Useful Tips and Tricks for Hosting Successful Virtual Fundraisers
Here at PayBee, we’re committed to providing nonprofits and charities with a user-friendly online fundraising platform that your guests can navigate intuitively, enabling you to host more successful virtual and hybrid fundraisers. We also provide valuable guides and resources for hosting all fundraisers, not just the ones using PayBee software.
So, this post is intended to provide practical advice on how to plan and host your most successful virtual fundraiser — both with PayBee’s online platform and other resources. You’ll find plenty of useful tips and tricks here for all the different stages of your virtual gala, including steps to take while preparing for your online event, tactics used during the actual gala, and a number of important follow-up activities.
Keep in mind that this list is not exhaustive — however, after hosting several hundred successful in-person, virtual, and hybrid fundraisers, PayBee does have quite a bit of insight into what it takes to craft a profitable virtual fundraising event.
How to Use PayBee Software and Online Resources for Your Virtual Event
PayBee’s campaign building software and fundraising platform make developing virtual fundraisers much easier for your nonprofit or charity. When using our online resources, be sure to use the following tips:
Before your virtual fundraiser
- Work with experienced virtual fundraising experts. Whether this is your first virtual fundraiser or you’ve held successful virtual galas before, it always pays to be counseled by experts with specialized knowledge about hosting online fundraising events. PayBee offers a Partners Page specifically designed to enhance your fundraising. You’ll be able to search for specific experts in hosting auctions, event setup, consignment goods, and producing. Our partners work with clients across the U.S. and are prepared to assist you with all your technical needs.
- Build ticketing campaigns. PayBee’s online platform allows you to easily create multiple ticketing campaigns for your virtual event. This includes not only your admission tickets but also other event tickets such as meal tickets or raffle tickets. The great thing about this feature is you can easily customize each campaign — whether that means making your virtual gala admission tickets free (and attracting more guests) or adding different menu options for people with special dietary needs.
- Build activity campaigns. PayBee’s online platform also allows you to build online campaigns for many of your virtual event’s main activities. These include silent and live auctions; donation campaigns; and PayBee’s popular “Last Hero” fundraising game that challenges donors to make multiple pledges in a short period of time to be the game’s “Last Hero.”
- Auto generate your campaign links. PayBee automatically creates campaign links to your fundraising landing page, making it easy for you to share the links and direct visitors to your virtual fundraiser.
- Manage your guest list. PayBee’s automated ticketing system sends ticket purchasers a confirmation email with a link to the ticketing page. From there, guests are required to provide all pertinent information, including names, emails, and mailing addresses. You can even customize your page and request guests to select their dinner choices, provide vaccination status, and share other information that lets you connect with them better.
- Have your staff build Peer-to-Peer Fundraising Campaigns. One excellent way to promote your virtual event and raise funds for your nonprofit is to request that your staff and volunteers create peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns. These campaigns allow your staff to construct their own web pages where their family and friends can make donations and learn about your virtual event. PayBee’s online platform offers a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign building tool that provides an easy way to both build your campaigns and keep them organized for your nonprofit.
- Launch a customized social media marketing campaign. PayBee makes it easy for you to promote your upcoming virtual event on many social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter using social sharing ready event URLs. However, make sure to aim your marketing campaign at the social media your audience uses in order to engage with them better.
- Promote your upcoming virtual event in your e-newsletter. PayBee creates automatic email campaigns for your guests to promote your event. To enhance this, promote your virtual gala in your e-newsletter weeks or even months before it opens to build excitement and awareness of your event.
During your virtual fundraiser
- Manage guests with the PayBee Mobile App. Your staff and volunteers can easily check in your guests using the PayBee Mobile App. The app can also be used to manage bidding changes during auctions.
- Use PayBee’s watch party mode. PayBee’s online platform enables any user logged into the virtual event to switch their smartphones and other personal devices to “watch party mode” which switches their virtual interface to event interaction features like group chat and bidding/pledging. Guests can then watch the event on a single device while interacting with others from their watch party mode devices. This is a great way to keep your guests engaged.
- Offer options for mobile giving: PayBee offers your guests the convenient option of donating through their mobile devices via the PayBee Mobile App. You can also send automatic reminders on auction items and custom messages to all your event registrants via the backend event controller.
After your virtual fundraiser
- Use PayBee’s automatic reminders. PayBee’s system automatically follows up with guests who have outstanding donation pledges from your virtual gala, ensuring your nonprofit gets paid.
- Review records of events. The PayBee backend reporting system offers your event team a detailed breakdown of all donations, attendees, and event financials. You’ll be able to see at a glance how much money you made and which activities were the most popular, allowing you to build better virtual fundraisers in the future.
- Send thank you emails. Sending thank you emails to your guests helps maintain your connection and keep them in your support network. In addition, you can add any interested guests to your email mailing list and keep them in the loop via your nonprofit’s e-newsletter.
Tips and Tricks for Hosting a Livestream Virtual Event
Any virtual fundraising event can be enhanced using the tips below. Keep in mind that some of these strategies will be easier to use with a more user-friendly online platform like PayBee.
Before your virtual fundraiser
- Get familiar with all of your tools and resources. Regardless of what fundraising platform you decide to go with, you should provide your entire staff with enough time to become familiar with all the tools you intend to use. This includes both online tools and offline resources like newspaper ads and T-shirts.
- Make sure your computer has a strong processor. Encoding video puts a lot of strain on your processor. Invest in good equipment and make sure not to run any unnecessary programs during your event.
- Use an ethernet (wired) connection for live streaming. Physical ethernet connections offer live streamers better reliability, speed, security, and consistent connections. That said, if you do use wireless, you should use 5G. And be sure to disconnect unnecessary devices like phones and additional computers from your network to avoid straining it.
- Prepare pre-recorded videos. Even if you’re set on live-streaming your virtual fundraiser, it’s an excellent idea to pre-record some of your content. If something goes wrong, you can always substitute the video for live content. Plus, having pre-recorded segments takes the pressure off your live entertainment.
- Have back-up plans ready. Technical issues inevitably come up during your virtual fundraiser. To prepare, create back-up plans in case something goes wrong. Have pre-recorded video content ready to substitute for any livestream issues. You can also invest in a live backup stream. And be sure to know how to inform your audience if something happens that requires extra time to correct.
- Hire a professional emcee. An emcee who knows how to perform in front of a camera and connect with a virtual audience is invaluable for making your online gala enjoyable for your guests.
- Hire a professional auctioneer. Professional auctioneers with experience hosting online live auctions can increase excitement among bidders and bring in more revenue for your nonprofit.
- Hire tech support. No matter how familiar you become with your online fundraising platform, it’s always useful to have some real experts on the team to perform troubleshooting and ensure your virtual event runs smoothly.
- Consider inviting a celebrity speaker or performer. Celebrities, including local personalities, help draw in audiences. Depending on your guest interests, you might consider hiring a professional comedian, music group, or keynote speaker. You can also arrange to have them appear via pre-recorded video.
- Recruit sponsors. Sponsors can take on some of the financial burden of a virtual event. They can also donate nice auction items and prizes for your fundraising activities. Be sure to communicate how their business will be acknowledged and promoted during your gala.
- Create a detailed schedule of events and activities. Making sure your entire staff have copies detailing all the events and activities of your fundraiser, along with everyone’s responsibilities, is vital to making sure everyone knows what they’re doing.
- Block out some time to rehearse your live event. Create a copy of your campaigns for your staff and volunteers to perform dry runs of your gala to make sure all the technical issues are ironed out and everything works.
- Develop a marketing plan customized to your specific audience. It bears repeating that your social media marketing plan should target the social media channels your audience frequents. Also make sure to send out invites to sponsors and media members along with your other guests to keep building your brand awareness.
During your virtual fundraiser
- Start early and offer pre-show entertainment. It can take time for people to connect with your virtual event, so start the event early and let guests wait in an online lobby for the gala to start. This is a great place to showcase your sponsors, offer some pre-show music, games, or other entertainment, and build excitement for the main event.
- Offer multiple opportunities for guests to donate. Your online fundraising platform should have “Donate” buttons easily marked on your fundraising pages. You should also make mobile donating possible. Finally, all or most of your activities (auctions, raffles etc.) should offer chances for supporters to donate.
- Engage with donors. Having some friendly staff available to help guide your guests makes them feel welcome. Also be sure to engage with your audience via chat features and video conferencing. Thanking individual supporters as the donations come in is a good move.
- Maintain a fun, exciting atmosphere. Whether you choose to offer live auctions, virtual concerts, or online classes, your activities should be fun for all your guests. A good emcee and auctioneer can help keep the energy levels up.
- Serve meal options. There are plenty of ways for guests to enjoy a good meal at your virtual fundraiser. You can arrange for catered meals to be delivered, host a virtual picnic, or even offer an online cooking class that lets guests cook their dinners and then dine over a virtual space.
- Record your virtual gala. Having a record of all of your virtual fundraiser activities is useful for studying what went right about your online event. You can also edit your recording into shorter segments to market your next virtual fundraiser.
After your virtual fundraiser
- Send thank you emails or cards to your guests. It bears repeating that you should email all of your guests with a thank you for coming to your virtual event. Some guests may also appreciate a physical thank you card.
- Offer links to your recorded event. Offering a link to your recorded virtual event in your emails is a nice way for guests to re-experience the event and also provides no-shows with a way to show what they missed.
- Use materials from this fundraiser to promote future virtual events. Showcasing photos and clips of your event’s highlights on social media is also an excellent way to advertise your nonprofit and future fundraisers. You can also add the email addresses of your new guests to your e-newsletter, letting you keep in contact with them and offer information about upcoming activities and fundraisers.
Virtual events come with their share of both new opportunities and challenges. In order for you to make your virtual gala a success, take advantage of the tips and tricks in this article to adequately prepare for your event, manage it properly, and follow up with your guests. Whether you choose to use PayBee’s online fundraising platform or not, the current advances in technology for virtual fundraising will help your nonprofit organization raise more money and connect with a wider support network in today’s digital age.
If you’re ready to learn more, be sure to sign up for a free demo of PayBee’s online platform. You’ll be able to experience a simulated fundraising event with our software, complete with a live auction and robust bidding. You’ll also be able to ask your questions to our team of experts and gain better insight into how to take advantage of the virtual fundraising opportunities available today. Sign up for a free demo and take your fundraising efforts to the next level.