The COVID-19 pandemic shutdown preceded gala season by only a few weeks. Nonprofits all over the country scrambled, cancelling galas a year or more in the making, refunding tickets, recalibrating annual budget goals, and seeking alternate funding solutions.
But in the innovative, resilient spirit of the nonprofit community we love (and serve), no one gave up. They pivoted. The biggest pivot of all? Virtual galas – events so incredibly effective in raising funds and so dramatically less labor-intensive, costly, and time-consuming to produce, this new channel might just outlast the pandemic.
Are you ready to adopt it?
At Faircom New York, we have not only pivoted turning pre-planned galas into virtual events for many clients, but we are now offering virtual event planning services to many nonprofits who had never even held a gala before. This is becoming a new fundraising channel in its own right.
Virtual galas have many advantages:
- They cost less and take less time and personnel to produce. For smaller organizations who do not have the budget for in-person galas, in particular, this is a great breakthrough.
- They have a shelf life and can be viewed for months after the actual event itself.
- Chats offer written feedback that can be used in future communications or that can help in cultivating specific donors.
- The audience capacity is unlimited.
- They are weather-proof.
- Once actual galas return, virtual galas can provide not just an alternate channel, but an additional one.
This does not mean that virtual galas are a walk in the park – they still take work and a thoughtful, strategic plan to execute.
Some tips to keep in mind:
- Plan logistics well ahead of time. Select your platform for hosting and donations and test them both well before the event to prevent any last-minute flubs.
- Establish a theme for the event with a clear objective and point of view.
- Set a fundraising goal and update the audience on progress throughout the night.
- Say thank you! Follow up with all virtual attendees with a heartfelt thank you.
Even as some organizations look toward in-person events in 2021, we believe virtual galas are here to stay. Whether you included galas in your fundraising plans or not, you can consider adding a virtual gala to your fundraising or advocacy work portfolio.
Not sure where to start? Next week, we will be sharing two outstanding case studies in virtual galas, so be sure to check back. If you are interested in learning more about virtual galas and events, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
About the author
Flavia Alimonti — Senior Account Manager of Global Philanthropy
Flavia brings over 5 years of experience to Faircom New York. An enthusiastic member of the Global Philanthropy team, Flavia has a keen sensibility for advising nonprofits of varying scale and scope as they define and implement fundraising strategies through major donor and institutional giving programs, as well as developing communications tools and conceiving and implementing events from start to finish. Flavia received her B.A. from Tufts University where she graduated magna cum laude with a degree in Italian Studies. She speaks Italian and French.