What is KEY to getting the right people to your next virtual event? MARKETING.
Feels like we’ve been hearing this phrase a lot lately: “When things get back to normal…” Sure, it’s human nature to reflect on how life has changed dramatically for everyone in the past year, and what we plan to do – or resume doing – when it’s safe and legal. BUT. Please. On behalf of ALL vulnerable people, animals and places out there, reject the “when things get back to normal” approach to your fundraising. No one knows if or when in-person events will be back in 2021. For now, we DO know that virtually (pun intended) NO ONE in our market is planning for in-person events yet. Plenty of folks ARE planning virtual events, which are even superior to in-person events in some ways – provided you market them well. You must get enough of the right people – read, generous donors – to your event, so you can reach (and exceed) your fundraising goals. Let us explain.
Planning and Marketing Your Event
You’re going to have an accelerated timeline when planning your virtual gala (VG), as opposed to planning an in-person event. And that’s a good thing! If you tried to plan an in-person event in 90 days we might just think you were off your rocker. But you CAN plan a successful VG in 90 days (though prepare to work your tail off to do it!). That’s enough marketing time to get the word out and get your donors, supporters and viewers registered and ready to back you – but you MUST use those 90 days wisely. Our trusty Virtual Event Marketing & Communications Calendar (which we share with all our clients) will help tremendously! In it, we walk you through the process of getting the word out about your virtual event, including deadlines to keep you on track. What should you be doing 24 weeks prior to your VG? (Hint: Secure savvy sponsorships!) What should you be doing 3 weeks prior? 3 days prior? It’s all there, friends! We also provide sample copy for your website and social media platforms. Take a little time and tweak it to your unique mission language and make it your own.
Social Media Marketing
Many of us have a love/hate relationship with social media. But there’s no arguing the power of it as a marketing tool – a FREE marketing tool! So don’t think of it as an afterthought. Assign the task of social media marketing to a very capable person and be sure to market your fundraising event frequently and in engaging ways. Brainstorm creative ways to get the word out. You can do more than simple announcements of how many months/weeks/days there are until your VG. How can you build excitement leading up to the big event? Endless possibilities.
Once you’ve decided to Go Virtual!, one of the first things to do is make the announcement on your website. It’s your org’s top story so SHOUT IT OUT on your splash page. It’s the first thing people see when they go to your website, so make that splash page LIVELY and LOUD with the great news that you’re going virtual. Bright colors, moving graphics, whatever you can come up with that grabs people’s attention belongs on your home and event landing pages.
Let everyone know about your upcoming VG. Email blasts are a great way to do just this. Send out “save the date” notifications followed by invitations and all the details folks need to join. One great idea to ensure your major donors don’t fail to notice this important info? Send calendar requests to major donors. Once it’s ON their calendars, there’s no chance of your event being overlooked!
Storytelling is Marketing
We revere and respect nonprofits for providing essential services to the most vulnerable people, places and animals in our shared world. Government aid only goes so far and when it ends, nonprofits are on the front lines, meeting critical needs and always filling the gap. NOW is the time to SHOW (not just tell) what could happen to your org – and those you serve – if you don’t raise money RIGHT NOW. We don’t mean to get all doomsday on you, but this is a long-term ongoing situation. The devastating economic impacts are just now starting to ripple through every market. Even if your reserve funds look okay today, don’t deplete them.
The future is uncertain in the best of times. Today, it’s more uncertain than ever. So there’s never been a better time to grab attention and tug heartstrings, than with a true story about the real-life impact brought about by 2020’s myriad disasters. We hear about hospitals nearing capacity – imagine a child with cancer without a room to be treated in. Think of a homeless shelter having to not only turn away folks, but close its doors permanently in the winter because of a COVID-19 outbreak and no operating reserves. These are the REAL stories that will have your loyal supporters reaching for their wallets to help. Show them the REAL impact they’ll make by doing so, through powerful storytelling.
This isn’t the time to put off raising money and helping the vulnerable ones who were hit disproportionately hard by the wild ride that was 2020. It IS the time to Go Virtual! Contact us and let’s get started on your next fundraising event or VG.