COVID-19 has changed the face of nonprofit fundraising forever. Sure, we may be slowly moving back to in-person events, but spending a year doing everything virtually has opened up possibilities that we can’t forget now that vaccines are here.
That’s why in the second half of this year, we’ll see the rise of the hybrid fundraising event: an event which is hosted both in person and virtually.
With the digital world we’re living in, hybrid events help you make the most of your fundraising event, and are especially effective during this transitional stage of leaving social distancing behind. If you’re curious about how to make the most of hybrid events now and into the future, this article will give you all the tips and tricks.
Watch our free webinar, “Navigating The Rise Of Hybrid Fundraising Events” on demand:
Hybrid Events Are the Future
Before we get into the how, let’s start with the why. You may be thinking that hybrid events are a temporary measure, but there are reasons to continue thinking of virtual and in-person as we move forward. But hybrid events actually allow you to get all the advantages of both virtual and in-person fundraising without taking on extra headaches.
What are those advantages?
Advantages of virtual fundraising:
- Lower costs, which leads to higher return on investment.
- Fewer administrative tasks, since there are less things to manage than in-person events.
- Wider range of participants/supporters: supporters can attend from anywhere
- Easy & engaging participation: event participants can buy a ticket, donate, fundraise for you, and watch a livestream on one page, right on their phone.
- Virtual events tend to raise funds over a 30-60 day period leading up to the event, helping you raise more ahead of time.
Advantages of an in-person event:
- Your community gets to build closer relationships with each other
- Opportunities for fun activities to drive engagement
- Peer pressure increases fundraising (when attendees see others giving, they will too).
- Opportunities to tell your story and showcase your work to a captive audience.
When you combine the two, you get all of these benefits, as well as some unique advantages that come exclusively with hybrid fundraising events:
- You can tailor your event to the audience’s comfort level (those who are comfortable in person can attend, those not ready or not vaccinated can be virtual)
- It gives you a backup plan in case of changes, ie. if COVID restrictions tighten unexpectedly.
- Helps you stand out to your community, offering a forward-thinking approach to fundraising.
- You can raise funds both virtually ahead of time and in-person, helping you optimize fundraising for your event.
- You get to build a community of active participants both locally and from anywhere in the world.
The hybrid approach isn’t just for nonprofits. Some gyms are currently offering classes that members can attend in person or stream at home and follow along. This lets everyone feel comfortable where they are, and helps the business open up more. If a gym can do it this easily why can’t nonprofits?
By moving quickly to the hybrid model, you’re helping to pave the way for other nonprofits and showing your supporters that you’re forward thinking. But how exactly do you run a hybrid event?
5 Tips For Running A Hybrid Fundraising Event
There are a few guiding principles that will help you decide the logistics of your hybrid event. The first, is to take an approach that prioritizes the virtual experience. Historically it may have been true that hybrid events were focused first on in-person and added virtual as a secondary option. In 2021 it should be the opposite. Because regulations and circumstances can change at any time, you can’t guarantee that you will be able to host an in-person version of your event. That means your virtual elements need to be able to stand on their own.
That being said, the second principle is to create two unique experiences of the same event. From registration through to the thank you note, both your in-person and your virtual attendees should feel as if they’ve received a whole event experience. You can do this with multiple event ticketing tiers with different price points for virtual and in-person, with customized communication for each group of attendees, and with clear schedules for each option.
Finally, think about how your logistics will need to be different with COVID in mind. Think about things like how your venue will allow for social distancing, whether you need to adjust your cancellation policy to account for potential COVID exposure, and what information you’ll need to communicate to attendees who may not be local.
Once you have the basics set, it’s time to make your event an absolutely outstanding hybrid fundraising event for your nonprofit. Here are our top tips to take it to the next level:
1. Some Events Work Better As A Hybrid Fundraising Event
With a bit of work you can make nearly any event work as a hybrid fundraiser. But certain types of events lend themselves incredibly well to the hybrid format and are a great place to start. Think about doing a gala or a walkathon for the most straightforward hybrid event.
Climb Out of Darkness is an event with in-person options across the country, but with fundraising held online.
2. Plan Your Event Location Carefully
When you’re planning your hybrid event there are two major concerns to take into account in terms of location: appropriate social distancing and the capacity to livestream.
Social distancing can be easier in an outdoor location, but not all outdoor venues have reliable WiFi that will allow you to livestream a program if you want your virtual guests to see any part of the event. It’s important to balance the two sets of needs when choosing a venue.
3. Leverage Peer-to-Peer Fundraising To Raise More
One of the main advantages of virtual fundraising events is that you raise most funds online before your event. You can get the same advantage in a hybrid event by focusing your fundraising efforts before the event rather than relying on an in-person ask or auction.
Across the board, we see that peer-to-peer fundraising, or having your participants fundraise on your behalf, tends to help organizations raise 2x as much. For your hybrid event, ensure that you tap into your attendees and ask them to fundraise for you.
This works especially well if you can incentivize your supporters to raise their money before the event by offering prizes – with winners announced the day-of the event.
4. Use Ticketing Tiers To Create A Unique Event Experience
You want things to be clear for you on the administrative side and for your supporters and attendees. To keep everything straightforward, offer different ticket tiers when you sell tickets for in-person and virtual experiences for your hybrid event.
It helps you predict how many people are going to show up in-person and gives you another place to communicate that your event is hybrid. Plus you may want to offer different price points, as the experiences will be different.
With separate ticket prices and tiers, this will help you create the feel of two distinct events in one.
CauseVox’s new ticketing system makes it easy to offer different ticket options.
5. Integrate Virtual And In-Person Fundraising
While you want to create unique experiences for folks who are participating virtually and in-person, it can also help to create opportunities to cross those streams and keep your fundraising digital-first.
With online giving 32% in 2020, it’s clear that today’s donors feel comfortable giving online, and you can and should be driving even in-person event participants to give online.
Think about using QR codes at your in-person event to drive people to donate to your virtual fundraising campaign site on their phone.
This way, your donors can all give on one easy fundraising site, minimizing confusion and helping you save time reconciling funds.
Start Your Hybrid Fundraising Event with CauseVox
CauseVox helps you raise more with less effort whether you’re running an in-person event, a virtual event, or something hybrid.
Use CauseVox to easily spin up crowdfunding campaigns, donation pages, and peer-to-peer fundraising campaigns, plus integrate event ticketing and management directly into your fundraising.
Learn more about how you can use CauseVox for your online events.
ChatGPT for Nonprofits: How to Leverage Artificial Intelligence
12 Fundraising Ideas for Nonprofits 
Peer-to-Peer Fundraising: Everything You Need to Know 
How To Develop And Maintain Your Fundraising Calendar (Downloadable Template)