Key insights to help maximise virtual events

As the new kids on the fundraising block, virtual events have the potential to completely disrupt the event fundraising category. Not only do they give charities the freedom to create, promote and execute their own branded events, they also come without the complicated logistical headache and strain on resources that typically accompany physical events. But as a new white paper undertaken by More Strategic and commissioned by Everydayhero reveals, there are a number of critical ingredients which need to be present for virtual events to deliver fundraising success. Far from being the silver bullet or quick fix it might at first appear to be, a successful virtual event requires a tailored, carefully-planned approach that is just as robust as (yet in many ways different to) a physical event strategy. Wider reach but lower fundraising per participant One of the biggest revelations of the research[1] was that, despite virtual events proving excellent recruitment vehicles for acquiring new and younger audiences, virtual events participants were not as good fundraisers as physical events participants.

What this tells us, broadly speaking, is that we need to understand our virtual events supporters better – both who they are and what motivates them. Combined with segmented fundraising coaching that taps into these motivations and inspires a greater connection to the event or cause, this improved understanding has the potential to significantly increase fundraising totals in the future.

Three secrets to virtual event success

Learn what makes your audience tick – then leverage it.

Understanding your supporters’ core motivations will allow you to tailor your comms and messaging appropriately. If some participants already have a great attachment to the cause and will need to be nurtured but some others are more likely to be inspired by the event itself and the personal challenge that it represents. Each category will need specific coaching that talks to the core of their engagement in the event. Tap into this event focus by:
  • Making your event concept as creative and novel as possible – despite this being a key strength of virtual events, the research showed this aspect of the category has been under-utilised to date.
  • Developing communications with a strong event focus and event-related incentives.
  • Inspiring supporters who are highly committed to your event but not the cause by educating them on the impact they can achieve.

Ensure key fundraising drivers are central to your strategy.

Just because your event is virtual, doesn’t mean it requires any less effort when it comes to inspiring and motivating your supporters – if anything, charities need to work even harder to instil and reinforce the same principles we usually embed in physical events. Check you’ve got these drivers covered:
  • Help your supporters set targets and fundraising goals so that they understand the impact they are going to create.
  • Stay in touch regularly with frequent and personalised asks – drip feed key ways to fundraise, remind them to send donation request emails, encourage them to send friends’ direct asks through messaging apps and so on.
  • Inspire supporters who are activity-led to reach their fundraising goals by embedding gamification and incentives.
  • Have a process in place to focus on your most committed supporters and show your VIPs how much you value them.
  • Share your cause’s story so that your supporters can easily communicate it to their donors.

Make your supporters feel like they are part of something.

Unlike physical events, it’s easy for virtual events supporters to feel isolated from other participants. Being part of something bigger than you is a huge motivator and has the potential to not only increase fundraising totals but retain those supporters for future years. For this reason it’s important to create opportunities for supporters to connect with each other and feel united in their cause. You can do this by creating an active online ‘Tribe’ that engages participants and turns the virtual into something much more real, tangible and consequently, powerful. Use your online tribe to highlight:
  • Changes they are collectively making and the impact of their fundraising.
  • Significant moments within the event such as hitting fundraising targets, number of people joining the tribe, distance walked.
  • Results, ie. what the tribe has helped to collectively achieve.
  [1] More Strategic undertook qualitative in-depth interviews and analysed the quantitative data across both Physical and Virtual Events from charities of varying size, all of whom are running their Virtual Events through the Everydayhero platform.