Why Your Nonprofit Should Embrace Hybrid Events

April 26, 2022

The pandemic disrupted everything. To survive, nonprofits and event organizers swiftly turned to new technologies and pivoted in the form of a variety of virtual events and fundraisers. Now, although in-person events are back on the rise, they’re not necessarily the top option for event organizers as they were before. Those initial dark days of the pandemic instigated necessary change and illuminated a better path forward, one that integrates the best of virtual events with in-person events and reaches a larger audience—hybrid events.

Adapting to Hybrid Life

63.1% of the respondents to our recent survey are planning in-person events in 2022. This shift back to gathering face-to-face highlights our human desire to socialize again. However, it would be a mistake to completely ignore the learnings of the last two years. Now that physical events have returned, people still want a virtual option. That expectation, in part, is what is fueling the major corporate shift from “all office, all the time” to a new (you got it!) hybrid work model—a few days in the office, a few days out. 

 Weddings are another good example of how virtual participation has impacted current in-person events.  Remember all those Zoom weddings in 2020 and 2021? Even though we can gather again, guests who can’t attend physically expect an option to celebrate from wherever they are. As a result, interactive livestreams are becoming as common as champagne toasts.

Nonprofit expert Claire Axelrad, J.D., CFRE of Clairification concurs, “The last two years were an unexpected blessing for many organizations who found they could do something less resource intensive via Zoom and could also reach more people. You have more options than ever!”

Claire also offered some key recommendations to help organizers effectively manage resources and host successful fundraisers: 
  • Consider hosting your in-person event every other year instead of annually.
  • Incorporate a hybrid event so you can reach more people.
  • Brainstorm ways to make the event more profitable (e.g., sponsors, an online auction, a raffle, crowdfunding campaigns, etc.)—if you search online, you’ll also find plenty of “online fundraising raffle platforms.”
  • Think through ways to decrease expenses.
  • Reflect on ways to reduce the burden on staff.
  • Given your primary goal (e.g., awareness-raising? friend-raising?), consider something completely different you could do instead.

Hybrid Fundraising Events Are the Future

In our recently released Outlook for Fundraisers and Events in 2022 report, just over 21% of our customer respondents said they plan to host a hybrid event this year. This points to the shift toward offering attendees different options. Nonprofit expert Heather Mansfield of Nonprofit Tech for Good shed some light on why hybrid will be a lasting trend: 
“Planning hybrid fundraising events in 2022 and beyond is a win-win for nonprofits! It allows your donors, supporters, and staff to get together again to celebrate your mission and programs and takes into consideration those that are unable or unwilling to attend in person. Then, if a worst-case scenario arises, the event can be easily converted into a virtual-only event.”

Hybrid Offers the Inclusivity and Flexibility to Thrive

For many, the option to participate virtually is a boon, and not just because of concerns regarding COVID-19. Health and mobility issues, time, and budget are all factors that can prevent participation. A hybrid event instantly makes your fundraiser more inclusive by enabling many to attend when they might not otherwise.

Additionally, we live in a rapidly changing world where plans can change in an instant due to extreme weather or global conflicts. The virtual component of hybrid provides the flexibility to adapt. Over the last two years, many of our customers have turned to the Eventgroove platform to diversify their event and fundraiser models to include online auctions, raffles, A-thons, crowdfunding pushes, and sales, as well as interactive livestreaming

“Across Eventgroove’s nonprofit, education, sports, music, film, and entertainment segments, everyone is excited to return to in-person events; there’s enormous pent-up demand and an unmatched sense of community and shared purpose,” said Eventgroove CEO, Lance Trebesch. “But many have also learned the value of reaching a wider audience through virtual events, and they’re eager to create hybrid events. That’s the future, in our view, and for hybrid to work, it has to be built on an integrated platform like Eventgroove.”

Fundraising Events Tailored to Your Guests and Goals

When we say hybrid events are the future, we don’t mean all events will be hybrid, but a large portion of them will need to be. Hybrid events represent a larger push toward tailoring fundraisers to your goals and donors, the result of which is a more effective, resource-conserving, and inclusive way of connecting and engaging. Claire Axelrad offers terrific insight into this more personalized approach to harnessing aspects of hybrid, virtual, and in-person events to fundraise successfully:
“Events should never stand alone. They should be one part of a planned supporter journey – from awareness… to interest… to engagement… to investment.  Assess your target audience, where they are in their journey, and how an event will help them get to the next step. Whether your event is in person, hybrid, or virtual, don’t get so lost in implementation details that you forget to clearly state your goal and objectives and assure an event is the best way to meet them. Events are expensive, and you need to assure you get the most out of them! Remember, your job is to be a philanthropy facilitator, not an event producer.  This means you must use your event to move folks along the pathway towards becoming passionate about your cause.” 
As our Outlook for Fundraisers and Events in 2022 report found, hybrid events are here to stay, a finding reinforced by nonprofit experts like Claire Axelrad and Heather Mansfield. As you strategize for the upcoming months and years, incorporating hybrid events will help you reach your goals and build lasting donor relationships. 

 To get started, explore our hybrid events platform or set up a virtual tour guided by an Eventgroove team member.

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