Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual events, activities, and meetings have become somewhat normal in our everyday lives. American Legion Auxiliary units nationwide have had to adapt to this virtual way, and although it may be challenging at times, we are all in this together!
Lisa Chaplin, Department of Virginia Auxiliary member, has participated in several successful virtual conferences, meetings, events, and even helped organize the Department of Virginia’s annual convention in a virtual 2020 meeting style. Chaplin insisted that despite pandemic circumstances, their department must be present and do something for their annual convention.
“First thing we did, and the best thing we did, was our annual convention in July,” said Chaplin. “When we knew the convention was going to be canceled for a live, in-person event, I said, ‘We need to do this virtually. I don’t know what The American Legion is doing or what the SAL is doing, but we have to do something.’”
Unfortunately, members can’t greet each other with a handshake or hug one another like in past ALA meetings, but Chaplin suggests using new ways to connect with each other. The Department of Virginia uses email marketing service Constant Contact and other platforms to promote virtual happenings.
“We use Constant Contact, which goes to everyone who has an email address on file through their membership,” said Chaplin. “We also asked unit presidents and secretaries to ask their unit members if they haven’t provided an email address yet, to please do so because they’re missing important information.”
Since the pandemic lockdowns and social distancing restrictions, the Department of Virginia has had several successful virtual events and meetings. A very helpful tip Chaplin suggests is to record your event or meeting and allow it to be accessible to fellow Auxiliary members afterward. Recordings should be available so anyone who wasn’t able to attend the meeting can have access to information shared.
“To promote events, we also use the department website and the department Facebook page,” added Chaplin.
Social media is probably the best and most cost-effective way to promote a virtual event. Start by creating an online presence if you haven’t already done so, and connect with members in these convenient virtual ways. Take advantage of social media and all the free features offered.
Helpful tips on promoting your virtual events:
Unit newsletters: Does your ALA unit have a newsletter? An internal unit newsletter, whether it’s a digital or print format, is a great way to inform members on what’s happening in your local American Legion Auxiliary. This regular source of communication can act as a central document that includes important information, upcoming events, and access to your unit’s social media platforms.
Social media stories: Most social media platforms have a feature that gives you the opportunity to use “stories” to tease upcoming events, link directly to event information, and update members on all things Auxiliary. Stories are also a nice way to interact with each other, see what friends are doing during quarantine, get ideas from, and so much more.
Use the “Event” feature on Facebook: This option allows interested followers to see information about the event being hosted, including what, when, and where. It also lets people RSVP and be reminded of the event automatically by the platform. Bonus feature — you can interact with potential attendees and increase exposure!
Instagram countdowns: Instagram offers several creative features that engage audiences, such as the ability to create countdowns for upcoming events or announcements. It also lets your followers see what you’re up to or keep up with what your fellow ALA members are doing.
Call your members: Be sure to call your fellow ALA members to check in on them. 2020 was a rough year, and a phone call from a friend could really make someone’s day! Try using or setting up a virtual meeting with Zoom, Microsoft Teams, or FaceTime. You’ll like talking to a familiar face.
This article was originally published in the February 2021 Auxiliary magazine.