The Accord Productions business model has changed a lot over the 30 + years in business but most of those changes have dealt with how content or information is captured and delivered. The information is the same. It’s just all about getting product or service information to potential end-users– who are better known as customers. But what about when it comes to producing virtual events?
Live Events and Streaming
We have filmed our fair share of live events as well as streamed them. We have streamed these live events for several years as an “extra” or as a “convenience” for others who might want to watch or for those who could not participate in person. In many cases, the streamed audience did not meet expectations no matter how much was spent on promotion or what the material being presented was. Many business models were based around tier-II sporting events or business meetings that were presenting cutting edge technology and counted on big streaming audiences. But the audiences never materialized. Why?
There are many theories but the main one that seemed obvious to me is that potential viewers of these events had options and the most popular option was to be at the event in person.
COVID Changes Everything
March 2020 happened and the Pandemic Covid-19 changed everything. In-person contact as far as live events, business meetings, and seminars stopped happening. Virtual meetings and streaming became the preferred way to meet almost overnight. (You can read more about that trend here.) Big meetings in big convention centers were replaced with Zoom meetings and streaming content. This change to virtual “get-togethers” is now hitting other areas as well that we never would have imagined, one of those is the big traditional Fundraiser Gala.
Gone are the Galas We Know
The Fundraiser Galas. The big events that have been a fixture in the nonprofit world. Donors and staff dress up and get together at Jungle Island, Intercontinental Hotel, Miami Beach Convention Center and other large venues for a formal dinner to hear the great things that said organization is going to do with the dollars that are going to be donated that night. The Galas are a big portion of many nonprofits’ fundraising and now with Covid, it is just no longer possible to meet in big groups like that. Which poses big problems.
The Gala Must Go On- Virtually
Covid or no Covid, these organizations still have a mission and they need donations to accomplish that mission. So there still has to be a way to keep in touch with existing donors and possibly connect with new donors. Virtual fundraisers have been successful for many years in many forms. Most people have donated to a “go fund me” page so this concept is not new, but would it work for non-profits?
Fast forward to October 2020 and several organizations have taken their Galas online in many ways. Several have done it with a simple “do it yourself” zoom meeting, but the need to better tell their story has led to well-produced virtual events that can reach thousands. Accord has been active in this area using its live show experience to produce engaging Virtual Galas. And they are getting better and better each month.
Virtual Can’t Mean Boring
It has been a fast learning curve to see what works from our regular TV background and our streaming background and what does not. The one thing that will not work anymore is a slow-moving self-produced zoom event. Viewers in just 6 months are getting demanding in what engages them. A 90-minute fundraising Gala has got to be entertaining and can’t have dead spots or long boring speeches! Those can happen when you have a captive audience (who you’ve provided food and booze to) but not so with a virtual audience.
The key is to jam all the great things about your organization in a 60 to 90 minute slot. It is very much like producing a network show now, something we have a lot of experience doing.
Virtual Galas on the Horizon
We have two great Virtual fundraisers coming up for two great non-profits, Safe Haven for Newborns and the Friends of South Florida Autism Charter School. Both these causes are dream stories for a TV producer. Safe Haven saves babies from infant abandonment by allowing distressed moms the ability to drop their newborn off at any fire station or hospital, no questions asked! Nick Silveria several years ago saw a need where young troubled mothers were abandoning their babies in dumpsters and canals. He knew these troubled women needed a better option. 364 babies later, he has helped the babies and the young mothers during a troubling time in their life.
The stories at the South Florida Autism Charter school are those of patience and perseverance in which they work with kids and adults on the severe end of the Autism spectrum. Their organization is all about taking the kids and young adults on the Autism Spectrum that regular schools and groups have given up on or cannot handle. Nothing better to engage a donor audience than showcasing personal success stories for individuals and families and SFACS has lots of those.
The part of this new approach that is a surprise to all is the added reach is INCREASING donations. And it is a welcome surprise. Accord Productions prides itself on creative and technical expertise that delivers the message. And in the case of Fundraising Galas, the end result is even more satisfying than a top-rated network series!
If you have had to cancel an in-person event and are considering taking it virtual, give us a call. Give your virtual event professional quality production value to increase your chance at donations.