How many times have written out a lengthy report without knowing whether it will be read? How many times have your members not attended an event due to the long commute or travel required?
With the internet at our fingertips, it’s much easier to dial in than to drive in to a seminar or event. Audio and video content is growing exponentially in popularity, and many prefer it over text. Technology is also providing new possibilities for including previously excluded audiences (busy parents, people lacking transportation or with limited mobility). As a nonprofit serving your community, you hope to engage as many members and inspire as large of an audience as possible.
Your organization might also have members spread out across the country and lack the funds to organize in-person events in each city. That doesn’t mean you can't create interactive and informative events for sharing ideas and content with your audience. Whether your organization needs to share information across space or time, webinars can help you save money, increase engagement with existing supporters, and onboard new members.
What are the different webinar types?
Webinars are any type of online-based event that allows people from across the globe to connect and learn in a common digital space. They are hosted on platforms that manage registrant sign up, log in, and content sharing. Webinar types can vary from seminars to workshops to trainings, thought-leadership, fundraising and more!
How can webinars help your nonprofit?
Hosting and having your members attend webinars are both helpful to your nonprofit's growth. If you’re looking to improve your member's professional skillset or onboard new members, you can use a webinar to reach your audience anywhere, anytime. Webinars are also an underutilized but ideal way to rally donors and supporters for fundraising, program development and advocacy.
Advantages of webinars include…
- Cost effectiveness
- Breaking down complex topics into step-by-step visual representations with accompanying audio
- Opportunities for interacting and engaging with guest speakers and the hosts
- Increased engagement with polls and Q&A periods that reach a global audience
- Recordings, slides, and additional resources can be shared after the event
Here we cover 5 ways you can use webinars to grow your nonprofit:
1. Raise Your Donors' Awareness
Every nonprofit knows the value of their donors. But are your donors up-to-date on the value of your work?
As a nonprofit that relies on donors for contributions, webinars can be an affordable educational tool for raising awareness about your organization’s latest accomplishments. Webinars are an excellent and more engaging alternative than an annual report, and offers donors the flexibility of interacting from the comfort of their own homes.
Webinars contain interactive elements which give you the flexibility to use presentation slides, diagrams, polls, and questions to open up dialogue with large audiences. Donors can ask questions in real-time and without the expense of organizing an in-person event. Organizing such an event as a thank-you to donors allows them to see where their donations go and how your organization is making a difference. Conveying this information is how you build trust with donors and capture recurring donations future growth.
Pro Tip: Take your camera or smartphone outside to share real-time footage of your nonprofit’s activities. It helps to build trust and showcases how your nonprofit helps specific communities or the local neighborhood where donation dollars are put to use.
2. Train and Onboard Staff and Volunteers
Whether you’re a local or global nonprofit, webinars are the easiest way to bring your team of staff and volunteers together for training or team meetings. Nonprofits can take advantage of webinars for onboarding or updates without having to spend much money, and can even bring people from different offices together without needing travel funds. Webinars make these meetings seamless because you easily repeat or replay the same training or workshop for new members or staff and can be followed-up on via automatic emails with recordings, handouts, or next steps to take.
Creating data visualizations for your presentation makes it easier for staff and volunteers to follow along and pay attention. Content can be transformed into other materials such as infographics or blog posts, and combining multiple presentations can help to create a training manual or plan.
3. Engage New Audiences
If you want to build and expand your nonprofit’s reach, you need innovative ways to reach new nonprofit audiences. Webinars can help you meet new people and leverage your network of existing advocates to bring in new ones. Consider inviting a guest speaker or guest organization in order to grow your organization's reputation among audiences with whom you haven't previously interacted.
Guest speakers can share inspirational stories, and might inspire your existing members to invite their friends. The guest speaker will also have their own audience who might also be interested in supporting your organization. This is a great opportunity for coalition building and raising your organization’s profile in the community.
Pro tip: Increase sign-ups and attendance for your webinars using these email marketing best practices.
4. Share Your Nonprofit's Story
Sometimes we are so focused on nonprofit storytelling and social media that we don’t use the best source/medium to showcase it. The next time you want to share your organization’s recent success story in a blog or video, consider running a webinar. Webinars allow you to tell a powerful story by introducing, presenting and showcasing your achievements in front of an audience's undivided attention.
Webinars allow you to create more captivating content by leveraging narration and building empathy and emotion. Connect with your community and broader global audience using captivating storytelling tools. With the right marketing promotion, you can create a greater sense of imagination, emotional response and urgency for your nonprofit using a webinar.
5. Mobilize a Fundraiser
As a nonprofit, you have definitely held numerous fundraisers, but are probably always looking for new fundraising ideas. You probably also struggle with how time-consuming and costly most fundraisers are.
Webinars can save the day by replacing an in-person fundraiser. They can be extremely effective for a crisis-control campaign or emergency disaster as they can help boost donations quickly. Think of these types of webinars as modern, digital versions of the telethon.
Whichever webinar type you decide to begin with, make sure you have a decent marketing plan, are very clear about the start time, and test things out in advance. Then when the time comes, enjoy engaging with your audience, answering questions, and sharing case studies and stories. And don’t forget to end with a call to action!