How to Improve Your Nonprofit Events With Hybrid Fundraising

Why Hybrid Fundraising Events Are Now Your Main Source of Nonprofit Fundraising

The COVID-19 pandemic forced many changes on the entire world. Zoom office meetings became the norm. Telecommuting is now a necessity. And virtual galas — and the hybrid fundraising events they helped develop — will be the main source of nonprofit fundraising moving forward.

While many nonprofits and charities are eager for things to return to normal once social distancing restrictions are lifted, the fact is many of the changes 2020 left on our global society are permanent. In-person events won’t completely fade away, but online attendance is now an accepted part of event participation thanks to all the financial benefits they provide.

With many nonprofits now aware that people from all over the world can donate and participate in virtual fundraisers — and that these online galas can be hosted for less than a traditional in-person fundraising event — it’s easy to see why many will want to maintain a virtual component in their fundraisers. Traditional social gatherings will return, but many will now include an option to attend online in a hybrid event.

All of this means your charity or nonprofit organization needs to be ready to adapt your fundraising events to a hybrid platform. Although this comes with its share of challenges, discovering the advantages of hybrid fundraising — and the online tools available to you — is definitely something your event planning committee will find useful.

So, we’ve decided to make the process simpler for you by giving a rundown of hybrid fundraising events, their benefits, and how they can fit your organization’s needs. We’ll also take a close look at the advances in fundraising software that have been made in the last few years which can make your hybrid galas more popular and profitable than any of your traditional fundraisers.

Get ready. You’re about to get the inside story on a whole new way to look at charity and nonprofit fundraising.

What is a Hybrid Fundraising Event?

So, what are these hybrid fundraising events or hybrid galas that everyone’s been talking about?

At its most basic, a hybrid gala is a fundraiser that offers an in-person and online experience of the same event. This can mean offering your supporters an option to attend a live concert in-person while others experience it via livestream. It might also mean hosting a charity auction where some of the participants place their bids in person while others bid on items from home using mobile apps from their smart phones.

The fact is, practically any of your popular fundraising events can be adapted into a hybrid setting where in-person and online audiences interact with each other seamlessly. Offering a virtual attendance option makes your event more convenient for supporters who can’t make the trip to your in-person venue due to travel restrictions or personal reasons. Likewise, allowing small groups to attend in-person helps satisfy the growing desire for more real-world social interaction.   

While integrating online and in-person experiences is a challenge, hybrid events are also becoming more popular with nonprofits and event attendees for several reasons.

Why Will Hybrid Fundraising Events Become the “New Normal”?

Nonprofits that had to cancel their fundraising events in 2020 suffered financially, but those that adapted their fundraisers into virtual events were amazed by how much money they raised. According to an online survey conducted by nonprofit management and strategy website NonProfit PRO, 70% of nonprofits that hosted virtual events in 2020 described them as successful. The online events themselves are 10% more likely to be raising at or above the nonprofit’s fundraising goals, showing this evolution of fundraising is here to stay.

Virtual galas succeed because they offer a way to reach large numbers of donors and supporters at minimal cost. With the aid of an effective online fundraising platform, virtual fundraising events enable hundreds or even thousands of people to attend an online gala from anywhere in the world. What would have been an impossibly large event to host in-person can now be accomplished by even small nonprofits in a virtual space, enabling nonprofits to promote their mission to a large audience.

At the same time, virtual fundraisers reduce or eliminate costs normally associated with fundraising. Online galas don’t require an on-site staff. Events such as charity auctions can now be conducted via live streaming and mobile apps, eliminating the need for expensive meeting rooms and rental fees.

Naturally, nonprofits don’t want to sacrifice the benefits they now enjoy with virtual fundraising — but as small gatherings become more possible in 2021, many charities and nonprofits seek to merge aspects of online and in-person fundraising. According to NonProfit PRO’s survey, 42% of nonprofits plan to host a hybrid event in 2021 as opposed to the 19% that held hybrid events in 2020. Since the pandemic can still affect nonprofits adversely, it’s to the advantage of nonprofits to prepare for unexpected changes by familiarizing themselves with virtual and hybrid fundraising.     

Hybrid fundraising events give nonprofits a chance to improve digital fundraising models and explore opportunities for post-pandemic fundraising. As both event planners and audiences become more comfortable and accustomed to attending online events, the feasibility of incorporating online activities into traditional in-person fundraising is more possible now than ever.

That being said, nonprofits are still experiencing a big learning curve as they discover the most effective way to blend online and in-person experiences. Different nonprofit organizations and charities will need to host hybrid events that fit the unique needs of their donors and supporters. Creating an optimal hybrid fundraiser for your nonprofit will ensure that it is not only profitable but also secures greater support (and regular contributions) from your donors and volunteers.  

How Can Your Nonprofit or Charity Use Hybrid Fundraising?

When planning a hybrid fundraising event, it’s important to remember that hybrid galas are meant to accommodate supporters who prefer to attend fundraisers in person and those who prefer to participate online for accessibility reasons.

Done right, your hybrid event will not only widen your network of donors and supporters but also promote your nonprofit as a very inclusive organization.

Building up your audience also means taking into account the type of activities they want to participate in — and how those activities should be translated to an online and in-person experience.

For instance, if your organization attracts a large population of fitness enthusiasts, hosting a hybrid fun run or marathon event can attract plenty of interest. Attendees can participate in multiple runs in small groups to adhere to social distancing regulations. Each group can track their progress via a special mobile app and share their results online with everyone else. And since this hybrid activity isn’t limited to a single event, it can be held at different times for different groups, increasing accessibility.

As an example, according to an article in Forbes, in 2021, the New York Road Runners Club will give nearly 400 charity partners the opportunity to offer runners to fundraise virtually or in-person. This shows how well many people have adapted to this new form of fundraising — and how nonprofits and charities are acknowledging this in their fundraising events.

Alternately, if your supporters are fans of video games, hosting a hybrid gaming tournament can be both profitable and fun. Termed “Geek Philanthropy,” these events enable gamers to livestream their gameplay on platforms like Twitch and encourage people to donate while they watch. The normally virtual event can be adapted to a hybrid format by having small groups of gamers and audiences meet in-person while other attendees participate online.

Some of these gaming events can be incredibly profitable. For instance, back in 2019, Twitch streamer Benjamin “DrLupo” Lupo raised over $2.3 million for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with his charity video game live stream.

Ultimately, you’ll find that hybrid events can adapt many popular fundraising activities — from luncheons to auctions to charity concerts — giving you plenty of options to choose from when developing your hybrid gala. You can also participate in Facebook or message board discussions with other nonprofits to learn what hybrid events and activities are the most successful — and which ones you should shy away from. 

It's important to add that virtual fundraisers aren’t going away. While there will be a shift toward hybrid fundraisers as lockdown restrictions ease up, the convenience of virtual galas — along with the way people have become accustomed to online gatherings in 2020 — will make virtual fundraising events a viable option for many nonprofits. For this reason, your nonprofit should be prepared to adjust your fundraiser to a virtual or hybrid option to increase its accessibility and profitability.

As you get a better idea of what shape your hybrid fundraising event needs to take, it’s also vital to learn about the online tools for hybrid galas available to your event planning committee. These virtual platforms and management tools can make it much easier to develop and manage your hybrid events, and it’s to your advantage to discover which ones will work best for you.

How Can Online Tools Make Hosting a Hybrid Fundraiser Easier?

Software companies like PayBee spent a lot of time building an intuitive, easy-to-use online fundraising platform for nonprofits and charities to use in 2020. Thanks to these designs, nonprofits were able to create ticketing campaigns, promote their virtual fundraisers on social media, run online auctions, and even analyze the data from their most successful fundraising activities.

As virtual galas evolved into hybrid events, PayBee adapted its online tools to meet the needs of nonprofits and charities. Today, these tools and features help nonprofit organizations host hundreds of successful in-person, virtual, and hybrid fundraisers. Some of the most popular options include:

Easy Campaign Setup

Different fundraising activities require different campaigns. However, PayBee’s online platform makes it easy to set up virtually any virtual or hybrid campaign in minutes. This includes auction fundraisers, donation campaigns, special luncheons, dinners, and virtual games.

Ticketing Checkout System

All fundraising events, from in-person to virtual to hybrid, require a reliable and efficient ticketing system. PayBee’s ticketing system enables any nonprofit or charity to quickly generate a ticketing campaign with just a few clicks.

These ticketing campaigns can provide tickets for charity luncheons, complete with options for vegan or gluten-free meals. You can also easily generate a raffle ticket campaign to raise more money during your fundraiser. And of course, you’ll have plenty of options to create multiple event ticketing campaigns for everything from charity auctions to concerts.

Tickets can be sold online and will be tracked via your PayBee account. In addition, you can arrange for confirmation emails and reminders to be sent to guests once they purchase their online tickets. This ensures they receive all relevant event information and enables your fundraising event to proceed smoothly.

Social Sharing Features

Successful fundraisers need to be properly promoted to your target audience. And these days, the vast majority of people get their news and event information from social media. Because of this, PayBee’s online platform includes built-in social sharing features that let you publicize your in-person, virtual, or hybrid fundraiser on Facebook, Twitter, and other popular social media channels. Just focus on the type of social media your supporters engage with regularly, and you’ll attract attention for your event.

Aside from social media, PayBee’s fundraising platform helps generate email campaigns for your guests that promote your upcoming event and send regular reminders to attendees as the date of your event draws nearer.

Guest Table Management

These days, it’s more important than ever for your in-person fundraisers to be organized. Aside from minimizing the chaos that comes with managing your audience, all of your attendees need to follow an appropriate social distancing plan.

Luckily, PayBee’s Guest Table Management feature helps eliminate the confusion that can come with managing a traditional in-person fundraiser. Thanks to this feature, you’ll be able to manage the flow of how your donors and supporters are seated and served. By using technology to improve communication between your staff and your attendees, your audience will have a better experience at your fundraiser — which will translate into more incentive to donate generously.

Automatic Bid Sheet Generation

Live and silent auctions are a staple at fundraisers. And the good news is, both of these auctions can be easily translated into a virtual or hybrid setting. However, anyone who’s managed a charity auction can tell you that organizing all of your item details, while necessary, can be difficult.

That’s why PayBee’s Automatic Bid Sheet Generation is such a convenient time-saving option. This feature lets you enter your auction item details and generate bid sheets easily. What’s more, you can also generate description sheets with images of desirable auction items — something that will make your silent auctions much more popular and profitable.

Automatic Bid Paddle and Name Card Generation

Bid paddles are a traditional part of in-person auctions. PayBee’s system auto-generates both bid paddles and table name plates for every single one of your fundraiser attendees. What’s more, each bid paddle includes a unique URL code linked to each guest. This makes it much easier for bidders to checkout and use the mobile bidding/donation features.

Livestream/Live Event Integration

Virtual fundraising events need excellent picture and sound in their livestreaming to participate in an online gala. Hybrid audiences also need livestreaming to be well-integrated into the in-person event so both online and in-person audiences can interact. PayBee’s system provides a seamless experience for both audiences, ensuring a successful campaign. The PayBee virtual event platform can also be used with multiple popular streaming services including YouTube.

Live Text Updates on Auction Items

Mobile auction apps make it easier for virtual and hybrid audiences to participate in and contribute to your charity auction. To make the process easier, PayBee’s system offers up-to-date text notifications on auction items as well as links that allow them to easily place additional bids from their smartphones and mobile devices. These options increase the chances that a desirable auction item will receive multiple bids, increasing the profitability of your fundraising campaign. 

Event Management with the PayBee Mobile App

Managing an event can be tricky without the proper tools to perform necessary tasks quickly and efficiently. The PayBee Mobile App enables your volunteers and staff to easily accommodate the needs of your guests. Using the app, your support staff can:

  • Help your guests check-in and check-out
  • Manage mobile bidding for online auctions
  • Make adjustments to donations and shopping carts
  • Make adjustments to auction item bids

In addition, on-site event add-ons can be purchased through the PayBee Mobile App making management much easier.

Automatic Event Follow-Up and Reporting Features

A fundraising event doesn’t end after your guests leave. Your events team needs to keep track of all your donors and analyze your event financials. PayBee’s backend reporting system makes this easier to providing a breakdown of all donations and attendees, enabling you to see at a glance how much money your fundraiser earned, who attended your event, what donations are pending, how much you paid in fees, the amount of money sent to your bank, and even a breakdown per transaction.

If you hold an online auction, PayBee’s system lets you view the bidding history of your auction items to quickly learn what items were most desirable. This is valuable information that can inform how you host future successful charity auctions.

Many nonprofits also experience problems following up with donors with outstanding donation pledges. PayBee’s system alleviates this issue by automatically following up with these guests and making sure the pledges are collected. There are also options to let your donors pay by cash or check, making it easier to collect donations.

Hosting Your Next Hybrid Fundraising Event

Knowledge and flexibility will be key qualities to have in the coming years as fundraising, nonprofit organizations, and communication technology all continue going through major evolutions. At this point, nonprofits and charities will likely need to adapt their fundraising events to both virtual and hybrid environments based on the current state of the pandemic and travel restrictions.

Ultimately, however, becoming literate in virtual and hybrid technology will enable fundraising events to be more accessible for larger audiences. The benefits this offers in terms of building brands, attracting support, and funding programs are undeniable and many nonprofit organizations are taking the necessary steps to host hybrid galas.

To make sure your nonprofit organization or charity is prepared for the new era of fundraising, start educating yourself on virtual and hybrid fundraising. Sign up for a free demonstration of PayBee’s online fundraising platform. You’ll be able to see (and participate in) a live hybrid/virtual auction that will give you a feel for how responsive online platforms can be. You’ll also be able to ask questions directly to an online team of experts experienced in supporting virtual and hybrid galas. Participate in this free demonstration today and adapt your fundraisers to hybrid galas.

Hybrid Fundraising
Nonprofit Fundraising
Nonprofit Tips
Online Fundraising
Michael Jung