mobile engagement for businesses, associations, and nonprofits that host large-scale events.
Connecting with donors on a virtual platform to raise funds requires more comprehensive strategizing and planning than that of an in-person event. If you want to increase the impact of your event, you need to look beyond fundraising as the only goal. Virtual events have a tremendous impact when the plans are geared towards giving attendees a multifaceted event experience.
Consider the following key strategies to plan a multidimensional virtual fundraising event and increase the impact of your event:
Continue reading to learn more.
Start planning your virtual event by stating what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. The following important questions can help you generate ideas on what should be the main goals for your event:
What is the purpose of your event?
Do you want to raise funds, build a community of donors and supporters, expand your existing community, or all of the above? Meeting your fundraising target is a great goal, but you should also consider community-building.
What kind of experience do you want to create for your attendees?
Is it a fun and entertainment-oriented environment, a learning-oriented and interactive atmosphere, a networking and virtual hangout, or something else?
What are the key event takeaways for attendees?
What event memories do you want to create for attendees? What takeaways do you want attendees to leave the experience with?
What are the event’s key performance indicators (KPIs)?
Your event KPIs depend on your top priorities for your event. Of course, you want to raise a certain dollar amount. But, you might also be interested in other indicators like the total number of registrations, acquisitions of new donors, cost per donor acquisition, net promoter score (NPS), post-event community growth, etc.
Once your event goals have been stated, it will not be difficult to devise a strategic plan to accomplish them. However, it is also important to keep your audience experience in mind. Not only should you focus on achieving your grand plan, but also on making the event memorable for attendees.
You can create a multi-dimensional event experience by offering useful industry tools and opportunities. When you combine intriguing learning sessions with entertainment, networking, and opportunities to donate, attendees will have more enthusiasm to give back to your cause.
Below are some ideas to help in planning your event activities:
Intriguing Learning Sessions & Speakers
Create educational sessions that will resonate with your target audience. They can be thought-provoking sessions that are centered around the cause your nonprofit is promoting or other areas that are of interest to your audience. Bring together inspiring speakers to deliver short but intriguing thought leadership around those issues.
Any type of fundraising activity that will produce the desired result can be incorporated into the virtual event. This includes peer-to-peer fundraising, online auctions, “paddle raises,” and more.
Gamification can serve a dual purpose of providing both fun and revenue generation. For example, you can plan a trivia game where a game board is displayed on your virtual event platform. Questions are displayed and the audience donates to participate using their mobile event apps. This can also be an incentivized activity, such as providing rewards for the winning team.
Virtual DJ or Mini-Concert
For musical entertainment, you can have a virtual DJ stream music from the platform or feature a paid mini-concert to create a fun atmosphere and generate revenue.
To host a virtual event with a hub of activities, use a virtual event platform that is versatile and all-encompassing. Such a platform should have customizable features, such as:
Virtual Fundraising Activities
You need a platform that can be customized for different virtual fundraising activities including auctions, raffles, happy hours, item showcases, etc.
Learning and Interaction
In addition, the platform should be able to accommodate conference-style speaker presentations, Q&A sessions, live polling, and more. It should provide an opportunity to upload pre-recorded content that can be viewed or downloaded during or after the event.
The platform should afford attendees opportunities to network with other participants. This can be achieved in various ways including live chats, 1:1 video calls, and group chats.
Entertainment & Games
The platform should support gamification such as raffles and trivia. Further, it should support other forms of virtual entertainment such as virtual DJ, mini-concerts, and more.
The virtual platform should have features that can support exhibits and sponsorship. This is to help sponsors maximize brand awareness and generate leads at your virtual event.
If such features are available, logos and banners can be placed on the event home page, raffle pages, poll results pages, bid pages, etc. A section can also be created for the sponsors to showcase their products and services. This can be in the form of pre-recorded content that attendees can view or download.
You can also offer sponsors more leverage by providing virtual booths where attendees and sponsors can schedule 1:1 meetings to discuss their offerings.
Certain factors motivate businesses to get involved with nonprofits. To attract sponsors, you must be able to show the commercial opportunities your virtual event offers.
Your ability to attract potential customers to brands, boosting their brand awareness and visibility, will attract sponsors. You can help those brands get involved with your community by helping them build credibility. Achieve these goals by creating educational sessions around the sponsors’ offerings and solutions.
In addition to identifying someone’s ability to donate, you can qualify particular demographics as a target market for a sponsor’s products or services. This will be a great way to attract sponsors.
Therefore, you will need to look for some desirable attributes in your potential audience that can attract sponsors. Such attributes can be their location, interests, status, income level, job title, etc.
When you provide a steady market for sponsors in your nonprofit events, you will not only attract sponsors but you will also turn sponsors into partners.
To increase the impact of your virtual event, focus more on growing a community rather than raising a certain amount. This will shift your focus to gaining and retaining donors, which is more beneficial to your nonprofit. To grow a community from your event, consider doing the following:
Use a Mobile Event App
A mobile event app can be used to keep attendees engaged beyond an event, helping to foster community. You can leave your event platform open to attendees after the event dates and continue to create additional content, activities, and games that can be pushed to attendees via the app. You can also encourage attendees to continue networking through the platform.
Use Social Media
Create branded hashtags and ask participants to share their event experience on social media using the hashtag. You can keep the conversation going beyond the event and initiate other conversations around the activities of your nonprofit. You can also create question and answer sessions, polls and surveys, and run contests and giveaways to keep the community active.
Virtual events provide tremendous opportunities to capture and retrieve data before, during, and after the experience. Such data can reveal user preferences, which can help in guiding decisions at different stages of the event, from initial planning to post-event follow up. It can also be useful when planning for future events.
Virtual event platforms are designed to track and generate event analytics. Access these live, or generate them after the event. You can also collect data directly via live polling or by sending out surveys.
Some of the key data you should focus on includes the demographics of attendees, session registration, event session engagement, social media reach, attendee satisfaction, speaker performance, bids, and raffles sold. Further, you should pay attention to the net promoter score (NPS), which is the measure of how likely your event attendees are to recommend your event and nonprofit to their network.
A virtual fundraising event should offer a complete event experience if its impact will be felt beyond the event itself. This requires a variety of activities that offer opportunities for learning, interaction, fun, commerce, and community-building.