Beyond the Venue: Innovative Platforms for Charitable Events
There are always questions about the future of fundraising: What trends will take hold? What new technology will be the must-have tool? What digital disruptor will cause organizations to change how they do business?
The answers to those questions are constantly being written and rewritten, but these last few years have shown us that the most successful fundraising organizations are those that try new strategies, take calculated risks, and, most importantly, focus on being proactive.
The event space for nonprofits has predominately focused on traditional walks, runs, rides, and galas, and while there is nothing wrong with these types of events, there are so many additional tools that charities can use to fundraise in unique ways. These tools can help organizations incorporate brand-new fundraising strategies or revamp their traditional events to make them much more engaging.
Like all other businesses, charities need to be where their donors are, and in today’s society, they are everywhere and anywhere. Therefore, using these toolsets are a necessity to be able to reach them all.
Let’s look at some exciting ways nonprofits can revamp their event fundraising strategies.
Esports and livestreaming
You would be hard pressed to find an organization that did not want to attract a younger donor base, as most organizations rely heavily on aging demographics, such as Boomers and Matures. One way to broaden your donor base is through esports and livestreaming.
There are countless examples of streamers, influencers, and gamers going online and fundraising for a cause. Video content is being consumed at higher and higher rates and is the preferred medium for most. A simple way to add esports and livestreaming to your roster of events is to include this functionality into your existing DIY platform – it’s all about giving them the tools to fundraise how and where they want. Create new events, such as gaming tournaments for Mario Kart, NBA 2K, or Madden. With many universities, major league sports, and countless other organizations focused on this industry, there are many opportunities to find partners to create something new.
Esports and livestreaming have the unique ability to covert your passive donors into active donors. Instead of simply coming to the page to sponsor a participant in your event, when donors watch a livestream, they can interact with the performer using the live chat, or communicate with the other donors engaged in this event. This shared experience builds a sense of community and social interaction around your cause.
“Not another Zoom meeting!” We heard this many times throughout the pandemic, but online events do not have to feel like generic team conference calls. From taking a seat at a virtual table with colleagues, family, and friends, to instant donor recognition, to silent auctions, to access to exclusive content, there are many digital solutions that can enhance your donor experience.
These enhancements can also help you reach a larger audience. Whether your venue has space restrictions, or if your donor network is spread across the country, virtual galas allow everyone to join. Bringing your gala online also provides opportunities to incorporate other fundraising tools, such as peer-to-peer: have each table be setup as a “team” and allow your attendees to reach out to their network for additional donations.
A great way to get fundraisers excited about a cause is to get them moving. Integrating fitness tracking platforms into peer-to-peer events gives participants the ability to not only raise money for a meaningful purpose, but also stay healthy while doing it.
Fitness tracking also allows organizations to expand the reach of traditional walks, runs, rides, and other distance events. Now, fundraisers can participate from anywhere in the world, showing their progress on interactive maps, while charities can use these metrics to tell their stories. Did your participant walk five miles/kilometers? Great! Now have them connect this milestone to your cause. For example, a child must walk five kilometers to access fresh water. Did your participant just unlock the 20K step badge? Then let your participant, and their supporters, know this is how many individuals will be affected by your cause this year.
Storytelling is not new for charities, but the way we tell them can be!
Augmented reality (AR)
Augmented reality’s goal is to enrich your current physical environment, but it also has the potential to enhance your current event space. With AR you can turn logos, QR codes, and geolocations into interactive checkpoints. Add this along to your existing walk/run/ride routes to give your participants a more engaging experience. Or create a scavenger hunt across your city, allowing teams to come together to solve problems, figure out clues, and earn points alongside fundraising dollars.
You couldn’t talk about the future of fundraising events without also mentioning the fact that crypto donations, NFTs and emerging social media trends (i.e. TikTok) will also be areas where charities need to keep their fingers on the pulse of.
We finally saw nonprofits moving out of their comfort zones during the pandemic, being forced to innovate in all sorts of ways. I hope this trend continues in our industry. Charities have shiny new tools in their workshops, but it is now up to organizers to carve, build, and shape exciting events that will bring both existing and new supporters immersive, story-rich experiences.
Find the full article, alongside more insights on the future of charitable events, in npEXPERTS®, Game-Changers: How to Galvanize Supporters as Charitable Events Evolve from the Blackbaud Institute.