Make Your Virtual Event Engaging

Virtual events are trending right now (hmmm, I wonder why?) - and non-profit organizations are having a great deal of success with fundraising via this platform. Besides ensuring the safety of all your donors and participants, having a virtual event allows for more supporters to be able to participate and become involved with your organization. And if set up and structured properly, you have the potential to exceed your event's fundraising goal by leveraging your supporters' networks.

In order to make a virtual event focused and engaging, and ultimately successful, promoting your event is key. Post about the event on all your digital channels, send emails to your database, and even mail out physical invitations if you are able to. There are plenty of ways you can keep your audience entertained throughout a virtual evening and Powered by Professionals has created a guide full of tactics and tips that have been proven to be successful!

make sure your tech is in order!

Test your Internet connection (and those of your speakers), prepare backups of all visuals and presentations, etc. Don't forget about your less tech-savvy participants; you do not want to lose any of your participants because they weren't sure about how to participate.

Provide Clear Directions

Create a guide/video explaining how the virtual event will work, provide links to explore beforehand, and send FAQs out to attendees.

Send Donor/Educational Impact Cards

Before event day, help build awareness and an emotional connection to both the mission and the event by sending out postcards.

  • Highlight where donations will go within the organization.
  • Shows donors the direct impact they can make.

Track Your Success

Be transparent throughout event about the funds being raised to keep donors engaged.

  • Use a fundraising thermometer throughout the event.
  • Consider having a "live" auction and share results in real time.

Build Connections

Virtually highlight program stories, and share participants' stories in videos, which will connect attendees to each other and to the mission.

  • Hold a short virtual program during the event that highlights the event volunteers and sponsors.
  • Make sure to make the program presentation visually appealing in order to keep guests engaged and focus on the content.

Engage Your Influencers

Now is the perfect time to take stock of all influencers and micro influencers that are in your network.

  • They could each take over your Instagram at the same time over five days and explore different themes, or host activities.

Expand Your Silent Auction

A silent auction lends itself very nicely to the virtual world, and should help garner better-than-expected results.

  • Keep it open for 30 days to attract more participants and allow more time for fundraising.
  • Strong images will help sell items at higher values - make sure your pictures are high-resolution.
  • Add items for people to enjoy either now or when back to "normal" - restaurant gift certificates for take-out or for in-person dining.

Livestream the Event

Use Facebook Live, Instagram or YouTube to live stream the event directly from your website.

  • You could also Live Tweet during the event to keep guests engaged and to start a discussion.
  • Have a Q + A, ask questions, and use hashtag.

Incorporate A Theme

How about an old-fashioned telethon? Where staff members are on Zoom "answering" rotary phones to take donations? Any good theme will help engage participants and help them feel connected.

Add A Fun Element

Make sure you include some fun component to the event, so it's not ALL about the money.

  • Virtual Tour - Was your venue going to be an art museum or a science center? Maybe they have a virtual tour that you could provide the link to attendees.
  • Trivia Game - For an extra donation, attendees can play an online trivia game (pop culture, maybe a category about the charity!).

Have Small At-Home Gatherings on Event Night

Perhaps each Board member can host a small gathering.

  • Make it fun by getting dressed up!
  • Include themed décor.
  • Create a short presentation that can be viewed in each home.

Keep the Event Formal

  • Have attendees dress up and send photos.
  • Have attendees set their table as if they were attending the Gala and share those photos.
  • Or go "anti-formal" and have everyone wear PJs!
  • With the platform Airmeet, you can seat your guests at "virtual tables" so they can interact in smaller groups at certain points during your event.

Include Entertainment Vendors

Don't forget about hiring entertainment for the evening, who can still be asked to perform remotely.

  • Musicians
  • Acapella group
  • Comedian

Encourage Challenge Donations

Set up a peer-to-peer fundraising tool and invite friends and family to join.

  • Physical Challenge - for every $10 raised, the person commits to climbing a flight of stairs, holding a plank, doing pushups, etc.
  • Video Challenge - do a silly feat, and then challenge three people to match it and donate.
  • Commitment Challenge - For every specific amount raised, the participant agrees to do something a friend dares them to do.

Develop Partnerships

Partner with an in-kind sponsor to offer a discount or gift card to ticket buyers.

  • Example: "Purchase a ticket and receive a $25 gift card to XXX Restaurant for dinner to enjoy during the Gala."
  • Send T-shirts and race bibs to virtual 5k participants to help foster inclusion and a sense of community.
  • "Thank You" Gift / Swag for Participants

Gather Event Feedback

After the event, send a survey to see what participants thought about the event. Incorporate the feedback into making the next virtual event even better!

We know that is a hard time for many nonprofits and we want to do what we can to help support your organization. If you are looking for fundraising consulting, development advice, help with a virtual event, or even just a sounding board, we are happy to set out a 15-30 minute call at no charge with one of our team members. Please fill out this form or send an email to and we will get back to you. We are also doing our best to stay up to date on any resources available to nonprofits during this crisis which you can check out here.

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