[GUEST POST] Hybrid Fundraising Events: 3 Tips to Get Started This Year

Virtual fundraising events have been on the rise for a while now, due to their convenience for both planners and attendees. However, these events make it difficult to take advantage of the benefits of in-person events, like increased engagement and opportunities for connection.

Instead of feeling limited to one format or the other, your organization can achieve the best of both by organizing a hybrid fundraiser. Hybrid events are set up to allow participants to attend and engage with your fundraiser either in person or online. 

In this guide, we’ll cover the following tips to help you plan your next hybrid event:

  1. How to choose your hybrid event idea
  2. The essential hybrid event tools to invest in
  3. Hybrid event attendee engagement strategies

Using your organization’s program management software (along with other specialized tools) will make handling event logistics much easier, allowing you to focus more of your time on developing creative ways to engage attendees. Let’s get started by covering the first step toward an engaging event: choosing a fundraising idea.

1. How to choose your hybrid event idea

Choosing an amazing idea can be what makes or breaks your event. Look back at past events your organization held that were popular among supporters—could those ideas translate to an online setting? Would you be able to balance the needs of both online and in-person attendees?

To help kickstart your brainstorming session, here are a few popular virtual fundraising event ideas you can try:

  • Live-streaming your in-person event, like a charity concert
  • Organizing a pay-to-play, hybrid video game tournament in which in-person attendees meet up and virtual attendees join from home
  • Hosting a hybrid fundraising auction using an auction website or app
  • Planning a multi-day, hybrid conference

Before deciding on an event, make sure you have an idea of how to engage all attendees regardless of the way they are joining the event. While you can engage in-person attendees in more traditional ways, like allowing them to ask questions at the end of sessions, you may need to get more creative when it comes to virtual participants (e.g., using your video conferencing platform’s chat function or making polls).

2. The essential hybrid event tools you need to invest in

To reach those attending virtually, your hybrid event needs to rely on effective technology.

The tools you choose should encourage active engagement with attendees (and between them), optimize your online marketing strategy, and collect key participant data. Here are the essential tools you need to enhance your virtual attendees’ experiences:

  • Event registration tool
  • A live-streaming or video conferencing platform
  • Email marketing platform
  • An online donation form
  • A CRM to gather and store participant data
  • Reporting and data analysis software

When you’re just getting started with virtual and hybrid events, you may prefer to subscribe to just a few of these tools at a time. However, as you get more comfortable, hold more hybrid events, or attract more attendees, it can be easier (and more cost-effective) to use a solution that has all of these features rolled into one. 

3. Hybrid event attendee engagement strategies

A huge challenge hybrid event planners face is engaging both sets of attendees, even though they are participating in different ways. The key is to carefully develop engagement opportunities tailored to each group.

Fonteva’s guide to member engagement recommends making participation convenient for attendees, offering a variety of ways to interact during the event, and sending out post-event surveys. With these tips in mind, consider using strategies like:

  • Incorporate gamification elements like digital badges or leaderboards to encourage and reward participation in the event.
  • Plan virtual breakout groups following main speakers to discuss points or topics your hybrid participants would like to expound upon.
  • Allow reactions (like hand raising) via your video conferencing platform so virtual attendees can signal their interest in asking a question or making a comment just like in-person participants would.
  • Assign a dedicated host for virtual attendees to respond to their chats and lead them through the event.

Your event attendees are the most important part of this whole experience. After all, they’re the ones who contribute to your mission and take you one step further to achieving your organization’s goals. It’s up to you to give them the best experience possible in order to optimize fundraising results and foster long-term relationships with donors. 

Hybrid events can bring you closer to your donors and attendees than you might think. With the right tools and event ideas, you can engage supporters from wherever they are most comfortable.

By Jake Fabbri, Vice President of Marketing, Fonteva

Jake Fabbri is the Vice President of Marketing at Fonteva with over 18 years of experience working in marketing management. He has experience with lead generation, content marketing, marketing automation, and events.

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