Virtual Event Marketing & Communications
The Deal Maker (or Breaker) for Virtual Fundraising Events
Great communication and solid social and marketing strategies are vitally important during the best of times. When planning a live virtual gala (VG) or fundraising event, they become more important than ever. Your partners and donors need help participating in your virtual event and anticipating pain points. Your job is to eliminate said pain points.
Guess what we’ve been doing for most of 2020? Planning and executing successful live VGs, all while raising critical dollars for our beloved nonprofit partners. With experience comes knowledge and we’re ready to share, through our trusty Virtual Event Communications and Marketing Calendar. It’s a valuable data-based tool we provide all our partners, designed to keep you on track and your donors in the know, during the ENTIRE event marketing cycle. It’s also a way to ensure everyone is on the same page – literally AND figuratively. Friends, there’s a reason our partners RAVE about this content. Even the most organized and detail-oriented event planners report they referred to their calendars frequently. Read on for some of the highlights!
3-6 Months Prior to your VG
So you’ve made the plunge and decided to Go Virtual! You’ll be so glad you did! Now it’s time to start the procurement process. Who can you get to offer goods, services, experiences or vacation properties? Now’s the time to call in favors! Do keep in mind some industries have been particularly hard hit and may be less able to donate than in years past. It’s also the right time to solicit sponsors for their help. Sponsors have grown to LOVE virtual events, for a number of reasons. We’re no longer limited by in-person attendance, as we are with in-person events. So more and more people are able to watch your VG, which of course means more and more eyeballs on those sponsor logos. Plus, you’ll thank your sponsors several more times leading up to the big day.
Another thing to do once you’ve decided to pivot to virtual, is to identify and solicit potential virtual table hosts – just like you would with an in-person event, only their duties are slightly different. Have your virtual table host come up with a “quaran-team” – a group they’ll invite over for a small viewing party. Partner with a local caterer to deliver food and drinks that your virtual host will serve while you all watch the VG together. Voilà – now you have a microcosm of a live event. This, friends, is peer to peer fundraising at its finest!
3 Months Prior
Announcement time! Let your supporters know you’re making the pivot to virtual. Shout it from the rooftops! Plaster details on your website and social media channels. Send out an email blast asking folks to Save the Date! A week or two later, send out virtual invitations that include your event’s URL. The idea is to gently – but consistently – share your excitement about your decision to pivot to virtual. Your excitement and enthusiasm are contagious!
5 Weeks Prior – Open Registration
Once your event is a little more than a month away, it’s time to open registration. Instruct folks how to register for mobile bidding to give at the appeal, bid on auction items, or purchase raffle tickets and other revenue streams. Raffles, incentives and drawings are all fabulous and PROVEN ways to get folks excited about your upcoming event.
2 Weeks Prior – Raffles, Incentives, Drawings
Games of chance are fun for everyone, particularly the types of donors we like to call The Gamblers. For whatever reason, they do ESPECIALLY well in a virtual format. So make sure people know they can support your org’s mission AND give themselves a chance to win a prize, by purchasing raffle tickets (do adhere to state and local laws). Bonus: your guests will already be registered and ready for the big night.
1 Week Prior – Open Online Bidding
Let the bidding begin! A week (or so) before the event, open the bidding for the online and live auctions. Make sure you include the link in any communications. You may also want to highlight Featured Auction Items – your more valuable, rare or exciting packages – to drum up even more excitement. Remind donors they can still purchase raffle tickets for a chance to win an awesome prize.
3 Days Prior: Table Host Check-In
Take the time to check in with your virtual table hosts and make sure they’re ready for their viewing party, have everything they’ll need and are meeting (and exceeding) THEIR fundraising goals.
1 Day Prior:
It’s the day before, which means it’s the day to say, “See” you tomorrow! Ask folks if they’re registered and provide the link yet again. Remember, this is a consistency game. Win it.
Day of Event:
Almost there! We recommend a notification in the morning – Hey, the countdown is on! We’re eight hours away! Are you ready? We are SO ready! And another five minutes to LIVE as a reminder for those who may have gotten distracted (it happens!).
Would you be surprised if we told you we’ve really just scratched the surface here? This blog contains maybe 20% of the information included in the extensive Virtual Event Communications and Marketing Calendar. There’s much MUCH more you can do to make sure EVERYONE knows about your event, and to ensure there’s no confusion on the part of any of your guests. We hope this gives you something to think about and helps you come up with your own questions. And if you’d like the full meal deal and ALL of the details, contact us. Together we’ll plan a lovely and lucrative live VG!