As part of our Recovery Hub, one of our wonderful small charities asked the following question: How do you start small with virtual events if events are already your weakest income stream? Our Digital Strategist Alex shares her four tips to get started.
How do you start small with virtual events if events are already your weakest income stream?
If you’re curious as to how to start and build a virtual events income stream right now, I’d start with a live stream or video-powered event.
Meet your supporters where they’re at
Your first step is to meet your supporters on the online platforms they are already on. If they’re all on Facebook then why not explore Facebook Live or Instagram Live for your IG followers? Both platforms have a host of tools that can help you create an engaging online event. We’d highly recommend reading Hootsuit’s “The Ultimate Guide to Social Media Live Streaming in 2020” for more information.
Facebook Live has also reintroduced the ability to add guests to live streams as well as add a Facebook Donate button. A great overview of all the features and how they specifically relate to charity events is in this blog post by Fundraising Everywhere co-founder Nikki Bell.
If the majority of your community aren’t on social media or they’re on a platform that doesn’t have integrated live streaming functionality, start to think about other platforms which have become almost universal during this time, like Zoom or Google Hangouts.
Depending on which camp you’re in, we hate to tell you that that nervous/excited feeling you get when you’re about to host an in-person event still applies to the virtual event landscape – but often it’s the tech we’re most nervous about! In our opinion, that’s just because for many of us, it’s all still quite new – so my advice is to start small and test the waters.
Your first virtual event doesn’t need to be a big fundraising drive – instead, it could be anything from an interview with your CEO or charity ambassador to a virtual coffee morning with your team of volunteers who haven’t had a chance to catch up since lockdown began.
The beauty of everyone having to adopt digital tools and streaming platforms so quickly is that most of us have made a virtual event faux pas in the last couple of months, from speaking whilst on mute to not quite knowing how to share a screen, so I think we’re all more understanding and no one is expecting you to put on a perfect event!
Set up donation options
If your virtual event’s goal is to fundraise, I’d suggest setting up more than one way to give.
Many of our charity partners have used more than one donation mechanism during a live stream. For example, the National Theatre uses both text-to-donate as well as YouTube’s donation technology as part of their live-streamed performances.
By offering more than one way to donate you’re giving supporters the opportunity to give using whichever method they feel most comfortable with. Some might not want to add their payment details to platforms like YouTube or Facebook, so text giving is a good fit.
Whilst there are countless online webinars and classes about how to run virtual events, why not first seek inspiration from somewhere slightly more personal?
Sign up for a virtual event you’re personally interested in and at the end write down which parts of it you found most engaging. For example, I recently watched a webinar series about growing your own food and I really enjoyed that it was filmed outside – I think that’s because I’ve spent the vast majority of my time indoors this year!
Whilst I know my example isn’t technically possible for a lot of organisations, it made me stop and think about the overall setting of any video content I create.
And finally, if you’re not already part of the 30,000 members-strong Fundraising Chat Facebook group, you are missing out. It’s an incredible online community where fundraisers and other members of the charity sector discuss absolutely everything. Search for ‘virtual events’ and you’ll be able to scroll through a host of questions and discussions that range from online safeguarding templates to hosting a virtual golf day.
You can find other questions and resources in our Recovery Hub here.