Written by Nikki Bell
Conferences, both online and in-person, are set to make a comeback in 2022.
Already we’re seeing a rise in content available and excitement for the opportunity to learn and network to plan for a, hopefully, uninterrupted year of fundraising.
However, we’re also seeing a return to the bad pre-pandemic habits of conference and events organisation that we’ve worked so hard to overcome. Already we’re seeing event organisers have to change their plans post-launch following a backlash or questioning of methods.
To ensure your conference and event plans go ahead successfully it’s important to think about equality, inclusion and diversity from day one.
Fundraising Everywhere was launched in 2019 with the mission of making fundraising learning and networking accessible to fundraisers everywhere and break down the barriers to personal and professional development. Here’s what we know about hosting equitable learning experiences.
Relying on speaker applications or inviting previous top-scoring speakers creates many problems. For one, if your previous events haven’t been diverse then applying speakers have not seen themselves represented in that space. Coupled with the fact many diverse speakers have not had the same opportunities to progress to a point where giving time to speak (usually for free, we’ll come to that later) has been a possibility. Providing an ‘application only’ to speak method will result in the same names and faces being featured over and over again.
Event organisers must put work into network and build relationships with a wider pool of talented people and invite them to apply or speak. Yes, it takes more time and yes, it’s harder – but that’s what progress and fairness looks like. Put the work in. Do better.
When we launched BAME Online in 2020 we knew we weren’t the right people to lead on the event. We hired Martha Awojobi and handed over full creative control for speakers, format, and delivery. We’ve since handed over full IP of BAME Online (for free) to Martha and the team at JMB Consulting to continue with the event.
And for other specialist events where our skills don’t reach, we partner and pay experts to work with us to develop programmes and invite speakers.
Collaboration, pay for skills, listen to your audience, and release control.
We understand the need for ‘high profile’ speakers to be featured at events and the benefits they can bring for attendee numbers and sponsors. However, by providing limited programme space or prioritising these speakers we repeat the same issues mentioned above.
Programmes should be drafted in advance with core topics and speakers planned. These should be checked beyond the organisation for any challenges or feedback before approaching a first set of speakers. Only once they’ve accepted or declined should you move on to complete your programme to ensure you always have space for diversity and that the places are not taken up immediately by those with extra privilege to accept quickly.
‘If you’re not counted, you don’t count’– NHS England
Fundraising Everywhere were the first, and still is the only, charity sector conference organiser that has clear and published EDI goals that we discuss and work towards with our team and event partners before making any speaker approaches.
We measure speaker diversity with an inclusive data form provided to all speakers that we review at regular stages of event planning (speakers inviting guest speakers can throw off planning and we need to work with these speakers to work with new people). Yes, it creates more work. Yes, it still needs to be done.
However, we’ve realised that to make sure we’re achieving our mission of making learning and networking accessible to more fundraisers everywhere this needs to extend to our attendees. From February 2022 all attendees are asked to complete the same EDI monitoring form (it’s anonymous), so we can make sure we’re reaching all fundraisers as intended.
If you are making money from your event, or stand to make money from the business it will bring, pay your speakers.
By paying speakers you not only increase the opportunity for more talented people to have the means to speak at your event, but you’re also valuing the time and talent those people bring.
Exposure doesn’t pay the bills. Pay your speakers.
We can’t believe that after two years of a pandemic and virtual event success that 2022 has seen the return of in-person only events.
We founded Fundraising Everywhere as a virtual event provider because virtual provides access to fundraisers who have caring responsibilities, disabilities, or not enough time, money, or support to travel and attend in person. That’s more fundraisers, more diverse fundraisers, that can progress personally and professionally.
Providing online access will not stop people attending your in-person event. But not providing online access will stop a lot of people from being able to attend at all.
Work with experts to get this right and plan accessibility from the very early stages – especially for in-person events where there are more considerations like physical access and session translation.
Share your event plans for input and feedback, work with people with lived experience (and pay them), plan for accessibility-first, and provide access as a standard, not a request.
We understand that getting it right immediately is not always possible because many people have different needs. Capturing and monitoring attendee and speaker EDI information will help you spot and provide additional access needs pre-event.
Throughout the pandemic, online conferences were celebrated by event organisers for the role they played in making them a more inclusive organisation. Many of these organisations are now promoting in-person only events.
EDI in learning and conferences are not a tool to sell tickets. It’s one route of many to creating a fair and equitable sector that needs to exist for the challenges we will face in a rapidly changing world of impacts from the pandemic, climate emergency, and audience changes.
We share these insights as a call to our sector event organisers to do the same.
What we do to make learning fair and accessible shouldn’t be ‘disruptive’, it should be the norm. it’s time we worked together to make that a reality.
We’re happy to support anyone who has questions about what we do and welcome any feedback on how we can do better. Our (virtual) door is always open and you can chat with us any time. Email Nikki Bell at [email protected].
We have over 350+ webinars and events hosted on our website that you can access at any time, anywhere. All speakers have been paid for their time. To join us and support the work we do to create a fair learning environment for our sector, visit our website – your first month is free with the code FREEMONTHEDI.
Whether you're planning a virtual Christmas because you're unsure in-person events will happen this winter or you're keen to keep the benefits of online accessibility and affordability (hint: you really should be), there are lots of ways to bring people together and enjoy the Christmas fun this December.
From team parties to festive fundraising, here are our team's top 5 Christmas virtual event ideas.
A Fundraising Everywhere favourite from 2020 (mainly because Nikki loves an excuse to dress as an elf).
Find yourself a quality Santa and an easy to manage virtual meeting room to provide a magical experience for the children of staff or supporters. It's simple enough to run with kids added and removed from the meeting room in 3-5 minute slots.
It's important to remember when hosting events for young people that online safety should be a big part of your planning. Make sure you stay in the virtual room when Santa meets the kids, offer booked-only slots, and do your Santa research to make sure they're checked and engaging.
Top tip: Choose a virtual meeting room that lets you add your own branding and for quality skip the green screen in favour of a specially curated Christmas background.
Interactive networking spaces can be repurposed for plenty of Christmas-themed activities.
Picture this; your team enters the virtual room, 'All I Want for Christmas' plays over their headphones as they 'walk' towards the virtual campfire. They hear the crackle of a warm fire as they open their Secret Santa presents (sent in advance) before heading to the dancefloor for a dance (or a walk in the winter woods for more the more introverted amongst us).
Top Tip: Create multiple spaces within your networking park so attendees can move around freely and engage in multiple activities. Our team have created everything from scavenger hunts to movie nights - you can even host them in the same park!
Tenovus Cancer Care hosted their first virtual Christmas Choir in 2020 with amazing results.
They were able to enlist the hosting help of celebrity Wynne Evans, bring together cancer survivors who wouldn't have been able to travel to an in-person event, and raised over £7,000 in one hour.
You can read more about their virtual event and watch the highlights here.
Top tip: Pre-recorded content means higher quality and lower stress. You can book our virtual recording studio for as little as £30 per hour - we'll even edit it for you!
When the Fundraising Everywhere team celebrated Christmas 2020, a party pack was sent in the post with balloons, treats, and Santa hats before joining Miss Ballooniverse for an hour of hilarious creativity.
Choosing an activity that allows all attendees to participate is a top tip for hosting virtual parties. Throw in prizes for the winner for a bit of friendly competition.
Top tip: Be inclusive with your activity choice and mindful of attendees' beliefs, abilities, and accessibility.
With employers embracing remote-first work and employees enjoying work-from-home benefits, virtual Christmas parties are a great way to bring people together from the comfort of their own home - and kitchen.
Bond over food and share your favourite recipe with your team by hosting an online cookalong. Send the ingredients in advance, grab a camera (and a spatula), and get cooking! Share your results in your internal communication tools and vote for the tastiest looking dish.
Top tip: It goes without saying but choose a dish that's not complicated to make and requires little to no equipment.
If you're planning a virtual party for Christmas 2021 you can expect ease, excitement, and way more accessibility (not to mention lower cost).
We've hosted 400+ virtual events on our platform since 2019 and we're all about engaging and stress-free experiences. We can do this for you too.
Our talented team of fundraisers turned tech-pros will work with you from idea to delivery, we'll even run the event for you on the day so you can concentrate on the fun and connections.
Email [email protected] with your idea and we'll make it a reality.
Whilst we are beginning to see a return to in-person fundraising, now is not the time to abandon virtual events. Virtual events allow you to reach wider audiences, be more accessible and see a greater return on investment. The future is hybrid.
When planning your next virtual event, you’ll need a quick, easy and contactless metric like Text Giving to enable your supporters to donate.
Here are 5 ways in which you can incorporate Text Giving into your virtual event.
Text Giving is the perfect donation metric for an online broadcast, as it allows your supporter to quickly donate without having to click away from the broadcast. They just grab their phone, send a text and they are done!
For some inspiration, check out the National Theatre at Home campaign, which enabled fans across the globe to tune in for some classic West End performances. The shows were broadcast for free with fans able to text to make a donation if they enjoyed what they saw – meaning world class theatre was available to all.
Bucket collections are one of the first things that come to mind when you think of fundraising! You can use our template to create a virtual alternative, which works perfectly at a virtual event or for a social media campaign.
Even for in-person fundraising, the advice from the Fundraising Regulator and Chartered Institute of Fundraising suggests that you should review how you accept and handle donations to ensure social distancing and good hygiene practices. So a Text Giving keyword also works for an in-person bucket collection.
Teesside Hospice partnered with footballer Ben Gibson on the ‘26 Keep Up Challenge’. Participants attempted 26 keep ups with a football, donated £5 and nominated 5 friends. Text Giving provided the perfect donation metric, as it’s quick, easy to communicate and supporters could share a screenshot of the confirmation text to prove that they had donated.
If you are aiming for a viral element to your virtual fundraising, then look no further!
If there is a competitive element to your virtual event, such as a talent show, then you can ask your supporters to choose the winner via text. Just register a keyword for each competitor and ask your supporters to text choose who they would like to win - whilst making a donation for your charity.
For more information on how to do this, check out the Max’s Foundation Virtual Talent Show.
Send a customised thank you text to your supporters so they know that you really appreciate their donation. You can even embed a link to a video or case study story to build a truly great supporter experience.
Donr will shortly be launching their ‘Text Journeys’ platform, which will enable you to continue to communicate with supporters long after your event. This means that you can steward supporters into regular donors, or invite attendees to your next virtual event.
We’ve given you 5 examples to get you started, but Text Giving is such a versatile tool that the possibilities really are endless! If you would like to find out more, please visit us at www.donr.com or contact [email protected]
Virtual event planning in 2020 was all about the (Ross from Friends voice) pivot - and now we're almost halfway through 2021, our sights will (and should) be set on bigger things.
With virtual events proven to be an effective engagement and fundraising tool with a brilliant ROI, charities are beginning to think about the next step on virtual event planning that will bring supporters back and continue the conversation.
Here we'll share five ways to build on your 2020 virtual success and scale up your online events.
For most charities, 2020 was all about Zoom or Microsoft Teams to gain a quick and cheap solution to the problem of rapidly disappearing events income.
But these platforms were created for meetings. They lack engagement opportunities and don't allow us to be creative with our approach.
Now we know in-person events as we've known them won't be back in a hurry, moving from Zoom to a platform dedicated to event hosting is a quick and simple way to level up your virtual events.
With platforms like Everywhere+ (that's us!), HopIn, and others, you can brand or personalise your platform, build in photobooths or sponsor hubs, and allow someone else to manage the event while you network and build relationships.
Did you play it safe in 2020? Now you're a virtual event pro (meaning you've hosted at least one and didn't break the internet), it's time to do more.
Use your previous event feedback and plot ways to bring the 'wow' factor to your event, as well as improving on the basics from round one.
Create a bigger experience with more talks or tracks, switch up the format, invite an exciting guest, or build in interactive elements to continuously surprise and delight attendees. You want to create an element of expectation where they know every event they attend will be fresh and exciting. That way they'll keep coming back.
At our events we like to create one new thing every month to surprise our guests. So far we've had an interactive museum, networking park (complete with Springsteen disco), and watch parties. I wonder what we'll create next?!
Last year we had to act fast as events were postponed or canceled at a rapid pace. It worked at the time and donors were forgiving. But as we spend more time online and experience higher quality events, it's time to keep up.
Now we know virtual events will be a permanent fixture in our fundraising calendar we need to approach it like any other successful campaign with proper planning, positioning, budgets, marketing, activation and stewardship.
Get some time in the diary with your team to go back to the drawing board and run through these questions:
Add these answers to existing feedback of what previously went well - now you've got yourself a brilliant event!
This session from Maddy Janes (British Red Cross) at our Virtual Fundraising Summit goes into more detail about the importance of planning and testing.
Hybrid events are events that happen online and offline simultaneously - and with the same level of engagement and interaction at each one.
If you're planning a return to events in 2021, chances are your crowds will be small because of rules or public confidence. A brilliant way to bring your newfound audience with you through to an in-person return is to facilitate online participation.
It's great for lots of reasons. It's accessible, when done right you gain a higher ROI, and the supporters who loved hearing from you through lockdown won't feel abandoned.
The trick to hosting a successful hybrid event is to work with professionals. AV pros and virtual platform organisers will be crucial for you in this space.
If you're 'waiting to see how things go' or you haven't hosted your first virtual event yet, you're missing out.
Virtual events are not new - even we were around in 2019! The pandemic has simply accelerated a need that was already there and they've proven to be possible and effective. The only way to go now is forward and up.
If uncertainty or nerves are holding you back, we can help. We host regular coaching calls with people just like you who want to know more about virtual events and how to improve them.
Book a call and let's chat!
Or if you're already planning how to level up your events and want to chat to someone about hosting, you can find out more by contacting our virtual event team.