How to Promote a Virtual Event for Your Nonprofit Organization
by Nailea Ayala Sahagún, on Dec 7, 2020 8:00:00 AM
With the restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, it may seem daunting to host an event for your nonprofit organization. However, there are many different types of events that can be put on safely, especially if you choose the virtual route.
You can find some ideas for this in our previous blog post on nonprofit marketing. Once you have planned your virtual event, it will be especially important that you promote it, using all the resources we have laid out below. This will allow you to increase your attendance and attract new donors, volunteers, and followers to help support your cause.
1. Spread the word on multiple social media platforms.
Social media is more important than ever these days when it comes to marketing. That’s why we’ve compiled these must-use social media features that will make all the difference when it comes to promoting your nonprofit’s next event. Make sure that your designs are cohesive across all platforms so that potential guests can easily recognize your event when they see new graphics.
Facebook EventsOne of the first things you should do when marketing your virtual event online is create an “Event” on Facebook. This Event will be a page of its own that contains the “what, when, and where” for your target audience. Potential attendees can use your Event page to RSVP by clicking either “Interested” or “Going.” By selecting one of those options, they will be reminded of your nonprofit’s event by Facebook automatically when the time comes. This will also increase your event’s exposure as friends of your attendees see their response to the event on their newsfeed. Therefore, your event’s information will begin popping up on even more people’s feeds.
Another option is to boost your Facebook “Event” through paid advertising in order to further increase attendance. By doing this, Facebook will share your event with your target audience.
Social Media Stories
You can post stories on both Facebook and Instagram, and these are a key component to successful event promotion. This is because you can not only use them to hype up your nonprofit’s event beforehand, but also because data shows that the popularity of Instagram stories, for example, grew at a rate 15x the rate of feeds in 2017 alone – and they have only continued on that trajectory. This is likely because stories are quick, easy, and fun to consume visually.
So, in order to best promote any of your nonprofit’s virtual events, you should make sure to use both your Instagram and Facebook stories to tease the event’s activities, link directly to your registration page, and share further event information. This will increase the overall awareness of your event amongst your target audience and will allow you to post about your event frequently without overwhelming your followers’ feeds.
If you’re putting this event together with a team, Stories is also a great place to share screenshots of your Zoom meetings. This allows for your audience to learn a bit more about who is involved and see their collaboration, while serving as a subtle reminder that your event is around the corner.
The Instagram Countdown feature can be used through Instagram’s stories. Essentially, it allows you to post a countdown to the date and time of your event. It also enables story viewers to click on the countdown for a reminder notification. This means that they will receive an alert when your event is taking place, so even if they forgot, Instagram will send them a reminder. This, in turn, will help boost attendance for your nonprofit’s virtual event.
Instagram also reminds you when the time of your event is approaching, so you can post an updated countdown on your story. In addition, it gives you the option to post when the countdown is completed, so that viewers know that your event has started. This is a fun feature, because it shows confetti exploding around your countdown, thereby celebrating your event and getting viewers excited about it!
2. Send out a press release.
While this may seem too official for a virtual event, press releases can actually be a wonderful – and often underutilized – tool in event promotion for any organization. Press releases create buzz and can even prompt a news outlet, local or otherwise, to feature your organization.
So, what does one include in a press release for a virtual event? Essentially, the same details that would be found in a press release for an in-person event. This means that you should make sure to cover information about any event speakers, notable guests, your event’s cause, and any fun or unique activities that will take place. Once you have this all written out, make sure to send your press release to relevant news desks and media outlets, especially those that are local, as they will be more likely to respond. You can also find free press release sites to post your press release on, which could help generate higher attendance for your nonprofit’s event.
3. Offer people a glimpse of what your event is going to look like.
When it comes to virtual event promotion, you shouldn’t wait until the event is taking place to share video content. Think of this like a movie trailer that excites people to go see a film in the theaters. Just like that, you want to provide a sneak peek into how fun your event is going to be! A short preview video of your event will entice people to register and build excitement for what’s to come. You can get this pique in interest by posting brief, past interview segments of any speakers you might have in attendance or highlights of what attendees can expect throughout the virtual event.
You can post these videos all over your social media, as well as your event page, which will be discussed later on in this post. Just make sure that you don’t post the videos all at once. Space out the posting by every few days, so your followers are enticed to keep coming back to your website or social media channels. This will be sure to drum up anticipation!
4. Utilize email marketing through routine newsletters.
In this era of social media marketing, it’s easy to forget just how helpful and effective emails can be. In terms of virtual event marketing, email newsletters can be a great way to share event details, especially if your nonprofit already sends regular newsletters to subscribers. Either way, in order to promote an upcoming event, you can first send out an event announcement, preferably pretty far in advance. This allows your supporters to clear space in their calendar ahead of time. After that initial newsletter feature, you can continue sending out exciting updates leading up to the event. This will help build anticipation for your nonprofit’s event and increase interest as time goes on.
Then, after your event is over, make sure you include a post-event wrap in the following newsletter. This is an important final step, because it shows any supporters who weren’t able to attend exactly what they missed out on. Hopefully, this will either inspire them to donate to your cause or bolster their interest in your future events.
5. Create a captivating event page.
This is somewhat similar to the Facebook “Event” page, in that you’re creating a one-stop hub for people to learn about your nonprofit’s virtual event. However, this is different, because it’s separate from a social media platform. This means that you can better customize it and include even more details and information than Facebook allows. You can also link all of your social media platforms to this page, which could simultaneously help you increase your followings across different social media channels!
You can set this event page up on your nonprofit organization’s website as a landing page or as a tab that’s accessible from your website’s homepage. Another option is to use a site like Cvent Flex to create a new event page that is like its own website. Regardless of which option you choose, however, make sure to add eye-catching graphics and photos, engaging clips of any event speakers, promotional videos, and, of course, your registration link. You can also add a donation button, so even if someone cannot attend your virtual event they will still be able to support your cause by donating.
Some specific items you can add to your event page are:
- The date/time of your event.
- An agenda for your event’s activities.
- Short bios for any speakers that will be featured at your event.
- Information about any of your event’s sponsors.
- A registration link, so you can track the number of attendees.
- A page that provides secure payment options for either donations or ticket purchases, depending on what your event requires.
By following each of these steps, you will be able to get the word out about your nonprofit’s next virtual event to attract generous donors, future volunteers, and new supporters. It is so important to continue raising money and awareness for your cause, even amidst the pandemic, and hosting a virtual event is a great way to do so – just make sure to promote it properly to achieve the best results and greatest overall turnout!
Nailea Ayala Sahagún
Nailea is an accomplished public relations professional with experience in education, digital marketing, and multicultural communications. Prior to joining Presidio, Nailea worked with Fortune 500 companies like The Lincoln Motor Company and McDonald’s on media relations, focusing on top–tier Hispanic media. Nailea was also involved in community outreach efforts for statewide campaigns and local measures. Additionally, Nailea holds over 7 years of experience working with school districts in Southern California. Today, Nailea leads Presidio's creative team and handles content creation, social media management, and video production for our clients.
Caroline is a senior at UCLA, where she is pursuing a B.A. in History with minors in Film, Television & Digital Media and Digital Humanities. She is experienced in a diverse array of communications, including fashion public relations, influencer outreach, and social media marketing. After she graduates in Spring 2021, Caroline plans on working in PR and Marketing.