Virtual events that feel authentic to your charity’s aims hit home for supporters, encourage engagement, and make for memorable experiences
2020 was the year of the virtual fundraising event. 2021 seems to be heading the same direction. But with the sudden boom of charity activity now taking place online, it can be even more of a challenge for charities to move audiences to give and take part. Especially when there are so many competing voices vying for peoples’ attention.
In an increasingly content-saturated world, it can be hard for charities to get their message heard when there is so much out there already. Transparency and authenticity are the key to successful and sustained charity communications and donor relationships.
The importance of defining your message is invaluable to lasting and memorable donor relationships and ultimate growth. By clearly outlining your mission, and connecting the format and style of your event to your cause, you can help your audience to better understand your mission.
Anyone can throw a virtual fundraising event together these days, but how do you take a great idea and make it your charity’s own? How do you make it memorable, compelling, and human without the traditional face to face element?
The key lies in carefully defining your event’s message and relating it to supporters in a way that feels authentic, by keeping your charity’s story centre stage. Here are a few pointers.
When thinking of an idea for your virtual fundraising event, try and come up with something that has a direct impact on supporters and is tied to your cause. Is there a way you can give back something of value to those fundraising for you? If you’re a foodbank, you could run an online cookery class and ask people to donate. If you’re an education and awareness charity, it could be a virtual quiz related to your area of expertise.
Mental health charity Mind’s RED January fundraising campaign challenged supporters to get active and fundraise, while empowering them to start their year positively and boost their mood through exercise.
The Royal Society for Public Health’s Scroll Free September encourages people to take a digital break for their mental and physical wellbeing, and while it’s offline for the month, the charity uses social media to bring positive attention to the campaign in the run-up to the event.
In their dedicated ebook on the subject, virtual events specialists Enthuse recommend using statistics to tie your event more explicitly to your cause. For example, if someone is diagnosed with the disease your charity deals with every 60 minutes, you could run a 60-minute workout, ask people to hike or run 60k, or go 60 days without alcohol or chocolate.
Having a memorable theme helps fundraising events stand out from the crowd.
Many charities make use of a certain colour or symbol that represents their charity in an important way, and use it around their event and in their branding. Pink has become synonymous with Cancer Research’s Race for Life, while moustaches are the memorable symbol of men’s health charity Movember and their yearly event.
Depending on your brand’s tone of voice and what’s appropriate for your cause, you might also want to use a humorous pun or motto, and integrate that into the name of your fundraising event.
In order to give your virtual fundraiser the human connection of an in-person event, look for opportunities for the audience to participate beyond just raising funds. There are a number of ways to do this.
One of the simplest is to empower people tuning in on Facebook Live or Twitch with the ability to ask questions that you can answer as you go or conduct a live poll during a live stream.
You could ask quiz questions or run a competition with prizes. Give peer-to-peer fundraisers the option to join teams and build some friendly competition, with the addition of a leaderboard on your website and social media. This helps to build the community aspect of the virtual event.
Make sure to give back to those who’ve given to you and make them feel valued. A simple, personal thank you can go a long way. Recording a short video message from your team will only take a few minutes, but it will put a human face on your event and will show your supporters that they are appreciated.
Whatever you do, make sure it’s a two-way thing – unappreciated donors are usually one-time donors.
You can also send supporters emails to help with their fundraising. Encourage and thank them, ensuring you personalise your communications for each step of the supporter journey. Let people create their own fundraising pages with your brand and give them your brand assets to use. Your supporters have the potential to become the most enthusiastic advocates for your cause, as long as they are properly supported.
Many charities also provide fundraising packs with resources (physical and downloadable) to help supporters, such as fundraising instructions and ideas, logos, social media graphics, suggested text for fundraising asks, branded planners, posters and sponsor forms. Not only does this make supporters feel engaged to take part in your event, it’s a great opportunity to reinforce your branding. By taking these actions, you can create a more cohesive event experience.
In a recent article, we talked about how user-generated content is a powerful way for charities to build authenticity in their communications, and virtual events are no exception.
In the build-up to your event, share content from your volunteers, staff and service users and involve their stories every step of the way. They may want to host your virtual event, be a part of it, write a blog or social post about it, talk on video or share materials on their own social media.
Whether it’s a proud volunteer, a grateful beneficiary or just a loyal fan of your work, your charity’s representatives and the community you serve are a wonderful untapped resource and involving people close to your cause shows that their voices really matter to your charity.
Find out more by downloading the ebook below.
Want to see Enthuse in action? Join us on 15th October 2020 for #BeMoreDigital Fundraising Day, where Enthuse will be delivering a fantastic session, ’Who did you last donate to?’.
Download 'Virtual Realities: The Essential Guide to Raising More From Your Virtual Events' and learn more about authenticity for virtual events