If one good thing came out of the pandemic, it’s the chance for new opportunities. Many industries and sectors began doing things online that were never considered a viable option before and were surprised by how well it worked. Nonprofit fundraising fell into this category, with many charities realizing that online events allowed them to reach more people and raise more funds. Even for organizations that were reluctant to switch everything to a virtual format, hybrid fundraisers also emerged as a beneficial option.
As a result, online fundraising boomed in a period when it was expected to struggle. Some online fundraising methods and tools proved so useful that many expect they’ll stick around long after the pandemic passes. Read on to see how your organization can boost your virtual fundraising events in 2022 and beyond.
How to hold successful virtual fundraising events
Online fundraising can be extremely effective, but organizations need the right software to successfully carry out their efforts. This is an obstacle that prevents many nonprofits from getting started. Fundraising platforms (like PayBee) aim to be a one-stop shop that provides everything an organization needs. Having those tools will take you through hosting, ticketing, and marketing your event with ease. Here’s how the process works at each stage.
Before the event takes place
It’s always crucial to be well-prepared for any event. But online events add some entirely new components that require extra preparation. In addition to marketing and attracting as many attendees as possible, technical elements need to be in great shape. Communication is also key. Be sure to create a comprehensive schedule for who should be doing what at any given moment, and manage your guest list properly. Keeping not just guests but also sponsors, vendors, media, board members, and anyone involved in the loop is essential for a successful day.
Here’s a more detailed breakdown for preparations leading up to virtual fundraising events.
Selling tickets isn’t just a way to raise funds for your nonprofit. It’s also an opportunity to collect data about your guests, including information you’ll need to run the event successfully. Therefore, even if you offer free tickets, don’t skip this step. Keep your event organized by gathering information during the ticket buying process, such attendees’ dietary preferences or fun details like their favorite color. The more information you have, the easier it is to send reminders or follow-ups before the event as well.
Advertising your event is the perfect opportunity to encourage donations, so don’t forget about campaign links. Platforms like PayBee make this easy by automatically generating campaign links and landing pages. The links take users straight to a landing page for a fundraiser, making it easy for your organization to gain more support.
Peer-to-peer fundraising pages
Traditionally, fundraising has taken a centralized form. In other words, a nonprofit itself asked for donations as a united entity. However, peer-to-peer fundraising is becoming more popular, allowing individuals to carry out campaigns on behalf of an organization.
Peer-to-peer fundraising is a great way for individuals to harness their networks to raise support alongside virtual fundraising events. It’s usually a successful fundraising approach due to the more personal nature. Anyone can carry out these campaigns, but volunteers, donors, or even board members are often the best candidates. Find a platform like PayBee to make this process as easy as possible. PayBee offers a tailored tool for creating peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, including ways for supporters to share their campaigns on social media and other communication channels.
Social media and email marketing
Most of the world’s population checks social media each day. Since social networks are where many users get news and information, they’re the perfect place to spread awareness about an upcoming event. For your next virtual fundraiser, make sure your information and links are suitable for all major social media channels, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. It’s best to cast a wide net, but make sure to put the bulk of your efforts into the social media channel your audience prefers, which will vary depending on your demographics.
However, not everyone uses or pays attention to social media. Email marketing is another important component when it comes to planning successful virtual fundraising events. Make sure to include important event information and any campaign links or links to peer-to-peer pages.
Equipping your team
With virtual events, it’s especially important to equip your team. Everyone involved with your event should know the tools and technology inside out. Set aside some time to hold practice a livestream and troubleshoot. Otherwise, even a minor technical issue could turn into a much bigger problem. Consider working with a support team who can step in if there’s an issue you can’t fix. For example, PayBee’s partner ecosystem can help with setting up your software and handling any unexpected complications.
But a good event requires more than just a lack of technical errors. Make sure you also have fun and entertaining hosts. It may seem more challenging to engage virtual attendees, but there are ways to get creative and capture their attention. Give shoutouts, try a fun virtual challenge, or maybe even bring in a recognizable guest.
Handling your equipment
No matter how knowledgeable your team might be, things can still go wrong if equipment isn’t up to the job at hand. Running a livestream alongside the other tools needed to host a virtual event isn’t an easy task for a computer, so it’s important to invest in a high-quality processor. Also, avoid running any programs that aren’t strictly necessary.
You also need to set up your technology in a way that facilitates a smooth experience. Connect your computer to the internet using an ethernet cable rather than WiFi for the best connection possible. If you do need to use WiFi for any reason, opt for 5G and minimize the number of devices using the same network.
But ultimately, no matter how well prepared you are, you can’t eliminate the possibility of a technical problem. Therefore, have a Plan B for each activity. You might need to shift the order of your itinerary or use pre-recorded videos in place of a livestream. Have some conversation starters ready to keep guests entertained via the chat whatever happens. These preparations before the event will make the day-of experience much less stressful.
On the day of the event
Although marketing and preparing for an event is crucial, you shouldn’t stop working hard on the day (or night) the event takes place. An enjoyable event experience can encourage more donations and even secure attendance for your next event. Here are a few elements to take care of.
On the day of your event, make sure your mobile giving options are working properly. Virtual events and hybrid events with virtual aspects open up more ways for guests to make donations. In addition to providing a way for guests to pay online, platforms like PayBee have tools that enable mobile donations. Many guests prefer making donations straight from their smartphones, and a mobile app provides an easy way for them to do exactly that.
When guests arrive early to an in-person event, they generally have the chance to network or grab a drink as they wait for the action to unfold. You can recreate the same thing in an online environment. Give participants a chance to join the event early and some activities to do. For example, you could open the live chat and place a few conversation starters there, or show a few videos. Then, once they’ve arrived, continue to offer activities.
Just because an event is taking place online, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get creative. From raffles to auctions to games, there’s plenty you can do through a screen.To encourage participation, consider offering small prizes, such as gift cards or swag items. In some cases, you could even offer food. Some of our clients have partnered with catering companies to deliver meals to guests, creating the virtual equivalent of a gala with a meal. Or, you could send out some snacks and beverages through the mail.
No nonprofit wants to host a boring event. But the solution to this problem isn’t overwhelming the audience with various activities taking place simultaneously. It’s preferable to space your activities out and avoid any overlap. This ensures that everyone remains engaged and gets the most value from what you offer. You might also consider hosting activities that take place before the main event even happens, such as silent auctions.
Live chat feature
When it comes to virtual fundraising events, it’s important to pay special attention to the live chat feature throughout the day of your event. This is the easiest way to engage with your audience and maintain a positive environment. Make it clear that participants can introduce themselves and ask questions in the chat, and react to their messages on the livestream when relevant. Appoint one person from your team to manage the chat and provide updates, which is particularly useful for any attendees with poor internet connection who may not be able to keep up with the livestream.
Following the event
Once your event is over, you’ll probably want to breathe a sigh of relief. But remember that the work isn’t necessarily complete. Just because the event has finished doesn’t mean that it’s time to leave your participants alone.
Holding a virtual event gives you new ways to follow up with your supporters after an event. Why not record the action as it’s happening and send a link out to everyone who attended? This will surely be appreciated by anyone who ended up arriving late, leaving early, or taking a break. You can also use the recordings as content to advertise your next event. Here are some other follow-up tips.
Follow-ups with guests
Mastering the art of the follow-up is crucial to maximizing donations and keeping your donors engaged. When you hold auctions, the winners still need to pay, and without an effective system this can easily lead to complications. Plus, it’s important to thank everyone for attending so they feel appreciated. With a platform like PayBee, you can send out a follow-up email to all attendees with the click of a button. This includes communications tailored to specific groups of attendees (such as those who won auctions, for example).
Trying to secure more donations isn’t the only thing that you should do after an event. It’s also the perfect opportunity to learn from what went well and what could have been done better. But be sure to do it quickly while the event is still fresh in everyone’s mind. Ask all the staff members and volunteers who were part of the event to give their feelings on how everything went.
Pay attention to more objective metrics as well. For instance, you can evaluate which activities raised the most and the least amount of funds or attracted the greatest attendance. Are there any lessons that you learned from the experience? This will help with your future virtual fundraising events.
Ready to hold the perfect event?
Whether it’s virtual, hybrid, or in-person, running an event is never an easy task. But using tools from a fundraising platform like PayBee helps manage the process.
The virtual revolution is here, and it’s full of opportunity for nonprofits. Are you ready to use these opportunities to your advantage and take your nonprofit to the next level? To see if PayBee is the right choice for your next virtual event, be sure to check out our free demo.