Live auctions, galas, and other in-person events might not be here for a while. But that doesn’t mean you should be discouraged. We’ve seen some incredible outcomes this past year with online fundraising events and with coronavirus still here, organizations are being forced to plan more online events to help keep people safe. But this presents a challenge – marketing online fundraising events is different than marketing an in-person event.


If you haven’t quite gotten the hang of marketing online events, here is a quick guide to help you. The most important things to know are who you’re trying to reach, where they hang out online, and what attracts and encourages them to show up virtually and give to your cause. Let’s get started.


Research Your Key Demographic When Designing The Event

You should already know who your target market is. If you’re not sure, look at the demographics of past events or scroll through your CRM system and explore the age ranges of your contacts. This is where you should start your marketing strategy. Now you can let this information determine how you design the event. 


If you are targeting tech-savvy 20 year-olds, then you might want to organize a highly interactive nighttime event to accommodate their schedules. On the other hand, if you’re aiming for older retirees, then scheduling early or even midday events aren’t off the table.


Keep in mind that online events can be more accessible than in-person events for many people. As a result, you might discover that a wider variety of people could attend. During this phase of event planning, make sure you research where your market hangs out online. This will help you plan smart marketing campaigns so you’re only advertising on the right platforms.


Over Explain—and Tell A Compelling Story!

The biggest difference between online events and in-person events is communication. People generally don’t just show up for online events – they need to be motivated. In person, people can be motivated by seeing other friends, engaging with an event or even using the fundraiser as a special night out. Online events are much different and require a more compelling story to bring people to their monitors to engage.


It’s important that your audience knows what to expect from the event. The event description should include a section for technical requirements. Will you be using Zoom or another platform? Will guests need to download anything before they join? Can they join late? Will their video be on screen? Will they be required to participate? It’s helpful to link to a free tutorial if there’s anything technically complex about your online event.


Most importantly, tell a compelling story! Online fundraisers don’t have any of that fun party ambiance. Make sure you describe the elements of your event that make it worth it to them. The best way to do this is by creating compelling quick videos that clearly communicate your organizations cause, story and fundraising goal in an exciting and engaging way.


Embrace Advertising & Marketing

Finally, embrace advertising and marketing. Invest a little cash in building a specific page for your event, promotional video and sign up including online link to the event.


Once you have this setup, market your event using direct mail brochures with QR codes directly to your page. Better yet, make these mail pisces that they will keep as a reminder in the days leading up to the event. Remember, location is not a limitation for virtual events.  


Our final tip is to remember to stay connected with your audience on a regular basis and ask if you can stay connected with your guests. Collect their addresses and emails (with permission) and then follow up after the event. Online events can feel like a one-and-done situation, without any of the connection and excitement from meeting new people in-person.


With clever planning and follow-up, you can get as much out of online fundraising events as with in-person events. For all your marketing needs, reach out to our team and market your online fundraising events with confidence.


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