For the past year, nonprofits have conducted virtual fundraising events to raise donations and continue engaging supporters despite pandemic-related restrictions. During this time, organizations learned valuable lessons about not only the best way to plan these events, but also the best tech tools to use to set their virtual events up for success.
It’s not enough to just live stream your event and call it a day. Virtual event tools provide the framework for creating a uniquely engaging opportunity that rivals in-person experiences.
With this in mind, here are three tech takeaways we’ve learned from a year of digital fundraising events:
- Strategic virtual event management processes are necessary to engage participants.
- Mobile apps provide an effective way to reach potential participants.
- Accessibility is important to reach the widest audience possible.
Although social distancing and masking regulations are easing in many areas, it’s still worth investing in dedicated virtual event management solutions as these events will be popular in the future. Virtual fundraising events are highly convenient for attendees, have less overhead costs because of the lack of a physical venue, and allow you to reach an international audience with your message.
By establishing your strategy for virtual fundraising events now, you give your organization a robust framework to use in all future activities. Let’s dive in!
1. Strategic virtual event management processes are necessary to engage participants
After a year of virtual event fundraising, it’s clear that an ad-hoc approach to event management won’t cut it. Each aspect of your event, from registration and data collection to running the event itself, contains its own complexities. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by each step.
Investing in powerful event registration tools is the best strategy to host a well-organized event from the start. Your event registration platform should include:
- Registration tools such as registration forms, a ticketing platform, and data tracking. These features make it more convenient for attendees to register online. Registration tools also ensure your team can review important event analytics such as the number of registrations vs. actual attendance or cost per participant.
- Marketing tools such as email, an event blog, and social media platforms. These tools help you spread the word about your event so you can successfully obtain more registrations. Event Espresso’s social media event promotion guide provides an excellent overview of how to use multiple social media platforms to promote your event.
During the virtual fundraising event itself, ensure that you’re using a proper live streaming platform to keep attendees engaged for the duration. Check out Recharity’s live streaming for nonprofits guide to explore top platforms such as Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Twitch, and YouTube. These platforms are well-suited to host fully virtual and hybrid events that combine in-person and online experiences.
2. Mobile apps provide an effective way to reach potential participants
After a year of conducting virtual fundraising events, it’s become clear that mobile platforms are more important than ever to connect with your nonprofit’s supporters. In fact, fundraising statistics show that 50% of all nonprofit website traffic last year came from mobile and tablet users.
To take advantage of this trend, organizations are investing in mobile apps. Nonprofit mobile apps are an effective way to engage participants on a device we all use constantly in daily life. Over the past year, as virtual events have become more popular, nonprofits are using apps for everything from managing event check-ins to raising funds throughout the event.
With this in mind, here are a few ways to make your event app stand out:
- Brand your app to your organization. Design your app with your organization’s logo and colors in mind to promote greater brand recognition and trust among your supporters.
- Train your team and supporters on how to use the app. Ensure everyone’s on the same page with instructional PDFs or an FAQ page on your website.
- Integrate your app with your other nonprofit tech solutions. Your app will generate valuable data depending on what you use it for, such as event attendance analytics, supporter feedback, and updated supporter contact information. Therefore, it’s important to find an app developer that integrates with your CRM database. As DNL OmniMedia’s nonprofit technology guide explains, integrations allow data from your software solutions to flow seamlessly into your database so you can assess this data in the future.
As detailed in this post about strategies to increase event ticket sales, mobile apps make your event more accessible to attendees. These apps provide all the information they need and a platform to engage more deeply with the event content, right in the palm of their hands!
3. Accessibility is important to reach the widest audience possible
Since nonprofits have almost exclusively relied on virtual platforms to engage with their supporters in the last year, accessibility has become an increasingly important concern. Prioritizing the accessibility of your nonprofit’s event website ensures everyone can engage with your virtual event content, no matter their device, visual impairment, or physical disability.
There are a few best practices you can implement right now to increase the accessibility of your virtual events, including:
- Ensuring all videos are accompanied by closed captions.
- Ensuring any images include alternative text that can be read by screen readers.
- Designing all event registration and information pages so that they’re responsive to mobile devices.
- Designing these pages so they’re easily navigable by someone using keyboard navigation.
This past year has made it clear that it’s not only important to consider accessibility when planning in-person events. Virtual event attendees require the same level of consideration and accommodations so they can easily engage with what you have to offer.
In summary, the success of nonprofit virtual fundraising events of the past year has relied on proper technology to plan and carry out these experiences. In the process, nonprofits have learned valuable lessons about the best ways to incorporate virtual event management tools, mobile apps, and accessibility into their virtual event planning. Keep these top takeaways in mind when you plan your next virtual event.