Virtual Event Platforms: Top 20 Solutions to Compare

Since the beginning of the pandemic which brought disruptions to events globally, top virtual event platform providers like Pathable have shown leadership by providing previously unimaginable virtual event solutions for associations, nonprofits, corporations, and other organizations. Many event organizers are now able to deliver education, networking, and value to attendees in ways they have never experienced before, even amidst social distancing guidelines. 

Now, virtual events have become much more prevalent and as the technology continues to evolve to create better experiences, it will remain a viable alternative that many organizations will continue to embrace. However, with many acclaimed platform providers out there, deciding on a platform for your virtual event can be tricky.

Therefore, to get you started in your virtual event platform comparison, we’ve gathered a list of 20 top virtual event technology providers and categorized them based on the type of events they support and the organizations they serve. But before we jump into that, let’s take a look at all we’ll be covering to give you a broad perspective on choosing a suitable platform for your event.

Table of Contents:

  • What Is An Online Event Platform?
  • What Types of Organizations Use Virtual Event Platforms?
  • How Much Do Online Event Platforms Cost?
  • What are the Most Important Features to Look For In Virtual Event Platforms
  • Top Overall Virtual Event Platform
    • Pathable
  • Top Virtual Event Platforms for Conferences
    • Remo Conference
    • vFairs
    • Bizzabo
  • Top Virtual Event Technology for Associations
    • Web Courseworks
    • Fonteva
    • Nimble AMS
    • YourMembership AMS
    • ePly
  • Top Online Event Software for Nonprofits
    • OneCause
    • AccelEvents
    • Soapbox Engage
    • Handbid
  • Best Virtual Event Registration Solutions
    • Configio
    • Regpack
    • Eventbrite
    • RegFox
    • Aventri
  • Other Top Online Event Platforms
    • Doubleknot
    • Weshowup

Let’s dive in to learn more!

What is an online event platform?

What is an online event platform?

An online event platform is a web or mobile interface where gathering attendees can experience learning, interaction, and commerce in ways similar to in-person experiences. The platform is usually provided by an event technology company and is set up according to specific event requirements. 

A typical platform has features that include live video streaming, video conferencing, live chats, Q&A, polling, file sharing, content upload, exhibition and trade shows, and more as required by event organizers. The platforms are hosted on dedicated domains such as event microsites or on mobile event apps. Their lifespan can either last simply for the event duration or year-round to continue to serve attendees.

To gain a deeper understanding of how virtual event platforms work, request a personalized demo by our team. 

What types of organizations use virtual event platforms?

What types of organizations use virtual event platforms?

Virtual event platforms serve different types of organizations including associations, nonprofits, corporations, and educational institutions. These organizations often plan virtual conferences, conventions, virtual summits, networking and happy hours, entertainment, fundraising, and other event types using the software.

How much do virtual event platforms cost?

How much do online event platforms cost?

The cost of virtual event platforms vary depending on client requirements, and of course, the pricing model of specific providers. Some platforms are subscription-based—they have monthly and annual plans—while some have fixed amounts based on specific event sizes, duration, and requirements. You may find the price for different providers is displayed on their website or is provided after requesting a quote. 

Here are some common factors that can determine the prices charged for using a virtual event platform:

  • Event dates
  • Duration of event
  • Number of attendees
  • Event sessions
  • Breakout sessions
  • Interactive elements required
  • Entertainment and gamification requirements
  • Video streaming requirements
  • Content requirements 
  • The lifespan of the platform

While negotiating prices, ask for the features included in each plan. Some features may not be required for your event, so you might be able to negotiate a rebate on price by asking that redundant features be removed.

What are the features to look for in a virtual event platform?

What are the most important features to look for in virtual event platforms?

To understand the most important virtual event platform features to look for, you first need to understand the difference between virtual events and webinars. A virtual event platform must have real-time interactive features that simulate a live event experience. A webinar platform may support live video streaming, live chats, and Q&A. Some webinar platforms may resemble virtual event platforms, so here are some key features to look out for to distinguish a virtual event platform from a webinar system:

  • Live video streaming
  • Live chats and Q&A
  • Private meetings/Group Chats
  • Virtual trade show booths
  • Breakout sessions
  • Live chats
  • User Profiles
  • Polling
  • Q&A
  • Event Analytics
  • Accessible platform before and after event

An effective virtual event platform should provide attendees, speakers, and sponsors the opportunity to have warm interactions that will translate to a real event experience.

Top overall virtual event platform

Top Overall Virtual Event Platform

Pathable

Learn more about Pathable’s virtual event platform.

Pathable is the leading virtual event platform provider for associations, nonprofits, and corporations. The intuitive platform provides mobile event apps that are custom-built for attendees, speakers, and exhibitors to learn, interact, and conduct business in powerful ways.

The platform also helps to deliver event keynotes and breakouts as attendees make real human connections through messages, video chats, live chats, group chats, polling, Q&A, and more.

Pathable enables event organizers to increase an event ROI through sponsorships. The platform has interactive exhibitor elements that offer attendees the opportunity to experience virtual trade show booths, video call booth staff on-demand, and view or download digital collateral posted by sponsors. 

What are the best features of this platform?

  • Multi-screen solutions
  • Customized branding
  • Interaction, engagement, and networking
  • Sponsor & exhibitor listings
  • Metrics and analytics

How much does this online event platform cost?

Pathable approaches pricing from a tiered approach that is based on attendance, sessions, event duration, and other platform features. Request a personalized, in-depth demo with a sales specialist to discuss pricing for your event.

Why does this virtual event software stand out?

Everything on the Pathable virtual event platform can be customized to suit your event requirements through a widget-based interface and configurable permissions settings. You decide what you want and create your own event experience. Another reason Pathable stands out is that it offers expert support throughout the event’s entire life cycle. 

Top virtual event platforms for conferences

Top Virtual Event Platforms for Conferences

Remo Conference

Learn more about Remo’s virtual event platform for conferences.

Remo is a conference and summit solution that helps event organizers provide online networking that is comparable to the in-person alternative. On the platform, attendees can interact in real-time by joining a virtual table to connect with others. The platform also provides admin access for speakers and hosts to interactively facilitate event sessions.

The platform is made for conference organizers and can be used by teams working together to accomplish a common goal. It’s easy to set up and use and does not require download or installation. The capacity ranges from 50 for very small groups to larger groups of unlimited attendees.

Remo’s virtual event platform makes it easy to communicate with supporters via video.

What are the best features of this virtual event platform?

  • HD Video & Audio streaming
  • Real, authentic social interactions
  • Group screen sharing

How much does this online event platform cost?

Remo operates a monthly subscription-based plan which is billed annually. The platform’s main audience consists of organizations and teams hosting regular events. Prices range from $100/month to $1,560/month for 50 to 850 attendees respectively. An event duration range of between 1.25 hours to 8 hours applies to the above price range. Custom monthly plans can be built for more attendees and longer durations. 

In addition, Remo has packages for one-time events and larger attendee numbers which starts at $2,500. Planners should reach out to get specific quotes for such events.

vFairs

Learn more about VFairs’ virtual event platform for conferences.

vFairs is a platform for online conferences, trade shows, and job fairs. It’s suitable for companies and businesses, trade show organizers, organizations, universities, and job boards. The platform provides custom event landing pages to make a great first impression that persuades visitors to register and attend. 

vFairs also provides a comprehensive toolbox to ensure your virtual event delivers the desired impact. The platform’s feature-packed booths include immersive colorful environments that enable users to comfortably browse content, attend live presentations and network with peers and exhibitors.

VFairs’ virtual event platform makes it easy to attend presentations for conferences.

What are the best features of this virtual event platform?

  • 3D virtual lobby 
  • Virtual briefcase for attendees
  • Interactivity tools

How much does this online event platform cost?

While the pricing for vFairs isn’t available on their website, you can reach out to request a quote if you’re interested in their online event platform.

Bizzabo

Learn more about Bizzabo’s virtual event platform.

Bizzabo is a fully-embedded virtual event solution that provides a seamless experience for attendees as they enter an event and start participating in various activities. The platform helps to deliver high-quality live video streaming to audiences of any size and on-demand videos that are at scale with an enterprise-grade solution. It also provides audience engagement opportunities that enable attendees to connect and network with peers and sponsors. 

The virtual solution connects easily to popular video technologies and the team is always available to help deliver a full suite of services including full production, audio and visual, design, implementation, and more. 

Learn more about how Bizzabo’s virtual event platform uses live and on-demand content to drive events toward success.

What are the best features of this virtual event platform?

  • Webcast live sessions
  • Robust engagement tools
  • Real-time insights

How much does this online event platform cost?

Contact the Bizzabo team for a quote on their online event platform. 

Top virtual event tech for associations

Top Virtual Event Technology for Associations

Nimble AMS

Learn more about Nimble AMS’s virtual event platform.

Nimble AMS is an association software suite that helps professional, philanthropic, and trade associations increase revenue, improve efficiency, and engage members in multiple ways. 

The platform includes learning management and event management solutions. It is an open platform that allows for you to create and update integrations with other systems with just a few clicks. Nimble AMS is 100 percent native to Salesforce so it supports attendee data management directly from your CRM.

Nimble AMS’s virtual event platform helps associations host events while fully integrating with Salesforce.

What are the best features of this virtual event platform?

  • Event and exhibit management
  • Seamless integrations
  • Learning management solutions
  • How much does this online event platform cost?

How much does this online event platform cost?

Prices can be obtained by completing a quote request form on the Nimble AMS website.

YourMembership AMS

Learn more about how YourMembership AMS can become your next virtual event platform.

YourMembership is a learning management and membership management software that helps associations, nonprofits, and associational membership organizations deliver live and on-demand content to facilitate attendee career growth. 

The platform boosts learner engagement through live events, on-demand content, webinars, webcasts, sharable content reference model (SCORM), and more. You can use the system to manage, track, organize, store, and deliver courses and documents—all from one platform. YourMembership helps organizations drive non-dues revenue by supporting trade shows and events.

YourMembership offers a virtual event platform for associations to cater to their members.

What are the best features of this virtual event platform?

  • Learning management system
  • Membership management software
  • Mobile event app

How much does this online event platform cost?

Contact the YourMembership team to request a quote.

Web Courseworks

Learn more about Web Courseworks’ virtual event platform.

Web Courseworks is a learning management production company. They offer services for conferences, trade shows, meetings, educational events, and webinars. Their webinar production services cover small group discussions or more expansive ones with hundreds of participants. Their service team can also help to manage tech prep sessions with presenters and technical aspects of your live webinars, pre-recorded sessions, and live chat features. 

Before your event, the Web Courseworks team will design and configure the conference platform to meet your association’s specific virtual event needs. This platform can manage hundreds of sessions, exhibitions, and networking experiences from one centralized location.

Web Courseworks’ virtual event platform helps organizations educate supporters.

What are the best features of this virtual event platform?

  • Webinar and conference production
  • Integration with popular video conferencing software
  • Full customization and tech support

How much does this online event platform cost?

Pricing information is not publicly available. Contact the Web Courseworks team to get a quote.

Fonteva

Learn more about Fonteva’s virtual event platform.

Fonteva is a membership, events, eCommerce, and communities support technology company. Their team serves trade associations, professional societies, association management companies, associations, customer user groups, and local governments. The platform supports virtual and hybrid events with configurable registration and top-notch speakers, sponsors, and attendees management. 

The Fonteva platform is 100% native to Salesforce. Therefore no integration is required, enabling you to access real-time events data such as customer demographics and create comprehensive reports without leaving your CRM.

Fonteva events is a virtual event platform built for the Salesforce Cloud.

What are the best features of this virtual event platform?

  • Event lifecycle management
  • Syncs with popular virtual meeting platforms
  • eStore & transaction processing

How much does this online event platform cost?

Fonteva runs on Software as a Service (SaaS) model. Therefore, access is based on the payment of a single annual fee. You can contact their team to get a quote.

ePly

Learn more about ePly’s virtual event platform.

ePly is an intuitive platform that offers event registrations and supports virtual events. It’s an effective platform for both single-session and multi-session conferences, panels, and workshops.  

The single-session feature has a direct Zoom integration that can be used for hosting recurring leadership and shared interest meetings including those focused on virtual education, networking, webinars, and training. The platform provides real-time attendee data and surveys, allowing event organizers to easily evaluate event performance.

ePly’s virtual event platform supports both in-person and virtual events.

What are the best features of this virtual event platform?

  • Dedicated event landing page and registration platforms
  • Simplified presentation capabilities
  • Multi-session and single session software

How much does this online event platform cost?

Pricing information is not available on display on the ePly website, but you can contact the sales team to get a quote for the software.

Top online event software for nonprofits

Top Online Event Software for Nonprofits

OneCause

Learn more about OneCause’s virtual event platform for nonprofits.

OneCause offers powerful fundraising solutions and dedicated virtual fundraising software to manage nonprofit virtual events, elevate your cause, and inspire giving. 

The software can be used for online auctions and paddle raiser events, helping nonprofits receive online donations and creating engaging bidding opportunities between remote supporters. The platform supports high-quality multimedia virtual fundraising events with both live and pre-recorded videos that keep supporters on the screen.

OneCause offers a virtual event platform specifically designed to help nonprofits fundraise.

What are the best features of this virtual event platform?

  • Flexible branding and creative campaigns
  • Versatile fundraising options
  • Gamification and motivation

How much does this online event platform cost?

Contact OneCause’s team to get a quote for one of the various plans available on their website. 

AccelEvents

Learn more about the AccelEvents virtual event platform.

AccelEvents is a virtual event platform designed to support conferences, festivals, and fundraising. It has a Silent Auction feature with online and mobile bidding options that can be incorporated into your virtual event to generate additional funds for your nonprofit. 

The platform also has AI-powered virtual cocktail hours and networking sessions that allow attendees to “match” with each other through real-life interactions in ways that will enhance participation and giving. AccelEvents also has a virtual exhibition feature that enables organizations to sell sponsorships and further increase revenue.

AccelEvents offers ticketing and registration options for virtual events of all sorts.

What are the best features of this virtual event platform?

  • Auction and fundraising tool
  • Interactive tools
  • Integrated live streaming

How much does this online event platform cost?

AccelEvents offers event ticketing as a part of their event packages. Therefore, for their pricing model, they charge 20% of paid tickets or $3 per participant for free attendance. The greater value of the two is charged and then multiplied by the number of days of the event. There are other add-on services that might require additional charges or fees depending on your event type.

Soapbox Engage

Learn more about Soapbox Engage’s virtual event platform.

Soapbox Engage is a full-suite online solution that can be used to manage multiple events for your organization. The platform processes and stores ticketing and registration data straight to your Salesforce system and has a wide range of payment processors to choose from. 

Soapbox has integration with popular meeting software such as Zoom, as well as Google Analytics, and various social media sites. It also offers a donation feature for seamless and secure transactions which are saved in real-time on Salesforce.

Soapbox Engage offers a virtual event platform in the form of an app for Salesforce.

What are the best features of this virtual event platform?

  • Integrations with Salesforce, Google, and Zoom
  • Strategic event management
  • Marketing and branding features

How much does this online event platform cost?

Soapbox Engage has an unlimited plan that starts at approximately $3,000 per annum, and there is a surcharge of 1.9% on total transactions that are less than $5,000 per month. Apart from this, some  add-on services attract extra charges based on your nonprofit’s needs.

Handbid

Learn more about Handbid’s virtual event platform.

Handbid is an online fundraising solution that supports live streaming, peer-to-peer fundraising, donation campaigns, crowdfunding, and text-to-give. 

It’s primarily used for its silent auction software and event fundraising tools that can help you reach your donors remotely. Bidders can participate from anywhere and your team can virtually manage from check-in to check-out with ease. You can also process invoices, generate reports, and perform more actions within the intuitive system. The software works well for nonprofits, faith-based organizations, sports organizations, schools and universities, and associations.

Handbid offers a virtual event platform specifically for online auctions.

What are the best features of this virtual event platform?

  • Auction app
  • Web-based and live event bidding
  • Live video streaming

How much does this online event platform cost?

Handbid’s premium package starts at $2,495 per year. For an unlimited plan, you can contact the team to get a price quote.

Best virtual registration websites for online events

Best Virtual Event Registration Websites

Configio

Learn more about Configio’s virtual event platform.

Configio is a registration software solution for events and conferences with a simple and secure payment process. It also includes features to promote your event with automated SMS and email communications. 

Configio’s robust reporting dashboard can help you monitor registration totals, and compare data from previous events to gain insights into the effectiveness of your marketing campaign.

Configio offers a virtual event platform with robust reporting options, allowing organizations to gain new insights from events.

What are the best features of this virtual event platform?

  • Custom event website
  • Access to sales pipeline
  • Access to data and reporting across functional areas

How much does this online event platform cost?

Prices are not on displayed on Configio’s website. Contact their team to get a quote for this virtual registration solution.

Regpack

Learn more about Regpack’s virtual event platform.

Regpack is an online registration software with secure gateways for accepting and managing payments for your virtual event. It features a customized online registration payment process that has a proprietary conditional logic engine that creates a unique registration flow for every applicant. 

The registration software is built to embed perfectly on any organization’s website or event microsite. That means you won’t have to redirect users to a third-party website to register, making your data management easy. The software includes every tool you need to analyze and interpret your data, so you can easily generate and share reports with your team.

Regpack offers a virtual event platform that can make registration native to any organization’s website.

What are the best features of this virtual event platform?

  • Event registration on your website or microsite
  • Mobile optimized registration
  • Personalized event registration process for every attendee

How much does this online event platform cost?

Regpack plans start at $125 per month per admin, and an additional 2.1% payment processing charge applies to every transaction.

Eventbrite

Learn more about Eventbrite’s virtual event platform.

Eventbrite is an event registration, ticketing, marketing, and management platform all available from a single system. You can use Eventbrite to automate the collection of registration data and payment processing securely. 

With its powerful built-in marketing and communications tools, the platform can help you reach new customers. You’ll also have access to real-time, actionable insights into your event’s performance and traffic sources.

Eventbrite is a great virtual event platform for organizations with a strict budget.

What are the best features of this virtual event platform?

  • Automated ticketing solutions
  • Customizable event pages
  • Large attendee marketplace (from 170+ countries)

How much does this online event platform cost?

Eventbrite uses a tiered pricing model. The basic plan is Essentials, which allows users to create events on Eventbrite’s website. The Professional package can be used to sell tickets on the event organizer’s website. Both the Essential and Professional packages are free for non-paid tickets. However, charges of 2% + $0.79 apply to paid tickets on Essential, while charges of 3.5% + $1.59 apply to the Professional plan.

There’s also the premium package which is tailored for large and complex events and will require you to contact their team for a quote and set-up procedures.

RegFox

Learn more about RegFox’s virtual event platform.

RegFox is both an event registration and virtual event platform. It provides tools to create stunning registration pages that will match your website and brand. You’ll also gain access to tools that provide seamless integrations when syncing data with popular tools. 

RegFox guarantees attendee data privacy, and it can help you to get direct and fast funding from event registration.

RegFox offers a virtual event platform with included registration options.

What are the best features of this virtual event platform?

  • Event page builder for registration
  • Conditional logic and dynamic pricing
  • Sell merchandise during registration

How much does this online event platform cost?

RegFox’s pricing plan charges 99¢ per attendee. There are no contracts, set up, or cancellation fees. However, there are optional upgrades that include email communications at ‍2¢ per recipient and a custom 3rd party payment gateway for a 1% fee.

Aventri

Learn more about Aventri’s virtual event platform.

Aventri offers a virtual event platform that includes a fully-integrated event registration experience, live video streaming, on-demand video, community moderation, and designated areas as an online event lobby for attendees, speakers, and sponsors respectively. It’s a suitable system for conferences, exhibitions, and trade shows, as well as internal meetings and events. 

The platform can accommodate events of different sizes and formats. It provides a high level of security and privacy, which is necessary for delivering virtual experiences to any audience. It also has real-time attendance tracking and reporting capabilities.

Aventri offers a virtual event platform suitable for trade shows, exhibitions, conferences, and more.

What are the best features of this virtual event platform?

  • Seamless event registration
  • Digital lead capture
  • Virtual event intelligence

How much does this online event platform cost?

Pricing information is not on display on the Aventri website. You can contact their sales team to get a quote for the software.

Learn more about these other top online event platforms.

Other Top Online Event Platforms

Doubleknot

Learn more about Doubleknot’s virtual event platform.

Doubleknot is an integrated software solution for managing cultural organizations and nonprofits. The platform includes seamless event registration with secure payments and a mobile app to update registrations and collect payments.

This system also has a feature for membership and fundraising that you can use to request donations at every touchpoint with custom database queries used to identify recipients for every campaign.

Doubleknot’s virtual event platform allows nonprofits to request donations at every touchpoint during the event.

What are the best features of this virtual event platform?

  • Event registration
  • Powerful CRM integration
  • Comprehensive event reporting

How much does this online event platform cost?

Doubleknot’s pricing isn’t available on their website, but you can contact their sales team to get a quote for their software.

Weshowup

Learn more about the Weshowup virtual event platform.

Weshowup is an event registration and ticketing service that helps you to set up online events and connect with favorite streaming platforms. It promises attendees to ‘enjoy the service’ before they pay, thereby encouraging more attendance. The service is mainly for artists who want to have more signups for their virtual performances.

For a small fee, attendees can reserve their spot and then show up at the virtual event and interact with fellow attendees. After the event, attendees receive an email or text message asking them to pay whatever they feel the event is worth. Therefore, monetization is based on attendee satisfaction.

Weshowup’s virtual event platform makes it easy to enjoy an event among supporters or friends.

What are the best features of this virtual event platform?

  • Branded shareable event page
  • Payment processing
  • Live streaming

How much does this online event platform cost?

Learn more about how the pricing for Weshowup works by contacting their sales team

Wrapping Up

Virtual event platforms are now more effective than ever in creating memorable virtual events that are as connective and valuable as live experiences. If you are still skeptical about virtual events for your organization, you might try out a demo from one of the providers or join a full-fledged virtual event in your industry to have an experience.

Additional Resources

Want to experience how virtual event platforms work? Discover more in our live demo.

Are you planning a virtual event? Explore Pathable’s virtual event platform today!

Nonprofit Marketing Strategies: 5 Trends to Watch

Nonprofit marketing is one of the key strategies that organizations must develop to share their cause, collect donations, attract event attendees, and maximize impact for the community. However, it’s also one of the strategies that nonprofits tend to put last on their to-do lists. Therefore, nonprofits rarely maximize their full marketing potential. 

Recent events related to the global pandemic and economic downturn have made it more important than ever for nonprofits to reach their supporters and establish connections. While some donors may find it more difficult to give right now, others might be more driven to do so. Therefore, establishing connections now will help set you up for an even stronger fundraising strategy in the future when post-pandemic life comes around.

Paying attention to the key strategies, trends, and upcoming opportunities around nonprofit marketing can help you maintain the relationships you’ve worked so hard to build even throughout a pandemic. The primary nonprofit marketing strategies that can help you succeed in building connections and relationships with supporters include:

  1. Automating as much as possible. 
  2. Leveraging the best donor data. 
  3. Creating a multi-channel outreach approach. 
  4. Optimizing digital content for mobile.
  5. Making the most of lead capture forms. 

When your nonprofit plans virtual fundraising events, devises online fundraising campaigns, or creates other digital engagement opportunities, it’s important that your organization’s online marketing is also up-to-scratch. This will help ensure adequate participation levels. 

Let’s dive a little deeper into each of these strategies to learn more about how to maximize your organization’s marketing initiatives.

1. Automate as much as possible.

With ever-advancing technology, automation has evolved to become one of the most advantageous strategies out there for organizational marketing. Of course, it’s not a tool that will do the work for you. Instead, marketing automation helps nonprofits advance already-strong marketing programs to be even better.

For instance, one of the most valuable marketing automation tools that nonprofits can take advantage of is an email series. An email series is triggered when someone takes an action in regard to your nonprofit, such as downloading a guide or signing up for your newsletter. 

Once an individual is in the series, you can set up your automation tool to send multiple emails to that supporter over a dedicated time span, guiding them to give, register for a virtual event, or complete another goal that will further their engagement with your nonprofit.

However, you should also think about the skills your nonprofit needs to master before this strategy can become successful. You need to: 

  • Create an attention-grabbing email subject line. Subject lines should correlate specifically with the message you’re sending, while also creating a sense of urgency for the supporter to open and read that email.
  • Write the email that will capture supporters’ attention. Your email content should appeal to the segment of supporters to whom you’re reaching out. Be sure to personalize the content with the supporters’ names and use the message to adhere to their interests. 
  • Segment donors by the trigger-source for the email series. Consider what trigger you used for that supporter to be entered into the email series. What does this tell you about them? How can you use this information to reach them better? For example, someone who downloaded a past newsletter might want to sign up for your future newsletters as well. 
  • Analyze the effectiveness of each series. Collect metrics about each email series in use such as the open rates, click-through rates, and resulting conversions. Then, see which ones are the most effective for engaging your supporters. Consider employing A/B testing to get more accurate results. 

Marketing automation extends past creating email series. While this is a great tool, it’s important that you combine email campaigns with other automation strategies such as posting timed messages to social media, generating personalized one-off emails from templates, pulling automated marketing reports for analysis, and more. 

If your nonprofit uses a comprehensive marketing strategy right now, consider how technology can make it even more effective and efficient. This SalsaLabs article about smart engagement technology explores how you can implement automation and other strategies to elevate your fundraising and communications efforts.

2. Leverage the best donor data. 

When asked, “What is the most valuable tool at your nonprofit’s disposal?” many organizations respond with, “fundraising pages,” “my website,” or something similar. However, when it comes to nonprofit marketing best practices, one of your organization’s most valuable tools is more likely to be donor data. 

Donor data is what enables your organization to plan events that will intrigue your audience, craft messages that will capture their attention, and see if there are major prospects hidden among your supporters to whom you should reach out separately.

Generally, there are three steps to effectively leveraging donor data for nonprofits: 

  • First, nonprofits must collect data from donors. Your organization can do this through the use of lead capture forms on your website, fundraising forms, surveys, event registrations, email campaigns, conversations, and more. 
  • Next, nonprofits must store and organize this information. Data is little to no use if it’s illegible. With a donor database or nonprofit CRM solution, you can store all of the important metrics in donor profiles for later use. 
  • Finally, nonprofits must leverage the data for better marketing. For instance, you may reach out to supporters using the platforms they prefer according to their profile, employ language that appeals to their demographics, and simply use their preferred name in communications. 

Donor data is used to personalize the communication you have with supporters. It helps your organization build relationships, which are vital for future donor retention and compiling the perfect fundraising asks. 

According to AccuData’s guide to data marketing, using data in your marketing efforts can lead to five times the ROI, so it’s clearly an avenue worth pursuing. Whether it’s quantitative or qualitative, all data that you collect about your supporters is valuable for your nonprofit when you use it to inform what you say to entice donors. 

3. Create a multi-channel approach.

A multi-channel marketing approach involves the use of multiple channels (email, direct mail, social media, etc.) to reach out to and communicate with supporters. 

When you devise your multi-channel fundraising approach, take it a step further by considering how each of the channels works together to communicate best with supporters. 

For instance, consider the following: 

  • Direct mail has greater brand recognition than digital marketing. But it’s easier to encourage action with digital action because you can create links. If you combine the two, you’ll establish a connection with donors offline before encouraging online giving. 
  • When you reach out to donors over and over again via email asking for donations, you may feel a little bit like you’re hounding your supporters. They feel the same way. However, switching up your channels and diversifying your message keeps supporters interested and on their toes. For instance, switching to an advocacy action from donation requests can create some diversification.
  • Social media can be used to facilitate two-way interaction so donors have the ability to engage with your outreach. For instance, you may live stream events, use surveys or polls, or connect people from your social media page to your website. 

When you carefully craft your multi-channel marketing approach, you need to make a conscious effort to visualize and encourage the “next steps” donors should take after encountering your message. If they should give on your fundraising page, link them there. If they should sign up for your event, connect them to your event registration page

The advantage of this approach is that you are driving supporters deeper and deeper into your communication network, further engaging them with various aspects of your mission.

4. Optimize digital content for mobile. 

One leading trend in the marketing world is the idea of mobile optimization. More and more people are accessing the internet via smartphone rather than their computers to search the web, scroll through feeds, and conduct research. In fact, around 17% of Americans are considered “smartphone only” internet users. 

If your content isn’t responsive to a mobile screen, your nonprofit will lose the visitors who find it frustrating to navigate your information. For example, when supporters need to zoom in and out or scroll sideways to see images on your website, it can be very difficult to observe every great feature it contains. 

Make sure the following resources are optimized for mobile to boost your communication strategies: 

  • Emails. This may seem simple, but many times organizations format emails on their laptops but never check them on mobile. Make sure your supporters don’t abandon emails and miss important information because they can’t easily read the email on their phone.
  • Your nonprofit website. Since your nonprofit’s website is the cornerstone of your online presence, it needs to be able to effectively reach, engage, and convert donors no matter how they access your site. Like in these examples, each and every page on your website should be accessible from any screen. Make sure to choose a CMS that makes this possible and easy to achieve. 
  • Auction software. If you’re hosting an auction, offer mobile bidding through an app or optimized site. This makes it easy for attendees at a live event to bid from their seats and continue mingling. For virtual auctions, mobile bidding means attendees can check in on their items conveniently from anywhere; they’re not stuck to their computers all day. 

When you’re looking at software solutions to enhance your nonprofit’s marketing initiatives, be sure to look for features surrounding mobile optimization. And know that “mobile responsive,” which means only emails or forms are sized correctly for mobile devices, is not the same thing as “mobile-optimized.”  Mobile optimization refers to building a webpage that is designed specifically for mobile, rather than designing for desktop then ensuring it’s responsive to mobile screens. 

5. Make the most of lead capture forms.

Lead capture forms can be used on your nonprofit’s website to acquire new supporter information. There are several ways to include these, collect information, and reach out to new supporters in the future. For instance: 

  • Including a downloadable resource, such as an informative PDF about your mission from your website, is a great way to collect email addresses to keep people informed. 
  • Adding a newsletter signup form on your website is the most common way to collect new email addresses from supporters. You can quickly get new supporters up-to-date on the latest news at your organization and encourage them to get involved
  • Using widgets to link to social media. Social media widgets link people directly to your page on social networks. When they follow you on those networks, you can feel assured the supporters will run across your updates on their normal feed. 

When you create these lead capture forms, make sure you use a call-to-action design that will draw the eye. For instance, use a large colorful button or small icon images that entice supporters to click and engage with the site. 

After the supporter submits their information, it should be loaded automatically into your nonprofit CRM. From there, they can be placed in the appropriate marketing segments and sent additional resources from your nonprofit. Organizing this information in your CRM will help you make the most of these resources and expand your nonprofit’s email list. 


Nonprofit marketing strategies help your organization reach out to your supporters for support, provide organization updates, and more. It’s an important initiative that shouldn’t be taken lightly. These five strategies will help you take full advantage of your nonprofit marketing. Good luck!

About the Author:

Gerard Tonti is the Senior Creative Developer at Salsa Labs, the premier fundraising software company for growth-focused nonprofits. 

Gerard’s marketing focus on content creation, conversion optimization and modern marketing technology helps him coach nonprofit development teams on digital fundraising best practices.

Event Microsites For Your Nonprofit: 4 Mistakes To Avoid

Most nonprofit marketing specialists have likely already heard of microsites and how they can supplement or target their online outreach strategy. As a common buzzword, microsites have also caught on in the nonprofit world, especially as a way to promote fundraising events.

With the tumultuous experiences of this past year, it’s likely that your organization’s event schedule for 2021 is full of virtual experiences. In order to garner excitement and increase participants, many nonprofit marketing leaders have considered using a microsite to advertise their virtual events.

However, you should not create a microsite on a whim. If not developed with a targeted strategy in mind and with uniquely different content from your regular site, an event microsite can even be detrimental to your marketing efforts. 

It’s always worthwhile to do your due diligence and research before jumping into creating a microsite for your event. Use this guide to help you understand what a microsite can do for your nonprofit, as well as to explore 4 common mistakes to watch out for when creating one:

An event microsite can be an invaluable component of your digital nonprofit strategy — but only when done right. Let’s dive into the article.

What Is A Nonprofit Microsite?

Taking insight from Kanopi’s guide on charity microsites, a nonprofit microsite is “an individual web page or a small cluster of pages that function as a separate site either within or to complement an existing nonprofit’s website.” 

Your microsite should have a completely different domain or subdomain name from your core site and should be able to stand on its own without visitors necessarily knowing your organization. Your microsite might even be the first-ever touchpoint that a person has with your mission, making it the gateway to helping them become consistent supporters.

As a key marketing tool, microsites are usually created by nonprofit leaders to:

  • Target specific audiences that require certain messaging.
  • Get creative with different media forms, including blog posts, videos, audio recordings, and more.
  • Gain another channel of visibility for the nonprofit brand.
  • Heavily promote a new event or program.
  • Add an additional way for the nonprofit to grow its email list, build social media followers, and capture prospect information. 
  • Provide a dedicated platform for one specific nonprofit service, like for a specific campaign or a microsite for webinars.

You’ll be using your event microsite as a tool to attract an audience who are most likely to participate in your event. Consider creative ways you can capture their attention and hold their engagement throughout the site. Incorporating fun elements like an interactive quiz or an immersive video are key methods you may want to try out.

When Should You Create A Microsite For Your Nonprofit?

You already know that a microsite can be a common asset for marketing a nonprofit event. However, since microsites are so good at prioritizing a goal and targeting a specific supporter base, they can actually be used for many scenarios.

In fact, many successful nonprofits have used microsites for these specific purposes:

  • Long term/recurring fundraising campaigns
  • Published media like a blog or webinar
  • Online donations
  • Educational resources relating to mission
  • Creative projects

However, just because these opportunities present themselves doesn’t mean that the microsite you create will be beneficial. In fact, creating too many microsites might even hurt your nonprofit’s web standing and search engine optimization (SEO) quality. With too much of your information and content spread between different sites, your nonprofit’s ranking on search engines may fall.

So, what makes a good nonprofit microsite? Look for these qualities:

  • High-quality content that is unique from your main site
  • Easy navigation, especially if the microsite has more than one page
  • Shareability so that the microsite can maximize its marketing and outreach potential
  • Clear calls to action so that as soon as a user clicks on the site they know exactly how to engage with it
  • Connections to a performance analysis tool or nonprofit CRM to track key performance indicators
  • Optimized URL name that is directly related to the mission of the site. This could be a campaign name or event title.
  • Elements and content that are accessible for all web users, no matter their ability, location, language, or device

Keep the above in mind when creating an event microsite. Having a clear idea of your microsite’s specific goals and target objectives will be essential as you continue developing and designing it. 

Mistakes To Avoid When Creating Your Nonprofit Event Microsite

If creating a nonprofit event microsite is a path that you want to take, you will need to incorporate a lot of careful consideration and planning. It is critical that you have a clear understanding of the audience you’re trying to reach and outline a targeted marketing strategy to make your microsite appeal to them.

In order to keep you on the right track, here are some of the common mistakes that nonprofit marketing leaders make when it comes to creating an event microsite.

1. Reusing content from your organization’s main website.

We touched on this briefly before, but your microsite should be completely unique from your main website. Your microsite should stand completely on its own. In fact, if your microsite has duplicate content from your main site, you run the risk of getting both sites flagged by Google as being spam.

If you find yourself reusing content from your core website, this might be a clue that you should update your main site with a landing page for your event instead. This way you can still come up with a targeted marketing strategy while still using some of the existing content that’s already on your site.

2. Utilizing the same marketing tactics as with your regular website

Similar to the previous mistake, don’t use the exact same marketing tactics on your microsite as on your regular website.

If anything, a microsite is a perfect opportunity to be creative and think outside the box to start your online outreach. For instance, consider posing your microsite as an interactive quiz. This can ask questions about the user’s personality, and then assign them to specific event segments or panels that relate to their answers. 

Then, your site visitors can be encouraged to register for the event and share the fun quiz with their friends and family!

3. Letting SEO fall by the wayside

Because your microsite stands stand on its own, developing a data-based and comprehensive SEO strategy is a worthwhile investment.

Here are some quick ways you can improve your nonprofit SEO:

  • Publish content that contains keywords that are relevant to your event
  • Incorporate metadata within your CMS to your title and page description so that search tools can crawl it easier
  • Use alternative text for media formats like images or videos for screen reader access
  • Ensure your microsite is optimized for both mobile and desktop, which improves user experience and in turn benefits your SEO presence

When you focus on your microsite’s SEO, you improve the chance of supporters and prospects finding it organically, whether that is via search engines, social media, or other online platforms. 

4. Using a simplistic and unscalable CMS

Just because microsites are usually smaller and not as extensive as traditional nonprofit websites, it doesn’t mean you should use a simplistic or unscalable CMS. A lacking CMS can make it harder to update the microsite down the road or even lead to site functionality problems.

Look out for a CMS with the following capabilities: 

  • Templates for web pages
  • Drag and drop tools for easy design
  • Scalability with extensions or plugins
  • Integrations with databases for report compilation and data analysis

Having the right technology and tools at your disposal is what will set your nonprofit event microsite up for success, and your CMS is the most important tool. Common platforms that nonprofit leaders tend to use are Drupal and WordPress due to their scalability as well as ease of use. 

Make sure to do your research well before you decide. Or, you can use the CMS that your nonprofit already uses!

Wrapping Up

A microsite is an invaluable tool that, if developed correctly and designed smartly, can bring in new leads to your nonprofit and increase conversions exponentially. However, it’s not enough to just use any old CMS and pull together a web page. Consider the domain name you’ll need, the goals of the site, and the actions you want your audience to take.

Keep the above tips and common mistakes in mind when going forward with your event microsite and you’re sure to set the stage for success. Good luck!

About the Author:

As Founder and CEO of Kanopi Studios, Anne helps create clarity around project needs, and turns client conversations into actionable outcomes. She enjoys helping clients identify their problems, and then empowering the Kanopi team to execute great solutions.

Anne is an advocate for open source and co-organizes the Bay Area Drupal Camp. When she’s not contributing to the community or running her thoughtful web agency, she enjoys yoga, meditation, treehouses, dharma, cycling, paddle boarding, kayaking, and hanging with her nephew.

3 Tips for Planning Your Virtual All-Company Gathering

From fun holiday parties to in-office birthday celebrations to team outings at fancy restaurants, all-company gatherings are some of the most anticipated and engaging events that your employees look forward to. Not only are they good opportunities to get to know your employees and peers on a more personal level, these company events also are valuable for team-building and morale, which are huge drivers for employee retention.

As we go deeper into 2021 and reflect on the ups and downs of the previous year, it’s clear that those gatherings are largely no longer possible in-person. But that doesn’t mean you should forgo these events altogether. In fact, many employers saw success in pivoting their regular holiday office parties to a virtual space.

You’re likely already familiar with the common tools (everyone knows Zoom!) that organization leaders have implemented to facilitate face-to-face communication, encourage employee engagement, and provide some sort of online team activity. Take this a step further by planning a comprehensive and in-depth virtual all-company gathering! 

To help you plan your own virtual company event, this guide will walk you through the following topics:

Providing these special engagement opportunities are huge drivers for not only your employee retention rates but also your recruitment efforts. After all, an engaging company culture that people truly enjoy being a part of is a powerful asset when searching for new candidates. And when remote, this type of event is even more valuable. Let’s learn why.

Why Company Gatherings Are Important, Even While Remote

Many people love the convenience and ease of working from home. Additionally, forgoing office rent or leasing a smaller space is great if your business wants to save some money. In fact, a Gartner survey of company leaders found that 80% plan to incorporate a hybrid work from home structure. In the same survey, 47% of respondents planned to allow employees to work from home full-time. 

However, the shift to remote work was not the smooth, steady transition many would have hoped for. This was brand new territory for many organizations—and the obstacles and challenges that came along all became part of the learning experience.

For one thing, remote work can be very isolating. Without coworkers to laugh with by the water cooler or have lunch with every day, going to work can become a lonely and grating task. This can decrease team morale and weaken the foundation of community-building and camaraderie that you may have established before.

Additionally, special circumstances and a global pandemic pushed organization leaders to make the critical decision to go remote quickly. Your team members also are feeling the stress that comes with this type of widespread instability and crisis. 

With different forms of remote work clearly now becoming the norm, it’s essential that you consider how you can incorporate all-company gatherings even for those who are not physically present.

Keeping up those all-company gatherings virtually is a way to provide needed engagement while reinforcing a shared team identity. These virtual activities and events remind your remote workers who are feeling isolated or unsupported that there is a team of people they have behind them. It gives them a sense of purpose and stronger loyalty to their peers and leadership.

Without an emphasis on team-building events and activities, you also risk employee churn and lower retention rates. It’s often recommended that these types of engagements are a core part of your employee compensation strategy (learn more with this Astron Solutions guide), especially if remote work is going to be a larger part of your company’s future. 

Fun Virtual Ideas To Excite And Motivate Employees

Now that you have a better understanding of why pushing for virtual all-company gatherings is important, it’s time to brainstorm some exciting ideas. One of the silver linings of this past year is that many organizations dipped their toes into virtual event planning, so there’s a pretty hefty list of ideas out there that others have tried and found success with.

For your own team members, it’s worth thinking about past events they have enjoyed and how you might pivot those experiences into something virtual. You’ll also need to consider the tools you have at your disposal. A video conferencing platform like Zoom or some sort of live streaming tool will likely be imperative for any type of virtual event you plan.

While the events you plan and offer will differ depending on the preferences of your staff, here are some fun ideas that other organizations and businesses have relied on:

  • Trivia night. Start compiling some fun trivia facts, divide your staff members into teams, and have a fun trivia night all from the comfort of your own home. Provide prizes that the winning team can pick up or easily redeem online for more motivation!
  • Regular virtual happy hour. Happy hours are an integral part of in-person work as a way to relax and connect with peers in a non-professional setting. Take this regular activity virtual by sharing a drink with coworkers over video chat—once the workday is over, of course!
  • Virtual cocktail making night. A fun activity we’ve seen involves sending employees an at-home mixology kit and then having everyone make and drink them together online during a virtual happy hour. 
  • Virtual exercise classes. Because of current circumstances, it’s less likely that your employees are making regular trips to the gym. Consider offering a virtual exercise class where you all follow an online video or hire a professional to lead a class while live streaming.
  • Online skill-specific class (both work and not work-related). Online classes and courses have been a popular offering for a while now. Get your company learning together and involved by providing engaging classes to develop skills, whether it’s for work or just for fun.
  • Group volunteer opportunities. This Re:Charity guide to corporate philanthropy tells us that corporate volunteerism is an effective way to develop meaningful nonprofit partnerships for your business as well as to empower employees to support the causes they care about. With our struggling economy and current health crisis, your team members are likely more philanthropically inclined than ever. Explore any relevant virtual volunteer opportunities and offer them as a company event to your staff.

There’s a wealth of different virtual event ideas you can bounce around. You can even go straight to the source and ask your own team members what types of gatherings and activities they’d like to do. Try sourcing suggestions from employees, or compile several choices into a survey and ask employees to rank their favorites.

3 Tips For Planning Your Virtual Gathering

Now, it’s time to start planning these virtual gatherings. The best events, whether virtual or in-person, are always well planned and backed up with careful consideration. The preparation for a virtual event is even more elaborate, as you have to combat common challenges like keeping employees engaged, choosing a conferencing or live streaming platform, ensuring there are no technical issues, and more.

Here are the top tips that are sure to help any business leader tackle their all-company virtual gathering with success:

  1. Leverage technology and tools. As mentioned above, technology will be integral to your event’s success. Video chat platforms like Zoom and live streaming sites like Twitch are popular choices, but there is a wide array of options available. On top of these tools, investing in a virtual event management solution also can aid your efforts, especially for large organizations. These solutions can help plan the event, facilitate breakout sessions, provide personalized agendas, incorporate gamification elements, while working on all types of devices. 
  1. Put together an event communication plan. This type of plan involves building excitement around the virtual event, engaging your staff members before and after, and keeping all attendees on the same page. Use your existing communication tools to keep your team members updated on details, schedule out reminder emails, and explain how to access and participate in the event. This plan should lay out when you send the emails and the content that each will include.
  1. Ensure you’re fully prepared. Virtual events can go off without a hitch, but anyone who works with technology knows that unexpected obstacles can always pop up. Before the virtual event day, work closely with your event management solution provider and  assess the other tools you’ll be using to facilitate the gathering. Ensure that you and the team planning and facilitating the event understand the technical and logistical information needed. Also, try and troubleshoot all potential problems and technical difficulties beforehand with a test run.

All types of virtual events are going to be a part of your organization’s future no matter what, whether it’s for your customers or your internal team. Making them a regular and strategic part of your company culture and employee engagement strategy will be your best bet for 2021 and beyond. 

Conclusion

If your organization is remaining remote or implementing a hybrid working situation, planning all-company virtual gatherings is crucial. Especially for those team members at home, having a sense of camaraderie and community will not only bring some excitement to their lives but also drive productivity for your entire workforce. 

Get creative to brainstorm the perfect ideas for your unique team, and back it all up with the right tech. You’ll be planning and hosting a successful virtual all-company gathering in no time.

About the Author:

Jennifer C. Loftus is a Founding Partner of and National Director for Astron Solutions, a compensation consulting firm.  Jennifer has 23 years of experience garnered at organizations including the Hay Group, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Eagle Electric Manufacturing Company, and Harcourt General.  

Jennifer has held volunteer leadership roles with SHRM, New York City SHRM, and WorldatWork. She serves as a subject matter expert to the SHRM Learning System and as a SHRM instructor.  Jennifer is a sought-after speaker for local & national conferences and media outlets.

Jennifer has an MBA in Human Resource Management with highest honors from Pace University and a BS in Accounting summa cum laude from Rutgers University.  

Jennifer holds Adjunct Professor roles with Pace University, Long Island University, and LIM College.

Jennifer received the 2014 Gotham Comedy Foundation’s Lifetime Ambassador of Laughter Award.

Virtual Event Swag: Why It’s Important & 15+ Awesome Ideas

Over the course of the pandemic, your organization has undoubtedly become familiar with virtual events. From online happy hours to educational summits and conferences, corporations and nonprofits alike have done a remarkable job of hosting entertaining and informative virtual events that engage and empower supporters. 

If your organization has been around for a while, you’ve likely held plenty of incredible events that give attendees a new outlook on your field and a renewed drive to support your mission. But let’s not beat around the bush. We all know why people really get involved in organizational events and causes: for the dope merchandise! 

Ok, while we’re (mostly) kidding, there’s no reason you can’t offer participants an engaging, rewarding virtual experience this year that features event swag, similar to what would be offered at an in-person event. This guide offers a rundown of the best options for virtual event merchandise ideas that will excite your supporters and promote your cause to a wider audience. 

We’ll first discuss the purpose and importance of virtual events and event swag, then share our favorite merchandise options. Without further ado, let’s get started!

This section describes the importance of virtual events and the benefits of creating swag for virtual events.

Why Virtual Event Swag?

Importance of Virtual Events

Virtual events are a necessity now as coronavirus restrictions shut down in-person interactions, but there’s good reason to believe they will stick around long after the pandemic ends. 

As technology and online communication platforms rapidly developed over the past few years, virtual events have become increasingly accessible and feasible for all levels of organizations. This type of event offers several advantages to both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, according to Pathable’s guide to virtual events, including: 

  • Budget-friendliness: To plan a virtual event, you only need a computer and an internet connection, meaning these opportunities allow organizations to save money on overhead costs. Whereas in-person events might have required staff, a dedicated venue or event space rental, equipment rentals, and other miscellaneous expenses, their virtual counterparts don’t require these accoutrements. 
  • Wide accessibility: Again, your virtual events can be accessed by anyone on the web. This feature has the potential to introduce your organization’s message to people all over the world, expanding your supporter base. 
  • Content availability: Video recording tools allow your virtual event and any accompanying educational materials to remain available to supporters long after the live stream has concluded. Additionally, your organization can use a smartphone app to continue the conversation and engagement with event materials after the main event is finished. 
  • Networking opportunities: Virtual events can foster connections among like-minded individuals even if they’re physically separated by hundreds or even thousands of miles. They’re also highly convenient for participants, allowing people to tune in from the comfort of their homes to meet new people and hear your organization’s ideas. 

These advantages mean virtual events are likely here to stay (either in entirely online formats or a hybrid approach), even when in-person activities resume. It’s important for your organization to solidify a strategy for virtual events to achieve success with these events, both now and in the future. 

Benefits of Merchandise

Branded merchandise is one of the greatest tools that for-profit and nonprofit organizations have to capitalize on the wide reach of virtual events. Merch helps to not only increase awareness of your event itself, but also increase your brand recognition in the community. The process of expanding your brand awareness through selling event merchandise looks like this:

  1. A virtual event attendee, Justin, purchases an item of merchandise you’re offering— perhaps it’s a T-shirt with the event logo on it.
  1. Justin wears the T-shirt around his house, and his roommates notice and ask what it’s for. Justin explains your organization’s mission and goals, and the purpose of your virtual event. Now, his roommates’ interest in your organization is piqued, and maybe one of them looks up your website, or buys a T-shirt, too. 
  1. Justin also wears the T-shirt out to the grocery store, where other shoppers see your organization’s logo.
  1. Other supporters like Justin buy the T-shirt and wear it around town too, increasing your brand recognition in the community through repeated exposure. 

Therefore, branded event merchandise can be a highly efficient way to increase your organization’s brand recognition within the community and beyond. Your org not only receives the funds from merchandise purchases, but the benefits of peer-to-peer advertising.

This image is a link to some standout ideas for creating virtual event swag.

Distributing Virtual Event Swag

While in-person events allow you to set up booths and sell merchandise on the spot, the distribution process for virtual event swag looks a little different. 

To get merchandise into the hands of supporters, you’ll need to include an option to purchase items during the registration process for your virtual event, or an online store where you can sell event goodies. Ensure you have quality virtual registration software that allows you to customize form options to input merchandise orders. 

Also, for any type of merchandise you decide to promote your event, choose a provider that uses top-quality materials. This attention to detail makes a difference for supporters who are deciding to spend their hard-earned money to support your organization through purchasing event swag. 

Once you’ve solidified your merchandise system, it’s time to decide what type of awesome swag you want to offer event participants. Luckily, we’ve got a ton of ideas to help you choose!

This section describes ideas for what to create for your virtual event swag.

15+ Ideas for Virtual Event Swag

From T-shirts to tote bags and everything in between, here are our top ideas for virtual event swag. Before you choose the type of merchandise you want to sell for your virtual event, be sure to consider your audience’s interests as well as your event type. For example, if you’re hosting a tech conference showcasing your latest software options, you can offer your audience tech-related swag such as headphones or a portable charger. With that in mind, let’s dive in!

1. T-Shirts

T-shirts are a classic event merchandise offering that pique the interest of many supporters. They’re a popular choice for nonprofits and for-profits alike because the organization can prominently display their own logo and brand colors as people wear the merchandise out and about. 

This is an image of a T-shirt, an example of what you might create for virtual event swag.

Offer to sell t-shirts (or provide them for free if you’re charging a sign-up fee) during the registration process so supporters can get their shirts before the event begins. This generates more anticipation for the event and boosts your marketing efforts when your registrants become walking billboards for your virtual event. 

Bonfire’s merchandise platform gives organizations a free and easy way to design and distribute custom t-shirts for virtual events. Instead of ordering them in bulk and distributing them yourself, you can choose to sell your shirts through a campaign and Bonfire will ship all the shirts to your supporters for you. All you have to do is choose your t-shirt style and upload or create your design. Once your shirts are ready, promote your product on your website, social media, and online event pages. 

2. Face Masks

Face masks are a part of the new normal for most of us as they’ve been integrated into daily life within the past year. 37 states plus DC and Puerto Rico mandate the use of masks in public spaces.

This is an image of a face mask, an example of what you might create for virtual event swag.

This necessity for the product makes branded masks a great merch idea right now. Just like T-shirts, hats, or other garments, people use their face coverings to express themselves and their interests. Offer face masks with your logo to allow virtual event participants to demonstrate their commitment to your organization. 

3. Digital Badges or Points

While supporters might have to wait a while to gain access to physical merchandise as it’s shipped to them, you can appeal to humanity’s desire for instant gratification if you’re able to offer event participants a prize or memento online.

This is an image of a digital badge, an example of what you might create for virtual event swag.

Digital badges or stickers are the perfect way to instantly show someone that you appreciate their active participation in your event activities. For example, you might offer a badge when a participant first engages on a discussion board, or when they first log into the virtual event. 

Adding gamification elements to your virtual event further engages supporters with your event activities and offers a free token to give to participants in exchange for their activities. Driven individuals will work to gain access to all of the possible digital badges they can lay their hands on. You may even offer a physical gift as a prize to those who collect the most badges or points. 

4. Mugs and Thermoses

Design personalized mugs or thermoses with your logo, brand colors, and other distinguishable characteristics that clearly show that your organization distributed them. Supporters can warm up a cup of hot chocolate or coffee in your custom mugs and thermoses, giving them a memento of your virtual event that will last for years to come.

This is an image of a blue mug, an example of what you might create for virtual event swag.

If you need inspiration, designs like minimalist line art, neutral colors, and large logos are all popular design ideas for mugs that you can consider using. Plus, you can create matching sets with t-shirts or other branded merchandise like hats or socks to go with your mugs.

5. Hand Sanitizer

As we all know, hand sanitizer is all the rage right now. Giving out hand sanitizer is a great way to encourage people to stay healthy while creating additional brand recognition.

This is an image of hand sanitizer, an example of what you might create for virtual event swag.

Put your organization’s logo on your hand sanitizers so supporters are reminded of your incredible event every time they clean their hands (which hopefully happens pretty often).You can even create a bundle with a face mask, hand sanitizer, and a stress ball to offer a health-focused merch kit.

6. Hats and Visors

Hats and visors are perfect for sunny days, especially if your event is over the summer. Further, hats can easily become very identifiable if a design gets popular enough— think of instantly-recognizable designs like MLB team hats or musician Chance the Rapper’s iconic “3” hat.

This is an image of a black hat, an example of what you might create for virtual event swag.

To make the most of your virtual event hat, keep the design simple but eye-catching with bold lines or prominent lettering. You can also take a more subtle route and use a minimalist design with more muted colors. Either way, choose a visually-compelling design that communicates your brand so your hat-wearers can share your image with the world. 

7. Online Courses

If you’re hosting a conference, professional development course, or webinar, you can offer access to online courses as a merchandise option for your organization. 

Nonprofit courses in particular give supporters the tools and abilities to become more informed advocates for different causes or even take on greater leadership roles within organizations.

This image shows people taking an online class, an example of what you might offer for virtual event merchandise.

For example, Nonprofit Leadership Alliance offers a breakdown of various nonprofit courses offered on a subscription-basis. These include courses on ethical leadership, crisis communications, designing mission-focused programs and more. 

Find a course that complements your virtual event topic to give attendees a deeper understanding of the issues. 

8. Event Summaries or Recordings

During your virtual events, you probably cover many different items and your participants learn plenty of valuable information in the process. By offering summaries of important information or recordings from the event itself, you make it easier for supporters to remember what they learned and provide a helpful take-home memory.

This image shows a camera recording, an example of what you might offer for virtual event merchandise.

Event recordings are perfect for conferences, trade shows, and other educational events so attendees can digest the information and return to anything that stuck out or puzzled them. Investigate event recording offerings to see if this technology will suit your virtual event. 

9. Headphones

Large events with more flexibility in the budget have the ability to go big with swag options. For instance, headphones sold before your event can ensure registrants have privacy when they engage with the various event activities.

This is an image of wireless headphones, an example of what you might create for virtual event swag.

Design wireless headphone cases with your company or nonprofit logo to maximize this musical branding opportunity. 

10. Stress Ball

All professionals know we can get a little stressed out sometimes. Relieving some of that stress by squeezing a stress ball can be a healthy use of our time. While this is a small token, it can be combined with other ideas such as a face mask or t-shirt to make a significant impression.

This is an image of a yellow smiley-face stress ball, an example of what you might create for virtual event swag.

Plus, you can choose different shapes for your custom stress ball to better match your organization type. For instance, healthcare organizations can offer heart-shaped stress balls while zoos might choose ones in the shape of a zebra or lion. This merch option is best offered as part of a merch kit for your virtual event. 

11. Mouse Pads

Mouse pads are perfect if you’re hosting a tech conference or other occasion for people who are often online or work from their laptops.

This is an image of a blue mouse pad, an example of what you might create for virtual event swag.

With this merch option, you can actually offer to personalize a mouse pad for participants. They can submit a picture to go on their mouse pad to match their own interests or personal photos. Be sure to keep your logo in the corner of each pad!

12. Power Bank

This is another great option for techies. Practically everyone has a smartphone they just can’t keep charged long enough, and offering a power bank helps solve that problem.

This image shows a portable charger, an example of what you might create for virtual event swag.

Also, if virtual attendees are tuning into your event on their mobile devices, they can keep their phones charged up for the duration of the session. Check out options for customizable portable phone chargers here.

13. Event Socks

While you may look and dress professionally the majority of the time, socks are where you can have some fun!

This image shows fun rainbow socks, an example of what you might create for virtual event swag.

Show supporters how they can also let loose by offering crazy socks they can sport under their professional pants, adding some creativity to their wardrobe. Every time they kick up their feet, they’ll think of the good time they had attending your virtual event. 

14. Tote Bag

Bags to carry supporters’ computers, groceries, or other daily items are incredibly useful to keep around the house. Offer attractive branded bags that follow the same design elements that a T-shirt or face mask design would include, like creative images and high-quality typography.

This is an image of a white tote bag with a green handle, an example of what you might create for virtual event swag.

You can fill these bags with other merchandise and sell bundles of virtual event swag to supporters. Consider combining a few of the other ideas in this list to fill the bag and offer a discounted rate to purchase the bundle. For instance, you might put a t-shirt, mask, and socks in a tote to create a “wearable merch” kit or you might include a power bank, headphones, and mouse pad in another for a “tech merch” kit. 

15. Notepads

Notepads make it easy for supporters to take notes during your event, providing the opportunity to learn more and stay connected with the information. Notepads also allow attendees to have a convenient place to make notes for themselves around the house.

This is an image of a blank notepad, an example of what you might create for virtual event swag.

Add your logo to the top or bottom of the notes in these notepads, ensuring event attendees still have room to write in the middle of each page. Then, encourage them to take notes during the event itself! Plus, after the event ends, they’ll be reminded of your event every time they write a grocery list. 

Those are our top event merchandise ideas to get your creative juices flowing as you think about incorporating event swag into your own virtual event this year.

This is the conclusion and additional resources section of this article on creating swag for virtual events.

Wrapping Up 

After reviewing your virtual event swag options, consider which item or items will be best suited for your event type. Then, invest in quality options that provide value to supporters while spreading the word about your brand in the community. 

Incorporating merchandise systems into your event planning now will set you up for future success as virtual events are likely here to stay. And remember to have fun with it! Be as creative and bold as you wish with your event swag to generate excitement and engagement for your virtual events. 

For additional information on virtual event planning, check out these resources: 

  • Virtual Events: The Ultimate Guide for Planning or Pivoting. This guide provides everything your organization needs to know about virtual event planning, from creating a task team to choosing an event platform. Bookmark this page to reference as you plan your virtual events this year. 
  • Virtual Event Platform. If you’re searching for an easy-to-use, cross-device platform to host your virtual events, learn more about Pathable’s virtual event platform offering here.
  • Mobile Event Apps: The Top 21+ Providers for Your Conference. Plenty of organizations are using mobile apps alongside virtual conference platforms to further engage supporters in their events. If you’re interested in a mobile app for your event, find top providers here.