Live virtual events hold the greatest opportunity for charities when used for engagement and stewardship interactions, according to a report commissioned by Fundraising Everywhere with the support of Everywhere+ and JustGiving.
Independent researcher Susie Mullen undertook the survey and analysis, which saw data collected from 436 UK charities in February this year on their use of live virtual events since 2020.
Setting out to examine and define the impact that live virtual events have had, and will have, on the nonprofit sector and charity fundraising, the research found that live virtual events fill a gap in charity digital programmes that typically focus on acquisition. However, it also found huge opportunity for charities that continue to use live virtual events and meetings to interact with and steward existing and potential donors.
Top benefits of live virtual events were seen to be how they help charities achieve a wider geographical reach, and improve accessibility, internal connections, and supporter stewardship. The research also found that running live virtual events has a positive impact on wider and ongoing charity sector challenges including the impact of the climate emergency, inclusivity and diversity, and digital transformation to benefit data and donor relationships.
Over 50% of the charities surveyed hosted events with supporters for stewardship, engagement and fundraising objectives, and while few charities ran live virtual events pre-pandemic, almost all said they would continue with them.
Live virtual events were well used in the sector by those with higher virtual confidence – defined as being able to produce and deliver virtual events that achieve their objectives. And, of the charities with moderate or high levels of virtual confidence, almost three quarters met or exceeded their fundraising goals when running live virtual events. However, only 20% of charities scored themselves as having ‘high virtual confidence’ and another 20% as ‘very low’.
More key findings
- Three quarters agree virtual events create engagement opportunities and keep them connected to supporters
- 64% saw a positive impact on stewardship activity including attendance and long-term impact
- 50% of charities experienced income growth when live virtual events were added to their stewardship journeys
- 45% experienced higher donor numbers when using live virtual events for fundraising
- 74% said virtual events increased social media engagement and reach
- 67% say virtual events will remain part of their fundraising mix this year
- 74% used them for training, inductions and conferences – three quarters will continue this
- The top barriers to hosting live virtual events include lack of time to give to virtual and physical events simultaneously as well as budget for technology
Commenting on the findings, Nikki Bell, co-founder of Fundraising Everywhere and Everywhere+ said:
“There is a huge opportunity for charities that continue with live virtual events as part of their fundraising and marketing mix beyond the pandemic. We know how tough it is for charity leaders to choose between innovation and familiarity and wanted to provide data to support the right decisions as we move into 2022. It’s exciting to see where they have the biggest potential to improve income and we will be doing all we can to support fundraisers to utilise them more.”
Sally Falvey, Head of B2B Marketing at JustGiving added:
“The results are in – virtual events increase supporter engagement, are essential to income generation, and improve teamwork and collaboration. They are no longer the understudy for physical events. We’re so excited to be working with Fundraising Everywhere as an official learning partner of JustGiving, and to have collaborated with them on this research.”