The Ultimate Guide to Hosting Successful Virtual Nonprofit Fundraising Events
The Ultimate Guide to Hosting Successful Virtual Nonprofit Fundraising Events
More and more, nonprofits and charities are incorporating virtual events into their regular fundraising plans. Even though traditional in-person gatherings are now more possible, the advantages of virtual fundraising — from its lower cost to its ability to reach many more donors and supporters — cannot be denied.
Many nonprofits are also creating hybrid fundraisers that blend aspects of virtual and in-person fundraising, enabling event planners to enjoy the best of both worlds. In fact, with live streaming technology allowing both in-person and virtual audiences to experience fundraising activities in real time, the possibilities for using virtual fundraising in 2022 have only grown even bigger.
Live streaming does come with plenty of variables, however, so we put together this comprehensive look at how you can use the PayBee online platform effectively during your virtual fundraising event. We’re also including a list of best practices that apply to any virtual event, giving you the ultimate edge for preparing and managing a successful virtual fundraiser.
Using PayBee’s Online Platform During Your Virtual Event
PayBee provides one of the most user-friendly online platforms for hosting virtual and hybrid fundraisers. From creating ticketing campaigns to building websites to encouraging online donations, PayBee is there to support your event planners every step of the way. Here’s how to take advantage of PayBee’s online tools as you plan your fundraising event.
Before your virtual event
Use PayBee to auto generate campaign links and landing pages
Where other online resources require you to create customized short links to your Campaign Page using a tool like Bitly, PayBee streamlines this process by automatically creating campaign links to your fundraising landing page. This is important since you’ll want to display your campaign links on viewing platforms in order to direct people to your fundraising page.
Create your virtual event ticketing campaign
You can create multiple ticketing campaigns with PayBee’s online platform, including those for free and paid tickets. Building ticketing campaigns is important because even if your event is free, you’ll still need to collect essential information from your guests as they sign up. For instance, PayBee enables you to create special luncheon and dinner tickets where guests can select their meal options (including vegan and gluten-free meals for people with dietary restrictions).
PayBee also allows you to customize your tickets to request other useful information from your guests. For example, you’ll be able to collect their email addresses and other contact information, making it simple to remind them of your event and follow up with them after. You can even ask your guests to share their favorite color, enabling you to customize their name tags or décor to their preferences. It’s a small, personal touch that generates a positive response — and PayBee makes it possible for you to offer it.
To further convenience your guests, be sure your ticketing campaigns provide virtual event links that guide guests to your event. PayBee provides you with RSVP URLs for use in your email campaigns to make sure the people you invite get put on your guest list. You’ll also receive an auto-generated Join URL link you can share on the day of your event to make attending more convenient.
Have your supporters create Peer-to-Peer Fundraising pages
Peer-to-Peer fundraising is a highly effective form of online fundraising where your board members, volunteers, and other supporters can create their own fundraising web pages on behalf of your nonprofit or charity fundraiser and request donations from their own support networks. This is great for your organization since the personal campaigns will not only raise more funds for your programs but also promote your main fundraising event and encourage people to attend.
PayBee’s online platform offers a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign building tool that allows your supporters to raise money from their own social circles by sharing the campaign. It’s an excellent way to keep everything organized and ensure communication channels are open.
Market your event on social media
These days, social media is the ideal way to market a fundraising event to a large audience. PayBee supports this by providing auto social sharing ready event URLs, making it easy to direct your social media followers to your campaign page.
Of course, in order to make your social media marketing campaign effective, you’ll want to focus your advertising in social media channels frequented by your target audience. PayBee’s social sharing links can be used on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and other channels — just know where you want to concentrate your efforts.
And incidentally, don’t ignore the power of a good email marketing campaign! Email marketing is still the most cost-effective form of advertising, particularly if you have a large email mailing list (which PayBee’s ticketing campaigns can help you build and expand). Even better? PayBee includes an automatic email campaign, making it easier than ever to reach out to your guests.
During your virtual event
Encourage mobile giving
One of the best parts about a virtual fundraising event is how easy it is for guests to donate to your cause. While some supporters like to use the donation buttons on your website, many prefer to give via their smartphones and other mobile devices. PayBee makes this simple by providing a useful PayBee Mobile App that can be installed on the phones of your audience members.
Control activities for maximum fundraising
Many nonprofits enjoy offering multiple fundraising activities to keep their audiences entertained and the donations flowing. However, offering these activities at the same time can divide your audience’s attention and weaken participation. To prevent this, PayBee’s online platform makes it simple for you to stop or start your event activities at key times.
For instance, one of the most popular activities you can offer at a fundraiser are silent and live auctions. Silent auctions can begin days or even weeks before the official fundraising event, allowing you to raise money immediately. Once your main fundraising event starts, however, you’ll want to end your silent auction — ideally before you begin your live auction so bidders focus their attention on just one auction.
After your virtual event
Follow up with your guests
A truly successful fundraiser doesn’t end when your audience goes home. Guests who still need to pay for their winning auction bids or pledged donations need to be reminded. New and old supporters on your guest list need to be thanked for coming and reminded about any upcoming fundraisers you have planned.
PayBee makes all of this easy by providing the online tools you need to send out the thank you or reminder emails you need to the right people on your guest list. This is a vital resource that you’ll want to take advantage of (especially if you need to collect any outstanding balances).
Analyze your event with your staff
No matter how smoothly your virtual event went, there’s always room for improvement. After your event, take advantage of the records PayBee’s online system created of your event to see what areas you excelled at and what aspects could be enhanced.
You’ll be able to see how many guests participated in each event, how much money was raised during each activity, and more. All of this will influence the type of activities you offer at your next event and the accommodations you offer your guests.
General Advice About Virtual Events and Live streaming
Virtual fundraising events come with their own challenges. After hosting hundreds of successful virtual galas, PayBee knows what issues to watch out for — and how to circumnavigate them. Keep the following tips in mind:
Before your virtual event
- Make sure you’re familiar with all your online tools. Whether you’re using PayBee or another online platform, take the time to allow your entire event staff to become familiar with all the resources available to them. The more comfortable they are with your platform, the less likely you’ll experience any major technical failures.
- Invest in a strong processor for your computer. While livestreaming and virtual event technology is more available now than ever, encoding video is still an intensive process that requires strong processing power. Be sure to close any unnecessary programs during this process.
- When live streaming, use an ethernet (wired) connection for your streaming computer. While ethernet is best, if you do decide to use Wi-Fi, be sure to use at least 5G and disconnect unnecessary devices like phones or other computers from your network. By the way, Paybee can accept the embed link from any streaming platform, allowing you to use any of your best streaming tools.
- Make sure to work with a knowledgeable support staff. Having a technical support team like the ones from the PayBee Partner Ecosystem will help you host a professional live streamed event. Remember: not everyone understands all aspects of the set-up process or encoding software, so it’s to your benefit (and your audience’s) that you have people available that do.
- Have pre-recorded video segments ready. While you may want to livestream your entire virtual event, if this is your first virtual gala, it’s still a good idea to prepare pre-recorded video segments that you can broadcast during your event. These pre-recorded videos entertain guests while relieving the pressure of livestreaming everything. You can even maintain the “feel” of a live broadcast by engaging with your audience via live chats.
- Rehearse. Rehearse. Rehearse. Practice makes perfect, and that’s definitely the case for virtual events. Give your teams plenty of time to engage in dry runs. You can do this in private rooms and through unlisted videos that the public can’t see.
- Have troubleshooting solutions ready. Even the best-planned virtual event can experience technical difficulties. When this happens, it’s a good idea to have still images and pre-recorded videos to air instead of a planned live streaming event. It’ll keep your audience entertained and give you time to fix any issues.
- Hire fun hosts. Having a good MC is key to making your fundraisers a success, and this applies to virtual events as well. Ideally, you’ll want a host with experience interacting with virtual audiences. It’s also a plus if you can get celebrity guests (local or national) who can appear in a pre-recorded video or as part of a virtual activity. Find good options in the PayBee Partner Ecosystem.
- Create an event schedule. Being able to show everyone on your team the order of events and their place in them is vital to making sure everyone does their part. PayBee offers free support, including a PayBee rep for your dry run, who can help manage the logistics of this.
- Manage your guest list. Managing an in-depth guest list is one of the most important steps in creating a successful fundraiser. Make sure to send out invites to your vendors, honorees, sponsors, media, donors, board, and community members. And don’t stop with a single email — send reminders through social media, press releases, website promotions, and emails.
During your virtual event
- Run a pre-show. Give your audience time to join in by starting the livestream early. You can build excitement by showing a countdown timer and pre-recorded welcome videos. PayBee offers free support for all of this, including PayBee reps for your dry runs.
- Interact with your audience members. Live chats offer a chance for donors to ask questions and send messages that you can read and react to on livestream. All of this helps build the excitement for your event and create a sense of community. PayBee even shows the names of your donors in the activity feed live during the event as contributions come through.
- Spotlight multiple donation opportunities. Successful fundraisers give supporters multiple ways to contribute. PayBee offers easy ways to create pledge drives and create highly clickable donation buttons for your fundraising site.
- Offer plenty of fun activities. From virtual costume parties to dance contests, there are plenty of fun activities you can offer during your virtual fundraiser. PayBee also makes it easy to create virtual versions of popular fundraising activities, including silent auctions, live auctions, raffles, and their own Last Hero Standing. Even game prizes can be offered virtually via digital gift cards, video chats with celebrities, or workout/meditation app memberships.
- Serve food. Good meals offer great incentive for attending a fundraiser — and this applies to your virtual fundraiser too. By partnering with local restaurants or catering companies, you can have meals delivered to guests who purchase meal tickets. This is a great way to get restaurants to sponsor your event — and you can even tie in your dinner plans with some unique virtual event activities like cooking classes.
- Record your live stream. People who couldn’t attend your virtual fundraiser (or had to leave early) will appreciate being given the chance to catch a recorded version later on to see what they missed. You can also take clips of the best parts of your events and share them on social media. This is a great way to advertise your upcoming events by showing how much fun people have at your fundraisers!
After your virtual event
- Share the recorded event. In addition to following up with guests who have outstanding donation pledges from your fundraiser, you can also keep in touch with your supporters by sharing a link to your recorded event. These links can be shared in thank-you emails and your social media posts, enabling your supporters to share your event with their own community. This is a great way to increase brand awareness for your nonprofit or charity — and an excellent way to advertise your next fundraiser!
By this point, virtual fundraising events and hybrid galas are an inescapable reality of modern nonprofit and charity fundraising. Generally speaking, this is great news. Virtual events offer plenty of advantages for your nonprofit’s fundraising budget and can easily expand your network of supporters and donors.
With all of these advantages, however, comes a steep learning curve. The past two years have seen a lot of developments in the way your organization can host a successful virtual fundraiser, and we strongly encourage you to review the tips and advice shared in this article to ensure your event goes well.
That’s only the beginning though. Virtual event hosting requires a lot of support, and PayBee is prepared to offer it to you. Sign up for a free demo of our online fundraising platform and experience what your donors will enjoy in a virtual event. You’ll be able to participate in a live auction (complete with mock money) and judge for yourself how user-friendly our online tools are.
Even better, you’ll be able to pose all of your questions about virtual and hybrid galas to our team of experts, granting you inside knowledge on the best practices for hosting virtual fundraisers. There’s plenty to learn, so sign up for a free demo today!