On Friday, I conducted my third webinar-styled virtual gala fundraiser. This one was hosted on a beefed-up “Zoomzilla” platform.
From a fundraising perspective, the program included a live auction with active bidding and a fund a need / special appeal.
During the 2-hour show, guests played games, watched mission-driven videos, and socialized in break-out rooms.
Guests saw all other guests in small windows on their screen. Some held signs and props in front of their camera for others to see. A few had fun backdrops.
Many guests contributed to an active chat area.
I also learned — after the gala — that texting was on fire. Guests texted their friends with comments they didn’t want others (like me) to read in the chat area.
And here’s a new one: I learned some of these texts were about my recent release from prison.
Turns out this organization has had some bad luck with its auctioneers. Perhaps the wildest story is that one of their former auctioneers — whom they liked — is serving time in prison.
So when one Mom made the joke that I had just been released from prison, the rumor mill went wild. Guests began side conversations via text that they didn’t want me to read in the chat area.
(I thought that was polite of them.)
I think the final number was 175 logins, which equates to ~350 people.
We have a good sense of the guest count because this was a webinar-styled virtual gala fundraiser. Guests had to register to “watch” the program.
My client knows not just who donated, but who attended their party.
Depending on the style of virtual gala you host and the process you put in place, tracking attendance might not be so easy.
The ticket price for many of virtual galas has been $0 with optional registration. Nonprofits using that strategy may not have a firm grip on knowing exactly who attended their online event.
In the video below, I talk about the challenge of tracking attendance with virtual auction events.
I encourage you to think through this process for your own virtual gala. Though we likely don’t care who watches our gala recording, I think we’d all like to know who is watching our live event.
Have you hosted a virtual gala?
How did you manage registration and report on attendance?
Feel free to share what you learned below.
As a reminder, I’ve hosted a series of free conversations on virtual galas since COVID-19 disrupted our fundraising auction industry.
This resource — three conversations thus far — have scored high marks from participants because you get to watch excerpts from virtual events with commentary from me. Check them out.