Embracing the Virtual Event

  • Gaurang Sharma
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Under the best of circumstances, fundraising is a challenge for most small organizations, with many having to hang their hopes on in-person meetings held a few times a year to provide the majority of their financial support.  In the current climate, in-person meetings are not feasible, and if you’re a non-profit that supports a community with a chronic illness or disease, holding face-to-face conferences is even less advisable.

So what do you do?

Long before Covid, the idea of holding virtual events was coming into vogue. A virtual event is simply a meeting, conference, seminar, etc., that is held online using some form of conference technology that allows for live streaming, session management, that in a number of ways simulates the in-person conference experience. Instead of investing exorbitant amounts of money in hotel conference space and catering, you make an investment in a virtual event technology, and some serious digital marketing. Instead of conference visitors shelling out dough for travel and hotel rooms, they register online and join your event using their computer or mobile device from the comfort of their own home. And instead of footing the bill for speakers and panelists to travel to your conference location, they join your virtual event via a video technology like Zoom, Webex, or Google Hangouts.

Sounds great, right? It is – but it comes with its own set of challenges that any organization would need to be aware of before taking the plunge. Specifically:

  • Virtual Conference technology is not cheap. Solutions range anywhere from $2,000.00 to $50,000 for more high-end solutions.
  • Setting up and managing virtual event technology can be very labor intensive.  Managing live streaming, content and other components of individual conference sessions, for example, requires extreme attention to detail and coordination.
  • Transitioning attendees from in-person to a virtual solution can be technically challenging for them – jumping on a Zoom call may be second-nature to you, but if that presenter you’ve been dying to have participate in your conference is older and technology-challenged, it could create a support nightmare during your event.

These are just a few of the potential pitfalls; however, if you can successfully navigate them, the rewards can be more than worth it:

  • In most cases, a virtual event can be held for a lot less than an in-person event, depending on the virtual technology solution you choose.
  • In-person events are limited to the number of people who can fit into your chosen venue. With virtual events, you are only limited by the number of attendees allowed by your virtual event technology provider, and you can often pay to have unlimited attendees cost-effectively.
  • Virtual event technologies allow you to quickly and easily create and distribute information to each kind of constituent you’ve targeted (customers, sponsors, donors, etc.).
  • Virtual event solutions provide incredible digital engagement tools, including discussion boards, messaging and other games and tools that make the virtual event feel more like an in-person one.

The key to holding a successful event is planning, and partnering with a solutions provider that can help you execute. With the right up-front due-diligence and a strong plan, you can pull off a fantastic event that will have your attendees wondering why you’d never held a virtual event before. If you’re looking for help or thinking about transitioning an event online, contact us today – we can help!

 

Author: Gaurang Sharma