The flood of in-person cancellation notices is increasing. The COVID-19 situation has everyone rightfully concerned about putting crowds of people together and enabling the rapid spread of the virus. But these conferences do not just allow us to meet and greet. There are important issues to be discussed, and there is the need to disseminate information. There is opportunity to debate key issues of the day, not the least is the economic effect of COVID-19 itself.
This has impact across the board. Fintech conferences are being cancelled or delayed. Entertainment events such as concerts are being cancelled. Sporting events are proceeding without fans or shutting down altogether. Annual fundraising banquets and galas will not occur, which for many non-profits are their major sources of revenue. So are we to just shut down all economic activity and hibernate for 6 to 18 months and then re-emerge to restart our business activity? No. There is an alternative—transforming physical events into virtual events.
Online education, in the form of webinars, has been around for years. But true virtual events—replacing the form and function of physical events—are ready to explode, especially in light of the current world pandemic. I want to introduce you to two companies that are on the forefront of enabling this shift: BankersHub and softgiving.
BankersHub (www.bankershub.com) is the premier online education source for financial institutions and the fintech industry. Less well known is their pioneering virtual events capability. All of the facets of the physical conference can be duplicated with a virtual event, including keynote speakers, breakout events, workshops, attendee Q&A, and even the meet and greet aspect that is typical of physical events. So instead of canceling an upcoming conference, you could provide the valuable information and interaction experience in a form that respects the issue of not putting your customers or members together in a confined space. Anyone facing a cancellation decision should contact Erin O’Donnell (https://www.linkedin.com/in/erinhandel/) or Michael Beird (https://www.linkedin.com/in/beird/) and find out how your event can be converted into a virtual event.
But what about the cancelled fundraising events that I referenced earlier? There is fundraising associated with periodic events and the annual fundraising gala typically associated with charitable giving. A company based in Atlanta called softgiving (www.softgiving.com) has created a suite of virtual services that meet the current demands. Softgiving focuses on providing charities with ways to increase giving from individuals that are not typically a part of the traditional fundraising process, namely young people identified as millennials and the emerging Gen Zs.
You may not be aware of the growing online entertainment and esports community, but trust me, your children and grandchildren know all about it. Supported by softgiving’s technology, fundraising is occurring at these virtual events. Have you ever been to a concert or sporting event where there was an appeal to support a charity? For example, bring two can goods to support the local food bank and receive a free T-shirt. In the face of concerts and sporting events being cancelled, doesn’t it stand to reason that virtual entertainment and esports events will dramatically increase? For charities that have upcoming fundraising galas and are facing the difficult decision to cancel those events, you should contact Matt Pfaltzgraf (https://www.linkedin.com/in/matt-pfaltzgraf-522a3541/) and discuss how a softgiving virtual gala can allow you to continue to provide your patrons with a valuable interactive experience.
Full disclosure, I am an advisory board member of BankersHub and a board member of softgiving. But I participate on these boards because I feel that the services they offer are professionally delivered, and in the face of the emerging COVID-19, they are more needed than ever. So don’t cancel your upcoming conference or fundraising event. Show your customers, members, or patrons that you are ready to adjust to market conditions by hosting a professionally produced virtual event.
Also published on Medium.