How to organise a virtual charity event

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Running a virtual charity event has tons of great benefits – even before considering that taking fundraisers online is now a necessity for many in light of Covid-19. Embracing the world of digital for charity removes many of the traditional barriers to attendance – as a minimum, you can open up your event to vast new audiences now that physical distance isn’t an issue. And it can end up costing less than hosting an in-person event, meaning more of the money raised can go to your cause. 

But there are certain hurdles to cross too, especially if you’re not used to running virtual fundraisers. 

With that in mind, we’ve put together a quick how-to guide for organising a successful online charity event. Here goes:

How to make your online charity event a success

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Think about what traditionally works well with your audience

If you’re used to running in-person charity events and are now looking to take things online, it can be tempting to head straight back to the drawing board for ideas. But this isn’t always necessary – or wise. 

Say you normally run a charity bake sale. Instead of scrapping that idea in lieu of an online quiz or something similar, put some time and effort into thinking about how you can translate the bake sale concept to the world of digital. 

This is a particularly good idea if you know that a certain kind of event works well with your usual audience. Instead of putting them off with a fundraiser that feels outside of their comfort zone – or even just plain uninteresting to them – make sure they’re able to get a sense of familiarity from your event by creating one that’s ‘the same, but different’. That bake sale, for example, could be turned into a live online bake-along. You could even send the ingredients out to your attendees in advance to give the event an inclusive and dynamic feel.

Choose the best digital platform for your needs

Next up, it’s time to find the best possible platform for your specific charity event needs. Most people are familiar with Zoom by now – but there are plenty of other options out there too. Think about the features you’ll need to bring your event to life, and put some research into finding a platform that’ll ensure everything runs smoothly on the day. Features to consider include:

  • Live chat capabilities – most platforms have this, but it’s one to watch out for as this can be useful for Q&A sessions

  • Audience capacity – make sure you can host enough audience members before signing up to anything

  • Polling features – running polls mid-event can be a great way to boost that feeling of interactivity

  • Possibility for customisation – so you can customise your event with your own branding

  • Variety of space types – some platforms offer a range of different ‘spaces’, like networking lounges and exhibit halls

  • Live broadcasting – this will be key if you want to feature keynote speakers or other live performances in your event

Choose an online event registration platform

A virtual event requires virtual event registration. To make sure attendees can buy tickets seamlessly online, choose a well-regarded online ticketing platform that easily integrates with your social media channels and provides you with an event listing page for people to refer back to. Make sure to assess prices carefully so you don’t get caught out by hidden fees. Depending on the scale of your event, it might be better to go for a platform that charges a flat fee rather than a percentage of every ticket sale. 

Check out our article on the best alternative ticketing platforms to Eventbrite >

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Choose a great host, and plan Q&As and resources 

For virtual events to stand out as an experience rather than your traditional fundraiser on TV, it’s crucial to include plenty of interactivity and really ham up the ‘live’ side of things. Choosing a great host is a key part of this – make sure to go with someone who feels comfortable holding court for the duration of your event, and who isn’t shy to interact with individual audience members (calling people out by name will help make your online event feel as intimate as an in-person one).

Q&A sessions are a great way to keep attendees engaged, too, so make sure to set out plenty of time for these in advance. Finally, it can be a great idea to set up a website for your virtual event, where attendees can get special access to useful or fun resources. It’s all about making sure each individual attendee feels a part of something, rather than an onlooker. 

Promote your event 

Make sure to promote your event in all the same ways, and with as much energy, as you would an in-person event. Push out ads and/or regular posts on social media, create an event hashtag, email your mailing list, and build anticipation with behind the scenes sneak previews via Facebook and Instagram Stories.  

Incorporate donation calls to action throughout your event

Make sure you have your donation source set up and ready to share before kicking off your virtual charity event. Use live streaming comments to post the link to your donation page/s regularly throughout your event, and call out individuals to say thanks when they contribute. 

Depending on the platform you’re using, you could also create banners and buttons to draw attention to your donation page at intervals throughout the event. 

When it comes to taking charity events online, much of the planning and preparation that goes into in-person fundraisers still stands. But there are whole new ways you can get creative and to engage your audience too – which may just give your charity event an added edge and, in turn, see those donations come rolling in.