From fundraising events to professional meetings, you can take your audience online for an engaging experience!

Among the many pandemic pivots we’ve observed, organizations are using keen creativity to produce online events for donors, members, customers, clients, employees, volunteers and other key audiences.

As with in-person events, the following are essential ingredients for successful virtual events:

  • A clear purpose—What’s the point of this event?
  • A defined audience—Who should attend?
  • A compelling draw—Why should I participate? What will I learn or do or enjoy?
  • An appropriate date, time, length—including a detailed “show flow” or timeline for the event.
  • Advanced planning with a strategic promotional plan.

In addition, your virtual event needs an emcee or host who is skilled on Zoom and a backup who can take over if needed. Some events may be well served with a director who can keep things moving behind the computer screen. A rehearsal is highly recommended to ensure the key players know the flow and how to hand off to each other during the event.

Following are a few examples of clever pivots to virtual events—including two coming in July.

The University Club of Pasadena has pivoted their popular 5-course wine dinner by creating a virtual 3-course dinner series for members and non-members. Guests make their reservations, pick up their wine and dinner curbside at the club, and then gather via Zoom to enjoy the meal and hear from the winemaker. Learn more about the next dinner July 9 by visiting the calendar page on their website.

The non-profit Foothill Family organization in Pasadena is hosting a creative Virtual Family Challenge July 16-17.  It’s a fundraiser for the whole family to support Foothill Family, who services families in need in the San Gabriel and Pomona Valleys.  The two-day event includes an at-home scavenger hunt, an art project for which paint supplies will be provided, and a live magic show online.  Learn more at

Of note: Pasadena-based Beck & Call is a great source for promotional items to package and send to participants before your virtual meeting—and you can order face masks branded for your business or organization. Email [email protected] and let him know you heard about him here.

The Los Angeles-based Organization of Women Executives has planned a DIY pizza party for their members. Via Zoom, a local pizza chain exec will guide members in making the perfect pizza with ingredients secured in advance, following along from their home kitchens.

In May the American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women movement in Los Angeles pivoted their annual luncheon to a one-hour online Wellness Retreat, free of charge, that raised upwards of $20,000 with event sponsorships, an online silent auction that began the day before and live donations made online during the event. The hour featured a skilled host who began the event with some easy exercise to get everyone moving, compelling speakers on wellness and meditation, and a moving testimonial from a heart disease survivor.

When the Oneonta Club, a men’s social club based in South Pasadena, had to forego their year-end dinner event earlier this month, the group effectively pivoted to an online celebration. The club produced commemorative coffee mugs with the Oneonta logo and an image of the coronavirus, distributed them to members’ homes, and dispatched a photographer to shoot photos of members in their doorways or on the porch with their mugs. The images were edited into a moving video shown during the online meeting to promote connection despite social distancing.

Of note: SoCal-based CJG Photography is available to shoot photos and edit those into a video for your online event. Contact: [email protected].

Thrive Academy, a California-based coaching business, turned a three-day conference into a lively virtual event complete with a DJ and dance breaks. Of note, the organizers mailed a package to each registrant in advance of the meeting. Among the goodies: granola bars, cookie packs, instant coffee and tea bags as well as branded pens and notebooks.

The Friends of Contemporary Art and Photography recently held a gala fundraiser for the New Mexico Museum of Art. The caterer and wine shop delivered a beautiful meal to all patrons in advance of the event. The Friends enjoyed their meal while tuning into a Zoom program that included introduction of the museum’s new executive director.

(Photo above courtesy of my friend Jo Ann Ward)

Share with us the clever and creative virtual events you’ve enjoyed and we’ll consider a mention in a future issue. We would love to hear from you at [email protected]