As we enter the spring and march towards Easter, we start to see signs of seasonal change. People begin to emerge from hibernation (and the snow in some cases), outdoor activities begin their upswing, and ministries tap into the new found energy of their volunteers. Given the changing seasons, perhaps it’s a good time to discuss virtual fundraising events. Should your church incorporate a virtual fundraiser into your spring event? Here are 4 tips to be mindful of if your church decides to host an online event:
Know Your Audience
This is not only a popular term in business speak, it’s considered the first commandment for marketers everywhere! In the case of your ministry, it applies to understanding the wants and needs of your congregation. If you already have a spring non-Easter event, it’s important to understand why people attend. Is it for personal recognition? Social networking? Great food? Or just to support their congregation? Basically it boils down to this: what is your congregation’s primary interest in attending the event? To gain an even deeper understanding of your ministry, try researching in advance your congregation’s likes/dislikes as far as popular games, topics, social networking sites, and other forms of media.
Special fundraisers that are viewed as unique or atypical will naturally create a longer buzz within your congregation. Making your event both a memorable experience and relevant to your ministry can help to distinguish it from all the other fundraisers and events. This is important when you’re competing with ministries and other organizations who have spring drives and events.
So what type of virtual events work as supplements to your live fundraiser? Perhaps you have congregation members who enjoy Pinterest. One idea could be to have a Sunday night pinning party with a spring/Easter theme where your congregation interacts with you or your volunteers virtually. The themes for these events are endless and with this specific example I have seen Christmas season pinning parties, back to school, summer themed, and even one centered around sports tailgating!
Use the Power of the Press
One goal of a special event is to maximize visibility for your ministry and your fundraising event. By including a new online component to your event, you could drive some local media interest. Because it’s online, it’s much easier to gain coverage because you can send your media contact a link rather than request them to cover the event. By creating an event that is interesting from a news perspective (“Local Church Adds Interesting Twist in Spring Pledge Drive”), you could increase the local awareness around your church.
Learn From Your Mistakes
No matter how you stage your event- live, online, or hybrid – documenting your process, goals and results is crucial. Setting realistic expectations about the dollars you’ll raise is important to realizing your fundraising goals and defining success. Keep in mind that your congregation is not yet conditioned to interact with your virtual event so be sure to find out where the roadblocks occur and improvements can be made. By documenting the complete stages of the event’s cycle, you will create a historical baseline that will allow you perfect this template for any future events.
Remember special events’ marketing is hard work and can be stressful. However, by developing online features to your fundraising event you could generate more ministry awareness, giving dollars, and congregation excitement for future events at your church.