4 simple steps to host a successful virtual event while you’re working from home
As a remote working professional with years of experience in alumni relations & fundraising, Nita June, Director of Alumni Relations at The Association of Waldorf Schools (AWSNA) finds that working remotely offers flexibility and freedom that is refreshing and gratifying. She also feels that this same freedom can be challenging to manage successfully and that everyone has their own methods that work for them. Check out our Advancement from Home eBook to read what Nita and other advancement professionals are saying.
With schools and universities closed for a long time now, advancement staff members are gradually adapting to the new norm of working from home while effectively engaging alumni and donors via virtual events.
Backed by data from 200+ schools and universities who have hosted successful virtual events over the last two months, here’s a virtual event checklist for advancement teams.
Step 1: Identify the need your virtual event is going to solve
With tons of creative virtual event ideas floating around the internet, the best way to figure out what’s best for you is to ask yourself these questions:
- How can you offer support to your audience during these testing times?
- How can you solve a particular pain point of your constituents with your event?
Based on what your audience will resonate with the most, get started with building your virtual event.
The French American International School anticipated a need for an increase in financial aid for next year as it provides support to its students in the form of tuition, books, lunches, and to every family that needs help during these tough times.
Step 2: Decide where to set up your virtual event & finalize the agenda
Once you’ve decided your virtual event theme, put together your event agenda and figure out what tools you need to execute your event.
You can set up a dedicated event page on your alumni website or create a Facebook event page to capture registrations. If you need additional software such as Zoom for video conversations with attendees, Trello for organizing your event, or Almabase or Blackbaud to send emails to your attendees, this is the right time to talk to the experts on each team.
Take a cue from Antioch College’s incredible success with its first Virtual Div Dance Party. The Alumni Association set up an event page on its alumni website and Facebook to capture registrations. In addition to this, Antioch College needed funds to be able to host the 6-hours long virtual event which had 400+ registrations. So, the college set up a virtual fundraiser and urged attendees to contribute. Read how Antioch College got 400+ attendees to its Virtual Div Dance Party in 11 days amidst the COVID-19 outbreak.
Step 3: Promote the virtual event to maximize reach
Your virtual event’s success is largely dependent on your marketing strategy. O, how do you build a solid marketing strategy? The answer is by following the basics - emails and social media.
Use past data including event attendance, Facebook engagement, donation history and email engagement to identify highly engaged constituents and retarget them with personalized emails for your virtual event.
Social media is a powerful tool when it comes to maximizing the reach of your virtual event. Create a hashtag, a series of posts, get your followers to join in and encourage them to share these posts with their network.
Step 4: Track event success and have a post-event feedback strategy in place
You’re done with the planning, you got people to register for your virtual event, and with that awesome tool you signed-up for, your event is going great. Now what?
Having a good measure of engagement is critical to report on the success of your virtual event while working remotely. Measure your event based on metrics like registrations, check-ins, email open and click rates, and social media impressions and reactions.
Another key metric that helps determine the success of your virtual events is post-event feedback. This is crucial in improving the quality of future events and boosting participation. It reveals what attendees, sponsors, and stakeholders loved about your event and what you can do to make it even better next time. There are various ways to collect high-quality feedback from your event attendees.