2020 has been a rollercoaster of a year for companies, small businesses, and individuals working to react and adapt to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. And while these particular groups dominate the news cycles, there’s another area of society equally affected—charities and fundraisers. Many of these organizations are also looking for innovative and unique ways to continue raising the funds required to meet the needs of those that count on them.
One way many organizations, large and small, are adapting is by taking their events online. While it may require some creative planning, there are plenty of virtual event ideas that can help organizations connect with their supporters and raise the funds they need.
Criteria to Consider When Deciding on Virtual Event Ideas
Before you decide to take your event virtual, there are quite a few considerations that should be reviewed with your team to make sure your plan is successful through this new medium.
- Managing registrations and ticket sales – In the past, many fundraising events relied on collecting ticket sales in person. Online money collection was often an afterthought. When you’re planning out your virtual event ideas, make sure you have a user-friendly, secure, and reliable way to collect money.
- Event participant interaction – A key to continuing to drive donations and attendees for your events is guest interaction. As you move your events to the virtual space, this can be a challenge—but certainly not impossible! Be resourceful and come up with ways to keep your attendees and supporters engaged during the event.
- Get creative in your event type – Thinking outside the box has never been more important for event planners. Figure out what types of virtual events your supporters would enjoy and how you can make them work digitally. You’d be surprised at how many different types of events can work online. Below, we’ve outlined some great virtual event ideas to spark your brainstorming and to get the conversation with your team started.
1. Remote Fun-Runs, Walks, and Rides
Fitness is an incredible way to connect your supporters in a way that not only drives fun but promotes healthy habits. You can get guests to sign up for your event and participate remotely. And if you leverage technology creatively, you can have a live feed that includes check-ins from participants, kick-off speeches, and live fundraising data pushed straight to people’s mobile devices. In addition, hosting an event such as this is an excellent way for donors to interact with sponsors thus providing more brand exposure.
2. Digital Drinks and Home Happy Hours
One of the easiest virtual event ideas to pull off is a virtual happy hour. If you want to keep it simple, schedule a time for all of your guests to connect online with their own favorite cocktail, and you can host speakers, auctions, and entertainment.
If you want to step it up a notch for higher-priced events, you could look into pre-sending the drinks or wines for your attendees to enjoy. People might love the ability to enjoy a wine tasting from the comfort of their own home. You could even have a professional sommelier virtually walk them through the different wines with history, fun facts, and knowledge to enhance the experience.
3. Virtual Gala Dinner
Food is an incredible way to get donors excited, connected, and open to supporting your cause. Just because you can’t meet in person, though, doesn’t mean you can’t host a virtual dinner. Consider leveraging food delivery or dropping off prepared meal baskets to your attendees. From there, you can schedule virtual speakers, roundtables, sponsor presentations, and entertainment that your donors can enjoy while all eating the same cuisine.
4. Virtual Concert and Performances
While it’s challenging to recreate all of the feelings of a live concert or performance, your supporters and guests will still enjoy the next best thing. You’ve got two main courses of action you can look to, depending on your team’s goals.
First, you could stream a concert or performance that is open to anyone to watch and look to collect donations during the performance. Your second option is to sell tickets to the event and limit the audience to only those with a digital ticket. And if you’re really looking to drive in the funds, you could do both!
5. Online Auctions
Auctions of all shapes and sizes have been a staple of the fundraising community for decades. And while you may have issues getting everyone in the same room, holding your fundraising event online will help you gain a larger audience.
If simplicity is your aim, you could virtually post the products and donated items up for auction and collect bids via email or contact forms. But if you really want to tap into your supporters and get them excited, you could host a live virtual auction. You’d need to get your participants registered beforehand and clearly define your processes, but that’s no different than what you’d need to do for an in-person auction.
Stream the auction, update the bids in real-time, and watch your supporters catapult your team to fundraising success!
6. Virtual Craft Workshops
Running classes, workshops, and instructional sessions are great ways to raise money from interested supporters. And just because you can’t get everyone in the same room doesn’t mean you can’t have an expert impart knowledge in return for help meeting your team’s fundraising goals.
Virtual craft workshops are an incredibly fun and easy way to get your supporters engaged. Hold a sign-up period well before the event and then send out the supplies needed to your attendees. On the night of the event, have everyone log onto a stream hosted by the event leader and work it just like you would in person. You can even provide some unique support channels where guests can send in questions or pictures to show their progress.
7. Game Nights!
Thanks to many great video chat platforms and technology services, getting your guests together for a virtual game night is easier than ever! Depending on the demographics of your supporter-base, you can pick out a game or design your own that works well in the virtual space. While it might not be quite as easy to coordinate as it would be in person, people are open to flexibility, especially when it supports a charity or a cause they’re behind.
8. Social Justice Forums and Discussion
An equally major headline from 2020 is the prevalence of social justice reform across all areas of society. Sometimes support is as much about collective thought and information dissemination as it is about raising funds. A creative way to engage with your followers is through an online social justice reform event. You can set it up to be a roundtable, open discussion, a presentation with a Q and A, or a combination of several of these. Focus in on the demographics of your supporters and develop the best plan to reach and engage the most people.
The Wrap Up
If we lived in an ideal world, COVID-19 wouldn’t be a thing, and we’d be able to continue running all of our events and fundraisers as business as usual. But if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that no matter what life throws at us, creative thinking and openness to adapt can be powerful tools to help keep our organizations moving forward. By leveraging some of these great virtual event ideas, your team can not only meet your fundraising needs, but you may be able to exceed your goals, thanks to the ability to reach a wider base with no geographical limitations.
For organizations and team leaders looking for the first step forward, we’d encourage you to check out what Event Espresso’s offering. The online event registration and ticket sales product already powers over 40,000 event websites with over $100 million in annual ticket sales. If you’re looking for a user-friendly and easy-to-implement product to plan your next virtual fundraising event, try a free live demo of Event Espresso.