5 Ideas to Encourage Your Community to Attend a Virtual Event

May 2, 2020
6 minutes

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, many nonprofit organizations were exploring the possibilities of virtual events.

But the COVID-19 pandemic is certainly inspiring event creativity! For example, Blind Children’s Learning Center took their previously scheduled 5K walk and turned it into a virtual event. 

The great thing about expanding to virtual events is that your nonprofit has the opportunity to build community beyond your local area. Lucky for you, Funraise has amazing tools that make virtual events possible. 

Whether you want to host a virtual event for community members near or far, how can you get them to show up? A combo of savvy marketing and communication can help your nonprofit maximize its virtual event audience. 

Pick the Right Platform

Set your virtual event up for success right from the start by picking the right platform. Now, we don’t mean that you should pick the trendiest platform for your event; Justin Wheeler shares, “Your choice of livestream channel should be driven by your audience.” If your goal is encouraging your community to attend the virtual event, choose a platform they already use and spend a lot of time on. 

Take inventory of your current platforms. Where does your nonprofit see the most engagement? Where do you have the largest following? These are good indicators that it’s the right platform for your audience. 

In addition to picking a platform that’s right for your audience, you may want to consider a platform that’s right for your team. Take into consideration which platforms your team is most comfortable using. Less tech stress means one less thing to worry about!

Think Direct Response

We’re not talking about direct mail here. Nope! To inform and encourage your community to attend your virtual event, you need to share basic event information with them. You can absolutely post this information on your social channels, but as you well know, not everyone sees your posts because of the ever-changing algorithms. 

What you can do to make sure the most people possible get information about your virtual event is turn to direct response channels. Think email and phone. These are channels where you stand a better chance of getting in front of your audience and them seeing the information. 

Find Your Communications Cadence 

Nonprofit friends, you already know that donors need to see an appeal more than one time to make a donation. Similarly, your community will need to see information about your virtual event more than once to attend; you need a mini-marketing plan to remind people to attend. 

Here’s what that could look like:

  • Two weeks before the event—Send an email and share social posts about the virtual event
  • One week before the event—Send another email about the virtual event. 
  • One day before the event—Send a reminder that the virtual event is tomorrow
  • Day of the event—One final reminder to attend

Not sold on the idea of communicating so far in advance of your virtual event? According to Adobe, virtual event registration tends to be the highest 2 to 3 weeks in advance of an event

Get it on Their Calendars

We all use digital calendars in this day and age. Whether it’s iCal, Outlook, or Google Calendar, many of us run our lives through our digital calendars. And if it’s not on the calendar, it’s not happening. If you have an online registration process for your virtual event (P.S., you should), you can add a feature to add the event information directly to attendees’ calendars. 

Here’s a step-by-step tutorial on how to insert a calendar invite into a marketing email

Work with Influencers 

You don’t need to work with a major Insta influencer to harness the power of influencer marketing. You just need to find the right people to be your messengers. 

Here are a few places to look:

  • Well-connected donors that already love your organization and have a solid local network that you can tap into.
  • Microinfluencers have niche audiences that often have better engagement than big-time influencers with audiences of over 1 million followers. 
  • Board members can act as influencers in their personal networks. Equip them with pre-written content to rock their role as ambassadors.
  • If you have speakers for your virtual event, they can double as influencers and event ambassadors. 

As Justin Wheeler, Funraise CEO, shared during a recent virtual events Q&A session, “Everyone is craving outside connection during this time. A virtual event fundraising event is a great way to help people feel connected.” Of course, virtual events open up a world of opportunities for your nonprofit. Think expanded reach beyond your backyard that can help you reach some of your biggest strategic goals. Virtual events are great for your nonprofit and your audience. 

Be the savvy marketer we know you are and creatively use these ideas to encourage more of your community to attend your next virtual event.

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