An Alternative to the “Virtual Event”

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By Sharon Danosky

I have been hearing and seeing questions about holding a “Virtual Event.”

First, I should probably state that I come from a place that believes people want to help when help is needed and that they do not need an event – virtual or otherwise – to give, and given generously.  All you need to do is ask authentically and let them know why you need their help.
In many ways events – including “virtual events” can detract from that.  It puts the focus on your event – and not your organization and its good deeds.

However – I do understand the need and hunger people have for human interaction right now.  So, I’d like to suggest, instead of positioning it as an event, – that you could host “gatherings.”  Maybe one or perhaps several – or even many.

I’d like to suggest another kind of “virtual event.” Think about hosting a gathering via Zoom for 20, 30, 40 or 50 donors at a time. Board members could host the event and gather the content for discussion. Instead of asking for money – share information people want to hear:

  • How you are doing?
  • What you are doing?
  • How your staff is doing?
  • What your plans for the near future are?
  • Share poignant or funny stories?
  • How you are using the funds that have been raised?
  • Why you need additional funds?

During the gathering you can share your screen and show pictures, or meaningful data.  You can open it up for questions and discussions.  If your board member or volunteer is hosting the event, and doesn’t know the answer to a question – you can post the answer in your next newsletter or e-blast – which then gives you good content for your next e-blast.  It doesn’t need to be long; it doesn’t need to be formal. – 30 minutes is enough time.  Just a chance to share with your donors and give them a glimpse of what you are dealing with.  And donors will have a real sense of how you are struggling.

The main purpose of this type of event is to build donor engagement, particularly with your mid-level and newer donors which will serve you well now and in the future.

And remember – continue to call your donors.