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Articles > Building Your Community > Round up: Events are evolving: Virtual engagement

Round up: Events are evolving: Virtual engagement

Virtual events provide an opportunity to connect wherever your supporters, alumni or community members are in the world.

In the ToucanTech webinar, ‘Events are evolving: Virtual engagement’, Sara Eastwood, community management expert with over 10 years experience  shared great tips for hosting engaging events, plus examples of successful virtual events from ToucanTech school and nonprofit customers. Whether you’re just getting started with virtual events, considering a hybrid for your future events programme, or just looking for new ideas, here are the key takeaways:

1. Focus on the purpose of your event before the planning

“We are here to facilitate opportunities to allow our community members to make meaningful connections in their social, academic, career, and business lives, to inspire them enough to want to give back their time, talent and treasure.”

Whether your goal is to recruit more volunteers, to fundraise for a new capital project, or simply to get back in touch with non-engaged members of your community, see your event as an important step in a wider engagement journey. Ensure there are plenty of opportunities for attendees to take the next step by following up with a post-event email, with links to donate (if this is your purpose) or an invitation to sign up to your online community.

2. Make your events tailored to specific groups for maximum effect

“Strive to be something to someone rather than trying to be everything to everyone.”

While virtual events can make it seem easy to involve a large group of people, without in-person limits on attendees, you should still focus on targeting your virtual events to ensure that you can tailor as much as possible. This can be achieved through your speaker or activity choice, the channels you choose to promote your events, your communications. Focus on your demographic, their previous interactions with your school, nonprofit or other charitable organisation, and the reason they would be suitable for the event.

3. Give people an incentive to join your event

Often, the purpose for your event will be different from the reason people decide to sign up. Therefore, even with your purpose in mind, consider from the attendee perspective what they will be looking to gain from this event: this could be networking with those in a similar industry, catching up with old school friends, or promoting their own business. Make these reasons to join explicit in your comms and event promotion, to help prospects see the value in attending from their perspective.

For a full step-by-step guide on how to plan your next virtual event, check out our guide ‘Virtual reality: 7 steps to deliver events online’.

Virtual events ideas

Find creative virtual event ideas below:

Academic

  • Look at where your leavers are applying to university - ask recent alumni leavers to run a Q&A about life at that university
  • Ask your alumni at university if they need help with research for their dissertations, then set up Q&A panels to help them with their research

Business

  • Look for entrepreneurial alumni and ask if they would be willing to run a competition for start-ups to pitch to them
  • Run your next school fair online: contact local businesses to feature, and then run an online event for business owners to showcase their products/services
  • Social events such as wine or food tasting can benefit from sponsorship from an alumni/parent/locally owned business

Careers

  • Run key employability skills workshops, such as web management, excel skills and formatting
  • Ask your university leavers what their dream company to work for or dream job would be, and then run a Q&A with someone in your network working there
  • Find alumni companies that are running work experience or internship placements and ask them to talk to recent leavers about them

Social 

  • Look up old photographs of school trips and invite people on that trip to an online event 
  • Do an online survey asking for alumni favourite school dinner - get your chef to host online masterclass
  • Live stream everyday school events people can join like assembly or carol services 
  • Toasting events - birthdays or engagements or babies, you can keep these short, just 5 minutes for toast

For more guidance on fundraising, engagement and community management, check out our upcoming webinars or webinars-on-demand

ToucanTech can support your virtual events programme by providing an events, comms and data management system, an online community portal, and email engine, all-in-one. Find out how you can maximise engagement with your community by speaking to a member of our team.

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