Should charities continue with virtual events?

Virtual Events

That’s the big question many teams are facing in activity planning meetings right across the country.

We know it can be difficult for smaller teams with tighter budgets to think about hosting in-person and online meetings, but thankfully we’ve partnered with JustGiving to fund research that will give you the confidence and tools to be able to do this effectively – and easy.

To find out how virtual events will accelerate your fundraising activity and help your charity move towards accessible and sustainable decisions, read on.

To download a copy of the free report and access the live Q&A, you can find it here.

Virtual events benefits

As the world opens up it can be easy to become excited about the return to ‘normal’, however, donor and employee attitudes, wants, and needs have changed forever since 2020. Teams must think carefully about returning to 2019 BAU because this no longer works.

People crave experiences they can be part of and many people have discovered the joy and quality of life from removing the commute. Virtual events allow us to reach anyone, anywhere, and provide opportunities for attendees to become part of the experience by joining or hosting their own discussions and interacting with the platforms in their own way.

Virtual events have also been proven to be an effective way to keep connected to our supporters, and our colleagues, with 77% of research participants agreeing their use had enabled to keep them connected supporters with 64% exceeding their targets and a further 50% experiencing growth.

In addition, charities hosting their own virtual events are able to move supporters away from social media platforms to their own mailing lists. 74% of participants said virtual events had helped them increase their social media reach and engagement.

Not only do virtual events help us tackle wider sector issues including data ownership and inclusiveness, they also support charity teams working towards becoming carbon zero. Everywhere+ virtual event hosts, East Anglian Air Ambulance, have moved to online events alongside other sustainable fundraising decisions to reduce their environmental impact.

70% of charities will continue with virtual events in 2022.

How to easily host successful virtual events

It can be daunting to think of ‘adding another activity’ to your to-do list, but by flipping the narrative, and proper planning, hosting virtual events will help you reach your goals without impacting your budget (and increasing your stress levels).

First, let’s not think of virtual events as something we have to do extra and instead view them as a way to elevate what we’re already doing. Work with your team to share opportunities and resource to reach more people and improve ROI by adding in at strategic points of campaign and stewardship planning.

Second, keep it simple and give yourself enough time. Virtual events are not something to be thrown together and deserve the same level of care and attention as something you were welcoming people to in person. Simplify agendas to keep experiences slick and easy to understand, host in-person and online at different times to lower the impact on your team, and allow yourself at least two months to pull together your programme and marketing plans.

Finally, always choose your platform carefully and work with professionals where possible. Many charities were thrown into virtual events in 2020 and Zoom was the quickest and easiest option; with its constant, and primary, use as a meetings platform these experiences can be bland and unsuccessful. Use a platform designed to be used for events and watch your attendee engagement soar and repeated requests for an encore!

What’s next for virtual events?

2022 will be about finding balance as teams move towards new ways of working whilst continuing to use and improve traditional methods.

Virtual events will continue to be tweaked as teams learn more about their use; from the content included and where they’re used, to duration and frequency, this year will teach us more about how virtual events should be used for both internal and external audiences.

Teams should host virtual events throughout their programmes, working with teams to share opportunities and resources, whilst collecting data and feedback to shape future decisions.

To download a copy of the free report and discover where and how to use virtual events to their biggest potential, visit our website.

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Nikki is the co-founder of Fundraising Everywhere and Everywhere+, featured in 2021's Digital Womxn to Watch, and an international speaker about building innovative and inclusive teams.