Hosting Virtual Events for Nonprofits 101
By Jared Matthews, Strategy and Research Manager
You remember the panic just a few years ago — a world scrambling to pivot away from in-person events and interactions to social distance during the pandemic.
For many nonprofits, this meant transforming their typically face-to-face donor-engagement strategies — meetings, conferences, galas, and fundraisers — into virtual events.
And now? It’s hard to remember a time before live-streams.
Though the Covid emergency is over and many nonprofits have added their in-person events back to their fundraising calendars, virtual and hybrid events are here to stay.
So, should your nonprofit maintain (and even add) virtual events for donors to your engagement strategy? BBS & Associates believes the answer is yes. Here’s why …
The Value of Virtual Events by the Numbers
According to Kaltura’s “The State of Virtual Events 2022” Global Survey, online events remain a critical digital tool in a world that has begun to adopt a more digital mindset.
In their poll of 1,250 event organizers and attendees:
- 84% of eventgoers still want the option of attending online.
- 94% of companies indicated they plan to host a virtual event in the future.
- Some 73% of attendees reported being satisfied by their virtual event experience — with 93% feeling companies have done a good job with the transition from in-person to online.
- When attending a virtual event, opportunities to learn and network are critical features attendees are seeking.
Seeing such clear and overwhelming results, we suspect that a survey of your own donors would reveal a similarly high level of interest and satisfaction in remote participation options — and strongly urge you to seize this opportunity by offering your donors spaces and forums to engage with your organization virtually!
How to Make the Most of Your Virtual Event
At BBS, we want to empower you to build relationships with your donors and connect in ways that deliver the greatest impact and return on investment possible — including through your donor events.
As we’ve navigated with our clients into the relatively new waters of virtual events over the last several years, we’ve found four considerations to be essential when hosting a virtual event.
Even though it’s virtual, people still like the opportunity to network and to connect with their peers. So make time throughout the event, and set up opportunities, for them to do so (chat rooms, for example).
Make sure you use a platform that fits your type of event — and your budget. It’s best to research multiple platforms (see below for some good examples).
Just as you would for an in-person event, set up a strong communication plan in advance that will let you connect with attendees both before and after your virtual event. Don’t settle for just one channel; use several: mail, email, texts, and phone/ringless voicemails are possibilities to consider.
Either in person or virtual, donors still love to see the impact of their giving. So share stories and statistics that demonstrate the power of their generosity! The “Story Of The One” is one of your most powerful relationship-building tools.
Best Platforms for Virtual Events
If you’ve never hosted a virtual event before — or are interested in trying out different platforms that may suit your ministry’s event needs better — BBS and our clients have had good success with the following platforms you may wish to consider:
- For nonprofit-specific features that are great for online fundraising events
Have questions or want help strategizing your nonprofit’s next virtual event? I’d love to chat with you about the best ways to achieve your organization’s goals. Simply send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.