When the Coronavirus Threatens Your Fundraising Events
You've probably spent months planning; sending out invites, meeting with ecstatic board members and inspiring your exhausted team. You felt hopeful.
But you didn't plan for a pandemic. Nobody did.
Yet COVID-19 happened. And now, the possibility of canceling your event seems to be the only logical next step.
Unsurprisingly, your nonprofit won't be the first to cancel an upcoming event. Earlier this month, the Global Healthy Living Foundation announced the cancellation of its medical conference. Also, the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) just canceled its The 31st Dream Gala which raised around $3.5 million last year.
But canceling your event may not be the right decision for your nonprofit. Rather, it may stagnate your progress and jeopardize your overall mission.
For many nonprofits, hiding behind closed doors won't solve their motivating problems. For example, victims of sexual predators will still need emotional support even during a lockdown. And orphans will still need to be catered to. If your nonprofit stops raising the needed funds to help its target beneficiaries, who will?
That's why you may need to explore other options instead of canceling your event. Like hosting a virtual fundraising event instead.
What is a Virtual Event?
A virtual event is an online event that's usually presented through webinars or webcasts. Its participants must use the web to interact, network or engage in any transactions.
Virtual events take many forms. They can happen in realtime or they might be pre-recorded; meaning participants can join after the event has ended. They can also be organized as virtual auctions, seminars or conferences.
1. Get Clear on the Costs
Although it won't be as costly as a cancellation, changing your event to a virtual one on short notice will still attract losses. For example, your event center might not refund you due to a cancellation. And you might incur losses on logistics, marketing, or accommodation spaces that you've already paid for in advance.
And there are also costs that you'll incur when trying to set up a virtual event. For example, if you're lifestreaming, there'll be expenses related to transmitting the live video/audio. There'll be costs of hiring virtual event consultants, buying new software, or beefing up your staff with freelancers.
Before planning a virtual event, meet with all the concerned departments and vendors. Ensure that you're clear on the costs and budget.
2. Adapt Your Message to Fit the Demands of the Virtual World
Since attention spans on the internet are short, your message must be apparent and engaging to participants. If you've invited speakers, advise them to make their speeches more concise and relatable. Encourage participants to interact through quizzes, online contests, or comment sections during or after the event.
You can also leverage the power of social media influencers to improve your event's engagement. Embrace influencers who lead meaningful conversations around small communities in your niche. They're less expensive and very authentic.
Another essential factor to note is the form that your virtual event should take. Will it be a virtual auction or a virtual conference? Will it be streamed live? You should be creative here, especially if your physical event would be difficult to duplicate on the web.
3. Harness the Analytical Power of the Web
With a virtual event, you can track and measure your stakeholders' attitudes and behaviors, even in real-time. The ability to measure results is a critical advantage that virtual events have over physical ones. The information you collect from the web could improve your fundraising and marketing efforts in the future.
However, you can't analyze your metrics effectively unless you have defined the goal of your virtual event. Ensure that your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. During goal-setting activities, consider macroeconomic and microeconomic factors. And use a proven analytics fundraising software to measure your results.
We at Arreva offer reliable analytics through our online fundraising and donor management software. You can access comprehensive reporting and incorporate several third party interfaces in our system to make all your online fundraising activities seamless.
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