Hybrid Event Engagement Tips to Make Your Event a Success

Excitement. Camaraderie. A palpable sense of togetherness.

This is what we feel every time we walk into an in-person event. This is what drives us even more to gather together after two years of virtual solitude.

And yet we’ve found so much value to be had from virtual that the hybrid event format is becoming the gold standard … but only when done well.

Virtual attendees are every bit as important to the success of hybrid events as local attendees are, but all too often can be made to feel like they’re relegated to the cheap seats and their attendance matters little, if at all.

Your online audience is We & Goliath’s primary focus.

These tips and tricks can go a long way towards making a giant impact as you grow a national or even global audience!

Easy Ways to Engage Virtual Attendees in a Hybrid Event

Start Here: No-Cost Methods to Bring the Voice of Remote Attendees Into the Room

The easiest way to go beyond a passive live stream is to forward chat messages and questions from online attendees to speakers, who read those messages from stage

Don’t forget to verbally ask the online attendees for this feedback so they feel invited and included. It sounds obvious, but many speakers aren’t used to doing it, so it does take some reminders and examples to ensure it happens.

So, how do you get online responses to the speakers?

In a premium production setup, questions are often shown to speakers on confidence monitors (small displays facing the stage). 

Or, here are two no-cost methods to forward those messages from remote attendees to in-person speakers:

1. A support staff can filter and read these out to the speakers on a mic (representing your online audience)

2. If you have a podium, the speakers can simply read messages directly off a mobile phone or laptop.

Pro Tip: Don’t underestimate the power of chat. Asking questions throughout a presentation and reading off funny or insightful responses goes a long way to making people feel included.

Offer Exclusive Online-Only Q&A Sessions with Speakers

Make your online attendees feel special with some exclusive speaker access. This helps overcome the FOMO of not being in-person. 

Here’s an easy way to do it:

Consider asking speakers to join the chat after their sessions and reply to some questions and comments from the virtual attendees that didn’t have time to be answered in person. 

Pro Tip: Take it a step further by hosting an exclusive Q&A on video! Right after the speaker comes off stage, they’re usually fired up. Capture that energy in a rapid fire Q&A just for remote attendees.

Collect Comments & Takeaways As Social Post Replies for Tons of Free Views

At the end of a session, ask everyone to share their takeaways as a reply to a post you make on your favorite Social channel. 

What’s so special about that?

This is a great way to hack the social media algorithms because, by getting a high number of replies and reactions to a single post, your post will be shown at the top of people’s feeds, piquing new interest in your events

Pro Tip: For bonus points, request the social post replies from the stage, and flash a QR code that links right to the post on screen with a matching link in the chat; then watch the engagement roll in from both audiences!

Give an Attendance Award to Keep People Watching

One way to maximize viewing time is to announce that at a few random times throughout the event, you’ll be giving out secret keywords people can use to enter a prize drawing. Use survey software to capture and score the responses. Pick a random winner from the list of everyone who gets a 100% score and get ready to watch your average session view time skyrocket.

Pro Tip: This same method works great if you need to verify attendance to give out CEUs (continuing education units).

Customize Instructions for Both Audiences from Stage to Prevent Confusion

If you don’t have a dedicated virtual host, you’ll need to give speakers  a script to announce any special instructions for virtual guests like what to do during breaks, and how to interact at key times – such as responding to questions or polls. 

Pro Tip: If you have a producer running a custom livestream you can show instructions on slides for virtual attendees only so your host doesn’t have to read them off. And of course, those same instructions and any action links should be placed in the chat.

Use Hand Raise Polls for Instant-Feedback

Run a quick “pulse-of-the-room” poll asking your virtual attendees to raise their hand and then do the same for your in-person attendees, showing each audience on screen. Asking people to do simple physical actions keeps them awake and engaged too.

Offer Virtual-only Content like On-Demand Videos, Breakouts, Workshops, and more.

Give attendees opportunities for deeper levels of engagement with each other and your content with virtual-only workshops, breakouts or networking sessions. This can be offered while similar content is happening in person or during breaks and mealtimes. If your whole event is in Zoom or similar software, virtual production staff can push people to and from breakouts, sending messages, and countdown clocks. At larger conferences, you might have multiple simultaneous virtual workshops, which each offer small group breakouts. With a custom livestream, you can introduce this virtual-only content on screen along with chat messages to guide attendees.

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Advanced Engagement Strategies for Hybrid Events

Project Virtual Attendees & Their Reactions into the Room

Instead of the no-cost approach of having speakers check virtual responses on their phone we can project content from the virtual attendees to confidence monitors or screens around the room. This could include featured questions and comments being shown on screen. A gallery view of attendees on the side wall for example is a great way for speakers and in-person attendees to see and interact with the virtual audience, and is a pre-requisite for our next strategy…

Have Fun & Liven Things Up with Follow the Leader Dance Breaks

Many long events have guided stretch breaks to wake people up. Let’s take that up a notch! Liven up an event and give the virtual attendees some love with “follow the leader” dance breaks between sessions where you spotlight some of the best virtual dancers making them full screen, and have everyone else (including the in person attendees) follow their dance moves. Each time the spotlight changes, the audiences follows the new leader. This is a super fun, empowering, and bonding activity that literally puts your virtual audience in the spotlight.

Tip: Have a few initial dance leaders planned who will set the tone with fun, easy-to-follow moves.

Merge Your Audience Input with Combined Chat, Q&A & Poll Data

It sounds simple, but one of the best ways to get virtual attendees to feel included is by, well, including their opinions on equal footing with your local audience. By posting a QR code on screen and matching it with a clickable link in the virtual chat, you can gather heaps of aggregate data from both audience segments and discuss it in real-time. Make sure your local attendees can submit and upvote questions in the same Q&A space as your online attendees, and give your presenters an opportunity to answer those questions both on-stage and off. Encourage your local attendees to jump into the online chat with their phones so all your attendees have a chance to interact. You’ll be amazed by how many, “Hey! I see you’s” pop up when friends recognize friends.

Tip: Be sure the app/link you give local attendees doesn’t easily let them unmute the livestream or you’ll have a lot of “ssshhh”ing going on.

Hire a Virtual Emcee to Maximize Engagement & Interactivity

Want to truly maximize interactivity for your online attendees? Provide a dedicated remote host or emcee to augment your on-site presenters. This person would occasionally take over the livestream to help give some extra, specific attention to your online audience, helping to add some additional value to the virtual content. By including a virtual emcee, you can turn time that’s otherwise wasteful to your online attendees – such as on-site announcements, quick coffee breaks, or even long pauses between on-stage speakers – to your advantage by flipping their experience from passive watching to active engagement.

Tip: Ideally, the virtual host is counted in and out by a technical director to maintain a tight run-of-show. Otherwise, they may accidentally talk over main-stage content, or stop talking too early and leave everyone with an awkward gap.

Multistream Teaser Content to Social Channels to Increase Reach & Registrations

Even at a paid event, you might consider streaming out your opening plenary or keynote to social media for free. We can “multistream” to one or more Facebook, YouTube, Linkedin, and Twitter pages simultaneously! Livestream video gets the most organic reach of any content on social media, so you’ll reach followers who may not have seen any of your pre-event messages. Of course, you’ll want to include a shout out to the social audience and invite them to sign up to join the rest of the event. This can be a great way to capture last minute registrations


Get permission to stream to the pages of your key speakers, sponsors and partners to increase your reach to the fullest.

Offer streams in multiple languages with a real time interpreter.

Use a tool to aggregate and reply to comments from those social platforms in one place and even show them on screen with the person’s name and photo!

Mail Your Remote Guests an Event Kit & Tell Them When & How to Use It

Send a virtual swag box with branded and sponsor gifts,  snacks, etc.

Consider including physical reaction cards with words or emojis allowing you to visually pull the audience from the stage. These are great when glued on popsicle sticks so attendees can easily hold up a visual response. If you’re projecting gallery view into the room, you could pan through 50 attendees at a time, showing your speakers and in-person attendees the virtual real time responses. And if budgets are tight, offer up a web page full of free, printable “reactions” that attendees’ children can color in advance of the event, adding an even bigger personal touch to the experience.

In summary, the main way to engage your virtual attendees is simply to pay an equal amount of attention to them as you will your on-site audience! It’s about making all of your guests feel seen, heard, and included.

With all the details of a hybrid event to manage, it’s often easy to overlook the less quantifiable metric of emotional value your audience is going to place on the event. In other words, most of your competitors aren’t doing it, and that gives you a chance to surprise and delight. We say, let next-level engagement become your competitive advantage!

By making your events equally as memorable for each segment of your audience, you’re investing in their buy-in for the next event. That is the most important investment you can make in your events, and often the easiest way to make a GIANT impact.

Need Support Implementing Next-Level Engagement in Your Hybrid Events?

It probably goes without saying, but hybrid event production is our specialty, so if you need any support implementing these engagement strategies, we’d love to help! Don’t be shy to reach out for a free strategy session with one of our senior event strategists.


Step Up Your Livestream with… Not Live?

Pre-recorded video footage is not the first thing people think about when planning virtual events. They envision panelists, performers and plenary speakers in their raw, real-time broadcast.

But pre-recorded content can be a game-changer for your virtual event strategy. It can be used to promote the event and mobilize registrants. It can be spliced into a livestream interview or presentation.

If you’re reading this, you’re obviously smart enough to save your business or organization lots of money by taking events virtual. Invest part of that surplus in pre-recorded video, and you can do things like:

☑ Create a seamless brand or cause narrative before, throughout, and after your event.
☑ Get more bang on your production budget dollar. 
☑ Problem-solve the conflicting schedules of speakers, celebrities, and others of prominence.
☑ Engage your registrants/attendees with tips & teasers in a cause-conscious voice.
☑ Bridge the gap between time zones and geography to create shared experiences.

The list could go on, and it will. 

If done strategically, pre-recorded video production creates lasting, shareable marketing assets at scale, alongside your virtual events and brand story.

Benefits of Pre-Recorded Video

Picture this: You’ve done your research on the benefits of virtual events. You’ve surveyed peers in your professional network. You’ve assessed vendors, event platforms, producers and strategists.

Most importantly: You have the green light from your decision makers to invest in virtual events. But how should you invest? Pre-recorded video production will be a key consideration. To help you understand why, we’ll cover some benefits.

Minimize your Margin of Error

Pre-recorded content requires more planning and pre-production but eases the stress levels on the day(s) of the event. After all, one reason you’re investing in pre-recorded content is to ensure that fewer things will go wrong. The more that you can “set it and forget it,” the more time you have for other concerns, like backstage prep for livespeakers.

Resolve Conflicting Schedules

Pre-recorded video helps organizations realize numerous creative and promotional opportunities. But oftentimes the primary reason for choosing this production medium is to resolve conflicting schedules. This is especially helpful in cases where presenters are in radically different time zones. It also helps when your event includes celebrities or other people of prominence, whose schedules and travel considerations can be challenging.

Creative Opportunities Abound

True, pre-recorded content makes many aspects of virtual event management easier. But it is more than a means to an end; it’s an opportunity to showcase your creativity. To leave your audience with a “wow” factor.

The livestream elements of your event may be impressive, but they’re subject to the rough edges of any livestream production — the unexplainable feed glitch, the speaker who left himself on mute, etc. A pre-recorded segment allows you to polish the imperfections, and add elements like synchronized, split-screen displays (e.g., speaker on the left; presentation notes on the right), documentary footage, and B-roll.

Micro Content Creation

The investment that you put into creativity only increases the value of the video asset that you create. Anticipate the role this content can play after the event, not just during. With this lens, you can create content that tells a timeless story. This is also your chance to curate the “perfect scenario” of brand voice, messaging, and call to action.

That said, be sure to future-proof your production plan on pre-recorded video. Avoid messaging that might date or limit the impact of your content. Identify snippets that can be packaged into “shorts.” Utilize these independent segments in future social media posts, advertisements, and website/blog content.

Improve the Accessibility of Your Virtual Event

Any savvy marketer knows the importance of accessibility — accurate closed captioning, thorough information describing & identifying the video, a picture-in-picture interpreter. A pre-recorded video production is an opportunity to check all the boxes in accessibility. It’s also an opportunity to set the tone for your other post-event video productions (i.e., recordings of the livestream footage). If you’re working with a production agency, this is a good time to negotiate accessibility standards on all the footage they produce for you.

Data-Informed Sneak Preview

Pre-recorded video that is aired before or during an event can provide a “sneak preview” of how your audience will react to your content. Metrics like drop off rates, shares and time-of-day activity can help inform the way you engage with your audience during the crucial weeks after the event.

Build Confidence & Authority

Businesses and organizations that have invested in pre-recorded video production usually enter into their livestream production with greater confidence. Why? Because they’ve been through a process that forced them to revise and refine their messaging points. They already know how their brand and call to action are supposed to look and function in the spotlight.

Livestream vs. Pre-recorded Video

The benefits of pre-recorded video make it clear when and why this format is preferred over livestream. A general rule of thumb is to leverage livestreaming to enhance the participatory, community-engaging and conversational elements of your event.

Take the example from above about the conflicting schedules of celebrities and persons of prominence. What about those whose schedules are a perfect fit? These people suddenly become key assets to your livestream experience. Attendees can access and engage with them in real time. This raw exclusivity provides value to day-of attendees and even to post-event recordings and highlight videos.

However your pre-recorded vs. livestream production efforts shake out, it is important to be transparent with your audience. Communicate what they are about to see and why. When prompted, people usually accept the media format for what it is.

And pre-recorded content doesn’t preclude interaction! These same celebrities can interact with both in-person and virtual-only audiences (in the cases of hybrid events) through moderated chat and other interactivity.

Use Cases for Pre-Recorded Videos at Virtual Events

Pre-recorded video can play a key role before, during and after your virtual or hybrid event. The common thread running through each case is that the message, timing and delivery are under your control. This is why it is important to take inventory of all the scenarios in which pre-recorded video can be put to use.

Besides, video production is an investment. You want to multiply those assets into as many usable formats as the budget allows.

Promote Your Event with Pre-recorded Video

Event promotion is one of the most common use cases of pre-recorded video. Pre-recorded video offers the perfect formula for everything a promo needs to be: A concise, catchy, controlled message that includes event details and calls to action.

Popular components of promotional video content include teasers of what to expect (e.g., celebrity performance), quick-take interviews with speakers, testimonials and video and photographic footage of past events. The message itself can range from registration reminders to the announcement of a contest or some other unique feature of the event.

An important guideline in producing promotional content is consistency of message and experience. The look, feel and orientation of your video content should “be at home” with the landing page, email campaigns and social posts that promote it.

Pre-recorded Video During Your Event

The role that pre-recorded media plays during your event is similar to the one it plays in promotion: Generate and maintain excitement about the event. Common uses of pre-recorded video during events are:

☑ Animated and/or illustrated explainer videos between sessions
☑ Mini-documentaries and thought leadership features during or between sessions
☑ Slide shows as filler content between event sessions or as transitions
☑ Promotional messages from sponsors and partners
☑ Teasers for upcoming sessions
☑ Entertainment and performing arts

Virtual and hybrid conferences that take place over the course of several days stand at a special advantage with in-event video. Some will solicit testimonials, reactions or even performances from current attendees, and air them in a produced video on the following day.

In one example, the 12.5-million-member American Federation for Labor – Congress of Industrial Unions (AFL-CIO) produced an attendee-performed cover of Katy Perry’s “Roar,” as a full-length, labor-lyricized track. The song was lip synced by multiple labor unionists from as many locations, and recorded two hours before it aired.

Post-Event: Where Livestream Becomes Recorded

The best part about the post-event phase is that your in-event, livestream videos turn into recorded video! The potential for highlight videos and event recaps is endless. Create a version for each of your audience segments. Spotlight memorable moments and quotes. Announce the winners of contests and the achievements of the event itself.

Play Video

Highlight Videos

A great way to maximize your event’s reach is with a short highlights video. They help extend audience engagement after the event. Our highlight videos start with your favorite recorded clips, mixed into a short video designed for social media and email sharing. The finished product comes in three sizes corresponding with social platforms (square, horizontal, and vertical), with headlines and captions, plus a picture-quote. This includes custom thumbnails that your speakers and attendees will love to share.

Not only are you armed with more content in the post-event phase, you have the control. Post-event video content can help solidify the experience and sense of community that your event created. This is your opportunity to hone in on key messages and moments that make your brand or cause shine.


Why Virtual Fundraising Events Are Here to Stay

There are two near-universal qualities that set fundraising events apart from other virtual events, making them worthy of special attention. First, the entire event apparatus itself has to be optimized for donation conversions — everything from the visual appeal and user experience of a given webpage to the payment processing and confirmation experience. The same can be said for all the content marketing leading up to, during, and after the event.

The second factor is seasonalism. All nonprofits are familiar with the pressures of year-end fundraising. Despite the market saturation of consumer ads and competing charities of that time of year, donors are ready to give. It’s part of our culture for a number of reasons. You can’t un-convince donors that year-end is when they should donate. After all, it’s their last chance to do something good – and get a tax deduction for it – in that year.

Aside from year-end, every nonprofit has its own culture of seasonal giving as it relates to their cause. Examples include charity races in the Spring and Summer months (often around a holiday like Memorial Day or Labor Day), where nonprofits encourage their constituents to team up (a.k.a. “team raisers” or “friend raisers”) or go solo in a friendly race competition (running, biking, etc.) where donors commit to a dollar-per-mile scenario for their favorite racer or team.

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic made many nonprofit organizations turn to virtual fundraising events. Yet as pandemic concerns subsided, the appetite for these events did not. To the contrary, the early adopters of virtual fundraisers are planning their next year-end galas as hybrid events — in-person events with a virtual component. To not do this would be to leave opportunity, and vital donations, on the table.

How Do You Fundraise Virtually?

Fundraising online requires the same amount of careful planning as an in-person fundraiser. There are at least as many variables at play, and not all of them are shared. However, a great starting point is to take inventory of your digital marketing & online fundraising capacities. Tap into staff with knowledge of user experience and conversion optimization. Corral your best wordsmiths and social media marketers. These roles will be essential to curating the best and most effective online experience.

Staff with in-person event planning experience have much to offer in the virtual event production process, too. Just make sure they appreciate and can adjust to the important differences between online and offline fundraising. Make sure they’re teamed up with the right digital thinkers on this project. If you have the budget to bring in consultants and event platform services, make sure you choose those with digital expertise.

Tread thoughtfully when assessing event consultants who started producing virtual events merely as a response to the pandemic. Some run the risk of not appreciating the digital space, where people, especially donors, behave different.

What Are The Most Profitable Fundraisers?

Buffalo Urban League’s Annual Gala (2021)

Virtual Fundraising Gala

Many year-end fundraisers take the form of a gala. A fundraising gala is a big, anticipated event held annually. They usually center on dining and performative experiences, from speeches to musicians, all obviously geared toward donations — “the ask.”

Gala organizers spend considerable effort winning the attendance of large donors. However, they’re also when that nonprofit’s community of staff, volunteers and advocates come together to strengthen their sense of community. Appreciating this subtlety is essential, because the presence of community reinforces donors’ generosity.

Community is a critical element of social proof that giving to this cause will result in sustainable outcomes. Community is also the source of inspiration and hero narratives, which is why many galas include award ceremonies and volunteer recognition. A gala without community is another boring gathering of wealthy folk.

A common challenge that nonprofits face in organizing galas is making them cost effective. Galas can take countless hours of preparation by staff and often consultants, as well as high costs to secure performers and venue logistics. This is why many galas include corporate sponsors. But it’s also why incorporating a virtual component to your next in-person gala is a wise option to pursue. The cost-to-attendence ratio is remarkably lower, making your gala dramatically more profitable, and your community – and therefore your message – exponentially larger.

To India With Love: Help India Breathe Again (2021)

Virtual Fundraising Concerts & Festivals

Virtual concerts and festivals have unique qualities and strengths. While they might lack the energy of more traditional, live concerts, they also ushered in new activities and audience expectations that are often not found in exclusively live music events. These attributes evolved out of the need to confront what virtual music performances don’t have: the human proximity of dance, movement, and sensations. How many musicians sound cleaner or more flawless live compared to their professional studio recordings? People don’t go to concerts to catch flawed renditions of their favorite artists, they go to enjoy that artist alongside others who share their passion.

This is why virtual concerts and festivals offer unique activities like break-away sessions and workshops that give real value to attendees. The point of these is not to replace the indescribable satisfaction of human proximity, but to give attendees a purpose around which they can interact.

It’s best if this purpose involves nuance. Challenge your attendees with subject matter they care about but might never have discovered on their own. For example, if the festival was on Earth Day, there could be a breakout session where a band member talks about her/his personal story on why they came to be an environmentalist (a near-perfect opportunity for pre-recorded material, too!). This would give die-hard music fans a window into the lives of the artists they love. Couple that with a call-to-action or fundraising ask, and you can almost guarantee some donations.

More importantly, you’re giving your attendees value that they wouldn’t have received at the in-person event. It is a value that can’t — and shouldn’t — be compared to the value of human proximity. But it is a value, newly uncovered in the virtual concert & festival space.

Bring performers together and host a concert or a mini-festival that will benefit the communities that your organization serves. It’s best to tap artists who are also passionate about your cause. You can even go big and reach out to globally-known artists. Since you’re hosting a virtual concert, you have the chance to reach more people, even those who are on the other side of the globe.

You can also organize an online meet-and-greet or moderated chat with the performers for additional donations to your cause.

NSBE – Austin Professionals: Virtual Movie Night (2020)

Virtual Movie Night

Virtual movie nights hold more appeal since many people are already used to streaming movies at home. Choose a film or documentary that’s relevant to your organization’s projects. But instead of charging the attendees for tickets, ask them to donate to your cause. Make the experience streamlined for them by including a donation button on your event website or your nonprofit’s website.

If the guests are highly engaged, you may want to consider allotting some time for discussion at the end of the movie. This way, you’re sure that they understand what your cause is about.

REFORMA Los Angeles: Silent Auction Scholarships Fundraiser (2020)

Virtual Auction

A live auction is a great way to raise funds. The same goes for virtual auctions. Consider setting up a website or a page on your organization’s website where all items can be viewed and bid on.

On the website or page, make sure to include high-quality content to help the participants understand why you are raising funds. This makes them feel more involved and connected. When people feel connected to a cause, they are more likely to bid higher.

Carve out time to coordinate the bids and then announce the winners either through a dedicated live stream or during one of your virtual events, like a virtual gala.

There are numerous online auction platforms available for you to explore, or you can ask your event consultant for their recommendations.

Run Your City Series: Heritage Day Virtual Run (2020)

Virtual Race

Yes, even races can be done online, as mentioned above. You only need to ask the participants to have a tracking app or device on them to show proof of miles logged or calories burned. If you have sponsors who are willing to give away prizes or goodie bags, you can still do so. Ship the packages to the participants or have them pick up their bags at specific locations before or after the virtual race. This is even how the 125th Boston Marathon was run in 2021!

SNAP Charity’s Virtual Quiz Night (2022)

Virtual Quiz Night

A lot of people may be missing their Wednesday happy hour trivia nights. So, why not bring the experience to them in the form of a virtual quiz night?

Choose a quiz theme that relates to your organization’s mission and work. If you can, put together a quiz night package filled with drinks or snacks that your attendees can enjoy during the event. To keep the funds coming in, you may want to consider making it a weekly event. Make a ticket price more affordable and keep the event light and fun. Your supporters will be coming back for more.

The Outback Experience: Online Photography Workshop for Kids and Teens (2021)

Virtual Workshops

As more people take advantage of this time to hone their skills and learn new ones, virtual workshops and classes are popular right now. There are various options for you to choose from. You can invite an expert to donate their time and expertise to the cause, and you can ask attendees to donate to secure their slots.

As for the workshop options, it’s best to choose something that your community is interested in. Maybe you can do a survey or a social media poll and ask them what they want to learn. Perhaps it’s mixology, a foreign language, public speaking, or knitting. The guests will not only walk away having learned something new, but your organization will also have enough funds to further your mission. Everyone wins.

The Story of Stuff Project: Reclaim Nestlé’s Troubled Waters (2021)

Fundraising Webinar Series

Fundraising webinar series are a phenomenon that have gained special traction since the onset of the COVID pandemic. They are a great way to keep your supporters up-to-date while also keeping your project well-funded. Reach out to experts, speakers, or community leaders, and ask them to put together a short webinar about current events or your organization’s mission. Charge a small fee for the participants to access the webinar.

You can also offer donation tiers to get the most out of the virtual fundraiser. The higher the donation tier, the more perks the donors get. Maybe they could have a Q&A with the speaker or a roundtable discussion with the speaker and other donors in the same tier.

Donation Matching

It’s normal for donations to taper off after a large event. If this is the case for your organization right now, you might want to consider donation matching. Reach out to local or national companies, and ask if they can match a percentage of donations you receive during a specific period. This is a great way to encourage more people to donate because they know that their contribution can go a longer way. As for the companies, the donation matching can be included in their corporate social responsibility programs. This is also good publicity for the companies.

Social Media Fundraisers

So much can be done through a social media campaign. Challenges work incredibly well on social media. A great example is the UN’s #danceforchange campaign on TikTok. The challenge is about persuading global leaders to invest in rural youth and agriculture, which also affects the organization’s fight against world hunger.

Before you begin your social media challenge, make sure to identify which platform to focus on. Ideally, this is the platform where your target audience spends a lot of time. Then formulate a social media strategy and create compelling content.

Make sure to lead your followers to your donation page in every social media post you create. On Instagram, people can already make donations from your profile, so you might want to explore that.

Email Fundraising Campaigns

Email is not new to the fundraising space. But the good thing about emails is that you can deploy them all year long. It’s one of the most cost-effective and conversion-rich forms of digital marketing, and you should take advantage of it. Make sure every email includes an emotional and persuasive story, compelling and high-quality visuals, and a call-to-action that expresses urgency.

How Do You Engage Donors Virtually?

Cultivating relationships with donors may be challenging if you can’t meet them in person. But, as with all other things we discovered during the pandemic, there are ways to build and maintain genuine connections with them.

Ask Them For Their Advice & Ideas

People typically become more committed to a project if they are asked for their ideas or advice. So, why not ask your donors for their opinions?

First, start small. Get in touch with a few of your supporters, donors, advisors, and even volunteers. Schedule a video call with everyone so you can brainstorm for future initiatives. Include them in your plans and watch their engagement increase.

Offer Insider Access

Make your supporters feel like they are a part of something exclusive. Select a group of people and offer them VIP experiences. Some ideas include a private socially distanced or virtual musical performance, a behind-the-scenes virtual tour to your organization’s facilities, or host invite-only auctions.

Don’t Forget Donor Recognition

Show your donors how much you appreciate them through a well-thought-out virtual event. It can be a philanthropy awards ceremony of sorts or a virtual ceremony for the program participants. You can also acknowledge them on your organization’s website or other promotional materials.

What Are The Benefits Of Virtual Fundraising?

According to some surveys, more than half of donors worldwide prefer to donate online. Online giving is increasing every year. Statistics show a 27% increase in overall online revenue for nonprofits in 2017 compared to the year before that. As more people spend more time online, you might as well be present online, since that’s where their donations are migrating, too.

It Saves Your Organization Time And Money

A donation given online is automatically entered into a database. Donors get an automatic thank you email and tax receipt. You don’t need to do anything to make it all happen.

When you raise funds online, the process is automated. There’s no need to enter and keep track of information manually. This reduces overhead costs and allows your organization to focus on executing the work.

Better And More Accurate Data

Since the process is automated, you also get immediate access to that data. You can track incoming funds in real-time. Furthermore, this eliminates manual entry, reducing chances for human error, no more missing or adding zeroes when logging donations. This process allows you to allocate the funds to your programs more efficiently.

It Expands Your Reach

A virtual fundraiser allows you to reach anyone anywhere in the world. Thus, you maximize your donor base with minimal effort. Nonprofit organizations that establish strong community engagement in virtual events have a new arsenal going into post-pandemic event planning as they return to in-person fundraising event planning. They can activate their digital communities with hybrid fundraising events. For some nonprofits, this can mean exponential audience growth.

What Are The Drawbacks Of Virtual Fundraising?

Just like in-person fundraising events, virtual fundraising has its fair share of disadvantages. One, there’s a possibility that donors will give less than the amount they usually would give in person.

Two, although an email campaign is an effective method for raising awareness, reaching your audience, and raising funds from your supporters, some donors may give less than they usually would in person

Online donating may provide donors with the feeling of being removed from reality. While this empowers some people to give more, other people might feel less pressure to give. You always have to account for this possibility.

Another con to watch out for is technical difficulties. You have to make sure that your donation channels are running smoothly all the time. A glitch spells the difference between hitting your targets and barely breaking even.

How Do I Pivot To Virtual Fundraising?

COVID-19’s impact on fundraising has been the number one challenge for many nonprofit organizations. Because of canceled fundraising events, most nonprofits report raising fewer funds than what they initially budgeted for their programs. However, a few are saying that they have raised more than their original target.

So, how do you navigate this virtual fundraising landscape? Just go for it.

While some organizations paused their fundraising efforts, others pivoted to virtual and hybrid fundraising events. Those who have found success in virtual fundraising say that mobile optimization and creative donation options are crucial to engaging a virtual event audience.

If you’re not sure how to pivot to virtual or hybrid, We & Goliath can help. We’ll guide you every step of the way so you can continue hitting your targets not only this year but also in the years to come.

Virtual fundraising will play a significant role in most nonprofits’ fundraising efforts in 2021 and beyond. So it’s best to learn how to pivot now than to figure it out down the road.

How To Implement Virtual Fundraising Ideas

The first thing you’re going to need to implement your virtual fundraising ideas is finding a nonprofit event planner. This person typically has already organized many in-person and virtual events and knows how to put together a meaningful virtual fundraiser to help you achieve your targets.

Next, you will need a solid team. Some of the typical event planning positions you need to fill include the following:

Project Manager – This person is vital to the success of your entire virtual event. They oversee the strategy and design of the event, including logistics. The project manager also coordinates with all the virtual event’s stakeholders. They also typically monitor the event budget and provide the staffing plan for the day of the virtual event.

Registration Manager – As with in-person events, virtual events also need someone to take charge of all things registration, including the registration launch, participant sign-in, data collection, and checking in participants during the event. They are also responsible for ensuring that participants receive their event materials, including items delivered before, during, and after the event.

Sponsorship Manager – This person manages all aspects of the sponsorship process, including sponsorship design, outreach and sales, fulfillment, and post-event follow-up.

Marketing Manager – This person is in charge of marketing the event and coming up with the social media strategy and branding before, during, and after the event.

Talent Manager – If your virtual event has talents, such as speakers or performers, you will need someone to manage them. The talent manager coordinates with the speakers or the performers, including collecting materials or content required for their presentations or performances, coordinating advance recordings, and working with the director during the virtual event.

What Is Hybrid Event Fundraising?

Hybrid fundraising essentially offers you the best of both live events and virtual events. For example, you want to host a gala. You can have half your attendees dress up and go to an actual event venue, and the other half can Livestream the in-person event in the comfort of their homes.

This setup is beneficial not only during this time of social distancing but also in the future when you need to expand your reach. Some of your supporters may live in other states or on the other side of the world. Hybrid events allow them to still be a part of your event.

Although organizing a hybrid event might feel like you’re prepping for two separate occasions, your organization will reap the benefits. And once social distancing ends, many in-person events will continue to include a virtual component for broader audience reach.

Furthermore, virtual events allow you to boost your donor engagement as you can get in touch with them in meaningful ways in between annual or period events. Now is the time for nonprofit organizations to consider both virtual and hybrid events in their fundraising arsenal!

Creative Virtual Fundraising Event Ideas

Here are some examples of virtual fundraising events to get you started.

Equal Rights Amendment Coalition: Meet The Chairs

The Equal Rights Amendment Coalition, representing over 100 organizations nationwide, wanted to hold a virtual public conversation about equity in the judicial system. They wanted a panel-based conference and fundraiser with an impressive speaker roster that included Alyssa Milano, Ilyasah Shabazz, and Patricia Arquette.

The panel was called “Meet the Chairs.” We & Goliath met the challenges of the conference, although they had to pre-record the parts of some of the panelists who couldn’t be present live because of conflicting schedules. We also designed and built a conversion-optimized landing page with information on donation levels included in the post-event VIP reception.

Meet the Chairs turned out to be a streamlined experience. The event flow was attentively timed and interwoven with diverse sets of live and pre-recorded content. Meanwhile, the event landing page served as a registration and attendance gateway and political calls-to-action, including a petition to ratify the ERA, and an interactive database showing where candidates stood on pertinent issues.

Seattle Shakespeare Company: Bill's Bash

At the height of COVID-19, Seattle Shakespeare Company decided to take Bill’s Bash, their yearly fundraiser and gala, online. The event featured many fun events, like a peer-to-peer fundraising segment, an online silent auction, and downloadable coloring books.

The success of this fundraiser style lies in the many multiple ways participants can get involved. Not everyone will want to participate in the auction, but they might want to download some pages they could color. Everyone gets a chance to donate and have fun in the process.

Save One Life, Inc.: At Home Everest Challenge

To mark the anniversary of their executive director’s climb to Mt. Everest (despite his hemophilia), Save One Life came up with the idea for a creative fundraiser that would ask participants to walk 2.9 miles, climb 29 flights of stairs, ride 29 miles, or swim 29 rounds. The number is a nod to Mt. Everest’s height: 29,029 feet. Participants donated $29 to Save One Life and challenged nine friends to do the same to join the challenge.

The success of this fundraiser lies in its originality. Although you have seen other races challenge people to run 5K, you haven’t heard of another organization challenge people to climb 29 flights of stairs to save other’s lives. So, put your thinking cap on, and don’t be afraid to get creative.