Learn about livestreaming virtual events
A primer about livestreaming virtual events. This is for any nonprofit organization not clear about what livestreaming is, how to do it, whether it can be a fundraising boost and how Give Lively products can be used in tandem with it.
Before You Get Started
What is livestreaming?
Livestreaming is live video shared to a live audience over the internet. It is NOT the same as watching previously recorded video on YouTube or Vimeo, although pre-recorded video can be used as part of a “live” experience, and a livestreamed event can be recorded for lasting impact.
Can livestreaming be a big boost to fundraising?
It most definitely can. Livestreaming has already been in use in fundraising operations for several years, largely and very effectively as part of live-broadcast gaming events (collections of gamers broadcasting marathon sessions of a popular game while raising money for a cause -- also known as "charity streaming"), but also in other interesting ways that can be quite fun.
These days, however, with COVID-19 restrictions in place, millions of people sheltering in their homes and pretty much all in-person events canceled, the power, flexibility and demonstrated success of live online/video fundraising events, campaigns and appeals make livestreaming something many more nonprofits may want to explore.
Here are a few examples of livestreamed fundraising events:
- Red Nose Day - a five-hour livestreamed telethon broadcast over YouTube, including a launch countdown, live content from the studio, guests dialing in and pre-recorded content.
- Susan G Komen Puget Sound Conference - videos of a 2019 conference livestreamed on Facebook
- AGDQ 2020 - a Youtube playlist of 2020’s annual livestreamed gaming marathon -- a huge, weeklong production with raffles, backstage interviews and more -- to benefit Doctors Without Borders
What is needed to do livestreaming?
Livestreaming is a three-step process:
- audio/video capture -- the live recording of an event
- encoding and streaming -- the conversion of the audio/video into data and its upload in the correct format and quality to one or more chosen platforms
- viewing -- the delivery of the data to an online video player where spectators can tune in live.
Clearly, there are many variables, 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.
With that in mind, here are some livestreaming basics for you to consider. Note that all mentions of branded software and services are not endorsements. It is best to seek input from reliable experts.
For additional tips and best practices about how to use Give Lively products during virtual events, as well as about livestreaming and virtual events in general, read our ultimate guide about how to host amazing virtual fundraising events.
1. Audio/video capture
Audio and video can be recorded using many readily available tools, including your computer, smartphones, GoPros and other common video cameras. That said, you may wish to use or invest in a good microphone and/or a camera more specifically suited to the purpose. If so, consult with someone knowledgeable about livestreaming logistics and equipment.
2. Encoding and streaming
At its simplest, you can livestream directly through your computer with both free and paid videoconferencing software like GoToMeeting, Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype or BlueJeans (all of which are reviewed here, along with others), as well as leading video-sharing services like YouTube and Vimeo (read more about this and how to use them with Give Lively technology to fundraise during virtual events). Facebook Live is another popular choice.
For more professional audio and video, you can opt for specialized streaming software and/or a multistreaming app that broadcasts to multiple channels. Examples of leading streaming software are OBS Studio, Streamlabs OBS, Nvidia Shadowplay and XSplit Gamecaster (which are reviewed here), as well as Wirecast, vMix, Lightstream and Vimeo Studio (the last two are browser-based software).
Live audiences tune in via a variety of livestream viewing platforms, the most common of which are Twitch, YouTube, Vimeo, Mixer and Facebook Live. You may require viewers to sign in to a specific platform, especially if using videoconferencing software. You may also broadcast to multiple viewing channels if you leverage a multistreaming service like Restream.
Can I use Give Lively technology with my livestreamed/virtual events?
Yes you can! Learn how Give Lively products facilitate fundraising during virtual events, campaigns and appeals.