Virtual Event Fatigue: Fact or Fiction?
Are you putting off planning a virtual fundraising event because you believe your supporters are tired of screen time? There is strong evidence suggesting this is NOT the case – at least, not when the screen involves entertainment – in lieu of another work-like Zoom video meeting. So make entertainment the beating heart of your virtual event and reap the rewards!
Video Meeting Fatigue vs. Virtual Event Fatigue
It’s a pretty reasonable assumption to make: People still have to do so much work on Zoom and other video communication platforms these days, they won’t want to engage or view your virtual livestream at the end of the day. But there’s an important distinction to be made here – work screen time vs. entertainment screen time.
Do you still watch TV and/or streaming services like Netflix and Hulu when your workday is over? Maybe you prefer to dive back into that novel you’re engrossed in – on your Kindle or phone? Check your social media?
Except for the times we’re fully off the grid (and how often does THAT actually happen anymore?), screens are a ubiquitous and major part of our 21st century lives. If you intentionally craft your virtual and/or hybrid fusion fundraising event to be entertaining, you WILL find an audience. Because your donors are tech-savvy. ALL of them, even the more mature ones.
Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? It seems a common assumption that seniors don’t know how to use technology. But stats don’t support this assertion! The fact is, seniors DO use social media and many DO have and use their smartphones. What’s more, they’ve been using them for some time now, and with even more frequency since the pandemic began. So don’t assume that if you produce a virtual event, your older donors won’t want to or know how to participate. (Remember what happens when we assume?) With that said, even though your donors may be tech-savvy, they still don’t want to spend much time figuring out how to register for your event, bid on items, chat it up with fellow viewers, or donate. It’s on you and your team to make it as easy as possible for donors to participate. Because if you do, they will! Most everyone wants to be a part of something that’s bigger than themselves, and something that they believe in, regardless of how many trips around the sun they’ve made. But keep in mind, now that virtual events are no longer brand-new, and your supporters have probably seen a few before, many of them are expecting more from livestreams.
When the world was buttoned up tight, virtual events were one of few viable fundraising options. But these days, many nonprofits are now producing their second or third virtual events. So it’s on you to create them to be EXTRA meaningful and memorable. It’s on you, as a nonprofit leader, to invest in your virtual event the same way you would your in-person event. Since you won’t be paying for a big ballroom, dinner for hundreds, or valet parking, use some of the money you would’ve spent in crafting your virtual event to be more than just another boring Zoom-call style fundraiser.
But HOW? Through memorable experiences.
Food / Swag Bag Delivery
Food brings people together, even when they’re not physically together. Orgs we’ve partnered with have had huge success with VIP food and drink delivery the evening before the livestream event. We all know the feeling of anticipation when GrubHub, DoorDash or Uber Eats knocks on the door. Having food delivered from the org you’re supporting is even better. Bonding over the perfection of the food/wine pairing in the virtual chat is commonplace! And again, it lends that ever-important memorability factor.
Delivering swag bags to your donors is another noteworthy and effective way to get the word out about the great work you’re doing, and spread goodwill at the same time.
Red Carpet Ready
For hybrid fusion events, a live virtual red carpet can be pulled off with great success. It’s something both your in-person and virtual crowds can appreciate. If you have great live visuals, like adorable animals, even better! Encourage viewers to send in their own selfies of their event experience. There’s something significant and meaningful about seeing the selfie you just took show up in the livestream you’re watching. It lends a sense of urgency – not anxious-urgent, but celebratory-urgent.
If you can harness group energy via a watch party, you’ll make the virtual event that much more unforgettable. Watch parties bring a group of folks together to watch the livestream together. If you’ve ever attended one, you know how much fun they can be! Even more auspicious, watch parties provide more opportunities for giving. You can invite folks to combine their charitable dollars into one BIG donation, which is celebrated when your Dynamic Duo calls it out during the livestream. And since giving begets giving, you can encourage a little healthy competition, by challenging other donors to step up and give. It’s the optimal scenario for the competitive bidders in your group!
Also consider ways to incentivize your watch party. For example, break your watch party attendees into groups, then offer an amazing future experience for the group which raises the most money. A celebrity chef at next year’s watch party, perhaps. Or invite your Dynamic Duo to go live from your watch party. What else can you come up with? There are SO many options when it comes to building community!
If we’ve learned anything from the past couple of years, it’s this: When the going gets tough, people lean into their communities more than ever. What you’re doing when you host a virtual event is precisely that – building community. You’re giving a group of people something to rally behind, support and champion. You’re inviting them to be a part of a purpose-driven project through raising money for your nonprofit. Who doesn’t want to be a part of that?
There’s really no excuse to not plan a virtual or hybrid fusion fundraising event, particularly since many markets and geographical areas are still in a bit of a holding pattern with in-person events. You have options! You can and should continue to fundraise.
We’d love to help – schedule your free consultation today!