2020 has been a rollercoaster year for charity event organisers. But amidst the uncertainty, the disruptions of COVID-19 have led to a number of innovations. What does the future hold for the world of charity events?
Throughout 2020, we’ve repeatedly heard people talking about a ’new normal’. But the idea of a ’new normal’ seems to imply that once things have changed, we’ll all settle into a new status quo, job done.
In a way, ’new normal’ is a mantra for our uncertain times that reflects people’s desire to reach some sort of stability. The truth is, the world of charity operations (particularly fundraising events) will continue to evolve and change. Sitting still or becoming wedded to any one way of doing things is not an option.
While many of the lessons we’ve learnt over the course of 2020 will no doubt remain important for charities, there will be aspects of the ’old normal’ that supporters will probably still desire.
And as charities step into a post-pandemic future, they’ll need to balance what worked before with what’s going to work next. So, what should we stop doing, and what should we do more of?
Here are some possible predictions for the future of virtual events:
Running fundraising events virtually has many benefits, including helping charities expand their reach to broader audiences, encourage greater participation and gain more data and insight on their supporter base.
Not to mention the cost savings of running an event exclusively online (think venue fees, staffing/volunteer expenses, photography, catering, merchandise and physical branding, along with all the other resources that typically go along with a physical fundraising event). With these advantages, charities will want to carry on hosting virtual fundraising events in some form.
But most people would agree that events in the virtual world come with some trade-offs. The main one being, as lockdown has taught us, you can’t really beat the social aspect of being face to face with other people.
When people join a fun run or a charity bake sale, they don’t just do it to raise money – they do it to feel part of a community, to connect with others, to make new friends and bond with old ones, as well as to get the sense of social satisfaction from having done good for others.
We now value these feelings more than ever. In order for virtual events to be a long-term solution for charities, they will need to strike the right balance between convenience and a sense of social togetherness that’s often lacking through a screen.
This is a conundrum that many charities are tackling in imaginative ways, as they need to find
solutions for making both their virtual fundraising events and their service user-facing activities feel more human.
Some of these solutions include:
Virtual events that blend the virtual with the physical might be a happy medium for people who still crave in-person interaction.
A ’hybrid’ virtual event is a model that we should see more and more of, combining a traditional physical event with a virtual element. Charities can still benefit from the increased participation levels of virtual events, with supporters not limited by time, location or their health risk status.
But by offering them a choice to attend an aspect of the event in person, they satisfy the social butterflies able to attend closer to home, while saving charities resources in terms of attendee numbers and venue space.
We might start to see more:
One of the big benefits of virtual events is that they can be accessible to more supporters than ever before. Virtual events are able to include people who are in remote locations, as well as those less physically able to travel, people currently shielding or in a vulnerable health categories due to Covid-19, and myriad others.
The pandemic has put into stark light some of the inequalities that exist just beneath the surface of
our society, and technology is no different. There is now an acute awareness of this among supporters and the public. A major focus for charities now and in the future is around lowering the walls of participation in their virtual fundraising events, to include everyone in our community, so no one is left behind. This includes:
Do you agree with these predictions? Let us know in the comment section below!