Virtual nonprofit events can be a fundamental part of your organization’s fundraising strategy. With a strong virtual event, your nonprofit can easily grow its reach, build relationships with supporters, and boost donor acquisition and retention.
With these benefits in mind, it’s clear that your nonprofit needs to add virtual fundraising to its development toolkit. While less traditional than in-person events, virtual fundraisers can be equally effective at engaging donors and encouraging them to give from anywhere. However, your nonprofit will have to be intentional to keep supporters excited and engaged.
This is where a robust marketing strategy comes into play. Your virtual event needs to be marketed effectively to get as many people as possible to participate and increase awareness for your cause. Use these essential marketing tips to plan and promote your next virtual event:
- Recruit ambassadors to help spread the word.
- Segment your email lists.
- Promote your event across multiple channels.
By incorporating these essential strategies, your nonprofit can maximize its virtual fundraising. Let’s begin.
1. Recruit ambassadors to help spread the word.
Whether you’re hosting a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign or a virtual auction, you’ll need the support of your most-connected supporters to get the word out. By encouraging supporters to tap into their personal networks and share your fundraising campaign, you’ll be able to reach new audiences.
Think of it as creating a fundraising army, whose built-in social and professional networks allow you to engage and funnel new volunteers, donors, and activists to your cause. But for it to be successful, you need to choose the right ambassadors for your cause.
Good places to look for ambassadors include:
- Board members: Board members are natural ambassadors. They are already committed and dedicated to the success of your nonprofit. They often have large professional networks, making them perfect social fundraisers. Engage them at a new level and watch their contacts turn into participants for your event.
- Event committee: The people working on the event itself are passionate about the outcome! Tap the most dedicated committee members to become your ambassadors.
- Volunteers: Volunteers are another reliable source for ambassadors, since they are deeply involved with your cause. They are used to giving their time and talent to your efforts. Target your most active and generous volunteers and ask them to join your ambassador campaign.
- Micro-influencers: This is a great place to look if you’re just starting your ambassador program. Look for local nonprofit influencers with a large network and an active social media presence.
- Sponsor connections: Ask your sponsors and long-time community partners if they know of potential ambassadors.
- Honorees at your signature event: Honorees are well-respected members of the community, which makes them the perfect supporters to raise donations before the gala.
Once you find the right ambassadors, the next step is to set them up for success! Outline clear goals, provide the right marketing assets, and let your ambassadors loose. Watch as their new network brings new attendees and donations to your virtual event.
2. Segment your email lists.
Understanding your donors is the key to unlocking your virtual event marketing potential. It allows you to engage better with different audiences and grow at scale (while still being personalized). By targeting your marketing messages to specific donor segments, you can boost engagement and registrations for your online fundraising event.
How you decide to segment your donors depends on the needs of your organization. Let’s take a look at a few ways that you can create email segments to reach donors more effectively:
- How your donors were acquired
- Size of gift
- First-time versus returning donor
- One-time gift versus recurring donations
- Donor interest
You can even target the way your donors have engaged with your events. For example:
- New donors who haven’t attended an event before
- Loyal donors who used to attend events but haven’t attended lately
- Lapsed donors who haven’t donated in a while but need to be re-engaged
After figuring out how you’re going to segment your donors, the next step is to create marketing messages tailored to their particular motivators. For example, donors who haven’t yet attended virtual events should be clearly shown how your virtual event will work.
If your nonprofit has a number of supporters who you don’t have email addresses from, consider investing in an email append service. Email appending services use identifying information about your supporters, such as their name and phone number, to find their current email addresses. Using an append is a quick way to fill in missing or incomplete information in your donor database and improve your ability to get in touch with supporters.
3. Promote your event across multiple channels.
While email is a highly effective tool, your nonprofit should also spread the word about your virtual event across other popular channels. According to the OneCause guide to virtual fundraising, a multi-channel marketing approach gives your event the highest chance of reaching diverse audiences, including people that haven’t heard about your organization before.
To raise awareness for your event, consider using marketing channels such as:
- Social media. Leverage social media’s virality by sharing engaging photos, videos, or graphic designs related to your event and pairing it with a catchy hashtag. Make sure to highlight all the basic details of your event, like when it’s happening, how to access it, and how the funds raised will be used. You can include a mobile-friendly registration link in your social media bio to streamline the sign-up process.
- Direct mail. According to NXUnite, direct mail marketing gives your supporters something that’s tangible and can help them feel more connected to your organization. Incorporate storytelling into your direct mail outreach to demonstrate the impact of your organization’s work and why supporters should contribute to your fundraiser. You’ll also want to feature impactful images to get people excited about your event.
- Your nonprofit’s website. Create an event landing page that removes the mystery from your event and breaks down exactly what’s going to take place. This page should be visually appealing and informative to grab users’ attention and motivate them to sign up. You can embed your registration form directly into the event landing page for an easy sign-up.
A tactful multi-channel strategy is key to attaining maximum engagement with your event. But don’t try to do it all at once! Choose 2-3 tactics that work best for your team and your mission and focus your attention there.
In order to cultivate better relationships with your supporters, your organization should be consistent in its outreach, communications, and engagement. A strong marketing strategy for your virtual event will give you what you need to grab and maintain donors’ attention from a distance. Use these essential strategies to maximize support and push your organization closer to achieving its fundraising goals. Good luck!