From virtual happy hours to webinar discussions, event planning in the age of COVID-19 has shifted to embrace all things digital. While virtual events invite new opportunities for innovation and inclusion, they also bring forth a number of challenges where the traditional rules of event planning unfortunately do not apply, leaving many nonprofit professionals wondering how to adapt to this evolving environment.
Our team at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County was no different. Over the past few months, we have devoted hours to Zoom trainings and webinars, learning how to transform in-person galas, donor receptions, and many other important events into engaging virtual experiences. As we look towards the fall with so much uncertainty surrounding events and gatherings, we see nonprofit organizations of all sizes choosing to offer a mixture of virtual and hybrid events to encourage social distancing and ensure the safety of their attendees, while still upholding the purpose of events in the first place – to advance the causes each organization is committed to.
While each nonprofit will adapt and innovate to our current digital universe differently, sponsorships are here to stay as an essential resource to strengthen and enhance organizations they support. At the Community Foundation, we are proud to sponsor many impactful events that bring awareness to community needs, demonstrate our area’s culture of philanthropy, and strive to connect people with causes. Sponsorships not only provide necessary funds for a nonprofit event, they also help foster relationships with business and individuals in the community.
With this in mind, you may be wondering how to recognize your event sponsors in a virtual setting. Here are 5 simple yet important elements that will uplift your sponsoring partners while creating a memorable experience for everyone involved.
Logos & Links
With in-person events, you may offer to showcase sponsors logo on your website, invitations and programs. There are even more branding possibilities with online events. Consider adding sponsor logos to your event registration page, on the screen during your presentation, banner ads if they are supported by your platform, post-event surveys, certificates of attendance, or email newsletters to boost visibility.
Sarasota Young Professionals Group thanks annual sponsors in their monthly e-newsletter.
Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Southwest Florida Chapter displays their sponsorship with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County on their event registration page (August 2020).
Don’t forget to tag your sponsors in social media posts about the event. Not sure how to tag? Simply insert the “@” symbol in your post, type in your sponsor’s social media handle, and click the appropriate organization. Often times, you can find your sponsor’s social media handle underneath their name on their official social media page.
It is also important to ensure that all links in your social media posts work properly.
Leveraging social media, the Library Foundation for Sarasota County recognizes sponsors in a post-event Facebook post.
In the past, you may have offered lead or presenting sponsors the opportunity to address your attendees. With virtual events, you can offer prerecorded or live video messages from your high-level sponsors.
Work with a sponsor to develop materials they can share on their channels as well, such as a video about a program enhanced through sponsorship support. Your sponsors are proud to be your partner and of your work, so provide them tools that can be used over time to demonstrate impact and ask your sponsors if they will let others know why they choose to support you.
Thank By Name
It’s always a great idea to mention your sponsors by name during your event, no matter the format. Now is the time to get creative in new ways to do this. Some examples we’ve seen:
- Are digital materials being “delivered” to attendees that could include sponsor information, or coupons to redeem for products?
- If pickup or delivery of food or gift baskets are included with virtual tickets, can the sponsor include a promotional item or other materials?
- Post-event email messages and news releases that tell the story of your virtual event are more important than ever – don't forget to recognize sponsors here!
Virtual Access to Your Event
Although you cannot offer a traditional table at a virtual event, you can still offer access to your event. Consider sharing a registration code or special access link specifically for your sponsors to join your virtual event.
This list is not intended to be all inclusive but instead a guide to help develop unique sponsorship benefits and opportunities for your virtual events.