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Virtual event platforms for nonprofits: 8 crucial features

August 03, 2021
A man sits at a desk, looking at a laptop with his nonprofit colleague, as they research virtual event platforms for nonprofits together.

With the right technology, it’s easy to host an engaging virtual fundraiser or hybrid event for your nonprofit organization. If you’re new to online event platforms, however, you may not know what features to look for. There are a variety of important functionalities available that can take your event to the next level, but where do you start? To help you get started, we’ll discuss eight essential features that you should prioritize in your event software research. 

1. Registration and ticketing

Your virtual event platform should seamlessly handle the complete registration process, including online ticketing. Supporters should be able to easily click a link from your email invite to RSVP, register, and receive all the information they’ll need to attend. If your event requires supporters to purchase tickets, your platform should also support secure payment processing on your registration page.

2. Sponsorship solicitation and management

Sponsors provide helpful support for many fundraising events. Whether you’re soliciting financial contributions or in-kind donations from your sponsors, your virtual event platform should make the management process simple by allowing you to track the status of solicitations throughout every stage.

3. Multi-channel communication tools

Communication before, during, and after the event is a vital part of any successful virtual fundraiser. Your platform should make this outreach easy for your nonprofit by supporting a variety of communications, including:

  • Automated thank-you emails
  • Text messaging for quick updates
  • Direct mailing lists for event promotion

These built-in tools will ensure you can market your event successfully, reach attendees with important updates, and show your appreciation for their support.

4. Livestreaming with attendee chat

To make the process simple, your platform should have the option to pre-record video, livestream, or include a combination of the two. Attendees should also be able to chat with each other in real-time to boost engagement. These features make events more interactive and personal by giving them a live-action feel.  

5. Text-to-give

Even if your attendees aren’t all participating from their phones, guests on laptops or in person will appreciate a simple way to donate that doesn’t distract from the event itself. A text-to-give feature will ensure supporters can conveniently give from their phones at any time.

With text-to-give, your supporters can text a trigger word to your nonprofit’s designated phone number, and they’ll receive a reply with a link to your mobile-optimized donation page. Throughout your event, drive donations by letting attendees know about this option to conveniently make additional donations.

6. Real-time giving thermometer

A giving thermometer that updates in real time as the event progresses helps maintain excitement and motivate supporters to contribute toward the goal. Attendees can watch the thermometer alongside your livestream and see exactly how their gifts add up. Your giving thermometer should allow donors to include their names or choose to stay anonymous.

7. Online auction capabilities

Online auctions are an excellent virtual event option. Your platform should make the auction process simple from start to finish. Look for these virtual auction features:

  • Mobile bidding for both virtual and hybrid auctions
  • On-site bidding support for hybrid events using QR codes
  • An easy mobile checkout process for winning bidders
  • The option to have multiple winners per item if selected

Additionally, you’ll want the system to automatically send outbid and winner notification emails and texts. These features streamline the auction process and encourage more competitive bidding. 

8. Full integration with donor management software

To dramatically reduce the amount of work facing your team after the event wraps up, your virtual event platform should seamlessly integrate with your donor management system. With this capability, your software will automatically record donations and auction item payments and auto-send receipts to supporters. 

The bottom line: The right software makes virtual events simple

Choosing software that supports your needs will make planning and running your virtual event much simpler. Dale Godboldo, Co-Founder of Arts, Hearts + Philanthropy and a Bonterra Donor Engagement customer using our Guided Fundraising solution (formerly Network for Good), shares why it’s crucial to choose good event software: “You want as few moving parts as possible. You need something easy to use, easy to navigate, and self-explanatory. This platform allowed me to free up my mind and free up my time to actually do the work of fundraising.” 

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