6 Tips for Successful Nonprofit Virtual Events in 2021
WRITTEN BY SARAH BAKER
2020 presented the unique challenge of cancelling long planned in-person galas, luncheons, 5ks and more, and if you were able, transforming these into virtual events. As 2021 is quickly approaching, now is the time to look back on what worked and what did not as your nonprofit prepares for a year of virtual and socially-distant events as part of the new normal.
6 Tips for Successful Nonprofit Virtual Events
1. Hype Up Your Supporters
Utilize your event page to get your supporters excited about your event. Use a combination of images, videos, and text to describe your event and share your mission. Promote any guest speakers or performers and link to their social media accounts or websites. Create graphics and language to share your impact metrics to encourage donations and event attendance.
2. Set Up Registration for Your Event
One key element to ensure your virtual event is well attended is to create a registration process. This can include selling tickets, or if your event is free, simply collecting your supporters’ contact information. This is crucial to enable your nonprofit to send reminders to all registrants ahead of the event as well as collecting donor data for future fundraising. Collect both email address and phone number from all registrants to send out email and text reminders in the weeks and days leading up to your events. Make it as easy as possible for your registrants to join your live stream by including the link to your event page within your email and text communications.
3. Make Your Event Interactive
Consider adding interactive elements to make your virtual event more than another hour spent in front of a computer or phone. Get creative to engage with your community of supporters in a variety of relevant and fun ways. Hosting a virtual gala or awards night? Consider giving your supporters the option to view the event for free with priced ticketing options to get special incentives like food delivery, a gift bag with swag from your event sponsors, etc. Are your supporters getting tired of wearing pajamas and sweatpants day in and day out? Create a social media contest for the best dressed virtual event attendees, you can even include a category for best dressed pets or houseplants.
4. Make Donating Easy
Give your supporters the option to donate early and often. While you may have typically held off on a donation ask ahead of your in-person gala, it is more than acceptable to have a donation ask as soon as you start promoting your virtual event. Even if your event is free, consider giving your supporters the option to donate at the time of registration. Use donation buttons within your email invites, throughout your event page, and even in your ticket confirmation email.
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5. Keep It Short
While your in-person gala may have spanned over several hours, keep your virtual stream to no longer than an hour to hold your audience’s interest. Putting on a special performance? Consider following the lead of the Montana Ballet who hosted a virtual Nutcracker and made it available to their registrants for 48 hours. Allow registrants to watch at their leisure, and come back to your page over the course of two days.
6. Spread the Word
Promote your event using all channels available to you. Post the link to your event page on each of your social media channels in the weeks and days leading up to the event. Invite your guest speakers, performers, award recipients, etc. to share the link on their personal social accounts as well. Send out invitations via email and text message with links directly to a ticketing or RSVP form. And if you’ve collected your supporters’ emails and phone numbers during registration, don’t forget to send a reminder text message and email with instructions on how to join the event just before showtime!
I hope some of these tips help your nonprofit launch a successful virtual or hybrid fundraising event and raise more in 2021. For more best practices on virtual fundraising events, I recommend you check out our Toolkit: Create Virtual Fundraising Events that Rival In-Person Events.
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