A Virtual Paddle Raise event is a livestream-only event featuring just a paddle raise/fund-a-need, but no Live bidding items. It’s basically a Virtual Live Auction without auction items. It can (and probably should) include pre-recorded video and an engaging emcee or auctioneer.
Best Practices and Tips
With the exception of the best practices related to auctioning off live items, the Virtual Event Best Practices here all apply.
Make sure your paddle raise/cash donation option is set to Pledges via Virtual Event. Otherwise, it will not display for your remote viewers.
Work with your auctioneer/emcee to plan the emotional arc of your event. Start with a slideshow or video designed to tug at heartstrings (and open wallets). Then, when sentiments in the room are running high, segue to requesting donations.
Consider having a figure beloved by your community or someone who has directly benefited from your program make the ask.
Get right to the fun part--save thanking sponsors for the end of your event.
It’s typical to start donations at a specific level and then “walk down” until you reach a level that will allow all attendees to donate. Be sure to line up at least one pre-committed donor who will be in attendance to give at the highest donation level you’re offering. Otherwise, you’ll start your paddle raise with crickets, which can deflate the mood and people’s excitement about giving.
Plan the donation levels with your auctioneer ahead of time, and let them know how many pre-committed donors you have at the highest levels. Set the lowest donation level to an amount that pretty much everyone in the room would be willing to donate.
You can add some fun and competition to your paddle raise event by converting it to a Last Hero Standing game. In this model, you start with the lowest donation level first and work higher. People may donate at as many levels as they wish. The last person donating wins a prize, which should be substantial and widely appealing, so that people are willing to continue donating in order to win it.
Increase the power of donations by offering a recurring option. If you offer a $10/month option, rather than a $100 flat option, most people who would have donated $100 will go that route, netting you an additional $20/donor.
Be specific about what each donation level will purchase. For example: “$1000 feeds X food pantry families for Y days,” or “$1500 buys X laptops for the media center.”
Upload an inspirational photo or photos to display in the image space. Keep descriptive text brief and engaging.
Set a goal for your progress tracker and set it to display on your public viewing screen.
If you’ve received pre-commits for donations from supporters who can’t attend, assign a team member to record proxy bids during your virtual event.
Use the celebration animations to add a fun visual component to your event.
Use a Pre-event Screen to inspire set the stage for giving. Embed an inspirational video from a beloved community member or from someone who benefits from your program(s).
Leave a Post-event Screen up with your paddle raise/fund-a-need set to All Levels to collect any late donations. Why not display your inspirational video alongside it?
Maximize viewing by using the Save the Date email template and promoting your event ahead of time.
Things to Avoid or Consider
Never direct viewers to a silent auction in the midst of your livestream. They’ll need to leave your virtual event screen in order to bid on silent items, which takes them away from your livestream programming. Instead, you can pause your online silent auction during your livestream, then reactivate it once your program is over.
Eliminate hurdles to donating, such as requiring a vaulted credit card and/or numerous custom fields for buyers. Requiring more than the absolutely necessary info slows down the signup process for your attendees and may cause some of them to bypass attending your event altogether.
A ticket does not automatically provide access to your virtual event, which means it’s not necessary to sell tickets for your virtual paddle raise. You can do it, but, again, it presents another hurdle for your potential viewers. The best way to give your supporters access to an entirely virtual event is to send them an invitation to attend. You should also enable your Signup feature, so that anyone who doesn’t receive an invitation can signup (always free) to view and donate.