How to Market Your Non-Profit Hybrid Event to Live and Virtual Audiences

Hybrid events offer some incredible fundraising opportunities for nonprofits and charities. Not only will you be able to attract your usual in-person supporters, you’ll also retain a large virtual audience that will attend your event online. With so many new donors, there’ll be plenty of opportunities for raising money and increasing brand awareness of your mission.

However, these opportunities also create a new marketing challenge. Where before you just needed to attract one audience to your traditional fundraiser or virtual gala, now you’ll need to make your event appealing to multiple audiences.

This means you’ll have to create two separate marketing campaigns — one that promotes the perks of attending your hybrid gala virtually and another that gives people incentive to attend in-person. What’s more, you can’t make your live experience sound more appealing than your virtual experience (or vice versa) or you’ll risk losing part of your audience.

So, how can you promote your hybrid event to ensure a great turnout? Here are some strategies we find useful to draw plenty of people to your hybrid gala

Promoting a Virtual Experience

By now, you and your virtual audience are familiar with the perks that come with attending a virtual event. Virtual fundraising events are easy to attend for anyone with access to the Internet. Hosting an online event is also less expensive than holding a traditional fundraiser, which is nice for attendees who enjoy reduced ticket prices or free admission. And thanks to the lower cost, many supporters feel compelled to donate more at virtual events.

However, after attending so many Zoom meetings and video conference calls in 2020, many people are suffering from virtual fatigue, or exhaustion from looking at their screens for hours. This can make people reluctant to attend another virtual event like your fundraiser.

Your promotional efforts need to take this into account. When marketing the virtual portion of your hybrid event, be sure to:   

Offer Enticing Teasers of Your Virtual Event

These days, people are constantly being invited to virtual galas and online events, making it important that your virtual fundraiser stand out. To do this, why not offer a video teaser of your event’s activities and entertainment that emphasizes how much fun your online audience will have? You can use clips from past virtual or hybrid events or offer a sneak peek at how your current hybrid event is developing.  

Share this teaser through social media channels including Facebook and Twitter, making sure your friends and followers get to learn about (and share) your upcoming event. PayBee offers built-in social sharing features in its virtual platform that make it easy to publicize your event through social media and email campaigns with just a few clicks.  

And don’t just stop with a single teaser. Some of the most popular virtual events build anticipation for their events by sharing behind-the-scenes videos on Instagram or offering regular Facebook updates for their online community to share. The better you can build up the hype surrounding your event, the more willing people will be to attend the virtual portion of your hybrid event.

Preview Your Virtual Platform

Want to really sell your virtual event to an audience? Then let them preview the interactive features on your virtual fundraising platform before the actual event. Even though people have become more computer literate, many are still intimidated by how complicated some platforms can be. By showing how easy your platform is to use, your audience will feel more comfortable about attending (and participating in) your online event.

Even if some of the people who preview your virtual platform end up attending the in-person portion of your hybrid event, the fact that you let people test out your virtual platform offers great publicity — and encourages people to attend your future fundraisers virtually if they can’t come in-person.

PayBee offers one of the simplest and most intuitive online platforms for nonprofits and charities. Want to see how easy it is to use? Then sign up for a free live demo where you can participate in an online auction (with simulated money!) and ask all of your questions to our team of experts. 

Offer Audio-Only Content 

Live streaming video and online chats can be a big draw for virtual fundraisers, but they can also wear out people suffering from virtual fatigue. To make your marketing materials easier on the eyes, why not promote your event through audio-only content like podcasts?

Podcasts are becoming an increasingly popular way for people to get their entertainment and information — especially for people who are tired of constantly staring at a screen. By promoting your virtual or hybrid event through podcasts that are popular with your target audience, you could reach out to an entirely new demographic that would be very interested in supporting your fundraiser.

Promoting an In-Person Experience

After spending over a year in lockdown, most people are eager to leave their computer screens and interact with real people. Your supporters and donors want the immersive experience that can only come from being at an in-person gathering, so they’ll be plenty of interest in the live portion of your hybrid event.

On the other hand, in-person gatherings still need to be kept small. Social distancing and other safety guidelines must be observed at these events, which can be an issue for people who come to fundraising events for networking opportunities. In-person attendees may also need to pay higher ticket prices, which may give people more incentive to attend online or not come at all.

To show your supporters your hybrid event’s in-person experience is a can’t-miss event, you need to provide them with extra incentives to attend. These incentives can include:   


Your in-person experience may need to be kept small because of COVID restrictions — but that also means this part of your hybrid event can be an exclusive experience for those who get the chance to attend. When creating your ticketing campaigns, emphasize that your in-person tickets are limited and keep people updated as they start selling out.

Make sure your attendees understand the value of your event. If networking is a priority, emphasize that by interacting with small groups of people instead of the usual large gathering, your attendees can build stronger and more intimate relationships with others.

Promote aspects of your event that only in-person attendees can enjoy. Offering catered meals for your in-person audience is always a nice touch (although you can also enable your online audience to order meals and share a virtual dinner with the rest of the group if that’s a priority). 

Offer Special Perks to In-Person Attendees 

While you want to make sure neither your in-person nor your virtual audience feels left out during your hybrid event, you can still offer special perks for your in-person attendees.

For instance, you can arrange for a celebrity or influencer to speak at your hybrid event. While both of your audiences will get to see your guest perform, your in-person guests can have a pre-event interview or meet-and-greet with your speaker thanks to the smaller size of this group. Being able to have a more personal visit with a celebrity can definitely offer unique incentives for people to attend in-person.

Hold Your Hybrid Event’s In-Person Gathering at a Memorable Location

People expect to have an immersive experience at an in-person gathering — and one of the best ways you can ensure your live guests have a memorable time is to organize your in-person event at a unique location.

This might mean taking your in-person guests to a place with beautiful scenery, like a waterfall or a garden where it’s also easier to follow social distancing guidelines. If that isn’t possible, you can still find fun places to meet in your area. Some popular hybrid events take their in-person audience to an art gallery or museum where they receive a personalized tour.

While your virtual guests can view some of this location through their screens, many may want to attend in person the next time you hold a hybrid fundraiser — just to receive the full impact of the ambience.     

Promoting an Entire Hybrid Event Experience

When promoting a hybrid event, it’s important to keep in mind that along with emphasizing the perks of attending virtually and attending in-person, it’s equally important to show how the virtual and live experiences intersect with each other.

After all, you’re creating a single hybrid event, not two separate events. Part of the fun of holding a hybrid event is seeing how well a live audience can interact with virtual attendees. As hybrid events become the norm for fundraisers and major galas, people will want to attend the hybrid galas that blend the live and virtual aspects of an event or activity more seamlessly.

So it’s to your advantage to show off how well both your virtual and live audiences interact in your promotional materials. You could, for example, offer a mini preview event where a small live audience gets paired with a group of virtual attendees and interact in activities. Both groups could then be used to promote the main event by sharing their positive experiences in promotional teasers and encouraging people to attend your hybrid fundraising event.

Marketing a Hybrid Event

Communicating your safety guidelines, creating an effective social media campaign, and showcasing the perks of both your in-person and virtual experience are all important parts of marketing your hybrid event. Fortunately, nonprofits and charities now have access to plenty of help and guidance through the online platforms and support staff provided by PayBee. Sign up for a free live demo and discover the best way to market your hybrid gala today. 

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Online Fundraising
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Michael Jung


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