Host amazing virtual fundraising events: our ultimate guide
Give Lively products facilitate fundraising during virtual events, campaigns and appeals. We’ve pulled together a thorough list of useful tips and best practices about (1) using Give Lively products during virtual events and (2) livestreaming and virtual events in general.
Before You Get Started
These days, more and more nonprofits are exploring live online/video fundraising events, campaigns and appeals, and many are incorporating livestreaming components.
We explore this in greater depth in our other articles about livestreaming virtual events and using Give Lively technology to fundraise during virtual events. However, this article brings together a comprehensive list of useful tips and tricks, many of them transferred here to complement additional hints and best practices.
There are two sections:
- advice on how to use Give Lively products during virtual events
- general advice about virtual events and livestreaming.
Please remember that there are many variables involved in livestreaming, such as the type of recording and encoding tools, the chosen streaming service and the mix of viewing platforms. Beyond the information provided here, we aren’t experts on livestreaming equipment, vendors, software or technicalities. We urge you to speak with a qualified professional for anything involving the logistics of video preparation, editing and broadcasting. However, we remain determined to help you make the most of our technology -- and your digital fundraising -- during any type of virtual event.
Advice for using Give Lively products during virtual events
While these tips focus on actions that involve Give Lively product, they are also good general best practices, more of which follow in the section below.
Before your virtual event
- Set up a customized short link for your Campaign Page. Try something like Bitly. Display this whenever and however you choose, especially if you are livestreaming to viewing platforms with no right-at-hand donation button.
- Sell tickets to your virtual event. Our Event Ticketing product allows for setting different price levels, including discounted/complimentary tickets. These could include a low-cost viewer-only option; a mid-level meal-delivery option where a local restaurant delivers food to anyone who buys such a ticket, just as if you were serving them dinner at a live event; and higher priced options depending on the incentive (a special shoutout or message, or an even more exciting perk). As you are creating the event, if you leave the "Event Address and Venue" field empty, your Event Ticketing page will not include a location, which may work for a virtual event.
- Engage your board members by setting them up with Peer-to-Peer Fundraising pages. This is also great for directors, committee leaders and advisors. As virtual “table hosts,” they can circulate word of a simulcast virtual event with a link to their personal fundraising pages.
- Expand the reach of your virtual event by engaging your peer-to-peer supporters and simulcasting your virtual event across multiple Peer-to-Peer Fundraising pages, as well as on your own Campaign Page. Contact your peer-to-peer supporters with the livestream link, the date and time of the live virtual broadcast and language they can use when they reach out to their networks about it.
During your virtual event
- Encourage mobile giving by setting up Text-to-Donate and displaying the displaying the number and your custom text code whenever and however you choose: in lower third overlays (in the lower part of the screen), scrolling banners, actual signs or backdrops in the video, in interstitial/waiting screens etc.
- Motivate viewers by adding Live Display, as well as the Text-to-Donate number and your custom text code. Try screensharing or separate monitors positioned on a table in the video. Also refer to on-page progress bars if you are embedding a livestream on a Give Lively Campaign Page.
General advice about virtual events and livestreaming
These are general best practices tips for any virtual event. For tips and actions that specifically involve Give Lively product, please see the section above.
Before your virtual event
- Select tools you know and work with what you have. If you’re hosting an important event, familiar tools will reduce the risk of technical failures.
- Use a good computer with a strong processor and close any unnecessary programs. Encoding video is processor intensive, even if you’re using a webcam.
- Use an ethernet (wired) connection for your streaming computer. If you have to rely on Wi-Fi, you should be on 5G. Disconnect any other devices (like your phone, other computers) from the network.
- Seek counsel from a knowledgeable expert if you wish to engage in a more professional livestreamed event. You will achieve best results if you work with someone who understands the set-up process, encoding software or anything beyond you or your staff’s technical abilities.
- Pre-record a video if you’re hosting your first virtual event and concerned about what’s involved. Check if you like it, and then set a time to broadcast it as embedded video at a live “watch party.” Give the “live” broadcast a sense of being in real time by engaging through a chat tool and/or social media. A pre-recorded video eases the pressure of multitasking, making it easier to react to comments and questions, especially if you choose a multistreaming platform.
- Set aside time for a dry run. Make use of features like private rooms and unlisted videos to test your livestream away from public view.
- Prepare for failure. Have backup solutions at the ready, such as “technical difficulties” messaging and displays.
- Invite a celebrity special guest. Leverage your connections to welcome someone famous or perhaps a well-known individual celebrated in your community. Asking for a guest appearance or pre-recorded video piece as part of a virtual event can be a lot easier than asking for attendance at an in-person event.
- Select a fun host. Sustained energy and good platform management are huge pluses during a livestream.
- Build out an event schedule. It is useful for everyone involved -- organizers, speakers and viewers -- to see and follow a program.
- Develop a marketing and communications plan that includes invites to everyone you would have welcomed to an in-person event: vendors (especially if you’re partnering with them!), honorees, sponsors, media, donors, and board and committee members. Build excitement about your virtual event by sending out multiple reminders through social media, email and press releases, and promote the event on your website.
During your virtual event
- Multistream your broadcast, if you can, so that you are livestreaming wherever your viewers are most comfortable.
- Run a pre-show. Start the livestream a little early to give people time to join. During this time, show a countdown timer, run a pre-recorded video and build excitement toward the main event.
- Make fundraising appeals clear and frequent throughout the livestream. Remind people how they can donate and why their donations are critical.
- Create an exciting atmosphere and engage directly with donors by reminding viewers to use the chat features and/or social media (with a hashtag), and reading the names of donors (and thanking them) as contributions come through. Consider offering chat-based live incentives for donations, such as encouraging donors to ask questions or send in a message that you read and react to on the livestream.
- Keep it fun, if you can. If the event and campaign warrant it, do something to keep the mood upbeat, such as set a costume theme, livestream live music with a call to dance, or host a game that is relevant to your issue.
- Serve a meal. Yes, it can even be done as part of a virtual event. If your campaign is focused on a specific area, partner with a local restaurant that can deliver food to multiple participants who buy a ticket that includes it, as if you were serving them dinner at a live event. (The restaurants will be thrilled at the business!) If covering a broader geographical area, national chains might be able to step up.
- Pair your live event with other fundraising opportunities, like silent auctions linked to in your virtual event description. Prizes can include donated Instacart coupons, workout/meditation app memberships, gift certificates for restaurants that deliver, or video chats with your nonprofit’s leadership, a celebrity or politician.
- Record the stream. Post it for ongoing viewing and cut it into smaller segments for other uses.
After your virtual event
- If the event was recorded, disseminate a link to it. Send an email blast and/or post to social media to remind supporters about the event and include a call-to-action link to the video or, better, to your fundraising page with the embedded video. (You could also add a mention to your automated thank-you letters, but keep in mind that it will go to all donors.) This will allow for anyone who couldn’t attend the livestream to watch after the fact and still make a donation.