Raising the bar: How we evolved from in-person to fully digital event experiences

Raising the bar: How we evolved from in-person to fully digital event experiences

On January 28, 2020, the ExV Agency hosted a 600+ in-person event at the historic Webster Hall in New York City. This event was an educational, breakfast forum for women in the non-profit, events, and hospitality industries A portion of proceeds from the event was donated to the iHope Academy in Harlem, serving children, adolescents, and young adults who have sustained acquired brain injuries or other brain-based disorders.

On the heels of the success of our January event, we decided to host another breakfast forum in June 2020. This time, at an even larger event space in Brooklyn that holds upward of 1200 guests, to benefit another non-profit in our network.

Best laid plans… 🗺

By March 2020, COVID-19 had taken over all news and media headlines. We quickly realized the window of opportunity for any in-person event business was closing. A shift in initiatives was necessary to keep our business afloat. 

We canceled our June event. However, many who attended our event in January started emailing us how devastated they were about the state of many of the industries that rely on people gathering in person. We aggregated all the emails, calls, and texts we received to create a list of the biggest fears people were facing. We realized that canceling our June event was not the solution -- our community needed us more than ever. So, we decided to create a fully digital event that would offer creative ways to keep businesses afloat during this uncertain time. We focused on positive messaging with actionable insights

Always be a resource and solution-focused 💡

We pivoted our June event to an online seminar and bumped it up to April 2020 – a time when many people in our network were feeling afraid of a very uncertain future. We created a program that was fully digital with elements of educational content, uplifting business strategies, unconventional partnership opportunities, and even got shout outs from celebrities

Our April event exceeded expectations. The program was broadcast internationally and was viewed by people in more than 40 countries. This showed us that through innovative thinking, we could create content and reach more people if we focused on growing our business in the digital realm

What seemed like a scary prospect, quickly led to an unmistakable “calling.”

Don’t wait, create… 🎨

We are proud to share that the ExV Agency is now a fully digital marketing and content production agency. Through strategic partnerships, we provide marketing initiatives, digital fundraising programming, and creative virtual event solutions for the non-profit industry –  a sector that was particularly hard-hit by the pandemic.

We’ve been taking a unique approach. We fully immerse ourselves into learning our clients and their goals to  provide out-of-the-box content and programming for online fundraising events that are a far cry from “just another Zoom call.” 

With the high level of digital and Zoom fatigue we are all experiencing, it is important to create something that is eye-catching, fresh, and completely unique. Our productions are curated to tell the story of our non-profit partners in a memorable way, with the goal of maximizing funds raised at a time when people are unable to gather in person. 

Check out our upcoming event with the San Francisco Maritime National Park Association.

The importance of strategic partnerships 🤝

Our team has always understood the importance of creating narratives that compel donors.We realized early on in our digital journey that aligning with the right partners would be crucial to continue doing this successfully. 

By partnering with platforms like Givebutter, we have been able to offer a comprehensive yet simple approach to meet their fundraising needs. ExV provides the entertaining, curated content and Givebutter provides the modern fundraising platform.

Taking the stress out of going digital 💬

Our team has always been focused on providing solutions that retain and acquire new supporters. A huge part of helping nonprofits stay focused on doing what they do best is taking the fear of “going digital” out of the process

We work with clients across sectors and no matter their level of tech-savvy, with programming that is easy to access and user-friendly. Many who approach us are terrified, as this is the first time they are attempting fundraising on a fully digital scale. That's why we take the time to educate our non-profit partners on pivoting to digital fundraising and programming to ensure they are fully comfortable when it is time to launch their digital event experience.

We know how scary it can be to raise funds in a completely new way, which is why we put a great deal of effort into being transparent, collaborative, and supportive. We consider every detail and roll-out strategies that ensure maximum fundraising potential.  We do not believe in a “one-size-fits-all” approach because we understand that each organization has its own unique set of challenges and opportunities.

See the Wendy Hilliard Gymnastics Foundation's virtual event, "Flip It Forward."

How to stand out in a sea of digital fundraising events 🎉

Now that we have successfully worked alongside several non-profit clients to achieve their fundraising goals, we’ve learned how to stand out in a sea of digital fundraising events. This includes:

🤝 Tip 1 - Build a strategic network of digital partners. Align with those who have experience and can help you through the hurdles of learning new technologies.

🎸 Tip 2 -  Reach out to entertainers, musicians, and performers that can add an element of fun and interaction to your event.

🍝 Tip 3 - Partner with caterers and branding companies that can deliver branded “swag bags” or themed food packages to your viewers’ homes to provide a sense of true connectivity and mimics critical elements of a successful, in-person event.

Go beyond the pivot and keep evolving 🌱

More than anything, our goal is to continue evolving. As non-profit needs change, we aim to stay a step ahead of the trends to deliver the best possible experiences. Thankfully, endless free resources are available to help us stay updated on how people are finding ways to successfully digitally pivot, like Givebutter's Good Newsletter. We encourage non-profits to become students again and research what others are doing to stay afloat.

Very special thanks to the team at Givebutter and two special clients who believed in what we do, supported our creativity, and took the digital journey with us: www.givebutter.com/barbarycoast  and www.givebutter.com/flipitforward.

Fundraiser: you do not have to figure this out on your own. Contact us for more information on how the ExV Agency x Givebutter can support you and your organization’s evolution to effective digital fundraising events.

Written By

Written by
Karen Gamba and Frank Carlisi
Co-founders of the ExV Agency, The Future of Digital Marketing.