Hosting a virtual event? You’re not doing it right unless…

A couple weeks ago, we talked with leaders at the University of Virginia about their shift to digital events. They pivoted quickly and in 40 days, the university and its regional clubs hosted 41 events. They engaged thousands of alumni — even more than they did during the basketball team’s 2019 national championship run.

All this came after doing just eight virtual events in FY18-19. This year, UVA will host more than 600 and hopes to connect with even more alumni than they did last year at in-person events. These digital events aren’t going away and will make up 30-50% UVA’s event strategy for the coming year. 

UVA is doing a lot of things right. And one of the best things is making sure these events don’t happen in a silo. Engagement is great — but follow up from fundraisers will deepen the relationship with attendees and drive greater results.

Whether it’s their new, weekly “On-Air” call-in shows (a sweet throwback concept!) or a virtual garden tour with nearly 900 attendees, the team uses EverTrue’s Eventbrite integration to see all registered guests along with their giving history, assignment info, and rating.

“We’re using EverTrue to see donors who have signed up,” said Elizabeth Muse, Senior Director of Global Engagement and UVA Clubs. “Right away, I saw a highly rated donor who’s only ever given to athletics. He was one of the first to sign up for this event, revealing an interest that we didn’t know about. So we told their development officer right away and gave them a heads up that the donor was attending.” 

For UVAs events, the regional engagement officers can look at attendees who are assigned to gift officer portfolios and let their teammates know. They also look at who’s a current donor, who’s rated, and the cumulative lifetime giving of all attendees.

An event attendee list in EverTrue. Can you spot the major gift prospect?

The Giving Funnel starts with engagement. And as teams engage alumni, it’s critical to know who’s interacting with the university and make sure that current donors receive a thank you, gift officers know which assigned prospects are interacting, and prospect researchers can take a closer look at attendees with high capacity.

Our Eventbrite integration makes this insanely easy, but you can do this with any attendee list in seconds.

If you’ve just finished a Zoom meeting or webinar, follow these steps to import the list into EverTrue, then start flagging attendees for follow up:

Sort the list to see which attendees are assigned or highly rated, then make sure your team follows up.

For large events like sports games (remember those?) or the On-Air series, UVA’s team also looks back to report on everyone who made a gift within 90 days of attending, showcasing the relationship between engagement and fundraising.

“We look to see who’s made a gift afterward,” Elizabeth said. “80-to-85% of attendees to new, digital events are lifetime donors…. When we have an idea of how these events resonate with donors and non-donors, it helps us iterate on them for other areas of the country. It helps us make sure we’re doing the events right and getting the results we’re looking for.”

Virtual events aren’t going away soon. They create more opportunities for engagement, welcome in new audiences, and help alumni stay connected. 

And when teams use them to activate the Giving Funnel and follow-up with attendees, they bust silos, create a better donor experience, and help secure gifts. 

Learn more

Visit for tips and articles on engagement and fundraising in this “new normal”

See EverTrue’s new Zoom Meeting integration in action!

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