The in-person event you had planned might not work virtually, but we’re here to help you brainstorm a unique digital event! The right kind of virtual event for you is the kind that matches your values and platform, reflects the tone of your campaign, and fits your needs and resources. That looks different for everyone, so here are some brainstorming questions to ask yourself:
What are your campaign or committee’s core values?
Think back to when you first felt politically motivated: Why did you get involved in politics? What are the core values of your campaign or committee?
The example: Let’s say a candidate is running for local office to help ensure adequate funding, equitable policies, and culturally responsive teaching in their school system. They were inspired to run when they realized the school board wasn’t being transparent about decisions that directly impact their children. Supporters trust this candidate to explain their platform with clear facts and draw people in with their approachable style and passion for education.
What’s the tone of your campaign or committee?
What’s your relationship like with your supporters and community? Why do they trust you to represent them, and what are you fighting for together? Consider how you speak with supporters and how you show up in meetings. Are your campaign emails formal or casual? Are you known for having a sense of humor or being a great debater? How do you define your voice?
The example: In our example, the candidate places a lot of importance on policy research but is running an accessible, lighthearted campaign that encourages people who have never volunteered on a campaign before to join. Supporters feel heard and respected by this candidate and are willing to put time and money on the line to help them win.
What are your needs?
Virtual events have a silver lining: They’re less expensive than in-person events! You don’t need a venue or a caterer, just a smartphone or a laptop and something compelling to talk about. Consider how much money you need to fund your campaign until Election Day. If all your attendees donated $5, how many attendees would you need to meet your goal? Are you looking for exposure and press as well as funds? Even if you’re looking for volunteers or news coverage, you can ask folks to chip in if they are able! Use events to build horizontal relationships with attendees by making it clear they are part of your community and an integral part of your success.
The example: For our fictional campaign, the candidate needs to raise $500 for digital ads and campaign t-shirts, and hopes at least 30 people tune in to their first virtual event. They also hope the event will connect them with new supporters.
What do your values, tone, and needs add up to?
Come up with options for virtual events and consider your comfort level, capacity, and strengths. If you’re known for being a thought-provoking speaker, give a speech over Facebook Live. If you’re trying to reach new supporters, ask a community partner to join a virtual Q&A on an issue they work on and discuss how your policy platform will address it. Or if you’re known for your grassroots support, consider interviewing one of your star volunteers about why they are dedicated to your campaign! Whatever event you land on, have a specific focus and make sure you state why you’re asking folks to watch, donate, and support your campaign.
Can’t decide between virtual event ideas? Ask your supporters what they think! Don’t be afraid to talk honestly with your people. They know best, and the best way to build community and collective investment is to include everyone’s input.
The example: Our example politician decided to film an arts and crafts demonstration with common household items for viewers to follow along with and posted it on YouTube and embedded it on a contribution form. In the video, they talk about their ideas for setting students up for success and how the arts fit into that picture. The candidate asked their supporters to share it with their friends and colleagues with children, and to chip in if the ideas for the school system resonate.
Virtual event logistics
Market your event by posting an invitation online with the time, date, and theme, and ask your supporters to share it with their friends. Send an email to your supporters and volunteers to let them know it’s happening, and sell tickets if you need a headcount.
Whatever kind of virtual event you decide on, if you film it on Facebook or YouTube you can embed it on a contribution form so attendees can donate without navigating away from your video! Ask your viewers to chip in during your event and explain what their donations go toward and how it ties in with the theme of your event.
To interact with your audience, use a livestream that allows you to take questions and comments like Facebook Live. You could also solicit questions from supporters through your email program or in a social media post a day or two before the event. Click these links for guides on using Facebook Livestreams, Facebook video, and YouTube videos, which can all be embedded on our contribution forms.
Lastly, use this checklist for tips on making your virtual event go as smoothly as possible! After the event, download the data from your event’s contribution form and send attendees a heartfelt thank you email. If you’re looking for feedback on your event or need more ideas for future events, this is an opportunity to ask your supporters and keep the conversation going!
More ideas for virtual events:
- Known for your sense of humor? Ask a local comedian if they would donate a livestreamed stand-up set for you to embed on a contribution form.
- If science and research are big parts of your platform, livestream a science experiment while answering submitted questions.
- Involved with the arts? Ask a local choir or a cappella group to donate a virtual concert.
- A candidate who’s also a star baker could mix things up by baking some cookies or frosting a cake while discussing policies that affect their community.
- And if you care about health care, interview a local nurse or caregiver about their needs and how policy affects their work.