Nov 11, 2021

6 Virtual Charity Event Mistakes (& How to Avoid Them)

Woman posing in front of a phone mounted on a stand

Even with the roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine and in-person events possibly returning in the latter half of 2021, we have a feeling virtual charity events are here to stay. Why? Virtual charity events have enabled nonprofits the opportunity to reach new and existing supporters across geographic and financial barriers. 2020 taught us that online fundraising can spread nonprofits’ mission beyond their community’s scope to reach new supporters and raise more. So to help you with your next virtual charity event we’ve outlined seven common virtual event mistakes we’ve noticed nonprofits make during the 2020 fundraising year. We hope these tips help you plan a streamlined, cohesive virtual event. 

7 Common Virtual Charity Event Mistakes

A tablet with a sign-up form on a table next to a cup of coffee

1. No Sign-Up to Attend

When promoting your virtual event, request guests to purchase a ticket or register with personal details such as their name, email address, and/or phone number. Free tickets are a great way to track the number of registrants for your event and gather details on supporters for your database. You can send individuals reminders and communications regarding your upcoming virtual event if you do collect their contact information. If asking for paid tickets / registration, incentivize donors with bonus swag items such as t-shirts, mugs, etc. You can even offer a combination of free tickets with paid tickets for exclusive portions of the event such as a private Q&A with an event speaker or a bonus post-event performance.

ProTip: Be sure to automate receipts with virtual event details. This can act as a great reference to those who may have forgotten the link, date or time of your event.

2. Going Completely Live for the First Time

Contrary to popular belief, not all “Live” events are completely live. In fact, many are pre-recorded videos played back, or a mixture of a live broadcast and pre-recorded videos. If you’re hosting your first virtual event, we recommend the pre-recorded approach, as you’ll have more control over all the production elements and can unveil your event to appear “live.” For more helpful tips ongoing “live” for your next virtual fundraiser, I recommend you check out our infographic, Simple Tech Guide for Virtual Fundraising Events.

3. Forgetting Viewers After the Event

Always, always, always follow up with event registrants (even if they did not attend). Treat virtual fundraisers as you would an in-person fundraising event. Within your sign-up form be sure to ask for supporters, email, phone number or physical address so you can follow up via email, mobile messaging or direct mail afterwards with a thank you and event recap. With a virtual event, supporters can watch it later or again (and continue to give), so promoting your event shouldn’t stop once the event is over. 

4. Not Asking for Donations (Pre, Post, & During the Event)

A global recession and public health crisis mean your beneficiaries need support now more than ever, so don’t be shy when it comes to asking for donations. From your event registration form, include an option to donate with sign-up. Also make it easy for supporters to donate during your event from wherever they might be. Include a donation link on your Event Page, overlay text-to-donate instructions onto your video and on your event’s landing page. Make several live asks during your event just as you would during a live in-person fundraising event. Finally follow-up with all registrants by thanking them for the interest in the event and by asking for their support one more time. 

5. Splurging on Live Streaming Technology

Chances are you’re already equipped with all the technology you’ll need to live stream your event in real time: your smartphone or a computer. In fact, in order to live stream you’ll have to use a smart phone or webcam. While it’s important to have a landing page to host your event details and software to restream and edit the production, you do not need to splurge on a fancy camera or production team. For more tips on live streaming technology for your virtual fundraising event, we recommend you download our free ebook, Tech Setup Guide for Virtual Fundraising Events.

6. Not Hosting the Event on a Landing Page

Many nonprofits and businesses host their virtual event on YouTube Live, Twitch, Facebook Live or another streaming platform without a centralized web page for the event. This can create barriers to participation as not everyone has an Instagram, Facebook, TikTok account, etc. and many devices such as Roku TVs don’t offer the Twitch or Facebook app. A GiveSmart Event Page provides all the important event details in one place. Included with each Event Page is text-to-donate technology, making it easy for supporters to donate from anywhere and from any device, along with a progress bar to show donation real-time results and to shout donors out by name.

A person holding a tablet and viewing a nonprofit page

7. Forgoing a Practice/Dry Run

“Knowledge is of no value, unless you practice it.” – Anton Chekhov

Just like this quote states, you can know everything about live streaming technology and platforms, but not know how to execute an actual event yourself until you practice it. Even the most tech savvy individuals know each event has its anomalies, so be sure to rehearse before every virtual charity event. During the dry run of the event, practice with overlays in and out (if using them). Setup and test with all the technology you’ll be using to go live or “live” with pre-recorded video. Test audio and volume of all speaking participants exactly the way it will be used during your event with the same headphones, background, etc. 

Request a Demo

Whether you’re planning your very first virtual fundraising event or already have a few under your belt, we hope these tips help you create an engaging, streamlined virtual charity event (with less bloopers). For more information on virtual fundraising opportunities with GiveSmart software and services, request a complimentary demo here.


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What our clients say

We needed a platform to make sales online and to track and display ads for our sponsors. GiveSmart was perfect. We ended up making close to $15,000 more than we had hoped for. Definite better ROI than we anticipated. The interface is easy to use and provides plenty of options to get help if needed.

Michelle M.

The Rotary Club of South Whidbey Island

Using GS has created ease in auction bookkeeping, payments, and generating post-event thank you/tax letters. While we were online during COVID, our interactions with our GiveSmart via phone, email, and zoom were seamless. A representative always got back to us within the day. I would recommend GiveSmart to anyone doing a large online event.

Julie G.

MicroFinancing Partners in Africa

GiveSmart is highly flexible - you can use it for [a] simple registration and check-in, to full-scale galas with complex order forms, onsite upsells, live auctions, seating management, and more.

Jamie F.

Hope Chest for Breast Cancer

GiveSmart is easy to use and ideal for virtual events and can be used for in-person events to manage the silent auction, seating charts, and check-in to the event. Being able to use the platform for unlimited events within the contract year is very useful and being able to add other users and volunteers for different levels of access is helpful as well.

Dawn L.

Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County