Sobel & Co. LLC,  accounting firm livingston,  accounting firm livingston

Sobel and Co Secure File Sharing  Sobel and Co Site Search

Sobel and Co Client Portal Access  Pay My Bill at SobelCo

973-994-9494 Sobel and Co LinkedIn PageSobel and Co Facebook PageSobel and Co BlogSobel and Co Facebook Page

The Challenges of Virtual Events

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

One of the most dramatic changes impacting the nonprofit community as a result of the Coronavirus is the necessity of pivoting from in-person to virtual events. In order to address the healthcare recommendations regarding social distancing, nearly all of the fundraising and friend-raising events that were planned for 2020 had to be quickly converted to take place in a virtual environment. Asa result, galas have evolved from an evening of friendly conversation with colleagues, perusing the silent auction table, enjoying the open bar and dining on a delicious menu to technology based programs that offer few, if any, of the amenities that made the traditional annual gala experience so exciting.

While just about everyone laments the temporary lost opportunities that face-to-face events generated, there are some benefits to the on-line version.

Over the months since Covid-19 first struck, the technology platforms have grown more sophisticated, more adaptable, and more flexible. Networking sessions, interactive games, and even online auctions have helped to improve the remote access gala experience, making these events more interesting and successful.

First of all, since guest speakers can now tape their remarks prior to the event, their willingness to participate has increased. They are more accessible because they no longer have to make special accommodations to attend the program on site at a specific date and time. Many of these high profile honorees appreciate the convenience and volunteer to provide opening or closing remarks, offer key note insights, or even be a part of an awards presentation ceremony.

There are other benefits as well. For example, organizations are experiencing some savings when room rental, invitations (printing and postage), and food and beverage costs are no longer a major factor. In addition, there is no concern about the obstacles presented by local traffic patterns or inclement weather. And best of all, the audience can attend from anywhere in town, across the country, or even around the world. So with the potential for a much broader footprint there is a correspondingly greater potential for drawing larger, more diverse participants who may also support and invest in the organization’s mission.

However, in most situations, even with a newly expanded reach, on-line events also present significant obstacles.So far they have consistently attracted somewhat smaller crowds and even the least complicated event requires careful attention to production needs in order to seamlessly coordinate the many moving parts of a typical annual event.

But there are some steps the nonprofits can adopt to mitigate the possible hurdles and ensure a great experience for their guests:

  1. Limit the length of time for the event to no more than 90 minute, recognizing that one hour is optimal
  2. Publish a schedule of events in advance so that guests have the option of spending as much or as little time on line at the event as they choose.( Some may stay for the entire program while others prefer to join just in time to hear the guest of honor’s acceptance speech)
  3. Be sure to use a reputable technology platform; and be sure you are familiar with all its applications
  4. Have at least two IT professionals on the event at all times; too often the unexpected can occur, leaving your entire event ‘in the dark’ without immediate support from someone with an expertise with the platform/software
  5. Pre-record some of the various speakers and other important components to ensure against technology glitches that can occur with ‘live’ presentations
  6. Take every opportunity to tell your story, share your mission, and demonstrate the value you deliver to the community you serve

In short, the nonprofit who plans for the worst and hopes for the best will be well-prepared for whatever occurs. Power outages, frozen screens, volume inconsistencies and more can happen – but being ready for anything is a great first step. Enjoy your event – and be safe.

Special thanks to Jeff Key, Founder, Nfinity Enterprises, for sharing many of his insights on the keys to a successful virtual event at the Morris County Chamber of Commerce Nonprofit Council.