A Very Virtual Engagement Party
If you didn’t know already, Idealist Consulting throws a huge party for nonprofit and progressive organizations every year at Dreamforce called The Engagement Party. Perhaps we even saw you there in person in past years. But this year was different.
Months ago, we here at Idealist Consulting were asking ourselves whether Salesforce would virtualize Dreamforce. We wondered whether we should try to virtualize The Engagement Party if they did. And finally we asked ourselves if we shouldn’t plan a digital event even if Dreamforce didn’t happen
We realized that if ever there was a year to attempt something new and innovative — something completely outside our ken and comfort zone — 2020 was it. We decided to go for it and try to build a virtual event from scratch without any other model for what we wanted to achieve.
In the end, we made some magic happen. We committed to a date and Dreamforce happened to align with it. We found some incredible sponsor partners — iATS Payments, Mogli, and FormAssembly — to support the event and lend their tech. And underpinning all our planning, our goal again this year was to raise money through ticket sales and donations for Amplify, an organization that means a lot to us here at Idealist Consulting.
What We Did
Months ago when we decided to virtualize The Engagement Party, we started planning by thinking about what we could offer people and what people would want. We couldn’t bring everyone together in person and offer cocktails, and we recognized that a lot of us are spending a lot of time at our computers watching webinars and holding meetings. We also took into consideration that a lot of folks are working from home with their families right now.
So we decided if we couldn’t bring hundreds of people together to socialize, we could at least provide entertainment for the whole family.
We decided to build a digital theater with multiple stages to accommodate different performances. Attendees could drop into different stages and listen to different performances for as long as they liked before moving on to another stage and another performance.
How We Did It
At its core, the technology we used to make this event happen is accessible to most organizations these days. Our theater was a landing page hosted in our website’s CMS. Each stage was a Zoom webinar room. Boom! Pretty simple in essence.
Other than the basic structure of the theater, our biggest concern was performers. The performers we hired influenced how we needed to set up Zoom and what information our theater needed to display.
We also needed a form or ticketing system for registration, particularly one that would connect to Salesforce. We used Pardot for email promotion and to send information about the event. We used Vimeo to host sponsor videos. And we built an experience in Qualified to leverage the chatbot we already use for guest services the night of the event.
It was all tech we were already familiar with, and we leveraged that familiarity to our advantage.
Partners in Tech
Similar to the last in-person event we threw in San Francisco, our event sponsors lended us their technology to help us throw the event.
- FormAssembly — We built a donation form using FormAssembly. This is a particularly great option for nonprofits who want to record each donation or registration as an opportunity in Salesforce.
- Mogli — Between performances and in the chat window of our stages we encouraged attendees to make donations to Amplify via a text-to-donate system set up by Mogli. We raised almost $1000 the night of the event through this system. (Test it out by texting AMPLIFY to 94069!)
- iATS Payments — iATS served as the payment processor for both our FormAssembly and Mogli text-to-donate systems, making it easy to get donations directly and securely to Amplify.
We’re so grateful for all the support of our sponsors!
In the end, we raised more for Amplify than in any other year and spent less building a custom virtual solution than we usually do throwing our in-person event at Dreamforce in San Francisco.
We were so glad to be able to contribute to Amplify. Their mission to empower underrepresented voices in technology means a lot to us at Idealist Consulting. Like our CEO, Rob Jordan, said in his video message during the event, “We totally embrace Amplify’s values. This is especially true with The Engagement Party where we experience firsthand the notions of inclusion, equity, and community.” So we are so proud to be able to build something to support Amplify.
Thank you to everyone who attended our event this year. We hope to see you again next year — whether virtually or in person.
We’re hoping this event serves as an accessible model for other organizations planning virtual events right now. We think you’ve got this! And if you need help making sure you’re leveraging Salesforce at the center of all that tech, let’s talk.