The last 12 months have inspired a change, not just in the way that organisations communicate with and reach out to their audience, but also in the way that they engage them. As part of the ‘new normal’, charities and not for profit organisations are looking to embrace a virtual presence, as previous reliable initiatives remain paused, at the time of writing. Not only do virtual events for charities provide a fantastic fundraising opportunity, but they are an excellent way of enhancing your brand, engaging key stakeholders and reaching a broad, global audience, unrestricted by travel limitations.
As an event production company with over 30 years’ experience in the industry, we like many others, have pivoted and turned our skills to providing bespoke, high-end production for virtual and hybrid events. We’re honoured to have worked alongside both national and international charities in the past for more traditional in-person events. This article is designed to uncover exactly what charities need to know and focus on as they embrace the virtual event world and the hybrid event future, and to help them deliver superb results to achieve their goals.
Why might a charity need to host a virtual event?
As a result of the past year, you’ve probably learnt more about your organisations’ adaptability and durability than ever before.
For the charity sector, cornerstone events such as awards evenings or fundraising galas to ‘thank’ your key donors are a huge part of the calendar. With virtual events, and with Wise Productions, there is no reason why the show can’t go on!
At Wise Productions, we’re here to help you deliver your message to a worldwide audience, even with current restrictions in place. We will work with you to implement state-of-the-art technology to ensure your brand’s message can remain uninterrupted, such as our 3D Virtual Studio, which allows us to place your virtual event host in a 3D, immersive, branded environment. This technology also allows for live audience interaction to keep them more engaged than ever before.
Of course, our advanced technology is also fit to be implemented at other renowned events, including awards evenings, auctions, campaign videos or educational webinars.
Benefits of hosting a virtual event for a charity
Moving into the world of virtual events can present a series of benefits for charities. Just a few of the main ones have been listed below:
- A virtual event presents an opportunity to ‘go global’, ignoring physical boundaries and inviting a wider audience who are interested to join in.
- The significantly broader reach that virtual events provide means the returns can be dramatically greater, compared to in-person events.
- Technology enables guests from all over the world to engage with and comment on the event, starting vital conversations and contributing to moments that can prove transformational for the cause and its audience alike.
- Venue capacity restrictions do not apply when your event is virtual.
- You can choose whether to allow free access, or charge an entry/joining fee.
- Technology allows users to easily donate or purchase items during the event from the comfort of their own home.
There are many exciting opportunities for a virtual event, and it shouldn’t be a concept that ‘scares’ people away due to the technical complexity of it. With the right technical production company by your side, you can create magic on screen that will stay in the minds of your audience for years to come.
What type of events can be hosted online?
Here at Wise Productions, we don’t need to simply tell you how vast your options are when it comes to virtual and hybrid events – instead, we can show you.
With our virtual and hybrid event production division, we have worked with everyone from charities to global firms – each with their own needs, cultures, end goals and their own path to success. Our events are designed to bring the magic of every event to life, through creative ideas and technical precision – so that a guest sitting in the comfort of their own home, thousands of miles away from the action, feels as immersed as someone who is in the front row.
When we were approached by GOSH (Great Ormond Street Hospital) to help them create a virtual fundraising event, we combined our technology solutions with creative ideas to present a 90 minute Gala event – all filmed from the safety of everyone’s homes, within COVID-19 distancing protocol. We implemented ideas and segments that were designed to generate engagement from guests who were watching at home. For example, we included a cook-a-long show and live performances from comedian and TV presenter Dara O Briain. The end effect was something which felt powerful yet intimate. We achieved our goal of raising vital funds by putting a spotlight on the cause and why it matters to people even in the middle of a pandemic.
Our work with GOSH shows how broad the world of virtual events can be. From high-end productions with large budgets to smaller, more intimate events, we’ve also worked on a number of bespoke collaborations, centered around:
- Gala dinners
- Live performances
- Challenge events
- Integrated social media campaigns, such as Q&A’s and polls during your event
With our aforementioned built-in 3D Virtual Studio, we can also live stream and pre-record messages from your host that can be set against an immersive, branded background for your cause. This gives the whole virtual event a more prestigious feel, compared to your host simply talking to a webcam from their front room.
How do virtual events work?
You provide us the brief; we bring the magic!
Planning a virtual event, whether corporate or fundraising in nature, is a backwards process – starting with the end goal and what it is you are looking to achieve. Of course, every project’s definition of success, and what a ‘win’ would be are different. A virtual event for a charity will often be designed to raise funds. However, as a virtual event allows you to go global, it also presents you with a unique opportunity to widen the scope and understanding of your cause. As such, we recommend that virtual events in particular are centered as much around cause awareness as it is fundraising.
Once you’ve established your end goal and the kind of event that is going to get you there, it’s time to work on a marketing strategy – who to target, and how.
Virtual events are renowned for being accessible. By moving your event into the digital sphere, it’s open to everyone, and yet for everyone who attends, the whole experience can be made to feel deeply intimate and personal – provided you get the tone of the event and its presentation right. Remember that every guest at a virtual event is choosing to tune in and engage from their own home, so reward this with plenty of direct to camera talking and tons of behind-the-scenes footage that they otherwise would not get to see. Make it worth their time tuning in, add value, and in turn make them want to support your cause.
Other things to consider when it comes to planning your virtual event include:
- If you can, bring high profile names or celebrities on board. Announce them sporadically in the messaging leading up to the event. This creates a new level of excitement and will continue to put your event to the forefront of people’s minds in the run up.
- Rehearse! Everyone involved in the project needs to attend the virtual rehearsals and tech-run throughs in the lead up to the event, to ensure the smooth running, seamless end product that your audience will experience on the day.
- Consider your pricing strategy carefully if you are going to charge for attendance. A virtual event is accessible to all, but you don’t want to alienate participants by charging too much to join in.
- Make donating as easy as possible through online platforms.
- Optimise your event for different devices and screen sizes to ensure the optimum viewing experience for all of those in attendance.
- Allow time for engagement, with the hosts answering guest questions and responding to audience comments. Consider having a dedicated event hashtag and aim to get it trending during your event!
- Involve a professional virtual event company from step one, so as to ensure that every vision and idea you have is captured effectively. Having a technical representative present at the planning stage allows you to be proactive rather than reactive to any potential issues that may arise.
And finally, don’t forget the more general best practice areas of all virtual events – something that our team will help with, but which also pays to be aware of – including good internet, testing all video content and software, and rehearsing the pass over between different event segments for a seamless finish.
For more on how we can support your virtual event for charity goals, get in touch with our team today!