By sgENGAGE, Author: Neil Harkins
In the last month we have all been drinking from the firehouse of new nomenclature – ‘flattening the curve’, ‘social distancing’, ‘Quarantenials’ (ok, I made the last one up) to name but a few. In the day job, peer-to-peer fundraising at Blackbaud, we have seen the proliferation of the term ‘Virtual event’. It’s no surprise that nearly every nonprofit is working to move physical events online and searching for ways to diversify more traditional fundraising channels. The term ‘virtual event’ has become somewhat amorphous. For the purposes of this article, I am going to focus on a subset- ‘virtual challenges’ which I define as peer-to-peer-style events versus galas, auctions, and so forth.
‘We need a virtual event’ is the ‘What’s our ice-bucket challenge?’ platitude of this fundraising moment. It seems that we are all in a whirlwind. Coming up with the right virtual challenge concept and strategy feels like building a jigsaw…without the box…in space! It’s uncharted territory and many are likely operating on minimal practical experience, limited resources, and struggling to find sector success stories and data to get you started.
The good news is you have more time than you think. Now might not be the right time to launch an event but it’s certainly a good time to create one. If you are searching beyond page five of Google to find inspiration for your virtual challenge concept, then I hope the following insights are helpful. The current climate may have bubbled the ‘virtual challenge’ to the top of our consciousness but it’s been an emerging trend for some time. Over the last five years, I’ve been fortunate enough to partner with some trailblazing organizations who’ve done this successfully and wanted to share what I feel are the two most important pieces to consider as you ideate your concept.