Every(Re)Action | Delta Variant May Signal Renaissance for Virtual Nonprofit Events

August 23, 2021 | Grace Duginski

The Chronicle of Philanthropy reported last week that in anticipation of yet another “chaotic” fall fundraising season, this time due to the rise of the COVID-19 Delta variant, “some nonprofits are rethinking how to host their supporters” at in-person and virtual nonprofit events.

Some organizations, per the Chronicle, had by now taken up in-person events again in the form of small backyard gatherings with major donors and board members. One organization, Hopeful Horizons, says they’d decided they were comfortable with “smaller events, outside, with people who all know each other” — but they’re now unsure about proceeding with a planned 150-person event to take place in November at a blended indoor-outdoor space.

Hopeful Horizons isn’t the only organization reconsidering in-person events for the fall. One fundraising consultant told the Chronicle that virtual events are still going strong” — specifically, “just nine of the 31 events her clients have planned for September and October will be in-person parties[… and those events will be held] at board members’ homes where no more than eight [vaccinated] guests will watch[… the] virtual event together.

Another organization, UNCF, has already decided to move their walkathon event online again this year, reports the Chronicle. Last year’s successful walkathon raised “more than any of its in-person walkathons” — a total of $2.9 million. This has created a long-term change in the way UNCF approaches their annual walk: their vice president for development for the Northeast Region said their organization “plans to offer in-person and virtual ways to attend its March galas” moving forward.

UNCF’s successful virtual marathon event reinforces what we know from 2020’s virtual nonprofit events: data from our partners at GiveGab shows that GiveGab clients had massive success with virtual Giving Day events in 2020. “Giving Days that grew the most were able to do so by successfully rallying their community members, alumni, and other supporters around the importance of generosity in a time of crisis.”

Our Take

It’s clear that for many reasons, virtual nonprofit events are here to stay — not only due to COVID variants, but also for increased accessibility, an ability to reach wider audiences, and more.

No matter how you approach in-person, virtual, and hybrid events, your platform’s events management capabilities should support you every step (and pivot) of the way by:

  • Integrating with your other platforms and tools,
  • Tracking each action your supporters take to help advance your mission, and
  • Making that data easily accessible in order for you to use it in your messages to help you develop long-term relationships with your supporters.