The rise of virtual events

September 28, 2020
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Virtual events are having a moment. With a bundle of cancellations and postponements hitting the mass participation sporting calendar, event organisers and charities have had to find new platforms and new audiences online. In fact, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly everything is going more virtual than ever: work, shopping, exercise, girls’ night “out”, and so on!

Virtual charity events are an exciting way to bring communities together and create a buzz around a cause. But are they just an emergency stopgap until physical events can return, or are they here to stay?

There are good reasons to think that the future is at least partly virtual: online events have some important advantages over physical events that have nothing to do with the pandemic. Unlike traditional events which take place on a specific date in a specific location, virtual event participants can join in wherever they are within a more flexible organising calendar. Anyone wishing to take part just needs to be able to access an event app or website where they can join and log their progress.

By taking away the need to travel, events become more accessible to participants with busy schedules, or who can’t travel, or who live on the other side of the world. Event organisers and charities can also save on major costs like venue hire, catering and security – meaning that more money can ultimately go to supporting their work.

At GivenGain, we’ve spent a lot of time this year helping event organisers to keep on making a difference online. Our integrations with leading fitness tracking apps Strava and Runkeeper allow you to unite your participants in epic virtual fundraising challenges – and make a difference now when charities need it the most.

Now, we’ve asked some of them for their thoughts on the future of fundraising – online and offline.

Courir Pour Elles

Since 2010, Courir Pour Elles has raised money for the fight against women’s cancers with an annual charity run in Lyon, France. This year, organisers were forced to take the event online. On 10 May, women from around the world joined the Courir Pour Elles LA Matinale Live event for a day of fitness classes, presentations, and a 5km walk.

“I would really recommend GivenGain’s platform and services. It’s a great way to enable participants to raise funds for charity,” says event organiser Isabelle Cice. “I really enjoyed working with my dedicated fundraising manager, who was always there to provide support and answer questions.”

In the end, Isabelle couldn’t resist joining in the fun herself.

“I became a fundraiser in the event I was organising and really got caught up in it,” she says. “In the end I was the second-best fundraiser. With GivenGain, we were able to raise €16,000 through the event – and we have already decided to use it for other fun sporting challenges we’re organising.”

Vhi Virtual Women’s Mini Marathon

The Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon is the world’s largest all-women charity race and the biggest one-day charity event in Ireland. Every June bank holiday weekend since 1983, thousands of women have gathered in Dublin to take part – and raised money for hundreds of different charities in the process. In total, over 1 million women have taken part.

After this year’s event had to be postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organisers took the unprecedented step of moving the event online. This October, supporters will come together virtually to fundraise to the #Powerof10 – 10 kilometres in 10 days to raise €10 million in donations.

“So many of our participants fundraise for charitable causes close to their heart,” say Vhi Marathon event organisers. “Even though there won’t be a physical Vhi Women’s Mini Marathon this year, there are so many creative ways to continue to raise money for your chosen charity through our virtual event, whether it’s in your own home or surrounds, while adhering to social distancing guidelines.”

Event organisers are planning to bring back the traditional race in 2021, but their experience of virtual fundraising has convinced them that it will continue after the pandemic. Unlike real-world events, the size of a virtual event isn’t limited by logistics – giving organisers the option of holding mega-events with potentially hundreds of thousands of participants.

“Virtual events have huge potential in a post-pandemic world. Take the London Marathon, which sells out so fast every year. Half a million people would want to be part of the race and contribute as part of that experience, but they can’t actually get a ticket. Wanting to be a part of these communities will be really big and that will survive beyond COVID.”

If you are setting up a virtual event and would like to make a bigger difference for charity, contact us at