Planning a Virtual Event for Giving Tuesday: 5 Tips - Heller Consulting

Planning a Virtual Event for Giving Tuesday: 5 Tips

Giving Tuesday is fast approaching, which means a busy time for nonprofit fundraising and some of the biggest giving campaigns of the entire year.   

To capture this large donor potential, it is important to plan a campaign that is easy, flexible, and convenient for your supporters. After all, you are fighting for attention in a crowded fundraising field, and vying to stand out during the jam packed giving and holiday season.  

One way to stand out from the crowd is to host a virtual event alongside your Giving Tuesday online campaign. Hosting a virtual fundraiser on the big day is an effective way to engage supporters and help your cause reach its goals!    

You might be thinking: what? Host a virtual fundraiser on Giving Tuesday? I’ve never heard of that! But think about it. Over the past year, nonprofits have leveraged virtual events to connect with their supporters. Hosting a virtual event for Giving Tuesday provides a convenient solution to meet your donors where they are and continue to build awareness for your cause.    

To cut through the noise during Giving Tuesday, here’s five tips to plan a successful virtual event:   

  1. Get to know your audience.    
  2. Determine an event type.    
  3. Use fundraising technology to elevate your event. 
  4. Design your marketing strategy.    
  5. Do a run-through of your event.   

1. Get to know your audience. 

Before you build your virtual Giving Tuesday event, take the time to understand: 

  • Who your target audience is? 
  • What their needs are?  
  • What is important to them in a giving experience?  

Taking the time to get to know your audience helps you be intentional in your plans and create a memorable donor experience. Just be sure to start the identification process early to ensure that all insights and ideas have time to be considered before you start planning   

Identify Core Supporters    

After you’ve identified your audience, it’s time to see what core supporters fit the profile. These supporters will be the target segment for your events. These individuals are consistent event donors who believe in and share the mission of your organization. Utilize these supporters as the core of your event and leverage them to:    

  • Spread the word and build awareness of your Giving Tuesday efforts.  
  • Build momentum around your event.  
  • Promote and encourage their networks to attend or donate.

Conduct Donor Research    

You can also discover useful supporter insights within your existing donor data. Doing donor research allows you to see which events actually connected donors with your cause. These insights allow you to make data driven decisions about your donor’s giving patterns and desires.    

Send out a Survey    

Supplement your insights by conducting a survey to directly ask your donors what they are looking for in a virtual event. A survey helps nonprofits gain real time understanding of donor’s desires and apply new perspectives to their event creation.   

Once you have a basic understanding of your audience and are armed with donor knowledge, your nonprofit is ready to start planning your virtual Giving Tuesday event!   

2. Determine an event type. 

Now it’s time to choose the type of virtual event your nonprofit will host for Giving Tuesday.    

There are many different virtual formats to choose from, and each engages supporters in different ways. Pick one that aligns with your organization’s goals and donor’s desires.  

  • Virtual Auction: This event brings all elements of an in-person auction to an online format. From item procurement to mobile bidding, these virtual events are highly flexible and can be less resource-intensive than in-person auctions.   
  • Virtual Run/Walk/Ride: This event provides participants the opportunity to complete their race on their own time and their own way. These events can connect a community of supporters around the country to participate and are not limited to a certain geographic location!    
  • Virtual Gala: Allows you to bring a traditional nonprofit fundraising experience to your donors through technology. Virtual galas incorporate a variety of live ceremonies, multimedia presentations or videos, auction or raffle activities, sponsor shout-outs, and live donation appeals into your experience.    
  • Webinar: Have unique expertise to share with your community? Try hosting a virtual webinar to not only teach your donor something new but use it as a chance to grow your organization’s reach.   

These are just some of the many virtual event formats that you can consider for your Giving Tuesday campaign and are a sure-fire way to wrap up your year strong and build a foundation of success for the year to come.    

3. Use fundraising technology to elevate your event.  

With a virtual event type chosen, your cause can now utilize online fundraising technology to create a place where donors can connect to your fundraising. Fundraising solutions allow nonprofits to have a centralized location for event promotion, proceeds collection, and brand awareness.    

Keep these tips in mind when creating a compelling online experience for your virtual Giving Tuesday event:

  • Maintain consistent branding: When a supporter enters your virtual event, they must be able to recognize how the page relates to your organization and your Giving Tuesday fundraising. Ensuring that the colors, fonts, and imagery align with your organization’s brand is a simple way to build brand alignment.    
  • Address your donors: Build a connection with your donors through your giving site. Adding campaign and event messaging, impact statements, and real-life images that bring your cause to life. This will help engage and connect donors to your mission and why their gift matters.    
  • Ensure your page is user-friendly: Make sure your giving page is easy. Test the giving experience start to finish to ensure there are no obstacles to giving for your supporters.    

Whether it’s mobile bidding, peer-to-peer fundraising, or online giving, virtual fundraising solutions help raise more and reach more during your next Giving Tuesday campaign. Following the suggested tips, makes the process as seamless as possible for your organization and your supporters!   

4. Design your marketing strategy. 

Now it’s time to reach out to your supporters.  When marketing your event, start first by creating a marketing strategy for virtual event promotion.    

Your marketing strategy allows you to outline the goals, messaging, and channels you will use to bring awareness to your event. We recommend different communication outlets to reach as many attendees as possible!  

Consider these channels in your marketing efforts:    

  • Website: Promote your campaign on your organization’s homepage and website. This increase can help drive engagement to Giving Tuesday campaign and event.   
  • Social Media: Consider using a campaign hashtag, to connect your message and widen the reach of your Giving Tuesday event.   
  • Email: Expand your audience reach in a more personalized way with targeted emails! Utilize your donor database to determine what donors prefer email communications.    
  • Mobile: Let’s face it – today’s donors heavily rely on their phones! Including a clickable link in the text allows your supporters to easily access your event information and register!   

Going multi-channel in your marketing strategy will help your nonprofit create wider reach, drive higher donor conversions, and fuel virtual event registrations.     

5. Do a run-through of your event.

With all the planning and preparation in place, it is almost time to launch your Giving Tuesday event. Before you “go live” on the big day do a run through of your event.   

  • Walk through the flow of the event from start to finish.  
  • Get team alignment on the run of the show. 
  • Test your technology. 
  • Troubleshoot any technical issues. 
  • Look for areas of or confusion or bottlenecks in the guest experience.  

Ensuring that your event processes are easy, and your technology is working will ease the stress and experience during the event.    

A well tested and run event ensures the most enjoyable supporter experience, creating a positive association with your cause and increasing proceeds too!    

Giving Tuesday is a great opportunity to close your fundraising year out with a bang! However, planning a Giving Tuesday event can be a lot of work, especially in this highly digital time. With the right preparation, and these five planning tips, a virtual Giving Tuesday event provides valuable exposure and awareness to your cause, making the hard work worth it.    

 About the Author 

Karrie has spent more than a decade bringing innovative technology and fundraising strategies to the nonprofit industry. As one of the first executives at OneCause, Karrie combines her 20 years of experience in marketing with her passion for helping nonprofits expand their reach, leading industry research, marketing strategy, and fundraising consulting initiatives. She is also an active speaker on donor and fundraising trends, and has been featured on, Philanthropy Journal, and Nonprofit Hub.