Non-Profit fundraising events are a great way to cultivate support and attract new donors. But great events take a lot of planning, financial support, and (most of all) they require ongoing management.
That said, if 2021 was the year of the virtual event for Non-Profits that host fundraising events, 2022 is shaping up to be the year of the hybrid campaign. According to Forbes magazine, this is true both for “large national charities that host massive, multi-location events..." as well as “smaller, local nonprofits that host walks, runs, and cycling programs.”
The same article cites a recent survey of 32 peer-to-peer programs conducted and reported by Event 360 and OP3, according to which “85% of organizations plan to offer a virtual participation option in the future … and none [of the respondents] said they would eventually drop the virtual offering.”
Virtual and hybrid events are here to stay, and it’s easy to see why. They offer convenient and flexible options for donors located around the world. Prior to the pandemic, many in-person, peer-to-peer events drew largely local participants who lived in the same market as the event. But when they provide supporters with the option of participating virtually, these events become much more accessible to those who live far away.
But what does planning, financing and management look like for a hybrid fundraising event?
To be clear, the term “hybrid event” refers to an experience composed of both in-person and virtual elements. This could be an event that occurs face-to-face for one part and online for another part. Or it can be a regular in-person event with some type of digital component, like a live-streamed version to an online audience.
To take an example, let’s say you want to put on a ticketed dinner and show where your donors can purchase entry, dress up, and enjoy a night of entertainment. Some further fundraising might also take place during the event.
To incorporate virtual elements into this event, you might send your virtual attendees a gift card to a restaurant or food delivery service instead of the in-person dinner. You should also consider live streaming the concert so your attendees can enjoy the show at home.
Whichever digital element you incorporate, encourage users to take pictures and post them on social media, like within a dedicated Facebook event page or group. This will ensure you’re maximizing on your hybrid event’s impact, as these pictures can be used as content in future fundraising event campaigns and build user generated content for marketing.
John Pistotti of meetingsnet.com says, “There’s a big misconception that hybrid and virtual iterations of a meeting are less expensive than an in-person iteration. With hybrids, you’re paying for one or more physical venues, and the virtual platform is essentially another venue that must be paid for.” Add in production costs and staffing, and suddenly the price tag of a hybrid might be pretty close to that of an exclusively in-person meeting.
To help offset these costs, or at least to spread them out, experts at conferencetech.com recommend a gradual scale-up to larger, more technologically complex events. “Keep it small,” they urge, “Events are often priced per person. If you want to keep the budget small, it’s best to keep the attendees to a minimum as well.”
Further, they recommend offering tiered pricing. If you’re selling tickets, consider including pricing tiers. Attendees may be willing to pay a bit more for extra features. You could also charge more for the live event and offer lower prices for the virtual aspect, encouraging adoption of this feature.
Unsurprisingly, most experts contend that you should either partner or outsource completely your hybrid fundraising event management to a production company that specializes in supporting such events. A production company can help you create a realistic budget for your hybrid event, making strategic recommendations on the size and complexity of the event.
Although you should expect to spend additional money on audio-visual equipment and a small crew to manage it, a hybrid event — properly sized and executed — can (and should) cost less than an event that takes place entirely in-person.
Whatever digital elements you choose to incorporate in your hybrid event, make sure to encourage users to take pictures and post them on social media, like within a dedicated Facebook event page or group. These can be leveraged for future marketing opportunities!