Aug 20 2020

Nonprofits: How to Handle COVID Part 2 – Virtual Events

During the continuous struggle the world faces through COVID-19, it’s important to keep the conversation of nonprofit development and marketing support going. The second feature to our Nonprofit Blog Series highlights the innovative and cost-effective alternatives nonprofits can leverage to reach their audience at safe distances.


We recently had the honor of speaking with two more nonprofit leaders, Trish Pisauro and Sara Keane from Merakey. Merakey is a national nonprofit organization that offers a breadth of services in areas including intellectual developmental disabilities, behavioral health, educational support, and foster care. While the pandemic may have sent Merakey’s Foundation and Marketing team to remote working locations, it hasn’t stopped them from keeping their creative wheels turning.


“You can take advantage of the distance,” says Pisauro, Corporate Vice President of Marketing and Foundation. “The pandemic has allowed us to reach more of an audience because no one has to physically travel to an event location.”


Harnessing such positivity has allowed Merakey to deploy successful digital events to raise brand awareness and donorship. Through virtual trivia nights and a virtual Autism Graduation Ceremony, Merakey was able to capture donors’ attention and continue to change the lives of those they help serve.


To keep the momentum going, Merakey is branching out its brand by expanding membership on its Junior Board across the country. This initiative has always been concentrated in Southeastern Pennsylvania, but COVID-19 kicked it into high gear as Merakey expanded its efforts to further increase brand awareness. “Going national with our Junior Board will really help get our name out there,” explains Keane, Event Coordinator.


In this same pursuit, Merakey is converting it’s in-person Gala to a virtual Night of Merakey Magic Gala to commemorate its donors and allies. Taking place on October 24th, this event will be Merakey’s first virtual event at this scale, and the organization is hoping it makes a significant impact.


Merakey Foundation Virtual Gala 2020


The key to marketing virtual events is to properly execute creative storytelling mixed with engaging digital content in order to reel in an audience and tell an organization’s story in an inspiring light. Strategic digital campaigns, content development, and even printed brand materials are critical when accomplishing a virtual event.


Virtual events allow for convenience, cost-effective executions, an extended reach, better analytics, and improved ROI overall. To be successful, such events must develop strategic digital content, build fundraising campaigns, and identify further revenue opportunities. Finally, social media and digital marketing are key when nonprofits launch virtual events – elements like dedicated event resource webpages, for example, are great platforms to help drum up awareness quickly and cost-effectively.


“The new circumstances have created an easier launch pad,” explains Pisauro. “We have been able to expand audience interest and celebrity debuts because it’s easier for celebrities to come online rather than meet in person anyway!” In Merakey’s most recent celebrity sponsorship, Philadelphia’s own Jon Holden was the Master of Ceremonies and Dr. Temple Grandin was the keynote speaker for the organization’s Autism Graduation. “We really have been able to make good lemonade out of these lemons,” says Pisauro.


If customized virtual events and digital campaigns are avenues that could help expand the name of your organization, reach out to a local agency for support. Virtual events have become a new way for change makers to come together, regardless of the distance between them.


Find more ways to support Merakey here.


For further information on virtual event strategies and insights, visit our contact page. We’d love to chat with you.

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