Back in April, Forbes Magazine highlighted the initial scramble many nonprofits were facing due to COVID canceling live events. Nonprofit organizations had two options: shift their events to virtual or put them on hold. While many forged ahead into the new virtual world, a vital question loomed: Will we be able to effectively fundraise virtually?
Over the past six months Team SEQ has had the opportunity to produce a number of extremely successful galas, including several that far exceeded their fundraising goals. In the spirit of Giving Tuesday earlier this week, we want to highlight a few elements that have made these virtual fundraisers successful:
The most effective events have been the ones with longer planning — and therefore longer fundraising — windows. As we’ve discussed previously, uncertainty within the events landscape has led to some shorter planning timelines. However, if you’re looking to fundraise successfully around a virtual event you should leave yourself with just as much time as you would for an in-person experience.
The reasoning we hear most often is that many want to start planning but do not feel fully ready to commit to virtual for a number of reasons. It’s definitely possible to leave our options open while still giving the proper timing.
Just like we wouldn’t select a venue before deciding on your live event format, we recommend that our clients don’t select a platform before creating a framework for the fundraiser or gala. Will we be incorporating a silent or live auction? Text-to-Pledge? A live appeal moment? The best chance at effectively fundraising during the event is to make the giving moments as seamless and accessible as possible. To do that we need to select the right virtual platform, and to select the right platform we need to know what you’re looking for!
We have a detailed survey that we review with all clients prior to making recommendations for an event platform. This helps us to understand priorities, must-haves vs. nice-to-haves, etc. which allows us to focus on the best choices from the start.
Keep it Simple
We’ve found that some of our most successful fundraising events have forgone the bells and whistles, instead prioritizing a well-produced program with a focus on mission. This doesn’t mean that the event shouldn’t include some surprise and delight moments, but while guests may enjoy the engagement they are likely donating for the cause. We always strive to ensure that your organization’s story and mission are communicated cohesively from pre-event through post, and that the event program is compact and thoughtful.
Virtual fundraisers are still relatively new territory, but early results indicate that they can still be effective revenue-drivers — in some cases even more than in-person experiences! We would love to have an opportunity to connect with you and talk more about how to make your next virtual fundraiser an unparalleled success!
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