The Future of Online Events on Meetup

How Meetup will foster real human connections during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.


The COVID-19 pandemic has and will continue to change the world as we know it. The questions we’re asking ourselves at Meetup are: What will we do to help people make real human connections online? And how will we help communities get back together when we’re able to meet again?

It’s times of crisis that make us step back, look at the big picture, and take decisive action. Meetup was founded after September 11th with the hope of capturing the same spirit of togetherness that arose in communities across New York City. For the past 18 years, Meetup has been synonymous with those real-life, in-person, face-to-face, human interactions. 

Today, we’re faced with a crisis that doesn’t allow us to gather together. When people can’t safely meet in person the need for human connections doesn’t go away, it only gets stronger. 

Remembering our mission—to empower personal growth through real human connections—we committed to creating ways for organizers and members to stay connected online. When it’s safe to meet in person again, communities will need a movement to rebuild from the ground up and online events will be crucial to the next generation of real-life community organizing.

Reimagining the meaning of “real life”

Over the past month, our team has built new technology and product features that allow organizers to share an online event link instead of a physical location. We’ve also changed our in-person event policy so our communities could access the support they need.

In just three weeks, 40,000 amazing Meetup organizers have hosted over 60,000 online events with over 1,000,000 RSVPs to those events. The response from the Meetup community has been inspiring and it’s helped us reimagine the impact that Meetup can have on the world—in person and online. We’ve heard countless stories about how online events have helped communities stay connected, reestablish or deepen existing connections, or even expand their reach. These events are online but the connections being made are as real as the ones we make in person.

In-person events will always be our focus and priority. They’re irreplaceable for our communities. We also believe online events have a place on Meetup. As we begin to find our new “normal,” we understand that social distancing will change how people are interacting in a way that will last long after this pandemic has passed. So as we move forward together, we’ll find the balance of online and in-person events that inspires real human connection around the world.

We’re preparing for the time when Meetup communities can get back together in person, and we’re already seeing how organizers will bring the spirit of in-person events online.

Last modified on October 17, 2023