As technology advances, people are taking their virtual events out into the real world. Here are the best options to add virtual challenges to your fundraising events repertoire
This article is sponsored by Enthuse, the fundraising, donations and events registration platform.
The world of events is changing.
COVID-19 has affected the sector in a profound way, limiting how events can take place, and forcing many to cancel. This can pose a huge problem for charities, as fundraising events are vital to the survival and success of many organisations.
But necessity is the mother of invention and the events sector has seen tremendous strides in innovation. New technologies have led the way, allowing charities to connect with their supporters, even while remaining socially-distant.
In many ways, the adaptations made to overcome the challenges of social distancing are an acceleration of existing trends. Even before the onset of the pandemic, there was a growing appetite for personalised event experiences.
Virtual events can offer a range of benefits. They give charities a global reach, overcoming restrictions of location and geography. They also offer a bespoke experience, with people able to engage in ways that suit them.
We are currently in a difficult events moment. On one hand, many people are suffering from ‘lockdown fatigue’ and are tired of participating in some of the more traditional virtual event formats. On the other, lockdown rules remain in effect, and will likely be in place for some time. And as long as they do, people will need to continue social distancing.
Exciting new event formats, such as virtual challenges, offer the ideal solution to this dilemma. They also speak to changing supporter tastes, as the trend of gamification led by younger donors becomes more influential within the sector. A recent survey found that 66% of Gen Z donors would like to participate in milestone-based virtual challenges.
This trend is on the rise. Last year, we spoke to JDRF about their virtual events. Many of these events, such as ‘Cycle for a Cure’ took virtual elements out into the real world.
Supporters were able to complete physical challenges, such as cycles, swims, and runs through the Enthuse platform, tracking their progress through Enthuse’s intuitive Strava integration.
JDRF reported a great response to the personalised nature of their events. The solution gave supporters an easy way to keep track of their progress, without the need to actively sign in every time.
This ease of participation makes signing up for these challenges a more attractive prospect for those of us juggling busy work schedules and family commitments.
These kinds of virtual events are becoming more advanced. As the charity sector gets to grips with the changing nature of events, organisations may want to branch out into solutions that offer this virtual journey functionality.
There are a number of virtual challenge platforms, all with different benefits. Choosing the right platform will be a matter of assessing your organisation’s needs.
With an increasing number of charities adopting virtual event solutions, one of the most pressing concerns will be finding a platform that allows your events to stand out from the crowd.
We look at some of the best solutions available to charities.
Enthuse is a market-leading virtual event platform trusted by over 4000 charities that prioritises the sense of community usually associated with physical events. Their Virtual Journeys solution allows charities to set up milestone-based challenges and automatically keep track of individual and team progress in a visual way, thanks to interactive maps.
Maps & integration:
Enthuse provides interactive ready-to-go and bespoke maps powered by Google Maps. The platform offers a range of ready-to-use maps which can be set up in 48 hours. Enthuse can also build a custom map for any itinerary of the charity’s choice.
Enthuse also features native Strava integration. This means that users who are already set up with Strava will be able to interact with your events in a familiar and pleasing way. Supporters can easily upload their activity through Strava, or manually through their preferred tracking app. Enthuse also has the option to add event leaderboards that encourage healthy competition.
Enthuse offers a range of options for customisation that emphasise your charity’s brand. This includes custom branding capabilities, as well as other features such as personalised email milestones and multiple options for event participation (walking, running, cycling, swimming, etc.).
Enthuse’s Virtual Journeys come with full fundraising integration allowing for 100% page creation rates. This means that when supporters register for the event, their fundraising pages are created automatically saving time on administration and platform management. Supporters can fundraise individually or as part of a team.
When choosing a platform for a virtual challenge, it’s important to consider ease of use. Platforms that are fiddly or difficult to set up have the potential to put supporters off and act as a barrier from participation. Enthuse offers comprehensive and easy to use virtual journey functionality.
Getting set up with the Enthuse platform is simple. Part of the appeal is that Enthuse consolidates event registration, fundraising and activity tracking into one place. This is also beneficial to supporters, who do not need to download multiple apps.
My Virtual Mission is a well-regarded web and mobile app that helps people stay motivated to exercise.
This solution offers different methods of participation and performs strongly when it comes to the gamification of activities.
Maps & integration:
My Virtual Mission is also powered by Strava and enjoys many of the same benefits as Enthuse, such as a virtual leaderboard. The platform was listed as an honourable mention in Strava’s list of 25 top ‘powered by Strava’ apps.
My Virtual Mission also offers integration with FitBit, Map My Ride and Runkeeper, as well as the option to manually upload participation information.
My Virtual Mission does not offer advanced customisable branding for events so charities that require high brand visibility for their virtual challenges may want to consider other solutions.
My Virtual Mission’s focus is primarily on fitness and encouraging participation in physical activity. As such, there are some limitations to its fundraising capabilities.
It can be used as a novel crowdfunding platform to raise money for charity or the users’ own cause.
The platform does offer team and solo mission pages, but users are not able to create individual fundraising pages as a subset of team missions.
It is easy to get set up with My Virtual Mission. The platform is geared towards beginners and features a pleasant and easy-to-navigate interface.
Real Buzz is a health and fitness website with virtual map functionality. This fast-growing platform offers a fun and easy way to get involved. Participants can earn medals, t-shirts or other prizes while taking part in charities’ virtual events.
Real Buzz offers some unique selling points, and the platform’s links to the running and fitness community make it an attractive prospect for charities looking to tap into that market.
Maps & integration:
Real Buzz features a range of well-known integrations, such as Strava, Garmin and Fitbit. The platform’s interactive maps functionality is well-integrated and easy to use.
Real Buzz does offer some degree of customisation. Charities can upload banners and other imagery to events pages. However, the options for branding and customisation are not as extensive as some other platforms.
Like My Virtual Mission, Real Buzz does have limited fundraising functionality, with no option for individual or team fundraising pages.
Real Buzz benefits from their specialisation in event registration technology, and their experience in the charity sector (specifically, work with Virgin Money London Marathon). This means that their platform is simple to use and easy to pick up.
Their interface is more reminiscent of a traditional fundraising site than some of their competitors and can require users to visit several pages to register.
Big Team Challenge is a virtual walking challenge that allows charities and other organisations to engage with audiences around the world.
Maps & Integration:
The platform offers synchronisation with FitBit but lacks the Strava functionality of platforms such as Enthuse and My Virtual Mission.
Big Team Challenge does not offer extensive options for virtual maps, but interactive map functionality should be available through World Wide Walking app. The platform also features a leaderboard to encourage community participation and friendly competition.
The platform is similar to Enthuse in the sense that it’s personal and highly customisable. Users can choose from a wide selection of ready to use routes or create their own custom routes upon request.
Charities are also able to customise their event experience and can upload their own branding, as well as a personalised message on the registration screen.
The platform does not feature an integrated fundraising platform. Users will need to place a link to your chosen fundraising portal and encourage everyone to donate through this.
Big Team Challenge has a community focus, offering built-in communication functionality to keep participants engaged and to drive donations.
Creating your account on the Big Team Challenge is easy. It is worth bearing in mind that any fundraising element will need to be created separately and linked with Big Team Challenge. This can create more page creation and platform management work than an integrated solution.
This article is sponsored by Enthuse, which is available through the Charity Digital Product Platform