How to leverage your resources to create great virtual events in 2021

- Toni Gregory, Fundraising Content Specialist, JustGiving and Blackbaud Europe _

In 2020 virtual events took center stage, with charities of all sizes adapting their events portfolio and launching new virtual fundraising campaigns on JustGiving. We saw many charities pivot and, for the first time ever, move their most popular events online to become entirely digital. Great examples include The Cure Parkinson's Trust who transformed cycling challenge RAID Alpine into virtual cycling challenge RAID local, and Set For Love – a global weekend-long, livestream mixing marathon organised by charity Last Night a DJ Saved My Life.

But if 2020 was THE year for virtual events, what should we expect for 2021? With talk of ‘business as usual’, should your charity invest time and resources in virtual fundraising?

Virtual fundraising is here to stay

In a recent JustGiving survey, 52% of charities told us they plan to launch a virtual event in the next six to 12 months. This is exciting to hear as, even with a proposed road map to ease lockdown now in place, there’s still an important place in fundraising strategies for digital experiences. Why? Donor behaviour typically follows consumer behaviour, and over the past 12 months people have become Zoom pros, Strava aficionados, and have shifted spending activities to be almost entirely online. Your supporters have adapted to a new digital world, and charities that continue to invest in virtual events as part of a more inclusive and holistic events portfolio will thrive post-COVID-19 pandemic.

Virtual Fundraising Events Toolkit

Over the past year we’ve helped hundreds of charities to launch new virtual events, and even started our Virtual Fundraising Chat service giving charities the chance to book in a call with our virtual fundraising experts. We’ve now used our experience, combined with charity and fundraiser feedback, to create our new Virtual Fundraising Event Toolkit.

Divided into six key sections, the JustGiving Toolkit walks charities through how to plan and implement an awesome virtual event, including timelines, reporting, and stewardship. Each section is filled with tips, charity examples, and an end-of-section checklist that you can work through step-by-step.

Getting more out of your existing resources

Although virtual events take place online, it doesn’t mean that you need to seek out new, expensive digital tools to give you supporters an engaging event experience. The Toolkit discusses lots of way to leverage and get more out of your existing channels and resources, including:

JustGiving Campaign Pages - create a fully branded and personalised page that can act as a virtual event hub for your supporters.

Online communities - these can be created through Facebook groups or Strava clubs, replicating the peer-to-peer interaction that would ordinarily be felt on the main day of an in-person event.

Reporting: Did you know that when people sign-up for a virtual event (rather than a real-world one), they are less likely to go on fundraise and complete the event – just 45% vs 70%. It’s important to stay close to the fundraising activity (or not happening) for your virtual events.

You’ll find lots of extra examples and tips in the Virtual Fundraising Event Toolkit, which is available now, so download your copy and start planning your next great virtual event.