With many nonprofit’s typical events being transitioned to a virtual space, live streaming for your nonprofit’s virtual fundraising events has become a necessity.
But how exactly can you use live streaming to make your virtual fundraising event a success?
If you’re running a program, a meeting, an activity, or any other kind of virtual event for your nonprofit, you’ll need to take a look at live streaming.
So, we’ve gathered the top tips here to help you make your live streaming for your nonprofit’s virtual fundraising event feel comfortable, fun, and engaging for your attendees, and run smoothly.
Here are our the top live streaming tips for nonprofit virtual fundraising:
Why Should I Live Stream My Nonprofit’s Virtual Fundraising Events?
Live streaming is basically a must in 2020. In fact you’ve most likely already done some form of live streaming in your work this year. If you’ve held a Zoom meeting, been on Facebook live, or done any kind of video chatting, you’ve live-streamed.
But why is it so important to livestream virtual fundraising events?
Even before COVID hit, live streaming was increasing in popularity. It allows you to connect with your supporters in the moment in a way that feels authentic. It lets viewers interact through comments and participate in a conversation. That feeling of being with other people and doing something together is incredibly powerful.
Now that we can’t hold in-person events, live streaming has become even more important. If you’re moving your events to virtual, live streaming allows you to recreate some of the programs, speeches, and experiences your participants would have had in person. It also gives you a chance to spur on excitement, give live updates, and share information.
This is even more true if you’re hosting an educational event like a conference. You certainly can record sessions and share them online later, but it’s not quite the same as being able to ask the presenter questions or chat with other attendees. Livestreaming lets people engage much more deeply.
Data show that audiences that are watching a live video comment 10-20 times more and spend 3 times longer than on other videos. There’s something about knowing that anything can happen because it’s live that keeps people excited.
Plus, live streaming can be used for a wide variety of needs. You can live stream a formal program like a gala or a luncheon. You could do a very short promotional live stream on social media to get audiences exciting. You can use it in a less formal way to hold a community meeting or a support group. You can even use it to run a full conference (like CauseVox did for the Digital Fundraising Summit).
The best part is that the barrier to entry is low. You don’t have to spend much money or have much expertise.
All you need is an internet connection, a camera, a microphone, lighting, and some content. In some cases your phone might be all the equipment you need. You can also use your laptop to amp up the production.
So now that you’re planning to live stream for your nonprofit’s virtual fundraising event, how do you do it well?
Tip 1: Set Live Streaming Goals
Remember how we said that live streaming can be used to do all kinds of things?
The way you approach your live stream will depend on what you’re trying to do. So start by setting some goals:
- Are you trying to raise money?
- Are you trying to educate people?
- Are you aiming to get feedback?
- Excite your audience about an upcoming offering?
Once you know your goal, you can decide some of the basics of your live stream:
- How long it’s going to go on
- How many people you’re aiming to reach
- What speakers or resources you need
- How you plan to bring in revenue (if that’s one of your goals).
The biggest tip for live streaming for nonprofit virtual fundraising is to keep your goal at the forefront. It’s easy to get distracted by all the bells and whistles of the technology. But all of that is just there to support your goal.
Tip 2: Pick a Software Package
For many people, the most confusing part of live streaming is the technology. But with just a bit of guidance, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. This is where your goals are going to come into play in a big way.
Best Live Streaming Platforms For Nonprofit Virtual Fundraising
There are three main platforms that you can use for live streaming: Zoom, Facebook Live, and Youtube Live. There are other platforms out there, however these three are familiar to most people and satisfy most needs.
Caption: An example of a Facebook Live video from Skid Row Housing Trust.
YouTube Live is the best option if you want to prerecord your content and embed it in multiple places. Youtube videos are accepted nearly everywhere and are incredibly easy to share.
Facebook Live is a good option if you want to reach people where they already are. You can have live comments that you respond to during your stream, and people will be able to watch the content on your page later. You can also cast to both YouTube and Facebook at the same time, so they work incredibly well together.
If you’re running an event that has slightly more complex needs, Zoom is your best bet. You can create breakout rooms so that attendees can connect with a smaller group, and even set up those rooms in advance so that specific people will be grouped together. You can also record directly from Zoom to share the content later.
Fundraising Platforms To Use Alongside Your Live Stream
Picking A Fundraising Platform For Your Live Stream
Of course, in addition to the live streaming platform itself, you will probably want an additional platform that allows you to fundraise, register attendees, share information, and generally hype up your event. Here’s some tips for choosing a fundraising platform for your virtual fundraising.
Of course, make sure that you can embed your live stream on the platform: You don’t want your donors going to one page to register of the event, another page to watch a live stream, and having to navigate to yet another to donate. You want to make it easy by ensuring your fundraising platform lets you embed your live stream right on the your page, keeping everything on one place.
Make sure it’s mobile-optimized: You never know where people are tuning into your nonprofit’s live stream from, so you’ll also want to make sure that your fundraising platform is mobile friendly. 65% of all fundraising web traffic is mobile, and 54% of donors have used a mobile wallet to give. CauseVox is always mobile optimized and has mobile wallet options for payment.
Peer-to-Peer capabilities are often essential for virtual fundraising: Another important element of your fundraising is thinking about peer-to-peer fundraising. If you’re doing a gala, a run or walk, or any other team-based event, peer-to-peer capabilities will be incredibly helpful. CauseVox allows you to create fundraising templates so that your fundraisers can get involved more easily.
Customization: You can customize your event to meet the needs of your attendees, and give everyone an absolutely seamless live stream experience.
Speaking from experience, having everything in one place that is simple and streamlined will make your attendees happy and calm. They don’t have to wonder how to donate, or where they can go to set up a personal fundraising page. Instead, they can focus on watching your content and enjoying themselves.
CauseVox is a fantastic option to do all of the above. Our new virtual fundraising pages have an event layout that makes it easy for you to:
- Easily run your virtual gala, walkathon, activity-based events, and more with stunning page design and real-time engagement features, like live chat.
- Take the clunk out of virtual fundraising with integrated live-streaming, live-chat, ticketing, registration, and peer-to-peer fundraising, all in one place
- Raise more with conversion-optimized pages: mobile-optimized pages, mobile payments, 3x faster page loads, + easy 15-second donation process = more donors with less effort
This means your virtual event attendees can purchase tickets, view your live-stream, donate, fundraise, and more all on one page: taking away any confusion + clunk to provide the absolute best experience for your supporters.
Tip 3: Pre Recording vs. Live Content
If you want to have a successful live stream, you’ll want to choose whether to record some of your content in advance or whether to do it all live. It can be very helpful to pre-record some elements of your program because that reduces technical issues. If you’re planning to have a message from your Executive Director, or a story about a client, pre-recording can be a life saver.
On the other hand, speaking live is engaging and authentic. It lets you respond to your viewers in real time and make updates about fundraising, your event status, or questions/comments. We prefer doing a mix of both to get strong engagement while keeping the workload reasonable.
It’s also a good idea to go live and save the recording for later so that you can get additional views and capitalize on the work you did.
Tip 4: Best Practices for Livestreaming
If I’m being honest, I know next to nothing about creating video content. However, you don’t need to be an expert to make your live stream videos look nice.
There are a few tips to help you from the technical side that will make your video stand out.
Live Streaming Setup
- Make sure your audio sounds good. If your microphone isn’t working well, your viewers will leave, or may simply be unable to understand what you’re saying. Bad audio is worse than bad video.
- Think about your lighting. Natural light is best, so windows are your friend.
- Keep the background of your shot uncluttered.
- Try to get your camera even with your face.
To make sure that all of this looks good, do a run-through of any live content to double-check audio and video, and have your speakers join early to troubleshoot any issues. This will mean making sure you have a phone number in case they’re running late.
Best Practices For Nonprofit Live Stream Content
Lenth: Our next set of tips is about setting up your content. Length is important when you’re live streaming: it’s probably going to be shorter than your typical program, close to 1/2-3/4 of what it typically is. So far, many nonprofits are finding about 20-30 minute live streams is the ideal length so that it doesn’t get boring but your audience will really tune in. If you’re running a long event like a conference, make sure you build in breaks.
Agenda: It’s a great idea to have a clearly planned agenda in advance. Think carefully about what elements you want to include: if something is going to be too complicated to run virtually, remove it (auctions are often a great example of this). You can use an emcee or moderator to keep your agenda moving forward and on schedule.
Some things you’ll want to keep front of mind while building your agenda:
- Engagement is key to success. What will make your attendees get involved?
- Use storytelling to build connections with your donors
- Make sure you include at least two asks during the event. Here’s a sample script:
- We raised over $100 in the last ten minutes, all of which goes to ensure no one goes to bed hungry. Thank you to Ben, Sally, and Frank and all the rest of our donors. But, we still need $200 to meet our goal and provide 1000 meals this month. You can donate now using the link in the chat pane in Youtube or the donate button on the screen if you’re watching from our fundraising page.
- Make sure the link to donate is easy to find and always visible
- Shout out thank yous and sponsors (you can even screen share your CauseVox page)
Get more tips in our notes from the Digital Fundraising Summit.
Real Livestream Examples
Ok, so we’ve talked about all the things you can do to make the best livestream possible. But it can be helpful to see what that looks like in real life. So let’s check out some examples of high quality livestreaming.
Example 1: Skid Row Housing Trust
Skid Row Housing Trust used live streaming to run their Virtual Evening to End Homelessness, a gala-style event that included some pre-recorded content and some live content.
This is a great example of using a variety of content to keep your audience engaged. It also shows that you can use some content that’s simple, maybe off of a cell phone or laptop, and other, highly produced videos.
Skid Row Housing Trust also hosts monthly community meetings, which have been a more informal live stream series that engages their community:
Example 2: Summit Dogs
Summit Dogs is a great example of how powerful livestreaming can be when you share on a variety of platforms, include personal stories, and include both asynchronous and live videos. They updated throughout the campaign with short videos and information to draw people to the page, then premiered their main program live.
This is also a perfect example of how long a program should be. It draws you in without going on for too long.
Here’s a look at their pre-recorded luncheon:
Example 3: Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC
Planned Parenthood used their livestream as a way to recreate their gala, and they did a stellar job of using peer-to-peer fundraising to mimic the concept of tables at a gala.
They had table hosts create teams to fundraise, and made the whole event even more engaging by allowing participants to order a gala dinner for the event.
Here’s a look at their livestreamed gala:
Example 4: Nicholas House
Nicholas House went a different route from some of the other examples. Instead of using CauseVox as the hub for their event, they embedded all of their content directly onto a page on their website. Thanks to CauseVox’s customizable forms, attendees could donate without ever leaving the Nicholas House website.
Nicholas House went all in on their livestreaming. They started with shorter videos to ramp up excitement for the event, but they also provided panel discussions that supporters could watch in real time. They wrapped up with a full length event. One element that they did incredibly well is providing the agenda for their event. This helped to keep them on track and allowed audience members to follow along.
Here’s one of Nicholas House’s panel discussions:
Example 5: MENTOR New York
MENTOR New York used a different format from many of our prior examples and it worked wonderfully! They hosted their livestream on a Zoom call so that different presenters could jump in and out seamlessly.
Not only that, but their event focused on awards, and the Zoom format let them include the honorees in the program.
The best part about using Zoom for this event is that they could still share pre-recorded videos in a way that was authentic and allowed the whole group to watch together.
Here’s Mentor NY’s Virtual Awards Ceremony:
Example 6: Tails of Independence
Can Do Canines is a service dog nonprofit local to your very own author (who happens to know a volunteer or two there), so this example has a special place in my heart. Their video shows a seamless flow through a program, and is a good example of how a pre-recorded video can still be compelling.
They included an emcee to keep the program running, and included personal stories, short clips from their clients, informational sections, and calls to action. They did everything right.
Here’s their livestream:
Example 7: Digital Fundraising Summit
Ok, ok, so we might be cheating by including ourselves, but we had a great time creating the third annual Digital Fundraising Summit and we used Zoom to do all of it.
The Digital Fundraising Summit was a 2 day virtual conference for nonprofit marketers and fundraisers to help navigate the the current shift to digital-first fundraising.
We used Zoom to allow our presenters to share their screens and run their own sessions while we were still available for any tech concerns. This also allowed audience members to ask questions and discuss in the comments.
To keep people engaged, we broke up the day into shorter chunks, with each presentation lasting an hour at most. Here’s one of our most popular sessions:
Then we went beyond the educational and hosted fun social sessions at the end of each day: a Happy Hour and an improv comedy session.
Want to see the whole Summit? You can purchase the full notes and recordings from the Summit and get access to all 22 amazing sessions.
Get Started On Your Live-stream With CauseVox Virtual Fundraising Pages
Want to start live streaming with less stress and no clunk?
CauseVox helps you raise more with less effort, making it easy for you to launch your nonprofit virtual fundraising event and livestream. With easy to use donation pages, crowdfunding campaigns, or peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, you can get started with virtual fundraising in no time.