Webinars for Nonprofits: Getting Started

flickr/TechSoup for Libraries

flickr/TechSoup for Libraries

By now, most of us have participated in a webinar, but it’s one thing to participate and another to produce one. So, here’s  a quick guide to getting started in webinar production for nonprofits.

In light of current budget blues, traveling to a conference or workshop isn’t always possible anymore for your key audiences. Webinars can help your organization tighten its belt by helping share its knowledge and best practices without incurring travel costs for your staff or participants.

The first big step in deciding whether to do a webinar is completing your strategic communications plan. Your goals and strategies always determine your tactics and channels, not vice versa. So, don’t start by deciding you want to do a webinar and then coming up with an idea of what it might be about.

However, if—as part of your overall plan—you find your organization needs to communicate with a particular, far-flung audience in a fairly in-depth way (for example, to convey information or to explain a process) it might be worth considering a webinar.

Webinars don’t lend themselves to every topic, so keep that in mind. If eye contact or body language is important to your topic, you may want to look at another medium. Likewise, if you need more than an hour and a half to cover the subject, think about a series of shorter webinars or use another tool. Attention spans are challenged by webinars that last more the 90 minutes. Also, for small audiences within a short geographic distance (including internal audiences), face-to-face meetings may build stronger relationships than a webinar. Weigh all the pros and cons before you decide.

Anyone who’s taken a webinar knows they’re not all created equal. Some falter because of technical problems, inadequate planning, or poor presentors. Good webinars may look seamless and easy to do, but they’re the ones that have taken the most time to plan and carry out well.

Here are a few great resources to make sure that—if your nonprofit  chooses to conduct a webinar—it’s a raving success.

  • First, look over these two wonderful articles from TechSoup on how to plan and how to conduct an effective webinar.
  • You’ll also need to understand the range of available tools—here’s a list by Idealware that spells out what capabilities you can have in webinars, and reviews some of the webinar products you can use, including prices (scroll down to the section called Online Seminar Tools).
  • And finally, HubSpot’s 10 best practices for webinars.

You nonprofits and foundations who already have experience  at conducting webinars—please share your experiences and add any advice you have below!

CC photo credit: TechSoup for Libraries

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3 Responses to “Webinars for Nonprofits: Getting Started”

  1. Luise Says:

    Great collection of resources here! I’ve been trying to promote our own webinar about dissemination (http://bit.ly/lUy8l), and have found it more difficult than I thought to get RSVPs – even for a free event. So, I’d add another piece of advice here:

    Even though you want to target an audience and be as specific as possible about whom you’d like to invite, be careful not to make your webinar too “exclusive.” This alienates auxiliary audiences that might be interested in attending your webinar, and could be worth your time.

  2. IMPACTMAX Says:

    Thanks, Luise!

  3. Anil Kujur Says:

    It’s good to have the webinar for not for profit organizations.This will a great to share the knowledge and the best practices without travelling and much of staff participation.
    Here we can get some knoweldge sharing about all the CSR issues and its solutions.


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