Episode 171 | Planning Virtual Events with Wendi Freeman

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Today we’re talking about virtual events, live events, all that good stuff with my guest, Wendi Freeman. Wendi is the founder and CEO of Be Bright Events. She has worked in the for-profit space, and she’s done a lot of work in the nonprofit space as well. Wendi has more than 15 years of experience; she’s planned events, conferences, workshops, retreats, masterminds for groups that are anywhere from about 12 people all the way up to 700 people, and their budgets range anywhere from $1,000 to a million dollars.

Tell us a little bit more about you and the work that you do today.

I did event planning in the corporate space for a little over 15 years and started my own business because I wanted to focus more on organizations that were making an impact on people’s lives. I started my business with the intent of in-person events and have since pivoted to virtual events, which has actually been really great. There’s such a broader reach of planning events for organizations and entrepreneurs who are making an impact. We’ve been able to raise even more funds, we’ve been able to reach and touch even more people, and it’s really given organizations an opportunity to really get their messages out in a way that they otherwise previously weren’t able to do.

How did you add the virtual on top of the already scheduled event? How did that look like for your clients?

For a lot of them, they already had the speakers confirmed. So we just reached out to the speakers and told them that we still want them to speak at our in-person event if the dates work for them. But we would love to feature them on our virtual event as well. Almost every speaker was willing to do that because again, it gives them that broader reach. I think you’re probably sensing a theme here. With virtual, it’s very different than in person. You really have to be strategic in the way that you create your program because when you’re on stage, you have a captive audience. When you’re virtual, they’re not necessarily captive, they’re behind the screen, it’s very easy to multitask. And the attention span is not nearly the same as it is when you’re in person. So we combined a lot of them into panels that kept it very interactive and engaging. And then we had other ones just do a shorter version of their session or one component of their session as a highlight. So not only were we still delivering that value, but we also gain marketing materials to promote the in-person event with kind of sneak peeks of what they’re going to be seeing what the type of content is. We also did a lot of modifications – the agenda, the way that they were speaking, and we worked in some engagement activities. So intentional hot seats, intentional Q and A’s, and breakout sessions. For some of them, we added an upgraded ticket price that was for that VIP ticket. Obviously, with the VIP you will get all of the recordings. But what that also included was a lunch or a mastermind or some sort of private event where they literally got to be in a room with the speaker, which is something that you would never have. I mean, you’re obviously in the room with the speaker at an in-person event. But being 18 inches away in a Zoom Room with fewer people having the opportunity to really talk to that speaker provided a tremendous amount of value to the attendees.

Do you charge the same for your virtual events or that virtual ticket as your live ticket?

That’s a question that I get a lot. You could look at it one of two ways. The first thing that I always say is, you would never have an in-person event for free. The reason being there’s obviously overhead, but you are delivering value and people are paying for that value. The same thing stands true in a virtual event. What I’ve done with virtual events is we have come up with various ticket tiers. That allows you to still offer a higher level of value at a price point that is going to generate revenue for you. But you also can have those lower price points; a lot of virtual events are offering free. For a lot of your listeners that are in the nonprofit space, I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, because you want to get that word out, you’re going to get more fundraisers you’re going to be or you’re going to be able to raise more money. But at the same time, when you’re doing that, you can limit it to where it’s just a live stream on YouTube, or it’s a live stream on Facebook, and then people are paying to actually be in the Zoom Room to be a part of those breakouts, to be a part of those conversations, to get the recordings to get any speaker downloads And then making each package a no brainer depending on the level of engagement the attendees want. There’s a ticket price that will resonate with everyone.

What are you seeing that is being done really well by nonprofit leaders during the season that we’ve been walking through?

What I’ve been seeing that is has been done really well, our number one, the nonprofit’s that are willing to take that leap. It can be scary, especially when you are thinking about in-person events that have silent auctions and different types of events. But there are ways to replicate that in the virtual space. And there’s actually some really fun ways we’ve done silent auctions. We’ve done online auctions, we’ve even done in-person auctions where everybody gets sent out a packet ahead of time, and they have their flag number and we’re doing it that way. So I think that creating the experience, letting people know that this still is an interactive fundraiser, and being intentional with the sessions that you’re having and the different activities that you’re doing. The nonprofit’s that I have worked with that have raised the most money, they all had one thing in common, and on their registration pages. They had short videos of previous recipients of those funds, sharing their story about what they were able to accomplish as a result because that’s what pulls at people’s heartstrings. So those were definitely the Top Producing nonprofit fundraising events that I’ve been a part of were the ones that took the time to get those videos from the recipients really good.

What is your definition of fundraising freedom? What does that mean to you?

I think a part of freedom comes down to security. Being in a place where you feel secure enough to go after what you want. So many people talk about financial freedom and just freedom in general. And I know for me it comes down to it’s not about financial freedom, it’s about what is the end goal? What am I trying to accomplish? And how can I do that? When I feel secure, I’m willing to take more risks. When I feel secure, I’m willing to step out of my comfort zone. When I feel secure I am going to be the person that I need to be in order to accomplish whatever it is that I’m trying to accomplish.

Do you have any parting advice for people as they launch out into this virtual event space or just nonprofit work in general?

I just encourage everybody to remember your why. Why did you start this foundation? Why are you doing this and use that as your momentum to move you forward? Do the things that you might not want to do resource up level up, you know, ask for help when you need help, and use that why as your momentum.

Connect with Wendi:

The Virtual Event Experts: www.thevirtualeventexperts.com

Be Bright Events: www.bebrighteventsco.com/

Schedule a FREE Strategy Call: https://calendly.com/bebrightevents/be-bright-events-connection-call

Virtual Event Toolkit: https://bit.ly/virtualeventtoolkit
Email: wendi.freeman@bebrighteventsco.com

FREE DOWNLOAD: Guide to Getting Started: https://www.bebrighteventsco.com/planningworkbook

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/wendi.i.freeman

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/wendifreeman

Connect with Mary:

Mary Valloni

Fundraising Freedom Academy

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