With months of virtual events behind us, it's clear that the software selection matters to virtual event success and impressing your donors. First, the use of the word VIRTUAL has become universal in 2020 and now 2021 but not all virtual events are created equally. For example, a video embedded on a website that doesn't request registration or utilize other engagement tools isn't a virtual event (that's an online campaign). For 2021, nonprofits should evaluate their virtual event platform and the virtual event experience just as they would the ballroom or venue for their in-person event. Software evaluation is difficult and we want to help.
Here is a list of 10 questions to ask during your software demo and in your evaluation of virtual event software.
- How much support do nonprofits typically need vs. How much does the software company provide for the price level quoted?
- Is the event pre-registration simple? Will my guests need to set up an account to register? (Note: avoid account creations if possible as it significantly hinders event registration)
- Does a guest immediately receive the correct and clear information about accessing the virtual event when they register?
- Will your nonprofit have the contact information of each person who “attends” (i.e. watches the livestream or video) the virtual event?
- Will your nonprofit have the data to know who attended and who missed the event? (Note: this data allows an organization to send the appropriate follow-up email.)
- Can a guest easily contribute during the virtual event without leaving the livestream?
- How are those funds processed and can the receipt be customized to personalize the donor message?
- Does the platform have a capacity limit? How will you be charged as it relates to volume? Has the software ever failed during an event?
- Is the virtual experience designed for mobile devices?
- Can I attend an event utilizing your platform? (The best way to evaluate a system is to attend as a guest. Be particularly cognizant of the registration, communication and ease of entering the virtual event. Would it be possible to attend without registering? )
For events that host auctions, in some cases the auction and the virtual event are really separate activities with different timelines and different messaging (event=entertainment/mission while auction=online retail). Auctions are common with events but be careful that it doesn't inadvertently and negatively impact your event giving and virtual experience.
Check out our Introduction to Hybrid Events: In-person + Virtual
- Does the website include guest chat or other engagement features?
- Will the technology respond to giving activity with updated totals?
- Will donor names be displayed to virtual event guests real-time?
- Does the virtual event module incorporate social media posts? Sponsors? Event programs? Auction items? etc.
- How many users can be created in the system? (Example: Can you create a login or your AV provider or other staff members?)
Check out Swell's Virtual Event Features in this 1-minute video.