Right now is an opportunistic time to dive into the uncharted waters of virtual fundraising events. With in-person events postponed for the foreseeable future, technology has ramped up to take their place.  Luckily for you, several tech companies are offering their platforms free of charge with upgraded features. At Zuri Group, we take pride in helping our clients navigate new terrain— our guide of online tools will help you facilitate virtual gatherings to keep your goals on track. These free-to-low cost options are available to you right now (and you may not even know!).

Facebook Live

Cost:  Free

An estimated 2 billion people are logged into Facebook per day and over $3 billion has been raised online for charities. Clearly, Facebook is the place to meet your highest number of supporters! Facebook Live is a free, easy to use platform that allows you to communicate with your supporters in real time. With the touch of just a few buttons you can broadcast thank you messages, host Q&A’s with your donors, provide “updates from the field,” and host events. Nonprofit organizations can even add a Donate button to live videos for easy giving. One of the biggest advantages of using Facebook is that your supporters are already comfortable using the platform which removes a potential barrier to attendee participation.

Instagram Live and Stories

Cost:  Free

Instagram Live is a free feature that allows your organization to stream live from your existing account. Viewers can tune-in and interact with you real time via messages and comments, and once your live stream ends you can save and upload the video to your account. Instagram announces your live stream to followers when the session begins, and you’ll get immediate stats on viewer numbers and interactions.

If you’re not quite ready for a live audience, use Instagram stories to engage with viewers. Your organization can pose questions for your followers to answer, conduct polls, collect feedback, and ask supporters for creative ideas with just a few swipes. Social-savvy organizations can easily use both tools to create an engaging donor experience. Ask for questions from your supporters via Stories and follow it up with a live-stream session where you answer the questions that were presented in advance.

We encourage you to take a look at these robust, free services available and start experimenting!

Google Hangouts

Cost:  Free until July 1, 2020 (with limitations)

Hangouts is part of Google’s G Suite of products. Hangouts Chat makes it easy to direct message or host a group chat with other users, which provides an opportunity for immediate contact during this time of transition. Hangouts Meet offers video conferencing, screen sharing, and virtual collaboration for groups of all sizes and also includes a live-streaming component to its features.

The best part about Hangouts Meet is that it’s being offered for FREE from now until July 1, 2020.  The free service provides access to these great features that are up for grabs (with some limitations). Free services will limit meeting attendees to 250 and live streams to 100,000, but for most of you that’s more capacity than you’ll likely need.

YouTube and Vimeo

Cost:  Free basic account with a tiered subscription for additional features.

Why choose one when you can use both! YouTube and Vimeo are great platforms for video sharing and live streaming. Both offer channels for storing and sharing video content, and uploading your videos to most websites is seamless from either platform. YouTube features are plentiful with their added subscription service, and Vimeo’s premium plan adds editing and live-streaming.

While YouTube is the tried-and-true video platform, Vimeo is a rising hit with younger generations. Consider producing content on both channels to reap maximum rewards or to discover which platform resonates best with your audience.

 

There are some great platforms out there to help you connect and engage with your supporters, host virtual events, and effectively communicate your message. You’ll be off to a good start by experimenting with a few of these options to find what works best for both your organization and your constituents. With creativity and motivation, your virtual event has the potential to be at least as successful as the in-person event you had previously envisioned.

If you need guidance strategizing your virtual event, we can help! In collaboration with fundraising software platforms, Zuri Group assists organizations with transitioning their in-person events to virtual events.

Carly Samuelson is a Digital Fundraising Strategist at Zuri Group. She has decades of experience creating vibrant, engaging online fundraising campaigns.

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