While your association is likely mostly funded through membership dues, it's not uncommon to also host a fundraising event like a Giving Day for additional revenue. More and more associations are looking to fundraisers to diversify their revenue streams and gain access to steady sources of funding.
When it comes to Giving Days, your task is to figure out how to create an exciting experience that engages and inspires your audience to donate. This year, consider taking your Giving Day event online to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience for your members!
Virtual events are the perfect complement to your association’s Giving Day because they engage members throughout the day and inspire them to give. Virtual events expand your audience to include people outside your local area and save your organization money on overhead costs such as a venue rental. However, your organization may be less familiar with planning online events and need guidance to bring your ideas to life. That’s where we come in!
At Fonteva, we understand the needs associations have when planning virtual events and the importance of keeping track of member event engagement using association management software.
We’ve compiled these top tips for hosting a virtual event for your association’s Giving Day:
- Invest in a custom giving-day solution
- Use event management software to plan effectively
- Host an extra-special kickoff and closing ceremony
- Implement virtual tools to engage members
Your Giving Day event can be hosted on a live-streaming platform for the entirety or a portion of the day. Either way, these virtual events will engage your members to keep donations pouring in just as in-person events have in the past. Let’s take a closer look at each tip!
Invest in a custom giving-day solution
It’s no wonder your association has decided to undertake a Giving Day this year—these events are highly effective at raising a heap of funds in a short amount of time.
In fact, GiveGab discovered that its fundraising mark for Giving Tuesday (the biggest Giving Day of the year for many organizations) skyrocketed to an incredible $20.7 million in 2020. This is because Giving Days create a sense of urgency for donors—they have only 24 hours to help reach your goal, so they understand the importance of giving ASAP.
To set your virtual Giving Day experience up for success, it’s critical to invest in a focused solution that provides the foundation and branding your organization needs to start planning for your Giving Day.
A quality solution can help you design and customize your donation page, accept multiple payment types, and facilitate peer-to-peer fundraising.
When searching for a Giving Day solution, you’ll want to find one that includes these top features:
- Mobile-friendliness, so supporters can give anywhere, anytime to your giving-day fund.
- Social media connections, so your organization can post reminders and live updates from your Giving Day.
- Ability to accept multiple payment types, to ensure you’re not excluding anyone from donating.
- An embedded donation widget, to put on your virtual event page so people can immediately donate.
- Fundraising leaderboards, to identify top donors to follow up with and thank.
These features can be customized with your organization’s branding to give your Giving Day a professional, cohesive look and reinforce your marketing efforts. A giving-day solution can handle all the fundraising aspects of your Giving Day so you spend less time worrying about the fundraising details and more time planning a show-stopping virtual event.
Use event management software to plan effectively
As you start planning your giving-day virtual event, investigate your options for event management software to simplify and streamline your planning process.
Without a designated, centralized system, it’s much harder on your planning committee to organize the disparate components of your virtual event, and much easier for something to slip through the cracks. Quality event management software can manage ticket sales, promotion, and post-event data gathering to help analyze the success of your events.
Once you’ve finalized your choice in event management software, it’s time to get to work and start planning your virtual event for your Giving Day. The virtual event you decide to host can look remarkably similar to the in-person events you might have put on in the past, just presented on digital platforms.
For guidance on pivoting from in-person to virtual events, check out this guide before moving forward. In particular, you should keep these tips in mind as you plan:
- Communicate with your audience to market your virtual opportunities. Construct a communication schedule to remind members of your upcoming giving-day virtual event and share your fundraising goal.
- Test-run your event platform before your Giving Day. Complete a test-run of your giving-day virtual event to ensure the technology is working. Note any technical difficulties or points in the event schedule that don’t align properly.
- Create multiple channels for audience engagement. Before your Giving Day kicks off, generate buzz by connecting with your audience on multiple platforms such as your social media pages and email newsletter. You can start up a Giving Day hashtag for participants to share their excitement and their pledges. Also, this is a great opportunity to promote any unique giving options such as your text-to-give phone number or send supporters to your giving-day event microsite.
- Equip your planning team with the tools needed for success. Communication guidelines, clear deadlines, and frequent check-in meetings are necessary to ensure everyone’s on the same page.
In your event-planning phase, you should also designate someone to be the emcee for the virtual event and act as a guide to direct attendees from one activity to the next. Choose someone with a big personality—it could be a locally-famous figure or leader within your association—to give an extra level of excitement and engagement with this virtual event.
Host an extra-special kickoff and closing ceremony
It can be a bit more challenging to capture your audience’s attention during a virtual event as opposed to an in-person event. With virtual events, most people are tuning in from home where distractions abound—from their dog barking in the background to thoughts of cooking dinner or starting a load of laundry on their minds.
Therefore, we recommend hosting a snazzy kickoff and/or closing to give your Giving Day virtual event some more oomph and hold your audience’s attention through key moments.
Good United offers a few virtual event ideas you can use to kick off or close your Giving Day. Here are some of our favorites you might consider implementing:
Kick off or close out your Giving Day with a virtual concert from a locally renowned or well-known musician. Marking the start of or ending your Giving Day with a dramatic musical opening can capture prospective donors’ attention from the beginning.
You can even host an all-day virtual concert featuring a line-up of different bands or solo artists that keep the tunes going through the duration of your Giving Day. Then, your audience members can pop in and out of your giving-day live-stream depending on their schedules and which artists they want to see. Be sure to have your emcee remind your audience of your giving-day goals and how viewers can donate throughout the day.
A virtual tour can take place at the start or end of your Giving Day to draw in a curious crowd. With a virtual tour, you can take attendees on a 3D, immersive experience of any local or major attraction such as a natural wonder, museum, or a location that’s related to your association’s field. Immersive experiences are all the rage right now, and your audience will appreciate having the ability to check out a cool new space virtually without having to actually leave their homes.
Again, have your emcee weave in mentions of your association’s mission and fundraising goals to inspire your audience to give throughout the experience. Equip your emcee with a compelling story that demonstrates your association’s impact while explaining how the funds raised from your Giving Day will be used.
Virtual talent show
Finally, consider kicking off or closing your Giving Day with a virtual talent show that features all genres, from dancing to singing to juggling to comedy. During this virtual event, have your emcee make appeals to your audience to get their donations in before the day ends.
With a jazzy kick-off and closing event, you can engage your audience at the most crucial parts of your Giving Day and ensure your Giving Day has a strong beginning and end. You can even pull in new donors by featuring well-known musicians or interesting tours of local attractions that capture the attention of a wider audience outside of just your association members.
Implement virtual tools to engage members
On your Giving Day, your objective is to not only make it as easy as possible for your audience to donate, but also inspire them to give more to your association. Use your virtual event to create an interactive giving-day experience that engages attendees and provides authentic (yet digital) human interactions.
These are some of our top ideas for engaging your online audience throughout your giving-day event:
- Host a Q&A. Offer an opportunity for your virtual event attendees to send in questions to your emcee or featured guests. The anticipation of getting their questions answered by a well-known figure will keep event attendees engaged in your live stream and give your emcee more opportunities to promote your Giving Day fundraising page.
- Invite association members to share personal stories. After a brief screening, members can hop on your live video call to chat with your emcee or featured guests about what makes your association’s cause personal to them, perhaps inspiring others to give once they’ve heard these impactful stories.
- Promote your donation feed. Keep a running tally of donations as they come in through your Giving Day platform and give shout-outs to each donor as their name pops up on the screen. You can even host a mid-event raffle or prize drawing to keep attendees attention throughout the day. This also tracks how close you are to your fundraising goal! The closer you are to the goal, the more incentivized supporters are to give.
These ideas can transform event attendees from passive observers into active participants and capture the attention of a wider audience of potential donors. Be sure to promote your interactive elements ahead of your Giving Day to entice more participants to tune into your virtual events.
Online events are exactly what your organization needs to engage supporters and crush your giving-day fundraising goals. Virtual and hybrid events are here to stay, so organizing your approach to these experiences now will give your association a leg-up in future fundraising efforts. Happy planning!