With more and more people confined to their homes, digital technology can help us to stay connected. A sense of community will be more important than ever through the coming weeks and months. Virtual events can help us to support one another, and the causes closest to us.
Unavoidable in the news, the global public health alert has turned charities, public sector, and businesses upside down. Planned, live events have traditionally taken substantial organisational capacity and financial investment. As recent events have unfolded, live events may need to be substituted for virtual meetings, conferences, and seminars.
For charity digital leaders, while live events may be preferred, virtual ones have benefits which can bring out operational efficiencies, fundraising opportunities and increase each.
Top tips for organising virtual events
Organising virtual events is similar to live ones, except virtual events focus on reach rather than location. Digital leadership teams organising events should consider:
Charities can host virtual sport fundraisers
Virtual events can prove to be valuable digital fundraising tools for charities regardless of size. For charity digital leaders looking to increase reach at cost with little event management, virtual races can work well.
Last year, Alzheimer’s Research UK’s annual event raised over £300,000. Running Down Dementia’s virtual challenge took place over April to end of August last year, and runners are tasked with running 100km, 300km, or to meet their own running goals. Racers were also encouraged to share on social media over the hashtag #TeamARUK.
Charity virtual sports fundraisers aren’t limited to running. POW, an online events management offering platform lists virtual sports events for charities. Sports include running, walking, swimming, gym, and just about any activity. Virtual race entrants can purchase ballots for each charitable race and raise money for well-known charities including MIND, the mental health charity. At the end of the race period, supporters can digitally upload evidence to be verified and counted towards the race goals. Similar platforms are Virtual Charity Runs, Virtual Races, and Race the Distance.
Whether large or small gatherings, virtual meetings should be part of charity operations
Earlier this month, we examined how flexible working can be a major factor in attracting and retaining talent for charities. As part of the working package, organising online meetings can bring employees together despite distances and enhance operations and efficiency. Virtual meetings, including video and audio conference, can be a great way to log developments and update colleagues – particularly as many meeting software offerings also include audio and video playback. Some of the market-leading products and services include:
GoToMeeting – Like its name, the software provides a virtual meeting environment. The best features include screen sharing and meeting recording. The platform also allows for control sharing, so for meetings with several hosts, the tool can be valuable. Free trials are on offer.
Webex – Most frequently used for live webinars and conference events, Webex can provide charity digital leaders with powerful presentation tools, live polling, moderation, and follow-up with participants. For first-timers, the software also offers practice sessions, so charity presenters can refine their message.
vFairs – For sophisticated charity fairs, vFairs offers a virtual environment for service users to explore. Charities can set up an entire fair, with exhibitors, virtual lobbies, and information desks. Participants are also given a virtual ‘briefcase’ to collect downloaded materials on offer. At the end of the fair, charity digital leaders can collect CRM and assess the popularity of each booth, turnout and engagement.
Zoom - This digital tool combines video/audio conferencing functionality, simple online meetings, and group messaging into one platform. Zoom meetings run on mobile and desktop devices and in hardware-equipped conference rooms. A meeting can have one host and up to 100 participants. All participants can be on video. Optional add-ons provide for larger meetings, room connector software, and webinar tools.
For senior leaders and Board Members, complementary board meeting software can also improve transparency, process, and organisation. Virtual boardroom tools allow senior charity digital leaders to manage secure documents, minutes, voting, and scheduling. Exemplary software tools include Simplifie Virtual Board Room, iDeals’ Board Communications, and Loomion.