When it comes to virtual events, I wish I could tell you that this is the Field of Dreams, you are Kevin Costner and “if you build it, they will come.” The reality is that recruiting participants and motivating fundraisers for a virtual event takes just as much discipline and intentionality as it does for an in-person event.
Clearly Communicate the Change
One big obstacle to recruitment for a virtual event is a lack of information. Ask yourself this: If an interested participant lands on your website or opens your recruitment email, will they clearly understand how the event is changing and what they are signing up to do?
- Take the time to review all of the content on your website — copy, images, navigation — to make sure that it speaks to the new virtual event as opposed to the original in-person one. Update your FAQ page with as many answers as you can, especially how participants can earn and pick up their event T-shirt — everyone’s favorite question.
- Revisit your full e-comm plan. If you continue to send out emails with little to no reference to the new virtual event, you are going to leave participants confused about if or how the event is moving forward. Going virtual is a big (and exciting!) change. You are asking your supporters to participate in a new way, and in times of change, you can’t overcommunicate.
- Reevaluate your messaging through the lens of today’s reality. Do your fundraising tips and tricks include asking friends to donate in-person during a night out? Change that to encourage them to ask on their next Zoom happy hour. Has your mission evolved during the time of COVID-19? Make sure to share that message so that fundraisers know their support is more important than ever.
Make It Personal
Once your website and e-comm plan is on track, it’s time to hit the phones or video chat rooms and try to connect one-on-one with past team captains and registered fundraisers. But what do you say?
- Start every conversation by checking in on their personal well-being (How are they adapting to working from home? How did the end of the school year go for their kids? Have they learned any new skills during quarantine?) and share about your own. Establishing a personal rapport is the key to building an authentic relationship.
- Share updates on your organization and fundraising event and how you are pivoting in the current climate. Ask for their ideas or input (Have you participated in other virtual events recently? What made them engaging?), let them know their help is still needed and encourage them to go ahead and register.
- Listen to any worries they might have about fundraising right now. Some fundraisers might be anxious about asking friends to donate during a time of economic instability so it’s our job to help them navigate those concerns. A great place to start is with last year’s donors or a hand-selected group of people as opposed to casting a wide net at first. Once they see success with a few donations, it will be easier to keep asking. You can also encourage them to help in other ways, like being extra active on social media as you share updates about your event and mission.
Build Your Virtual Community
It’s important to remember that many people come to your events for more than just your cause — they come for the community. You need to be intentional with how you build and maintain these connections virtually.
- Host a monthly or biweekly team captain virtual chat where you can share updates, fundraising tips and event plans, and your supporters can ask questions and connect with other team captains. This can also be a great place to recognize your star performers.
- Encourage team captains to reconnect with their past team members over video chat or text and invite them to participate, too. It’s a great reason to Zoom with friends or co-workers and they can discuss as a team how they can work together to support your mission and hit their fundraising goal.
- Use creative challenges as a hook to boost their fundraising and engagement within the group. Encourage participants to share photos from previous years, using your event hashtag on social. Create a physical activity challenge for the number of steps or miles tracked to get teams activating early. Ask a local corporate sponsor to match a day (or week!) of fundraising and empower everyone to work together to hit the match goal.
How Can Charity Dynamics Help?
The good news is you don’t have to figure out all of this on your own. Charity Dynamics is here to help in a variety of ways:
- Be an objective voice as you figure out your strategy moving forward.
- Rethink and design your program’s web presence to help market and communicate your plan or new virtual offering.
- Identify technology tools like Boundless Fundraising, Boundless+ and Boundless Motion that can help with your new reimagined event.
- Revamp your e-communication strategy to make sure your supporters stay on track with fundraising.
Loved hearing from Marcie and wondering how she can help craft and manage a stellar virtual fundraising event for your organization?