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Best Live and Virtual Entertainment for Hybrid Events

Hybrid events offer plenty of benefits for your nonprofit or charity as lockdown restrictions begin lifting and your supporters start looking forward to attending in-person fundraisers. A mix of traditional and virtual fundraising, hybrid galas allow you to attract donors who’d rather meet face-to-face instead of online, while still letting you retain the hundreds – or even thousands – of virtual audience members ready and willing to support your cause through online donations.

This, however, leads to some new problems. With so many people attending your hybrid event, how will you keep them all entertained and engaged? After all, hybrid events aren’t like your usual in-person or virtual galas. Having two audiences means you’ll need to essentially run two events – and make sure both audiences can interact with your entertainment.

Fortunately, hybrid galas offer plenty of options for entertainment you can enjoy both live and online. Even better, your support staff at PayBee stands ready to help you with many of the activities for your hybrid events. Let’s take a close look at some of the best types of hybrid entertainment out there and see which one is right for your nonprofit or charity fundraiser.

Hybrid Concerts

Nothing energizes an event like music, and a live concert can make your hybrid event more fun for both your in-person and virtual audiences. As small gatherings become possible, offering a live concert will attract plenty of people hungry for the live music events they haven’t been able to attend. Meanwhile, live-streaming technology ensures your virtual audience won’t miss out – and allows them to experience the event from an angle the in-person audience can’t.

When hosting a hybrid concert, most of your audience members will be experiencing the concert online. This makes having a good virtual gala platforms, streaming software, and content distribution network essential. Make sure your tech support staff knows how to manage virtual lags which can affect sound and picture – these sorts of issues can ruin the experience for a virtual audience.  

Of course, you’ll also be handling an in-person audience as well, which comes with its own sets of challenges in the COVID-19 era. To ensure your hybrid concert is profitable, fun, and easy to manage, remember the following tips:

• Keep your costs low: Venue, audio, lighting, and stage production all need to be scaled down for smaller crowds – which make hybrid concerts less of a strain on your budget.

• Consider an outdoor concert: Outdoor concerts make social distancing easier, but they also need different staging, lighting, audio, video, and seating arrangements.

• Work out in-person and virtual ticket prices: Fewer in-person attendees but a big virtual audience requires multiple ticketing campaigns to keep your gala profitable.

• Keep your audience safe: Keeping your in-person attendees aware of your temperature checks, mask requirements, and crowd control protocols is essential for a safe event.

• Offer virtual options: Letting audiences buy souvenirs online or offering Cameo videos from performers instead of Meet & Greet passes lets you offer safe special treatment for guests.

Live and Silent Auctions

Charity auctions offer a great way for you to attract big audiences and raise money for your cause. Even before the pandemic, people were accustomed to participating in auctions via mobile devices or laptops, making the switch to virtual auctions easier. And thanks to today’s online auction software, your virtual and in-person audience can enjoy plenty of benefits. They can purchase auction items immediately with Buy it Now pricing. And they can even get email notifications about the status of their bids.

Take advantage of both silent and live auctions for your hybrid fundraiser. Before the in-person portion of your gala begins, hold a silent auction your virtual attendees can participate in online. We recommend opening a silent auction at least one week before your event. This builds excitement for your gala, lets you raise money for your cause immediately, and helps promote your event.

When your hybrid event begins, you can host a live auction for your in-person attendees and your virtual audience (who can continue participate through mobile bidding). Keep in mind that you’ll usually want to close your silent auction before your live auction in order to keep your audience’s attention on the activity at hand. Whatever you do, however, do not close the silent auction during your live auction. This will split your audience’s attention, disrupt the energy of your event and reduce the money your gala can raise.  

Live and Virtual Dinners

Dinners are a tried-and-true staple of fundraising events – and many of your supporters are undoubtedly eager to get dressed up and enjoy a nice meal with friends. While you might only be able to accommodate small in-person groups due to current social distancing regulations, there’s no reason why your hybrid dinner fundraiser can’t host a large audience.

Arrange to have meals delivered to your virtual guests so they can enjoy their dinner alongside your in-person audience. Depending on who you arrange to cater your event, these meals can get pretty elaborate. Past virtual dinner parties have offered everything from truffle mac ‘n cheese to glazed salmon and wine. As with all food-related fundraisers, take into account the dietary restrictions or special needs of your guests. PayBee ticketing campaigns allow your guests to choose from multiple meal options, which can be useful in organizing your hybrid gala and accommodating your donors.

As small gatherings become safer, your virtual attendees may be able to host small groups at their homes, increasing the social nature of your hybrid event. You can even create themes around your hybrid dinner parties for better harmony. For instance, holiday fundraisers can offer fancy candles and festive tablecloths at each place – or use holiday-themed Zoom backgrounds. That said, if you prefer a simpler setting, your hybrid dinner parties can also be as low-key as you like.

Keep in mind that for your multiple gatherings to communicate effectively, you’ll need to choose an online platform that enables everyone to see and hear each other well. Zoom video calls can be effective for connecting large groups, but you’ll also want to know how to fix any virtual lags that can affect picture and sound. Having a support staff like PayBee’s can be very helpful.

Cooking Classes

Live and virtual cooking classes offer a unique variation on the traditional dinner party. Guests who participate in this type of entertainment receive a cooking lesson from a chef who can teach both in-person and virtual attendees how to prepare a specific meal. At the end of the lesson, your audiences can all share the same meal from multiple locations and chat with each other via virtual conferencing.

While this type of hybrid event is very interactive and can be a lot of fun, you really need to know your audience for this. Be sure to ask yourself if your donors and supporters are willing and able to participate in cooking classes – or if they’d be more comfortable having meals prepared for them by someone else.

This entertainment option also comes with some special considerations, including:

• Food logistics: You’ll need to arrange for all of your in-person and virtual guests to have the ingredients and any special culinary tools they’ll need for the lesson.

• Staff: Aside from tech support, you’ll need to consider if it’s better for two cooking instructors to interact with your live and virtual audiences.

• Live or Pre-Recorded Lessons: Live-streaming a cooking class might sound fun, but it might be easier to host an event where some of the lessons are pre-recorded for the convenience of your online attendees.

Live and Virtual Costume Party

If you’ve held popular costume parties for your nonprofit fundraiser in the past, you’ll be glad to know that hybrid events can support these fundraising galas – with some special virtual twists.

Much like your dinner parties, you can offer a theme for your hybrid costume party event. Have everyone dress up in Roaring Twenties attire or cosplay as superheroes. Your guests can share photos of their costumes on social media with a special hashtag advertising your hybrid fundraiser. This helps promote your event and encourage participation.

You can even create special raffle ticketing campaigns where supporters who share photos online are entered into special drawings for a prize at your hybrid event. The event itself can offer a costume contest for both in-person and virtual guests, with prizes announced during the live-streaming event.

As with all hybrid galas, having someone to manage the technical side of the event is important. It might be easy for participants to display their costumes by posting photos on social media, but to make sure everyone feels included, the live-streaming technology needs to let your virtual supporters interact well with your in-person guests.

Hosting Your Hybrid Gala

The activities listed above are only some of the entertainment options you can offer at a hybrid gala. You might consider combining some of them together to make your event more fun. For instance, you can host a costumed dinner party or offer a raffle along with your hybrid concert.    

Whatever way you decide to entertain your guests, keep in mind that successful hybrid galas are all about being able to connect and interact with all of your attendees, both virtual and in-person. This means you’ll need to understand the needs of both of your audiences and offer them multiple ways to engage with your event.

Take advantage of the many tools and support options available to you from online platforms such as PayBee. Learn from the experience others have had hosting virtual and hybrid galas. The more you learn, the more fun your supporters will have at your next hybrid fundraising event.

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Michael Jung

Michael-Jung