Whether your organization held one blockbuster virtual event during the pandemic or cancelled every fundraising touchpoint, there’s no disputing the fact: virtual events are here to stay. The digital world of the pandemic taught us that it’s possible to engage and steward donors beyond just your immediate geographic region. And, as the pandemic winds down, changes in our individual comfort levels with gathering in large groups make hybrid or fully virtual events integral elements of your fiscal year. But, just like an in-person event, holding a virtual event can be a really overwhelming task. We have 4 strategies for helping you curb common worries and get the most out of your next virtual event.
1. “What if nobody shows up?!”
Many fundraisers worry that because their event won’t include a venue, travel, or a dress-code, their participants won’t bother showing up. However, as long as you’re using a multi-channel approach to spread the word, you should have no concerns about attracting an audience. Consider using a formal evite and following up with your audience before and after they RSVP. Remember, we’re all new to the virtual events world – that includes your donors! They’ll be looking to you for direction as much as you’ll be looking to them for support.
2. “What if the tech doesn’t work?!”
The ‘virtual’ aspect of virtual events is often the most daunting part. With multiple cameras, laptops, and microphones to engage, wires can (literally!) get crossed pretty fast. So, if you don’t have a resident multimedia expert or IT department that can help you with production needs in addition to the hardware ones, consider engaging a service like The AV Department to help you manage the broadcast and content logistics of your virtual event. Having experienced professionals at the dashboard can make a huge difference for your virtual event.
3. “My staff is already overwhelmed! How can we add yet another event to the calendar?”
Small nonprofits with busy teams know better than anyone just how much work can go into making an event happen. Some organizations, like arts organizations, might host multiple events each year and the idea of adding yet another to the calendar might just be too much for their team. That’s why we recommend making hybrid events part of your norm. If you can think creatively and adapt to make your in-person events relevant and exciting for donors anywhere, you can kill two birds with one stone and engage donors near and far at the same time.
4. “We have a lot of our budget riding on a virtual event – what if it doesn’t work out?”
Regardless of how polished your virtual (or in-person) event is, it’s no substitute for meaningful stewardship over the long-term and you should never be planning your entire fundraising strategy around events. Events are a valuable donor touchpoint and can be an excellent opportunity to make your mission and impact come alive in real-time for donors, but a solid relationship with your donors can disaster-proof any event. So, keep making those connections and let virtual events complement your strategy!
Virtual events can be scary, but that’s no reason not to host one! And with these tips, you can overcome any pre-event worries and host an event that will wow your donors and fit seamlessly into your stewardship plan.