Move that cloth napkin and cocktail dress over, it’s time to make room for your computer as virtual galas are taking over the nonprofit scene. As soon as the pandemic hit in March, nonprofit organizations were forced to cancel their annual gala’s, which was a devastating blow to their budgets that relied heavily on the funds raised during those black-tie events. But the global crisis and inability to meet in person forced many organizations to step outside their event comfort zones, and into the digital world to fundraise via a virtual gala or other virtual events.

Ashley Richards is a digital marketing strategist and owner of E Squared Marketing.

It has been incredible to be part of this digital shift, and help organizations grow and learn to lean on digital opportunities to help their bottom lines. From large developed online shows to simple Facebook live events, the digital space has opportunities for organizations of all sizes and price points to help get the word out, and ask for donations to their worthy cause. The cherry on top? We are finding that most virtual events are costing a fraction of the cost of an in-person event, but yielding more profit. Not to mention that many social media platforms are very non-profit friendly, including Facebook and Instagram where they offer donation tools for registered organizations, allowing followers and consumers to donate directly through the app, setup donation campaigns, and create ad strategies and promotions to get the word out about the event. Facebook also covers the processing fees for all donations made through the app, promising that every dollar donated goes to that non-profit.

As we close out 2020, and welcome a new year, virtual events and are still going to be paramount to organizations as they push forward to increase brand awareness, and encourage donations for their cause. The virtual gala is a safe play, since there is so much uncertainty with the virus, and when in person events will resume.

As we climb out of this pandemic, we project another shift in modern day events that will come in the form of hybrid events. A smaller, more intimate group in person, while still offering that virtual viewing for audiences at home.

Encourage the organizations that you love and care about to jump on the #virtual train. The reach, the impact, and the results are proving that virtual events are much more than a trend in 2021, they are truly changing lives and helping our community.


Ashley Richards is a digital marketing strategist and owner of E Squared Marketing, a boutique firm specializing in digital marketing strategies including social media, e-newsletters and text campaigns.