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5 Tips for Creating Engaging Event Content and Programming

Nonprofit event organizers dedicate their time to planning and executing events that will push their organizations’ goals forward, such as educating attendees about their cause, raising funds, or fostering networking opportunities among industry professionals.

To make your event a success, you must properly engage your attendees and hold their attention. If not, it will be difficult to accomplish your initial goals and motivate attendees to get involved.

In this article, we’ll review tips for creating engaging event content and programming to excite your attendees. That way, you can ensure your event accomplishes your overarching goals and provides a positive experience for everyone involved.

1. Get to know your audience.

Double the Donation explains that one of the main benefits of nonprofit events is the opportunity to build connections with your supporters. To initiate these connections, you have to first get to know your audience. When you personalize your event to your audience’s demographics, interests, and preferences, you’ll provide content and programming that resonate with them.

To learn more about your attendees, begin by collecting data about them. You can do this by:

  • Gleaning information from your registration software. Your event registration platform is a powerful tool that represents one of the first touchpoints you have with attendees. Uncover basic information such as names, contact information, and communication preferences that attendees have supplied during sign-up.
  • Surveying attendees. If you want to learn more about your attendees’ specific event preferences, consider sending them a survey well before your event. For instance, you could ask which topics they’re most interested in learning about or how they learn best so you can structure your speaker sessions accordingly.
  • Enriching your database. Let’s say some of your attendees indicated they’d like you to contact them by phone number, but you only have their email addresses. When you work with a data provider to implement data enrichment, you can easily add this information to your database, enabling you to reach these attendees through their preferred communication method. You may also append demographic and lifestyle information that helps you further tailor your event content.

After you’ve gathered attendee data, group your audience into segments based on shared characteristics. For instance, an environmental organization may create a segment of attendees who are interested in learning about wildlife conservation and send them information about a relevant speaker session to build anticipation for their upcoming event.

2. Offer a variety of activities.

To cater to different interests and hold attendees’ attention, offer a variety of activities, content formats, and session types. This will increase the chances that each attendee has an immersive, personalized experience.

Try implementing a combination of the following activities:

  • Keynote presentation
  • Panels and webinars
  • Workshops
  • Networking opportunities
  • Sponsored activities

To make your event even more interactive, incorporate gamification. EventMobi explains that gamification refers to the use of game-like elements to make your event more fun and exciting for attendees. For instance, you may create a networking challenge that awards attendees points for each new connection they make.

3. Incorporate storytelling.

Stories make your cause come to life and can spark emotional connections. Consider highlighting real-life examples, case studies, testimonials, and success stories during your speaker sessions to illuminate the important work your nonprofit does.

To source these examples, reach out to your staff, volunteers, donors, and beneficiaries to share any notable stories related to your nonprofit. Be sure to emphasize that you’ll be sharing their words publicly at an event, and secure their consent before distributing any personal information.

While pictures, videos, and real names of these people can make your stories more impactful, offer the option to share anonymous stories with your audience to protect people’s privacy.

In addition to these more traditional ways to incorporate stories into your event, try to be creative. For example, if you’re hosting an auction to raise money for your animal shelter, you may attach a different adopted pet’s success story to each item’s bid sheet to inspire people to give.

4. Use the right event technology.

With the right tools, you can enhance the event experience and immerse attendees in your programming. While it’s up to your organization to produce engaging content, technology can help you distribute and increase interactions with that content, thereby maximizing attendee engagement. Look for an event app with a variety of engagement features, such as:

  • Live chat
  • Live polls
  • Q&A
  • Surveys
  • Gamification
  • Video libraries

Before you adopt a new event tool, have multiple team members test it out and give their stamp of approval. You’ll want to ensure the software you choose is easy for attendees to use to maximize engagement with the platform. Additionally, check to see if the software integrates with any of your existing tools—such as your constituent relationship management platform (CRM) or email marketing platform—for smoother data transfers.

5. Solicit attendee feedback.

In addition to thanking your attendees after your event, make sure to ask for their honest feedback. Send them a survey that poses open-ended questions about your event, such as:

  • Which sessions were the most engaging and why?
  • What features of our event app did you find most useful?
  • Is there anything we could do in the future to make your event experience more engaging?

In addition to these event-specific questions, ensure you ask attendees if their preferred communication method or contact information has changed so you can connect with them in the future and inform them of upcoming event opportunities. Give them the option of receiving communications via email, text message, or direct mail, and allow them to opt into additional messaging such as your newsletter.

When you’re hosting an event, there is only so much you can control about how the event runs on the day of. However, you can take steps to optimize event engagement and create an immersive experience for your attendees that keeps them coming back for future opportunities.