In this blog, we will share 5 best practice tips for in-person, virtual and hybrid nonprofit fundraising events.

Many nonprofits are looking forward to holding in person events again but are realizing that it is wise to incorporate a virtual aspect into their event to be able to include guests who may not be comfortable attending a large gathering.  This is easy to do with Murad Auctions’ Virtual Live Stream software. 

Most of our clients are now selling tickets to attend their in-person event and offering virtual tickets as well.  The In-person tickets may go on sale first, and then closer to the event, they will offer a virtual option. We want people to attend your event if possible, but not exclude people who want to attend virtually.

Fundraising events

Offer dinner as a part of the virtual ticket and arrange the meal to be picked up or delivered to your virtual guests.  This will also support local restaurants, or your caterer may create meal kits for your virtual guests! 

Some of our nonprofit clients are encouraging their virtual guests to have in home parties and invite their family and friends.  This increases the number of guests viewing your event and potentially donating, and becoming supporters of your cause.  It also creates a party atmosphere where more bidding can take place. You can even create a playlist on Spotify that they can enjoy during their at home party and this can be played during the cocktail hour at your event! One of our clients created a Virtual Party Toolkit with lots of creative ideas which she emailed to her virtual guests.  

Fundraising events

Allow your virtual guests to connect via Zoom or other video conferencing software before the actual programming begins at the live event. This Zoom party will be a virtual happy hour so to speak!  Provide a specialty drink recipe they can make at home and ask them to dress up according to the theme of the event and share their pictures on social media.  

When the program begins at your in-person event, it is easy to text or email your virtual guests the link to view your program and live auction.  Your Audio-Visual team will connect their camera at the event to the Live Stream software, which is a simple process.   You want your guests to be able to view exactly what is happening on stage at your live event, so use a virtual software platform that has an exceptionally low latency.  This means your virtual guests should see what is happening in the room in real time, with little delay. 

Facebook and YouTube live stream can have up to a 30 second delay, which does not work if you want active bidding and donating from your virtual audience.  You need less than a 1 second delay to make the auction work well. This is easy with the new Murad Auctions’ Virtual Live Steam auction software.  View how it works.

Be sure to use a software platform that makes it easy for your guests to bid in the live auction as well as make donations in real time. Send your virtual auction guests a text with the link before the live stream begins.  This gives them time to log in, start bidding in the silent auction, view the live auction items, and see the sponsor slideshows and any other media while they wait for the live stream to begin.

Your in-person guests will bid in the live auction by raising their bid paddles to place their bids and the auctioneer will recognize them in the room.  Your virtual guests will bid on their cell phones, Ipads or computers, and the auctioneer can see when an online bid is placed. We can provide you with professional charity auctioneers and support staff during the event who can help if you need assistance.

Use scoreboards and donation thermometers to show how much you have raised.  You can easily thank your donors or bidders and give updates on the silent auction bidding. Communicating is the key to keeping everyone involved! Most software platforms can also send out text messages during the night with updates and links to encourage more bidding and donating.  It makes the event more fun, and all your guests stay up to date with what is happening all night long!

Easily thank your donors or bidders during a silent auction

Top 5 Tips For Successful Fundraising Events

1. Communicate Your Mission

During the programming of your event, be specific and inspiring!  Communicate your mission through guest speakers or a mission video and inspire your guests to give to your cause. Show them how their support makes an impact.  Use a software platform that makes it easy to give, such as Text to Give end them a direct link to donate during the event. If you are holding a live auction, use an auction platform that has real time live auction bidding which creates that much needed competitive bidding and excitement of an auctioneer calling the auction!

2. Think About the Atmosphere of Your Fundraising Events

For a virtual event or hybrid event you are creating an experience for your donors on-screen and in the room. Make sure you have:

  • Good lighting.  Use light source in front and to your right and left that makes you and your guest speakers and auctioneer look great on camera.
  • An uncluttered background (consider using a digital or physical back drop)
  • A confidence monitor that allows your speakers to see what your virtual guests are seeing on their screens so they can follow along.
  • A teleprompter to help your speakers stay on topic and quickly complete their presentations.
  • Pre-recorded presentations to remove the stress of live presentations!
  • An earpiece for your Emcee or Auctioneer so you can easily communicate with them during the presentations. Connecting key people through a conference call and wireless earphones makes this easy!

For a Hybrid Auction event you still want good camera position and lighting and all the other things above, but also consider the importance of staying on schedule.  It is easy to get off track if the valet line is long, or dinner service is not quite ready.  Do not let these things derail you.  You need to start your programming on time, so you do not lose your virtual guests or frustrate them as they wait for your program to begin. 

Help your virtual guests feel a part of the live event before your presentation begins.  Have a screen rotating on the virtual live stream that showcases your sponsors and shows updated scoreboards for online donations and the online auction and other fundraising updates.  You can sell sponsor ads to show during the pre-showtime. Show some inspiring videos to your virtual guests and include a countdown to the live presentation.  See the example below.

Rockwall Children's Advocacy Center Event

You can show the same sponsor slideshow during your virtual event that you are showing during the live event.   Sponsor logos can be showcased on the online auction platform and text messages can include sponsor names and websites.

Also be sure to include a paper program to give to your guests as they arrive and text a link to a digital program to your virtual guests.  This can include the timeline for the night and all of your sponsor logos, as well as a link to mission and thank you videos! 

See a sample below:

Fundraising Events
Digital Catalog
fundraising events
Sponsor Slideshow

As I mentioned above, allow virtual guests to join in with others to create a small party in someone’s home.  Connect the parties via Zoom or other web conferencing software and allow them to talk and interact before your program begins. 

3. Create Opportunities to Interact

Your in-person guests will be checking in, visiting the bar, viewing silent auction items and talking with other guests at your event.  Virtual events do not naturally have this interaction between guests, but you can create it if you want to.  Share your Facebook or Instagram accounts with guests and create a hashtag for your event. See this article on how to create a hashtag.

Allow guests to share pictures and post with the hashtag to track your social activity.  You can even create a contest for the people who share photos with your hashtag.  Each person’s name is entered into a drawing for a prize and the winner can be announced during your live presentation.  This encourages participation in your virtual auction and spreads the word about your fundraiser via social media!

You might event hold a costume contest for those who dress according to your theme of your fundraiser.  Have guests post pictures and give a prize to the winner be announced during the virtual live stream.  Give a prize to an in-person guest and a virtual guest!

To make your virtual fundraising event seem more like an in-person event, look for opportunities for the audience to participate. Use our chat feature, which is part of our Livestream Service. Ask questions they can answer in the chat box and allow guests to comment.

As I mentioned above, allow virtual guests to join in with others to create a small party in someone’s home.  Connect the parties via Zoom or other web conferencing software and allow them to talk and interact before your program begins. 

4. Keep Your Fundraising Events Simple But Impactful 

You can be innovative, creative, or funny, but you do not have to create the most elaborate virtual fundraising event ever to be successful.

Focus on communicating your mission, your needs, and your fundraising goals.  Show mission videos, or testimonial videos and use a professional video production company to produce them if you can.  These videos can be used on your website and on social media all year, so spread the cost between several initiatives to manage your budget.  We can direct you to a several companies who produce compelling videos at competitive prices.   You can also make your videos a bit more “homespun” by producing them on your own cell phone or video camera. 

Fundraising Events

Remember, your virtual audience is comfortable at home, and their attention span may be shorter than it would be for an in-person event. Get right to the point, communicate what you need to, hold the live auction, and make the “ask” for donations. This is also great advice for an in-person event as well. Keep your presentation short and sweet! 

5. Follow Up

What happens after your virtual, in person or hybrid fundraiser is just as important as what happens during the event. Before the event, make a concrete plan for what happens the day after the event.

  • Post a recording of the event on your social media and send it out to your entire data base of supporters.   
  • Include links to donate with the recording of the event, so those who were not able to join the night of your fundraiser, can donate.
  • You might consider leaving at least some of the online silent auction items open to allow those watching the recording to bid as well.  One client’s silent auction and donations doubled the day after their event as supporters watched the event and then hopped on the online auction to bid!
  • Update everyone on your fundraising totals when you close bidding. 
  • Send out thank you letters or emails within a week of your event.  Using auction management software makes this process easy since you can email guest receipts from the platform as well as donor thank you letters.
Email Thank You Letters To Fundraising Donors

Incorporating a virtual aspect to your future in-person events will ensure that you include all your donors in your next fundraiser and keep raising important funds for your worthy cause!   

Please contact us as you are planning your fundraising events. We are happy to provide a free consultation to share more ideas with you. 

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Murad Auctions offers professional charity auction services to non-profits for successful benefit auction events. Since 2000, Murad Auctions has helped hundreds of non-profits achieve their fundraising goals. Murad Auctions relies on years of experience, crowd-pleasing enthusiasm and technology to take benefit auctions to the next level. If your organization needs advice on your auction event, please reach out to Murad Auctions at 972-238-0249 x 102 or contact us. We will be happy to help make your non-profit fundraiser a success.