We live in unprecedented times that require non-profit organizations to think creatively about how they will execute their fundraising efforts. This new kind of thinking has led to an increase in virtual events. When it comes to virtual events, one of the biggest challenges is the facilitation of engagement amongst sponsors. As we’ve seen with the many virtual events that we’ve hosted, engagement is the key to success! Fortunately, we here at AmFund have utilized several sure-fire approaches that are sure to improve the levels of engagement amongst your sponsors.
In this blog, we will cover some creative ways to help you engage with your sponsors at your next virtual event. Keep in mind, one of the most important themes that will run through all of these ideas: have some fun with it!
Utilize the Chat Feature for Open Asks
Whether you are using Zoom, Skype or some other virtual event platform, the chat feature is a great tool to use. Utilize the chat in a fun way to engage your sponsors all throughout the event. Don't forget to give them exposure by shouting them out in the live chat. This casual, yet high exposure feature of your virtual event will not only encourage your sponsors to tune in, but they will have the opportunity to engage directly with your audience. Let them know ahead of time, you will be giving them a shout out and thanking them for their support. Encourage them to give their own company a plug, but letting your chat audience know "the XYZ Corporation is proud to support the ABC Org now more than ever!"
*Bonus tip: When doing your open ask in a chat room, allow donors to give at lower amounts, but more often through various open asks. We especially like the Open Ask technique we wrote about in a previous blog. Have fun with your chat interactions. Keep your conversations light and loose to help your donors feel at ease. Again, the idea here is that no one wants to listen to a monotone talking head.
Stir Up Some Competition
Rather than asking your sponsors for a traditional sponsorship (buying tables, advertising, in-kind, etc.), ask them to convert these efforts into a dollar amount. If they are unable to donate a dollar amount, ask them to be your ambassador. Take advantage of their ability to raise funds through their contacts on your organization’s behalf. Putting this option out there creates some competition that will get those corporate egos to play. While they may not have to “pay to play” this year, this type of ambassador-approach can bring your organization a lot of success through other outlets.
Create a point system capitalizing on number of shares and likes on social media, raffle ticket sales, ticket sales, silent auction procurement and final winning bid amounts. These can all be added up to determine the winner of your fundraising competition. We discussed how one nonprofit successfully utilized competition among sponsors and broke all of their records in a previous blog.
This method is certainly engaging with its little spice of competition thrown into the mix; but it also shows that your organization is sensitive to the fact that many donors are likely experiencing economic hardships during this difficult year.
Having Fun is About Getting Creative
As we mentioned at the beginning of this blog, having fun with your virtual event is the key to success. We have talked about some engagement ideas in our previous blog entry, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to review some of these ideas. And we will cover some new ones as well.
Here are some fun ideas to help engage your Sponsors and donors:
Host a Wine and Cheese Tasting – Even though everyone is virtual, plan ahead by advertising it as a wine and cheese tasting. Create a VIP ticket option for a higher amount and host a 24 VIP Pre-Party before your main virtual event. Not only will you be raising additional funds through high dollar amount ticket sales, but you can also include this as one of the perks in your sponsorship package to all of your sponsors. As an extra fundraising spin, try pairing it with a destination trip. For example, use a Mediterranean cheese to pair up with a trip to Greece. During that tasting segment, allow guests to bid on that trip in the chat room. There’s no question that travelers are itching to travel! Even with the difficult travel circumstances that are in place today, there are certain travel packages that no one can turn down! For example, we offer 3 years with no blackout dates as part of our Fundraising Travel Program to take their trip. This allows donors the opportunity to invest in their next vacation, by investing in our nonprofit partners' causes.
Send Out a Cocktail Kit – This is similar to the above-mentioned idea; however, you can do this with cocktails rather than wine and cheese. We have also seen our partners get creative by pairing these craft cocktails with trip destinations.
Partner Up with a Food-Delivery Service – When it comes to utilizing food in conjunction with your virtual event, consider partnering up with a food-delivery service to have packages delivered from your caterer to the guests (or offer pick-up). You can offer a two tier ticket price structure: one with dinner, one without.
Paint-By-Numbers Event – Have sponsorship teams or guest viewing party teams create a piece of art (with a provided kit). Have them name it and then auction the piece during your event. This is a fun one that will get your donors excited to participate!
We are seeing a trend with successful virtual events — all of them include some kind of engagement factor similar to what we talked about above. If you are looking for more hands-on assistance, we can help out with AmFund VIP. Our Virtual Travel Program is easy to launch, ready for online or mobile offerings, and can help you raise essential unrestricted funds. Or, if your organization is simply in need of help with your upcoming virtual events, contact us today. Our staff is available and ready to help. Stay safe everyone!