Your Best Virtual Fundraising Event: How to Keep Attendees Engaged—Before, During and After the Event

This post is brought to you by iostudio, Platinum Sponsor for the 2021 ABN Nonprofit Tech Expo.

Virtual events have gained popularity in response to the pandemic and due to the fact that they are convenient for everyone. But how do you make your virtual event stand out in the crowded virtual landscape, especially when your audience is made up of Zoomers?

Before your event: Messaging matters in a noisy world

The average U.S. consumer receives messaging across five different devices, sometimes all at once, and is distracted every eight seconds. Keep your messaging clear, concise and consistent.

iostudio worked with a large food bank in Tennessee for many years, helping them develop and refine their campaign messaging and apply it to campaigns promoting various initiatives. While the messaging evolved throughout the years, a simple equation communicating how much food a one-dollar donation can provide to someone in need continually proved to be the strongest call to action:

This CTA works because it’s simple, because it grabs your attention and because it proves just how easy it is to help.

Your attention-grabbing messaging will make you memorable when the time comes to hold your event. Prior to a virtual fundraising event, it’s important to stay in contact with your audience. Send email blasts with instructions on how to access the event and pepper social media with previews of what will happen. For example, if you’re planning to hold a silent auction, you can build anticipation by mentioning or showing the items up for bid in your messaging. 

Messaging matters when it comes to influencing human behavior. Clear, concise and consistent messages help your event stay top of mind for your audience.  

During your event: Video is the ultimate connector, even when everything feels disconnected

Pre-COVID research by Hubspot found that 72 percent of customers would rather learn about a product or service through a video. Businesses that utilize video content get 66 percent more qualified leads annually than those that don’t.

Expert planning makes video happen no matter the circumstances. With a strong script and thoughtful editing, you can create impactful video programming that can make the audience feel like they are right there in the room with you.

Last year, we partnered with Renewal House, a nonprofit organization in Nashville, to put on their live Thanksgiving event and social media campaign. COVID-19 presented some speed bumps during production, but we meticulously planned using CDC guidelines and recommendations from industry experts, then captured authentic interview testimonials with individuals Renewal House had helped. Combining heartfelt testimonials with footage of the emcee running the program in front of a step-and-repeat banner made an enormous impact on viewers. Renewal House surpassed their donation goals, and the average view time was 34 minutes out of a 40-minute video. 

After your event: Keep the momentum moving

Available technology brings a host of new options for keeping the energy going after a virtual live event. The new email addresses you captured from registering attendees will be the gateway to long-term relationships with your constituents. Create and deploy an email marketing plan that delivers high-value, high-quality content (quality over quantity) and keeps constituents returning to your website and engaging with your brand.

Regardless of whether your specific organization wants to make the livestream universally accessible, technology allows for donations to be collected after the live event. 

You can also keep your silent auction open after the event streams. iostudio recently had the privilege to partner with Purpose Preparatory Academy (PPA), a charter school in Nashville, to host their annual virtual livestream fundraising event. PPA used their video program to announce the silent auction at the close of the event. That tactic allowed users to focus on direct donations during the event and provided opportunities for audience engagement afterward. 

You know your fundraising and event engagement goals. There is an abundance of opportunity to reach and surpass them with the right combination of technology and messaging. And if you need some assistance connecting the dots, iostudio is here to help. We are a marketing and digital experience agency headquartered in Nashville, TN, driven by what we call “doing well by doing good.” We have a passionate, talented team offering strategy (branding, audience research and campaign planning), content production (video, graphics, web design and annual reports), digital (websites, apps and experiences) and engagement (recruitment marketing and customer care) for organizations looking to make a positive impact. 

Contact iostudio to talk about your upcoming virtual live event.

386 Tiffani Mensch is ABN's Director of Education & Outreach. With 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Tiffani is passionate about helping organizations achieve greater mission impact. If you would like to contribute to the ABN Blog, contact Tiffani at tmensch@betternonprofits.org.