With virtual events being the new norm, you need to plan for fundraising functions online.
While many of us didn’t have any idea that galas and fundraising events would happen without the normal affair a year ago, the shift to virtual is one that is likely to hang on for a while.
The good news is that WordPress already has many of the tools available to help you make the transition with ease, and without having to rebuild your website. Here, we’ll take a look at fundraising tips for virtual events so you can launch an event and find success right away.
1. Host Virtual Events Directly on Your Website
The key to making a virtual event work is that it has to be easy. Don’t overthink it.
Host online events right on your website. This makes them easy to find, cuts down the hassle of additional registrations or passwords, and allows loyal fundraisers to find accompanying information about your organization all in one place.
Before you get worried, it’s all something your team can likely implement without having to get a website developer involved.
WordPress has tools to embed live streams right on your website. These video streams can bring you and an audience together for an online event with ease. Plus, many of these plugins, such as WPStream or eRoom, don’t require any coding for installation.
The best part about putting the live stream on your website is that the event is part of your branding, next to your messaging, and connected to information about your organization. This allows virtual event participants to click around and learn more without having to look for it on their own.
Hosting your own events versus using third-party apps comes with a residual bonus as they drive additional traffic to your website. This sends good signals to search engines and boosting organic SEO.
2. Create a Donation Form Specifically for the Event
Make your virtual fundraising event special with a donation form that specifically relates to the event.
Dynamic donation forms may include elements such as a goal bar for a specific period around the event. Consider the promotional period for the event plus two weeks post-event.
Other fun elements include countdown timers for the event kickoff and the ability to set custom donation amounts that relate to your campaign.
Customize the donation form to match the marketing materials for the event itself, with the same images, phrases, and campaign goals.
Use GiveWP to create a customized donation form and host it with your event on your website.
3. Test Everything
This might be the most important fundraising tip we can offer (and it doesn’t have anything with collecting funds) – test everything.
Nothing will flop faster than a virtual event that doesn’t work. It is your job to ensure a seamless event. That’s why you need to test everything well in advance of your event.
Start with this checklist:
- Do form links work and send donors to the right place?
- Do all payment options connect and process promptly?
- Does each successful donation result in a receipt?
- Are links to the event live and easy to remember? (Keep them short if you can.)
- Do all links work? Check them on your website, in emails, on printed materials, and on social media posts.
- Do your livestream tools work?
- Can everyone who needs to log on to the livestream to present have appropriate access to do so?
- Do slides, video clips, and other materials play on the live stream feed?
- Does every communication – including the event itself – include a direct call to action leading event participants to the donation form?
4. Look and Sound Your Best
Your event should be practiced, precise, and polished.
This is a combination of things from knowing what you want to say and how to say it, to looking the part of a fundraiser on screen.
Write a script and stick to it for your online event. Insert some creative elements to engage the audience if you can or set goals for live fundraising. Contests, teams, and group donations during the event can establish fun competitions for immediate giving.
The three-hour gala that you used to host for a fundraising kickoff probably won’t work online. Attention spans are shorter and it’s easy for people to leave online events and feel like they are doing so in anonymity. The live event should be to-the-point and short. Prepare a small show, explain the mission and goals of your organization and campaign, make your ask at intervals throughout, and save any networking or questions to the end.
“Zoom” culture has created a much more relaxed environment for video chats and meetings, but you need to look professional when asking for money. It almost goes without saying but make sure to shower and dress for the meeting – no hats, sweatshirts, or messy hair – and check your background so that it is as distraction-free as possible.
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5. Make Sure Your Story is Present on the Event Page
The event page itself should include a robust content plan so that everything a potential donor needs is right there with your virtual event.
This starts with your organization’s story and mission. While that information may be in other locations on your website, it is vital to include it with event information and the live stream.
People who come to your event may be new to your organization, referred from a current donor, or stumble on the event from marketing or social media efforts. You want them to have all the information they need to understand your nonprofit right away. The easier it is to find information and donate, the more likely it is that you will generate funds from new givers.
Tell your story in an interesting and accessible way.
The event page may include a “preview” video that plays until the live stream that highlights your goals, mission, and story. This video loop can be an easy way to introduce your organization to others.
Also include a written story. This is your fallback for those that don’t have enough of an attention span for a video or want to scan for your organization’s bio in a matter of seconds.
Don’t forget great images. Show your story in photos. Remember to include images that pertain to current goals, show the people or things you help or contribute to, and show the importance of your organization as a whole.
6. Make it Shareable
Share your story and event and make it easy for others to do the same.
There are plenty of ways to encourage sharing from putting buttons on the event and donation page to creating a hashtag that donors can use to show support.
Optimize your event page on the backend of your website as well so that it looks great when shared online.
Consider using a tool such as Yoast (free and paid versions) that help you “design” the look of social media posts and cards generated from your website. You can choose the way images look, what headlines show, and even shorten or optimize URLs for sharing.
Start the circle of sharing by posting links to your social media accounts with appropriate hashtags and links. Incentivize followers and fans to share and re-share with bonuses for hitting certain milestones. (Maybe everyone who donates gets a free water bottle if the hashtag is used 1,000 times.)
Apply the same concept to email campaigns. GiveWP integrates with plenty of email tools, such as Mailchimp and Constant Contact. Don’t forget to enable easy email sharing or include options to share the campaign to social media right from email blasts.
7. Test Everything Again
Before you launch your online fundraising event, remember to test everything one last time. The best virtual events have been through plenty of pre-launch checks that participants never see. This is what helps ensure a flawless delivery.
Refer to the checklist above and add these items to your checklist:
- Do all tools work properly?
- Do you have plenty of bandwidth and a strong internet connection?
- Do you have any event instructions for participants? Make sure to set rules for the event from the onset.
- Did you check all forms to ensure they are working?
- Did you send a final event reminder and remember to double check all URLs?
- Do you have a post-event email or ask ready to send?
Good Luck on Your Virtual Event
Virtual events are the new norm and GiveWP has plenty of tools to help you find success. The donation platform connects to your WordPress site and includes forms, donor management tools, and plenty of extras to boost your fundraising.
Book a demo with our team to get more information.