We check out how to plan and deliver virtual events to increase reach and fundraising firepower
Charity virtual fundraising events have pushed the boat out in terms of creativity and use of digital tools. Over the past few months, we have seen charity digital leaders hosting events which have raised a few hundred to millions of pounds for causes. Going behind the scenes, we take a look at the brainstorming and execution of virtual fundraising events, covering digital pitfalls to avoid and success stories as well as highlighting some of the most innovative events so far this year.
Exploring the universe of virtual fundraising ideas starts with reflection. Outlining the personas of target donors can help narrow down the types of virtual events that will be most successful.
Once established, the marketing persona informs how to target and connect with audiences. For more sophisticated marketing teams, multiple personas can be imagined, along with anti-personas and influencers. From a more traditional marketing perspective, anti-personas are imagined characters who definitely do not fit into the target audience. Anti-personas might be helpful in identifying those who are not in your target group, so teams are aware of where to focus efforts.
Building the ‘typical’ target persona includes thinking about what the majority of your audience might look like. For charities targeting Gen Z, personas would certainly include demographic and income information. According to Hubspot:
Charity digital leaders tailoring virtual fundraising events to engage with Gen Z might then include social media advertising, videos, mobile-friendly advertising and digital payments over traditional real-life events.
Virtual fundraising events have taken off since people have been spending more time online. Charities of all sizes have launched into the space. Some of the most innovative ideas have included:
For virtual fundraising and event organisers, linking together personas and events can help tailor fundraising efforts even further. Valuable data from previous events can help with designing virtual ones including topics of interest gathered from social media analytics, ticket sales, registrations, and attendee follow-up surveys.
Promoting charity virtual events and fundraising opportunities means making the event easily accessible. Our top tips and checks for advertising events include thinking about the below questions:
Charities with high-profile supporters benefit from social media mentions. Comic Relief’s Dungeons & Dragons event live-streamed a gaming tournament on Twitch. The charity enlisted British comedians Kumar Nish and Sue Perkins for the cause. Prior to the event, Sue posted her participation on her Twitter account. Using her celebrity status, Sue promoted the event to her 1.1 million followers. When added with the charity’s own Twitter followers, the event reach increased to 1.4 million followers. For those charities who do have celebrity connections, it is worth asking them to post, advertise, and spread the word on upcoming digital events.
The most successful fundraising events dedicate and allow time for engagement. Hootsuite, the social media management platform offers good advice for audience engagement. To generate more buzz for your charity digital event, remember to:
On conclusion of the virtual event, charities can also use social media analytics to dig deeper into how audiences have engaged and collect feedback. The data capture can be important for data-driven digital strategies, as participation helps build a clearer picture of charity audiences.
The popularity of free videoconferencing services for virtual events and fundraising is booming. Zoom’s tips and best practice are important for all charity digital leaders hosting events. Foremost, charity digital hosts need to check on virtual event logistics. Ensuring that there is a secure internet connection and limited background noise means that content can be delivered smoothly. Zoom also recommends testing hardware and software prior to the event – this could mean that charity digital tech teams need to log on earlier than the set meeting time.
The beauty of virtual content means that charities can practice as many times as they need to hit the right notes. Equally, for hosts on camera – dress to impress – choose solid colours over patterns, as these can be more easily seen. To deliver successful digital fundraising events, remember to test and rehearse the production.
Virtual fundraising events should make it as easy as possible to donate to the cause. When promoting your virtual fundraising event remember to include ways to donate.
On social media, many platforms already have ‘buttons’ which charities can add to their digital content. Instagram’s stickers pass 100% of donations straight back to the charity. Twitch’s platform allows charity digital leaders to add their own extensions from third-party developers. PayPal can also be directly linked to Twitch’s panel. Those broadcasting live can then mention the PayPal address for donations to be sent to.
Taking advantage of mobile phone usage, text to donate services are increasingly used to raise funds. Research firm Analysys Mason found that 58% of UK adults used phone-paid services; of that percentage, 6.2 million people used a text to donate service.
As part of the overall donation campaign, text to donate options allow charities to select campaign words to be linked to text donations. A service provider, like Donr, then sets up the payment. The donation amounts are then deducted from supporters’ phone bills or credit. The Normandy Memorial Trust used Donr’s text services to raise over £25,000 in just four weeks. Promoting D-Day, the trust advertised its digital fundraising efforts over social media, website, and other communication channels. The text to donate keywords across all channels made it easy for audiences to donate regardless of where they saw the advert.