Supporting a Community When Real-life Events Aren’t Possible

Bring the spirit of in-person events online while protecting the health of your community.


March 6, 2020

The heart of Meetup’s mission centers around bringing people together in person. Meetup was founded after the tragedy of September 11th because we know that people turn to each other in challenging times. Today, community leaders around the world are facing their own challenge: hosting in-person events while keeping their communities healthy and avoiding COVID-19 (Coronavirus).

Meetup is unwavering when it comes to hosting events in person instead of online. But in light of the circumstances, we’re temporarily encouraging communities to stay connected in any way they can. That includes hosting virtual events.

Supporting each other in times like these is critical no matter how you get together.

Social distancing may mean staying further apart from each other physically in [the] coming weeks. We should compensate by caring even more about each other than [usual], because we are, of course, all in this together.

Kai Kupferschmidt, Journalist covering infectious diseases

If you’re living in an area where you’re not able to meet in person, consider maintaining connections by hosting a virtual event and reaching out to your group for support. Here are my top three pieces of advice for keeping communities healthy and bringing the spirit of Meetup events online.


1. Take precautions when meeting in person

Organizers can keep their communities healthy by staying informed with advice from the World Health Organization. We still believe being in person is the best way to meet, but there are precautions you can take before getting together.

  • Check for and abide by updates from local authorities or public health experts before your next event.
  • Advise members who are feeling sick or who’ve recently traveled to affected areas to stay home.
  • Share best practices for staying healthy with your community.
  • Send an email to members with your adjusted plans for upcoming events.

2. Host and attend events online

If you’re concerned about meeting in person, encourage your community to gather online. Keep up the momentum by keeping the in-person elements of your community alive.

  • Use free video conference services like Google Hangouts, or paid ones like Zoom, to host or attend online events.
  • Gather ideas for online and future in-person events from your community. 
  • Set virtual-friendly activities like community discussions, playing online games, or just making time to socialize.
  • Host online events at the same time you would host in-person events.
  • Plan a reunion event for when it’s time to get back together.

3. Stay engaged by being remote-friendly

Online events are powerful when they’re community-focused. You can use the same practices that make your in-person events engaging to make your online experience worthwhile. 

  • Check in with every participant and encourage them to share their thoughts.
  • Turn on your video cameras. Seeing each other’s faces helps us to connect.
  • Encourage people to meet in a quiet place where everyone can be heard. Remember to mute your microphone when not speaking.

Has your group been meeting online because of COVID-19? Share your experience with us so we can share it with other organizers on the Community Matters blog.

We’re in this together and we’re here to support you. 

David, Meetup CEO

Last modified on June 23, 2021