10 Dos for Virtual Fundraising Events
Fundraising VIRTUALLY might still sound weird to you. And we’ll be honest – when we were planning our spring season, this is not how we pictured it! But here we are. And now we know, virtual fundraising isn’t as scary as you might think, nor is it as difficult! Armed with the right team, tech and strategy, it can be fun, fresh AND effective! It IS new but it’s also NECESSARY these days. (And frankly, the more we do it, the more we think it’ll be a fabulous tool to use even when we CAN go back to traditional events and galas!) Plus, who says innovation is a bad thing?
That said, there are things you can do to make your virtual fundraising event more appealing to folks at home AND smoother for you and your production team. Read on for tips.
Remember, this IS (almost) everyone’s first rodeo. Talk, write, text, email and post ’til you’re blue in the face. Seriously. Don’t worry about repeating yourself. You’d MUCH rather people think, “OKAY, I get it” than “Wait, what’s going on? I don’t know what they’re trying to do here. Think I’ll watch Netflix instead.” Leave ZERO CHANCE for confusion. Let your supporters know exactly what, when and how things are going to happen. Tell them – and then SHOW them – how truly easy it is for them to show YOU the virtual love.
9. Market Maniacally
Send postcards and emails. Devise a savvy and robust social campaign. Update your website and ALL communications. Make phone calls and schedule video chats with major donors and sponsors. When everyone is on the same page and in the know (i.e., registered and ready to join you), you’ve taken your first steps toward profitable virtual victory!
8. Sweat Messaging
Cohesive scripting and messaging are always important when fundraising. But never more so than when presenting virtually. Keep a through line – a connecting theme – throughout every element of your lineup – much like a Ted talk. Watch a few on a topic you’re interested in and pay close attention to the seamless transitions between talking points. YOUR transitions need to be just as smooth.
7 . Shorten Run-of-Show
This is a sprint, not a marathon. Viewers are not conditioned to pay attention to anything online for long – there’s a reason commercials are interspersed throughout shows, right? Remove anything and everything that isn’t evocative, educational, doesn’t add momentum or entice people to give or raise the money. Brainstorm with your team and come up with creative new ways to do this. This is our favorite part! Reach out and let us brainstorm with you.
6. Rethink How To Present Content
Your run-of-show is going to look similar – but different. Powerful storytelling STILL equals successful fundraising, but in your shortened time frame, skip the keynote address. Limit talking heads. Your board chair or ED can still present their appeal, but consider pre-recording speeches so only the content you desire is broadcast. More pre-production is necessary to keep folks at home interested. Talking heads and a carousel of presenters will not translate or keep folks engaged. Trust us on this. Keep your messaging the same, but rethink how you present it. And as always, keep it simple, succinct and on point.
5. Show & Tell
Write and display step-by-step directions. YOU may be tech savvy, but plenty of your donors are not. Nothing wrong with that, but it does underscore the importance of providing them with crystal clear directions on how to do it all: Register, place bids, give gifts and so forth. Communicate, display and provide written directions as well as screenshots or video of how to do everything. Remove barriers for viewers to support you. Eliminate “I didn’t know how” or “I couldn’t figure out how” to do anything. Make giving effortless.
4. Embrace Your Inner Trailblazer
While online auctions have been around for years, virtual fundraising events have not. This is a whole new world, so treat it as such. How often in life do you get to do that?! The super exciting thing about blazing new virtual fundraising trails? Your only limit is your imagination. Try new things – try anything you can think of! If it doesn’t work, so what? Don’t do it again. It won’t cost you much, but you’ll never know what doesn’t work if you don’t try. So pack your innovation, leave convention behind and see where your imagination takes you! Great new ideas await if you’re open to them.
3. Have More Fun
Be a little goofy. Laugh. Think entertainment factor! Use props, background noises, hooting and hollering, celebration, etc. Weave in some humor – humor brings people together. If you can’t be funny in a sincere (NOT cheesy) way, make sure you have an engaging, thought-provoking script that brings people together and firmly plants them on your side. But do look for opportunities for levity – funny things are not only memorable, they’ll endear you to your guests. Win. Win!
2. Hire Pros
It’s true for live in-person traditional galas with hundreds of people gathered in the same ballroom and it’s true for a virtual event as well. The show will be much more polished, entertaining and enjoyable to watch if you use professional fundraisers. Auctioneers and emcees are trained in the unique atmosphere of live events. Don’t leave these oh-so-important roles to volunteers. Regardless of how charismatic said volunteer may be, if they’re not used to pivoting with live events, your show won’t be as smooth. Something else to think about – hopefully, nothing will go wrong technically, but if it does… we’ll just put it this way – you’ll be glad you have a pro who can make lemonade out of technical lemons!
1. Utilize Data-Driven Revenue Strategy
As a data-driven company, this is an exciting time for us. We’re already busy collecting data from the virtual events we’re doing (as well as those from our virtual compadres). And guess what? We’re noticing trends worth pursuing! While it’s certainly not what we thought we’d be doing this spring, we’re wholeheartedly embracing this new fundraising world. We’re ready to navigate it – with YOU!
When you’re ready to take the leap, give us a ring! We’re proud to be at the forefront of this new fundraising frontier and we’re coming up with more out-of-this-world ideas every day. Pivot with us – let’s do this!