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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.

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142 Networking & Icebreaker Ideas for Virtual or In-Person Events

The Ultimate List of Icebreakers, Games, & Group Exercises

Chit-chat can get awkward, and it’s often difficult to facilitate networking through idle chatter and small talk. That’s why there’s no shortage of icebreakers, conversation-starters, games, and group exercises on the internet.

To save you from sifting through an endless stream of search results, we’ve compiled a comprehensive list of these get-to-know-you games.

Adjective Adventure

Have everyone pick an adjective that describes themselves and starts with the same letter as their name. Like “Awesome Allison” or “Pretty Percy.” You can also have people append it to their name in the Zoom call.

AI-Generated Connection Recommendations

It’s hard to talk to people online when you don’t know what you have in common, and that’s where AI-generated connection recommendations come in. Before the event, have registered attendees fill out a questionnaire about their interests, career, and other relevant information. Then plug their answers into software to connect attendees based on commonalities.

There are various ways you can share the results of these recommendations. For our event clients at We & Goliath, our enterprise event platform will automatically recommend users based on one or more shared topics, within a tab of the Attendees page. Other possibilities could be to show a list of common interests whenever one attendee hovers over another’s name in the chat, or to show when someone has a certain percentage match across multiple interests.

Alternatives

Get a small item—something easily tossable and common—then begin tossing it amongst the group. Whoever catches the item must shout their name, something interesting about themselves, and an alternate and/or unconventional use for the item. For example, a plastic cup could also be used to hold pens or act as a table marker.

Audience Polling

To help break the ice in an auditorium setting, you can utilize audience polling. All you need to do is ask some lighthearted questions and have the audience raise their hands or stand in response. You can stick to classic getting-to-know-you questions about preferences (like “Are you a cat person or dog person?” or “Do you prefer tea or coffee?”), or you can keep things on-brand or on-topic. Either way, try to keep things light and easy; you want to start a conversation, not a fistfight over political differences.

If you’d prefer, you can also use polling technology for a more high-tech experience. In conjunction with this technology, you might encourage your audience to discuss the responses amongst themselves.

Audio-Only Discussions

Zoom fatigue has become an increasing issue over the course of the pandemic. To help alleviate this issue, make some of your virtual panels, roundtables, workshops, or thematic breakout sessions audio-only. This also allows people to network and participate in discussions while multitasking.

Virtual Networking Lounge

Utilize social media or another online medium to encourage people to get to know each other online before the event even kicks off . Using private Facebook groups and Twitter chats, or certain chat platforms like Slack, you can utilize this option for free. If you want a little more convenience and/or privacy, you can utilize paid platforms to the same effect. Ask if your event host can build this right into your event platform!

Allowing people to connect virtually before the event will help bold and shy attendees alike form longer-lasting connections.

“Big Talk” Virtual Icebreaker

Start the meeting with a few minutes of organized “Big Talk” about global events and news. Before the meeting, send out a news story for the team to read, and give everyone a chance to share their thoughts without interruption or commentary. Set aside 5 minutes afterward for open group discussion.

Birds of a Feather Breakout Sessions

Before your event, send out questionnaires asking your attendees about their preferences. These can be related to the event, careers in general, or topics specific to the industry you’re working with. Then create breakout rooms based on the responses to the question.

For easy matchups, you can employ the use of AI software to find commonalities between attendees.

Birthday Lineup

Give attendees five minutes to arrange themselves by birthday from January 1st to December 31st. The catch? They cannot speak or write out dates.

Build Something Together

Simply organize your attendees into groups and tell them to build something with limited or unconventional materials. For example, you could tell them to build a bridge with marshmallows and dry spaghetti or build a structure entirely out of straws.

This will encourage collaborative discussion and help people figure out who they work well with.

Build Unique Immersive Environments

By designing your virtual space to look like an actual space, you’re not only providing an interesting and immersive experience, but you’re also giving your attendees something to talk about.

Though you don’t have to take a full leap into VR, allowing attendees to feel familiar aspects of event spaces will help attendees feel more at ease with your virtual space.

Builder, Looker, Runner

You and your team get to play with Legos in this fun Game of Bricks activity. You and your team have specific roles: one is the builder, one is the looker, and one is the runner. Try to recreate a model. Build something amazing with groups from 10-100+.

Building a Hive

Randomly split your audience into groups of 3-10 people. Have them talk amongst themselves until they find a personality trait, hobby, or specific experience they have in common. Once they find that common denominator, they become a team. For example, they might be the “we all enjoy rock climbing” group or the “we’ve all volunteered at animal shelters” team.

Once every team has been formed, they circulate the room looking for other people they have that trait in common with and invite them to join the group. After mingling for a while, there should be a few large groups and attendees can see what they have in common with many of the other participants.

Business Card Collection

Suggest attendees bring a specific number of business cards, but don’t tell them the reason. Once they’ve arrived, give them a set amount of time for fast networking. At the end of the time limit, whoever’s collected the most business cards wins a prize.

You can announce the contest beforehand, but it’s recommended you keep it secret until the end. If you want to announce the game beforehand, you need to institute additional rules. If you have more time and an even greater challenge, you might institute a rule that participants can’t collect the business cards until they’ve learned the person’s job, company they work for, or et cetera.

Charades

This fun event is great for large and small groups in person (10-100+) and small groups of 20 or fewer participants for a virtual event. The best thing about this game is that nearly everyone knows how to play it (those who don’t can pick it up quickly) and it’s free!

City Brew Tours

City Brew Tours allow your team to roam the city, sampling local brews, culture, and history. These are great for up to 500 participants. Many local breweries & distilleries have added non-alcoholic choices to their menus, too, so everyone can partake.

Coffee Talk

“Let’s grab a coffee,” is a classic phrase for anyone trying to get to know someone. Now, this traditional gathering has a virtual equivalent. Though there are paid versions of this event, you can also organize one with little to no cost to you.

The paid versions have people register in advance, then services send attendees a box of artisanal coffees and brewing accessories. For a low-cost version, you can simply encourage attendees to bring their own coffee.

Once you have your method of coffee distribution settled, you simply pick a time and platform for people to sip coffee and chat. You can either set the coffee time to follow a formal event (such as a panel, speech, or discussion), or you can simply open up coffee time for the space between events.

Collaborative Craft Project

Choose a collaborative craft project to work on (paper quilt, a mosaic of painted rocks, etc) and ask everyone to independently create one piece of it. When you can get together to assemble the larger project, you’ll love seeing how all the individual displays of creativity come together.

Collaborative Post-Its

Use an online whiteboard and post-it note platform that allows you to collaborate with your team. You can ask questions of your participants to get a discussion going, or even turn it into a game where you ask questions.

Competitive Networking

Set up competitions that encourage your team to network. Consider what type of attendees you’ll have and set up competitions that cater to them. You can do this in a number of ways, one of which is to give each participant a “bingo board” filled in with different prompts (“find someone who can play guitar”) and having them sign the bingo square. This is a fun way to help your team get to know each other better!

Corporate Wine Tasting

An educational wine tasting is a great way to encourage networking. Send your registered wine-tasters some carefully-packaged bottles of wine and suggested food pairings. With the help of a trained sommelier, you can educate wine-lovers about their favorite drink while also connecting them to other professionals with a shared interest.

Create a Bouquet

For a fun and floral networking option, check out the company Zoom & Bloom. The company sends hand-selected, seasonal flowers overnight with instructions for preparing them, along with floral arranging tools (including a vase). Then they can tune into a Zoom class with a live expert florist for a fun class on flower arranging. You can even customize the presentation to an event theme or organization.

Create a Clubhouse

In this context, we’re using “clubhouse” to refer to a designated area where people with common interests can chat freely. You could have clubhouses for working moms, social media marketers, people who’ve made a major career change, or anything else.

Critical Thinking Virtual Icebreaker

Start an online meeting by asking this question: “If you were alone in a dark cabin with only one match and a lamp, a fireplace, and a candle to choose from, which would you light first?” Give everyone 30 seconds to choose and have everyone share their answer in the chat. Spend one minute talking about the differences in the answers and what you learned from each other.

Daily Gratitude Commitments

Have everyone on your team commit to daily gratitude journaling for a month. If someone on your team finds themselves expressing gratitude for a team member, encourage them to share it with that person. It’ll help foster a culture of respect, gratitude, and wellness in the workplace.

Daily Writing Prompts

Give everyone a daily writing prompt for the entire month. (If you’ve got the budget, consider mailing out nice journals for them to keep track of their prompts.) Later, get together (in person or online) to discuss what you created.

Dance Party Virtual Icebreaker

This game will take as long as your song does! First, tell everyone about the dance party, then do a quick sound check to ensure everyone can hear the music. (If you can’t decide, try a random list like this one.) Start the jam and dance!

Dancing Contest

Dancing has an incredible way of bringing people together, but people often feel shy about hopping onto a dancefloor amongst strangers. To mitigate this problem, have an MC host a formal dancing competition and have competitors sign up in advance.

To encourage more participants, you might also have a “Bad Dancing Competition” or “Silly Dancing Competition,” where the less rhythmically inclined can ham it up in an attempt to make the audience laugh.

Be sure to include prizes for the top dancers.

“Do You REALLY Know Your Team?” Virtual Icebreaker

Before your meeting, ask your teammates to answer three “About Me” questions. At the meeting, share the answers and have your teammates try to pair the answers with the right person. Once everyone’s guessed, reveal who gave the answer. If the results are interesting/surprising, have the teammates explain – you’ll learn more about each other!

Drawing Snap

Give everyone a category. Using either online drawing apps, notepad apps, or classic pen-and-paper, they must draw something in that category in 30-60 seconds. When time’s up, they must find a partner with a similar drawing (a “snap”).

Egg Drop Challenge

This is a great event with a scientific spin. The egg drop challenge isn’t just for high school students: you and your team can do it too! Work with your group to create the safest landing possible for your raw egg. This fun exercise in engineering is awesome with groups from 10-100+ participants.

Escape Room Virtual Icebreaker

Using a virtual escape room client, you can choose from themed puzzles like underwater adventure, ancient temple, space escape, meme game, or undercover jewel heist theme. Log onto zoom and help your team through the adventure. Your Game Guide will be the eyes, ears, hands, and feet inside of the online team game. With your Game Guide and the digital dashboard, find clues, solve puzzles and complete the mission. Go over what went well and what didn’t go so well.

Fact Recall Mission Virtual Icebreaker

Each team member introduces themselves and gives a “fact” about themselves using a prompt. Each player must try and recall who said what during introductions. A recommended show is a great option because it helps you learn about the person while giving you a new set of shows to watch. Vacation memories and concert bucket lists are also fun. Even if your team knows each other too well, it’s fun to play and use as a warm-up.

Find Your Match

Place one half of a well-known duo—like “peanut butter” and “jelly” or “Tom” and “Jerry”—on every attendee’s nametag and instruct them to find the other half of their pair. You could make this even more challenging by adding things with multiple potential partners and tell them to find the best partner.

Fishbowls

Use a fishbowl session to lighten up dull panels. The guest speakers sit in the “fishbowl” and the audience sits around them. The speakers are directed to speak on a topic, and an audience member rotates in and out to add their take.

Fortune Cookie Fun

Give everyone a fortune cookie. Now they must share something about themselves that illustrates the fortune. If you don’t have access to fortune cookies, you can also use post-its.

Game Show Extravaganza

Using an online client, remote teams can go head-to-head. Tackle photo and trivia challenges covering everything from pop culture to politics and race against the clock in this virtual gameshow competition!

GIF Wars

Invite everyone to find and post their best GIF on a subject and then vote on who added the best GIF. Give each person 1-2 minutes to make their post and another 1-2 min to vote. Use your event platform’s chat or messaging area if it includes GIFs and upvoting. Otherwise, invite them to post in a reply to a Facebook or Twitter post which has GIF search built-in. If

☑ Team Building Version: have everyone send a shoutout to someone who’s helped them or gone above and beyond for the team

☑ Event Icebreaker Version: come up with a funny or emotional prompt around your event hashtag, theme. For example, a news story where someone really failed at your theme, or demonstrated the need for what you do. Or, simply ask them to find the best gif/meme that represents your cause. Beyond just being a fun activity, this has the benefit of arming your community with a whole collection of memes to upgrade their social posts for greater engagement.

Graffiti Wall

A graffiti wall is a simple and fun concept. All you need to do is set up an area where people can draw on the walls. This will allow people to get creative and express themselves, while also giving them an opportunity to leave contact information.

There are also numerous ways you can implement this idea. For a budget option, just tape up a large sheet of paper and allow people to draw on it. You can also get a large chalkboard, or use a digital option.

Guess My Name

Encourage guests to get to know each other without telling each other their names. They can give clues about their name as long as they don’t say the name itself. For example, they can describe songs or books with their names in them, describe celebrities with the same first name, or using words that sound like their name.

Hand Holding Circle

First, tell all your attendees to stand in a large circle. Then instruct them to join hands with two other people, but not the two standing on either side of them. Once everyone’s followed this instruction, you should have a chaotic, tangled mess. The goal is to get into one orderly circle. The catch? The participants can only release one hand at a time.

Happier Hour

This funny event helps you feel like you stepped into a comedy club – and your very own team are the comedians that step up to the mic. Prompts and icebreaker games help your coworkers become utterly hilarious in this fun virtual event.

Hashtag Donation

Encourage your participants to make donations then share their donation amount to a specific hashtag. You may even turn it into a challenge by encouraging them to give something up for the day and donate the amount they’d spend on it. For example, if they go to Starbucks every day and order a grande latte for $3.65, they might abstain and donate the $3.65.

Head Shaves and Other Dares

In classic Twitch Charity Stream fashion, you can set up donation milestones, committing to zany dares if your audience can raise a certain amount of money. Get creative, utilize in-jokes among your fanbase (if you have a large one), and have fun!

Helium Stick

This is a simple but surprisingly difficult team-building exercise. Have everyone form two rows facing each other. Have everyone hold out their index fingers so they’re lined up. Then place a long, thin piece of PVC pipe (or other long, thin pole) along with the index fingers. The group must then keep the pipe horizontal while lowering it to the ground. Keep in mind that they cannot remove their fingers or grab the stick—that’s part of the challenge!

Hula Hoop Island

Lay several jumbo hula hoops around the room (or draw/tape circles on the floor). Have four volunteers stand in each hoop, then tell them they’re not allowed to leave until they find something they all have in common.

Hula Hoop Race

Divide the audience into multiple groups and have them all stand in a circle, facing inwards. Have everyone introduce themselves, then invite them to join hands. Afterward, place a hula hoop around someone’s arm and instruct them to circulate the hula hoop without letting go of anyone’s hand. If they drop the hoop, they have to start over. The first team to get the hoop all the way around the circle wins.

Human Bingo

This is a fun, flexible idea for anyone with access to a printer. Simply make a series of bingo cards with possible personality traits or physical features. For example:

☑ Someone who can list every astrological sign
☑ A blue-eyed woman
☑ Someone younger than 30
☑ Someone from Europe
☑ Someone who plays piano

If you want, you can theme these questions after your event or brand. You can also scale the game up or down depending on the event’s size. Generally, you want the bingo cards to have more spaces for higher attendance, and fewer for lower.

Icebreaker Box

Create an icebreaker swag box to allow groups to enjoy tasty snacks, party favors, and a make-your-own cocktail, right before your virtual team-building event. It’s the perfect thing to get your team loosened up and excited about your virtual event!

Ice Cream Float Virtual Icebreaker

Use a private virtual event planner to arrange for kits to be sent to all your guests. On event day, a virtual guide will show everyone how to make ice cream in a bag, and guests will dance around to popular songs as they shake their ice cream ingredients until everything is frozen. Guests will get to make their own root beer, orange soda, or cherry float to sip on as you move to the next session. (If your workplace is big on work/family balance, this is a fantastic virtual team event that employees can get their families involved in!)

If You Had a Magic Wand

For a quick icebreaker, ask each person in a group or a few volunteers what they’d change about your event “if they had a magic wand.” This also works as a fun way of doing market research, so make sure you write down the responses!

Interactive Mixology Lesson

Whether virtual or in-person, interactive mixology lessons are a great happy hour activity. Hire a mixologist to guide attendees through a themed cocktail-making session. You’ll need to make sure the instructor encourages participants to actually participate. When done well, this can create a fun and casual vibe which encourages attendees to network.

International Treasures: A Museum Scavenger Hunt

A trip to a museum on a rainy day can be a beautiful treat, but racing against the clock through Amsterdam’s Van Gogh museum, together with your 4-7 teammates, trying to interpret clues to unlock 14 treasures of the art world will get everyone’s blood pumping, no matter where in the world they are!

Jackbox Games

As soon as someone purchases a Jackbox Game Pack, your team can choose any screen-sharing platform and start playing games. Test your wits with Quiplash, ask crazy hypothetical questions with Split the Room, create Wacky Word Clouds with Wordspud, or explain things badly with Blather Round.

Karaoke

As a fun bonding experience, set up a karaoke room for people to sing their hearts out. Certain software will even allow you to bring this experience to online circles.

Learning Circles from Atlassian

Learning Circles make it easy to plan virtual education activities about a topic relevant to your work. Use this to reinforce fundamentals that your team learned during training, or help your team understand one another better.

Let’s Make a Deal

Named for a particular segment of the popular game show, this simple game makes for a fun icebreaker. Simply have the MC ask the audience to produce a specific strange item (e.g. can opener, screwdriver, et cetera) or show a specific unusual photo (like a selfie with a quokka or a picture of a wine bottle). The first person to show the item or photo wins a prize.

Live Chat

Run a continuous text chat throughout the entire event, visible to all attendees. This allows people to chat throughout the event, across different rooms or activities that may be running concurrently. If like-minded attendees hit it off in the general chat, they may arrange meetings in networking rooms or decide to attend an activity together.

Live Homebrew Experience

Your employees can become brewers for the day from the comfort of their own homes with City Brew Tour’s Live Homebrew Experience. It requires no prior knowledge and comes with everything you need to brew a full case of beer. They can even work with you to create a custom label and team beer recipe.

Mad Libs

For a great spin on the classic game, make an event-themed Mad Libs. There’s a couple of different ways you can go about encouraging people to use these Mad Libs. You can either call them out for the whole group or distribute them to small groups/tables. You can set aside a specific time for Mad Libs, or simply leave them out for people to play with at will.

Marshmallow Catapult Challenge

Get marshmallows flying with this fun icebreaker that encourages teams to work together to build the best marshmallow catapult. The team with the farthest marshmallow trajectory wins. Show your team the power of a common goal and turn the conference room into a war zone! Teams from 50 people to over 500 can build a marshmallow catapult! This challenge takes at least 18 minutes to complete.

Mastermind Group

Creating a mastermind group is a great way to help people who struggle with networking. It’s a peer-to-peer mentoring group that helps members solve their problems with input and advice from other group members. This will help attendees share ideas, get feedback and build connections.

Masterpiece

Give each group a large piece of foam board, poster board, or similar surface. One at a time, each group member must draw some sort of line (straight, curvy, curly, et cetera). Have them keep going either until they lift the pen off the page or until an emcee tells them to stop. The goal is to make a recognizable drawing as a group.

Murder Mystery or Jewel Thief

Plan a fake crime and have your attendees solve it by finding clues. You should have some volunteers or pre-designated actors play each of the witnesses and suspects. If you use volunteers, be sure to compile all the information they know into a format they can easily and quickly read, and give them time to read and digest all that information.

Music Mayhem

Ask four random attendees to choose a song they like, then play a snippet of each song through the event’s speakers. Afterward, instruct the attendees to head towards a corner of the room that corresponds with which song they prefer. This not only allows people to meet others with similar music tastes, but you can use it to determine the soundtrack for the rest of the event.

This is also a great way to divide people into groups (assuming the groups are about equal).

Musical Chairs

This classic children’s game can help encourage conversation and give your event a spark of fun. To use this game as an icebreaker, simply add a rule where each time someone goes out, they have to share a fact about themselves.

Name Tag Switcheroo

To help break the ice for smaller groups and events, start by giving everyone the wrong name tag. Instruct them to find the person with their name tag. Before they can get it back, they must correctly answer three questions about themselves.

This not only creates a fun way for attendees to introduce themselves, but it also encourages them to learn more about each other and start conversations.

“Name that Emoji Song Title” Virtual Icebreaker

Start a group messaging chain through phone or your Employee Recognition Software of choice. Decide who goes first and set a timer for 3 minutes. The first person looks at their last played song and tries to use only emojis to give hints of the title, and everyone takes turns guessing the name until time runs out. After three minutes, reveal the song if no one guessed it, and share why it was your last played song.

Offline Book Club

Start a book club and have everyone do the reading independently and offline. Have them keep a log of their thoughts and impressions as they go. Have a final discussion by exchanging snail mail letters, hopping on a conference call, or meeting in person. This event is paid if you want to put up the dough for everyone to get the book, or close to free if each participant will be purchasing the book themselves.

Offline Employee Wellness/Fitness Challenge

Have everyone on the team complete a fitness challenge (it can be to complete a certain workout every day or achieve a specific fitness goal). As you complete challenges independently, you know you’re not alone. You can even incentivize this with a platform like Fond. You can even customize the rewards catalog with exclusive rewards to recognize their progress when they hit major milestones.

One-Word Icebreaker

Ask attendees to think of one word to describe a specific object or topic. This topic can be related to the conference or industry, and will give a variety of responses to spark conversations. You can encourage attendees to discuss the responses with their group or table. A few volunteers can then share with the wider group.

“One Word and I’m In” Virtual Icebreaker

Start your event with a Work-From-Home-Wellness Box and have everyone pick one word to fill in the sentence “I’m ___ and I’m in.” Examples: “I’m caffeinated and I’m in,” “I’m tired-but-ready and I’m in.” This is free if you choose to forgo the wellness box – but it won’t be as tasty!

Online Quiz Virtual Icebreaker

Each team member can answer up to 100 questions, skipping questions they don’t want to answer. Using the answers from your team, Quizbreaker generates “Who said what?” quizzes for each team member. They’re sent via email and can be scheduled according to your desired timing, volume, and frequency. Every round brings your team closer and facilitates a fun virtual team-building experience. You can even activate the Leaderboard feature to congratulate winners. Try it out for free!

Open Mic Virtual Icebreaker

Let everyone know they’ll have a minute at the beginning of the meeting to take the stage. Have them find or write an icebreaker joke, read a poem, sing a song, play the mandolin, show off their beloved pet – anything they want. Start your meeting with these awesome performances and allow ten seconds in between each performance for applause.

Open-Ended Instructions Challenge

Challenge your team to create something useful for the office using only items from their recycling bins and kitchen pantries. Have people share photos and descriptions of their completed items online or in person.

Pandemic The Board Game Tournament

Play Pandemic the collaborative board game where you get to help stop a global pandemic. While the physical game costs $45 and takes a lot of time to setup and learn, you can play free online. Split your team into small groups to play the game. This is great for groups of any size.

Paper Airplanes

Give everyone a crash course on how to make a paper airplane. Then tell them to write a funny introduction about themselves on a piece of paper and fold it into a paper airplane. Then have everyone launch their airplane at the same time. Everyone should pick up a plane other than their own and read off the introduction. At the end of the introduction, the person who wrote it should claim their airplane.

Pen Pal Program

Match everyone on your team with a pen pal. If the activity feels old-fashioned, own it. You can pretend you’re writing in Victorian England or during the American Revolution: even more fun for groups that are history buffs!

People Organizer

Have the attendees group or order themselves according to certain criteria like job role, favorite music genre, degree, preferred type of pet, or et cetera. This can get people talking and asking questions, connecting faces to important qualities like career or company.

Perfect Square

If you’ve already got a rope and enough blindfolds for everyone on your team, this is a free event! If not, you’re gonna need some for this event that works well in small groups of 10 to groups of 500+. If you’d like, you can split into teams to make this activity more manageable, but don’t forget to get extra ropes. You can either direct your team (sans-blindfold, and without touching the rope) on how to make the square or have everyone try to figure it out for themselves. Either way, you’re bound to have fun!

Personalized Name Tags

For a low-cost icebreaker, simply add a box to attendee name tags for them to add a small fact about themselves. For example…

☑ Myself in three words:
☑ Ask me about…
☑ My most interesting quality is…
☑ My favorite thing is…

You could also opt for something related to your event. These will help break the ice and take the edge off introductions.

Playingcards.io

Get on Playingcards.io with colleagues to play card games with your team for game night.

Playing Card Meet-Up

Hand a playing card to each attendee, then tell the attendees to group themselves first by the card’s number (or face—Jack, Queen, or King). Give them a limited amount of time to find similarities or complete another simple task. Then, shuffle the groups by telling them to rearrange themselves by a different quality of the card (by suit, color, odd numbers, even numbers, face cards, et cetera) and repeat the process.

For a free option, you can make your own cards. Instead of using the suits, you could substitute other shapes, colors, and numbers. You might even get creative and use something themed for your event. For example, if you’re hosting a geology conference, you could substitute the symbols for stones and tell people to group themselves based on the different qualities of their rock.

Portable Karaoke

Be a star and enjoy this fun singing event alongside your team. Feel free to throw some fun choreography into your performance, if you feel up to it! This event works for small groups but can be even more fun with a group of 100 or more!

Pre-Event Chat Rooms

Enable your platform’s chat function before the event begins. This way, attendees can begin networking before the event even starts. This will allow you to get the maximum value out of your event’s virtual nature. This will also encourage building a sense of community amongst the attendees.

Pre-Event Photo Contest

Challenge your attendees to bring their best photograph to the event and encourage them to share the context of the photo, relevant information about themselves, and/or something about their company. For an extra challenge, you can add themed categories like “Best Selfie” or “Best Marketing Image.” You could even have the attendees vote for their favorite image.

Pre-Event “Open House”

For attendees who’ve never attended a virtual event before, you could provide an open house to help familiarize themselves with how it works. Allow people to experiment with the platform before the event. Make sure you let them know who else is attending, how the UI works, and what they can expect.

Allow the open house attendees to chat with each other, helping them form connections before the event begins.

Put On a Concert or a Comedy Show

Live entertainment is a great way to engage with your audience and give them something to talk about. Whether you hire a stand-up comic or a live band, these shows can be a huge draw to your event as a whole, and give everyone some time to rest between networking.

Quickfire Questions

Tell your attendees to pair up and give them sixty seconds to ask each other quick questions. You could display them on large screens for the audience or through the event’s website/mobile app. Include interesting questions, fun questions, and event-related questions, but make sure they’re short.

Quizbreaker

With Quizbreaker, your team can answer up to 100 curated icebreaker questions. (They can skip questions they don’t want to answer.) Quizbreaker generates “Who Said What?” quizzes for each member of your team, sending them out automatically via email. This five-minute quiz is a nice, no-pressure icebreaker that your team can take part in as they’re available. There’s even a Leaderboard feature you can use to congratulate new winners each week!

Randomized Chats

Many event platforms have a version of Chat Roulette that pairs random participants for a brief conversation. You can dedicate time for this or have it open throughout the event, if your group is large enough.

Real-Time Illustrations During Sessions

To keep your audience engaged and give them something to discuss, you could have an artist create a real-time illustration during your event. Having talented and quick-working illustrators create artwork during a live panel emphasizes what the speakers are discussing in an informative and entertaining manner.

If your company already has talented illustrators and/or graphic designers, you might have one of them show off their skills—giving them an opportunity to network while showing off your employee’s skills.

Remote Scavenger Hunt

Create a list of subjective, goal-based items (ie: find something that makes you feel happy, find an item attached to a powerful memory, find your favorite way to connect with others). Have your teammates log and photograph their answers, and share them via email or snail mail.

Rose/Thorn Virtual Icebreaker

This super-quick icebreaker allows you to get to know participants without requiring a lot of effort. Set up a Zoom meeting and give each participant a chance to list their “rose” (a positive thing that’s made them feel grateful/happy), and then their “thorn” (a challenge). The roses and thorns can be work-related or not… it just gives you an idea of what they’re like and what matters to them.

Rotating One-on-Ones

This event is relatively easy to set up, and free. All you need to do is set up a Zoom call and arrange breakout rooms where people can talk one-on-one with a random stranger. You could do this totally randomly or with the help of AI designed to pair people with similar qualities.

Roundtables

A conference classic, you can make roundtables even more effective with strategic targeting. Using AI, you can group your attendees based on certain categories—job title, interests, career goals, et cetera—and schedule them to attend a roundtable together.

Once they’re all together, you can give them prompts to help guide the conversation, or an activity to complete together.

Scavenger Hunt

Scavenger hunts are a great way to encourage friendly competition. You can include clues or just a simple list. If you want, you can jazz things up by having the competitors search for QR codes or pieces of a URL instead of just objects. You can do this as a team exercise or have everyone compete individually. Be sure to offer prizes for the first few competitors to complete the hunt!

Selfie Games

With Selfie Games, players upload selfies and add sketches and captions. The goal is to guess which were made up and which ones the person pictured added themselves.

Sharing Expectations

Assign someone to write on a whiteboard, then ask attendees what they want to get out of your event. Have your scribe write their answers on the whiteboard. Not only is this a fun icebreaker, but also good market research.

Shark Attack

Secretly choose a “shark” from the crowd. Have them pick a trait to look for—like someone who enjoys going to the movies, someone who’s had martial arts training, anything as long as it’s not something you can see. The shark must talk to people throughout the room and try to find someone who has that trait. Once they do, they quietly inform that person they’ve been “bitten.”

The “bite victim” becomes a shark, and now they, too, must pick a trait and try to find people who have the chosen trait. The game keeps going until there’s only one person left in a room full of sharks.

Shoe Game

Invite participants to remove one shoe and toss it into a pile. Then ask everyone to draw a random shoe (other than their own). The objective of the game is to find the shoe’s match without speaking.

Simon Says

This classic children’s game works as a great bonding exercise. You can also sweeten the pot by adding some small prizes for winners, or add a twist where everyone who goes out has to share a fact about themselves.

Sing for Your Supper

You can either divide the group into smaller teams or have each person work as an individual, depending on your audience’s size. Start the first group or person by singing a line or verse from a popular song. The first group or person must sing a line or verse from a different song that shares a word or phrase from your song. The next group or person must do the same with the previous song.

For example, “You ain’t nothin’ but a hound dog” might become “Nothing really matters to me, anyone can see” (from “Bohemian Rhapsody”) which might become “But that’s okay, see if I care” (from “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” by Pat Benetar).

Smart Badges

Thanks to technological advancements, smart badges utilize a special badge and mobile device to help pinpoint people of similar interests. When the badge-wearer approaches someone they have something in common with, the badge lights up and/or their smartphone gets an alert. This gives the wearers something to discuss right away.

The wearers can also choose to prioritize the kinds of people they wish to speak with.

Snowball Fight

Divide the group into two and place each team on opposite sides of the room. Give everyone a piece of a paper and instruct them to write a question on it. Then tell them to throw the papers at the opposite team. If a player gets hit, they have to pick up the paper, read the question, and answer it to the person on their right.

Social Media Challenge

If you were on the internet circa 2014, you probably heard about the Ice Bucket Challenge. This viral challenge dramatically increased awareness about ALS as influencers and average people alike drenched themselves in freezing water. The result was a tremendous influx of donations towards ALS research, accelerating the pace of scientific investment to an unprecedented degree.

Though it’d be difficult to recreate the Ice Bucket Challenge’s degree of success, there’s no denying the power of challenges when it comes to raising awareness and collecting donations. To create your own, simply come up with a fun and creative challenge and a corresponding hashtag.

Solve a Riddle

Look up some riddles and have people solve them as a group. The discussion and collaboration will make for a fun bonding activity. Do your best to make sure groups are separated. You may even choose to hand out small prizes to the first group who answers correctly.

Specialized Breakouts

Specialized breakout can help break attendees into smaller groups about topics they’re more interested in. Create multiple specialized breakout rooms at one time to ensure that your audience is spread out. Once you’ve got everyone in a specialized breakout room, have open forum ideas for people to comment on.

Speed Networking

This plays off the idea of speed dating. Pair up the attendees at two-person tables and invite them to get to know each other as much as possible during a two-minute span.

Splash Like Jackson Pollock

This is a great activity for large and small groups and can be relatively inexpensive if you purchase the supplies yourself or have them lying around. You can also offer acrylic painting classes for groups and pair it with some wine. Get your team out of their comfort zones by encouraging them to create a masterpiece!

Squad Squabble Virtual Icebreaker

To prep: find team-building software to host the online game, like Go Remote or Virtual Coworker Feud. Build teams and determine your questions (funny inside jokes are great)! Get answers from colleagues via email or a survey.

Play: After the online team game is set up, determine a host. The first team to buzz in gets to answer each question, and for every answer, they collect points. If they get three strikes (wrong answers), the other team gets to try and answer. Repeat until you have a winner: the team with the most points wins.

Snapshot Virtual Icebreaker

Ask everyone to use their phones to take a picture of something. It can be pets, kids, desk space, the refrigerator, an outfit, or their closet. Have everyone upload their pictures on a shared online whiteboard or a doc to create a digital collage of everyone’s snapshot. Compliment the pics and ask questions.

Switch Sides If…

Divide the room into two sides. One side will be a yes and the other will be no. Ask a series of yes or no questions, and tell people to move to the side which corresponds with their answer.

Table-Based Virtual Networking

Using tools like wonder.me, you can host a variety of virtual “tables” people can freely enter and leave. Though users can only hear when they join the table, they can still see everyone’s name and profile picture regardless of which table they’ve joined.

You can assign specific topics to tables, leave them open for general chatter, or have some of each. This will allow people to connect based on common interests.

Table Top Quiz

To encourage people to talk across the whole table instead of just side-to-side, provide each table with a small quiz. These quizzes can consist of event-themed trivia, pop-culture-themed trivia, quizzes about the event itself, or et cetera.

Get everyone to work together, offering a prize to the first table to finish their quiz with all answers correct. You can also set a time limit to increase the need for collaboration.

Team Movie Night

The classic team-building movie night is now available through an online medium. Though there are several streaming platforms that will allow you to play movies and TV shows, you can also just screen share Netflix or have everyone start the movie at the same time while hosting a chat room.

Either way, have a text chat available so people can talk about what they’re seeing on screen.

The Deserted Island Scenario

Join your virtual meeting and tell your team they’ve been stranded on a deserted island. Tell them they can choose three items from a list of survival tools. Give them a list (the longer the list, the more interesting the team game will be). Put the meeting on hold while each person gets 10 minutes for their three items. Resume the meeting and have everyone share what items they chose and why. Give everyone an additional 5 minutes to decide if they want to change their items, and ask those who changed items why they did it. This scenario should help everyone be more open to new ideas, and thankful for new perspectives.

The Drone Racing League Simulator

Race your teammates in this sophisticated simulator. Purchase the game and use Steam’s Remote Play Function to begin playing with your team over the internet.

Think of…

Give everyone a small item or toy (like a jack, a bouncy ball, coin, et cetera), and tell them to share a fact about themselves that the object brings to mind.

Throwable Microphones

Acquire foam balls or cube microphones that are easy to throw and catch, and durable enough to survive falling. To encourage audience participation and ease awkwardness, you can tell audiences to throw and catch microphones instead of passing them along.

Toilet Roll Challenge

This simple, whimsical icebreaker is great for breaking the ice amongst a small group. Provide the small group or table with a roll of toilet paper, then tell each person to take some without explaining why. Once they’ve taken their toilet tissue, tell them they must share one fact about themselves for each square of toilet paper.

Topic-Based Networking Rooms

Many platforms will allow you to create rooms people can enter and leave at will. Create a couple of these rooms to remain open for the duration of your event, making it clear they’re for discussion on a specific topic.

Travels

Give everyone a map of the country your event takes place in (or continent, if it’s a smaller country), then have your attendees tally up the number of towns, national parks, and other notable locations they’ve visited. You can choose to make each location count as a point, or value different types of places worth more points (one point for towns, two for national parks, et cetera). The person with the most points wins.

Treasure Mountain

Treasure Mountain was developed by expert online game developers. Race against the clock to compete against teams. Split your company into small teams of 4-5 people with a team captain for each. Provide the team captains with an access code to Treasure Mountain, and watch as they race through the riddles and challenges to be the fastest group to escape!

Trip to Paris Virtual Icebreaker

Choose from a variety of fun French activities: wine and cheese tastings, bike rides, French trivia and questions, getting-to-know-you activities, French vocabulary, and more. Experience the magic of Paris from your desk!

Trivia on Houseparty

Invite your team to join you on Houseparty, choose a trivia category and start testing your knowledge. The app provides immediate feedback and shares the results live so everyone can participate in real-time.

Truth or Lie

Have each person write either a true or false statement about themselves and attach it to their badge. Then invite minglers to guess whether the statement is true or false. Whoever can trick the most people wins.

Two Tweets and A Lie

This game is just like “Two Truths and a Lie,” except that you are using Twitter instead of truths. Everyone on the team heads to Twitter to find two ridiculous, but real tweets, from real people. Then they fabricate a tweet that’s just as outrageous as the others, and it’s up to everyone else to guess which Tweet is the fake. This works best with large groups (100+) but can work with smaller groups as well. If you’d like, you can even break your team up into smaller groups to make it a quieter game.

Video Game Challenge

Organize an online video game tournament with an entry fee, splitting the pot 50/50 between the winner and a charitable organization of your choice. You can invite amateur hardcore gamers or eSports players to compete, drawing a lot of attention either way. Be sure to broadcast the tournament and encourage virtual audience members to donate to your selected cause.

Virtual Activity-a-Thon

Similar to the classic charity marathon, you can encourage people to stream a physical activity using a specific hashtag. You can have people pledge a certain amount for how long the streamer lasts, and collect the donations once they’ve finished.

Alternatively, you can have people complete the activity on their own and have them donate based on how far along in the activity they got.

Virtual Awards Ceremony

If your event involves giving out awards, think outside the box to revamp your virtual awards ceremony. Make use of performers, hosts, great script-writing, and creativity.

Virtual Casino

Have your team dress to the nines and host a virtual casino night. They can play blackjack, roulette, craps, and more. Incentivize the night by giving the winner a gift card, cash, or company swag!

Virtual Dinner Party

There’s a reason this idea became an instant classic during quarantine. Dinner parties have long been a key tool for socialization, and they’re relatively easy to transfer into the virtual space. There’s various companies that will send meals or meal kits right to your attendee’s doorsteps. During the pre-determined mealtime, the diners can discuss everything from their personal lives to career advice.

Virtual Escape Quest

This is a “digital mash-up between an escape room and a scavenger hunt.” The game organizer starts by introducing the quest instructions and back story, and then (unlimited) teams of 2-5 people set off to complete their quest. For each puzzle, submit the correct answer to proceed to the next clue and solve the mystery. Try to complete the quest in the least amount of time, and stick around for the winner reveal at the end!

Virtual Gala

Though you might not think of a charity gala as an online event, there are ways to pull one off. Invite guests to join a Zoom call or other meeting call while sharing a virtual meal with each other. Give a keynote presentation or special remarks during the dinner.

Be sure to encourage your virtual attendees to dress for the event. If you want to go the extra mile, send registered attendees a bottle of while or a special snack ahead of time. You can also hold certain activities that you would normally see during a gala, such as a silent auction or a virtual raffle.

Virtual House Band

Live music helps set the mood in any setting, virtual spaces included. Your online event can benefit from house musicians who can take requests, host “guess the song,” and/or create original songs for an event.

Music brings people together, and providing music gives people something to talk about.

Virtual Receptions

To simulate a reception, break attendees into random groups of 4-6 people to create a “table.” Allow them to talk amongst themselves in the lead-up to some opening statements or a keynote presentation. You can also allow people to move to tables with empty seats in order to network with other people.

Virtual Water Cooler

Utilize a host (MC and/or DJ) to make sure that your event’s energy and engagement stay high. You can easily convert this to a great online experience, and include activities and games like Buzz-In Pub Trivia, the Giphy Challenge, Live Polling and Voting, Karaoke Battles, and more!

Vision Boards

Break the group into teams and have each team construct a collage of what they’d like to get out of either your event or from their careers within a year. Encourage them to draw, write, or cut and paste pictures onto the vision board. Then you can hang them up around the event.

You can easily recreate this for virtual events by giving everyone access to a collaborative document.

Water Cooler Trivia

This starts with a free 4-week trial and afterward charges about $1 per participant per month. Water Cooler Trivia is an online platform that generates automated weekly trivia quizzes. Offices are emailed a Monday morning trivia quiz with responses due that night, and results are sent the next morning. The schedule is customizable, and this is a source of weekly fun and conversation for the team without needing to invest in ongoing setup or maintenance. You can decide the categories, difficulty, timing, and region. They give you a leaderboard and you can vote for “funniest wrong answer.” You even get a bobblehead trophy to move to the winner’s desk each week (if/when you go back to the office).

Where Were You…

Put a large map on a wall or a big table, or the virtual equivalent. Give them three markers in three different colors. Here we’ll use red, blue, and green, but any colors will work. Invite people to put a red marker where they were born, a blue marker where they currently live, and a green marker on the place they’d most like to visit.

Whodunnit

Split your team into two groups. Each person anonymously submits something they’ve done (use Google Forms or Survey Monkey). The other group has to match the submission to the person they think has done it in another group. The facilitator can set up a simple PowerPoint (or Google Slide) of submissions and group members so you can drag the submission to the images of the people in the group. Quizlet is a good resource for this too. Here are more game details to get you started.

Word Clouds

This word cloud tool can be used to create a lot of excitement during company events. Use it for brainstorming new ideas or to get the ball rolling on a new project.

Would You Rather…?

This classic game works great as an icebreaker. You can structure this as an organized event or simply leave suggested prompts on tables. This is a fun way to encourage conversation and facilitate networking.