While innovative nonprofits have been experimenting with virtual events for several years now, the COVID-19 pandemic brought virtual events to the forefront of fundraising events. We learned that virtual events offer benefits that in-person events can’t. At the same time, live events have their own unique advantages that can’t be matched with online fundraising. Now, forward-thinking nonprofits are creating hybrid fundraising events, which combine the best of both in-person and virtual experiences.
Because hybrid events provide exceptional flexibility to accommodate the needs of both supporters and nonprofits, we expect hybrid to be the format that will be most effective in the future. Let’s explore the factors influencing why hybrid events are rising in popularity and the advantages they offer.
Factors Influencing Donor Preferences for Hybrid Events
Several societal trends and developments in technology are contributing to supporters’ desire for hybrid galas and other fundraisers.
The “From-Anywhere” Trend
Thanks to the cloud, laptops, and mobile devices, people are working, socializing, and attending experiences online. This trend started years before the pandemic, but it was catapulted forward by the need to socially distance. Now, people want to choose whether to engage either remotely or in-person. We’re seeing an increased demand for hybrid corporate events, and nonprofit event planners are wise to take note.
Preference for “Bite-Sized” Content
Attention spans are short, and distractions call from a variety of sources, including email and social media. Hybrid events are the perfect fundraising format for short content schemas that people can easily digest.
Schedules and Other Responsibilities
Supporters who would love to participate in your event may not be able to travel or schedule the hours away that most in-person events require. Hybrid events allow those supporters to attend online.
Advantages of Hybrid Fundraising Events
Hybrid events offer unique benefits that you can’t get with online-only or live-only events. Here are seven to consider.
1. Flexibility Accommodates All Preferences
Not all supporters have the same needs and preferences. A hybrid event gives donors the ability to tailor the experience to suit themselves. As a result, you can attract more participants to your event.
2. Keep Attendees Engaged More Easily
It can be challenging to keep attendees engaged with online-only events. A hybrid model offers more options for engagement, including interactions with live components.
3. Balance of Physical Interaction and Convenience
Physical interaction is essential for some events, such as cookoffs. But convenience is necessary to attract a strong number of participants. A hybrid event gives you the flexibility to provide physical interaction and offers a convenient online option for those that need it.
4. Lower Costs
Big in-person galas are expensive. You must rent a large event space, purchase materials, and provide enough staff to host a large number of people in-person. Hybrid events take a significant portion of the fundraiser online, reducing your expenses.
5. Expanded Reach
A hybrid event will attract those who like live experiences and those who live too far away to attend in-person or whose schedules prohibit in-person attendance.
6. Opportunity to Repurpose Content
The content you create as part of your hybrid event, including stories, videos, graphics, photo collections, and the sessions themselves, can be repurposed for marketing or donor education.
7. More Flexible Sponsorship Levels
Hybrid fundraising events offer many opportunities for sponsorships, including live components and in your event platform. Digital sponsorships can also be optimized for analytics, giving sponsors an even greater incentive.
The Future is Hybrid
Because hybrid events provide so many advantages to nonprofits and give them the ability to meet the needs and preferences of donors, we predict that they’ll continue to rise in popularity. As you plan for your next event, consider combining virtual and live components to create a best-of-both-worlds experience that will help you reach your goals.
Read Virtual and In-Person Events: The Future of Fundraising is Hybrid to learn more about hosting an effective hybrid fundraiser.