If you ask a student their favorite thing regarding this new way of virtual learning, they will more than likely refer to the fact that they can just roll out of bed and attend classes in their pajamas! For others, virtual fundraising events create quite a few complications in terms of preparation, decor and budgeting. Is it worth spending hours getting ready only to sit in front of a laptop screen? Is it plausible to put effort into the background decor when the guests won’t even be able to take a selfie in front of it? Should I even bother retrieving that ball gown or tux out of the closet? The answer to all of these questions is an astounding YES! Although virtual events seem daunting and eerily different from in-person fundraising events, they still have similar requirements to make them successful.
Hiring A Professional Film Crew As with any event you host, we realize THE BUDGET will always be in the forefront of your mind – from the event’s conception, all the way through the completion of your benefit event. While virtual events might seem to be cost effective, it is crucial to invest wisely on the aspects that will better impact participation, engagement, and most importantly, FUNDRAISING at your event. One of our recommendations would be to invest more than you think in a quality, professional film crew. Why a whole film crew, you ask? Having a professionally-filmed event polishes the overall appearance of your organization, elevating your event and making it one worthy of attending. The professional touch of the film crew will highlight your commitment and passion towards your cause, which is likely to keep your guests engaged and will ultimately lead to more donor participation, and therefore, fundraising!
Imagine this. Think of your virtual event as if you were filming a news broadcast. You have hair and makeup departments, lighting, sound, proper angles and close ups. There are clean cuts to the weather woman, the sports update, and the off-site reporter with an upbeat tune smoothly piped in. A professional film crew will allow you to better craft and deliver your message by using video switchers, banner casts, lower thirds, and ticker timers. If you have no idea what any of that is, this is how a professional virtual production crew can help take your virtual event to the next level. In this modern society, we have been spoiled with HD, 4k tv’s, IMAX theaters, smartphones, tablets, and high resolution screens everywhere we turn. In short, we are all now programmed to expect this high level of resolution in order to keep our attention . Now with all of that being said, imagine wanting to raise $100,000 through a low-budget, fuzzy camera quality, choppy feed. You could have the most heart-pulling, inspirational, impactful, tear-jerking message in the world, but if you have a poor quality production, your attendees will immediately “mentally check-out” and your message will be lost .
Don’t Underestimate Decor and Design Just like any event, the purpose of a virtual event is to tell your story. Your story can be told directly through people, e-programs, and virtual messages, however, maybe even more importantly, you can tell your story through subliminal messaging. So what if the story is being narrated through a screen? You can still reach out and establish that connection with the attendees. Just like an elegantly decorated hall will get “ooohs” and “aaahhhss” from the guests as they walk in, the correctly chosen decor and design of your virtual event will also grasp the attention of your attendees , good and/or bad. This is imperative to consider, especially if your event is themed or has a themed message. Being virtual does not mean that the event has to lose impact. On the contrary, it provides more of an opportunity for organizers to showcase what their cause means to them and the efforts they are willing to make to tell their story. A genuine, heartfelt speech with proper lighting and backdrop or a quality produced testimonial video can still deeply touch the audience – even if they are not in physical proximity to the speaker themselves. Investment in intentional decor, coupled with professional production, ensures that the event gets the necessary coverage and attention you and your donors both want.
Choosing The Right Streaming Platform Now that we have covered the importance of investing in a certified camera crew and meaningful, attractive decor, last but certainly not least, you must choose a proper streaming platform for your event. There are many factors you need to consider when choosing which streaming platforms to use. First of all, depending on how much of your event will be pre-recorded or live streamed will have a huge impact on which streaming platform you decide on. If your event is ALL pre-recorded, you will have much more control over all aspects of your event from quality to messaging to delivering a more dynamic experience. This option is usually more cost-effective, however, it is not as interactive as a live stream and can lose a sense of personal connection.
If you are planning on doing a hybrid or full-on live stream virtual event, there are some key things you need to keep in mind. When using more common platforms such as FaceBook Live and YouTube Live, you will have LATENCY, which simply means there will be a delay from real time to when your attendees receive the message. These platforms are public platforms, so they have a built in latency to catch any unethical occurrences that may happen. On the other hand, Zoom is a private platform that requires an invite so there is no latency at all. While this sounds great, it may not be the professional, high-end quality of event your supporters are wanting from a paid event. Of course, all of this is dependent on a strong INTERNET CONNECTION from where you are filming and where your attendees are streaming from. Latency can vary anywhere from 5 seconds to a ONE WHOLE MINUTE depending on internet connection . We are not trying to scare you away with this information, we simply just want to make sure that you are aware of these truths so you are well-informed and equipped to produce a successful virtual experience for your supporters!
We know this may be overwhelming or seem overboard for a one hour event. FUN FACT! NBC’s “The Office” often filmed for 8-12 hours a day for a whole week just to produce one 25 minute episode. Now, we are not saying that it will be that strenuous, but we are saying if you want to have the level of event your organization and your donors deserve, you must not take production lightly. We highly encourage you to take a breath, take a step back, and rethink how to approach virtual events. You will be saving on venue, food and beverage costs when doing virtual events as opposed to in-person events. However, the whole connection to your supporters is dependent on the quality of event that comes through their screen, so adjusting your budget to invest in a higher quality AV/Production Company will be extremely beneficial for everyone involved!
Now that you have a better understanding of the importance of production combined with the flexibility of virtual, we can’t wait to see what ideas will come of this. So what are you waiting for?! Start filling up those storyboards, because the sky’s the limit!