2020 brought about changes in how fundraising events and other in-person events are handled. A shift was necessitated toward virtual meetings to reduce the risk of exposure to Coronavirus. In 2021, small group gatherings resumed, but with limitations. It added the ability to hold events in-person and online simultaneously, an option which has come to be known as “hybrid events” for many who might not otherwise be able to attend.
Having more than one option for your donors to attend your fundraising events has become the best strategy for 2022. Nonprofits will need to adapt their fundraising strategy to incorporate these platforms, depending on what works best for them. Breaking away from the norm always creates a challenge, but embracing these new formats can allow your nonprofit to thrive.
There are benefits offered by each of these new virtual fundraising platforms and event types. How can popular fundraising events be adapted to work online, and what platforms can be used to build a fundraising strategy? Let’s look at a few options.
Advantages Of Hybrid Fundraising (Virtual and In-Person)
In the past, fundraising events were hosted in-person for supporters and donors. This enabled the organization to build a strong community of support. But times change, and being able to adapt to those changes and thrive is what keeps a nonprofit organization strong. In-person fundraisers have now been limited to smaller groups in order to accommodate social distancing, but still allow people to volunteer or donate funds to their favorite groups.
The focus of fundraisers is to raise awareness to your good cause in a social-type gathering. Sometimes being able to meet the promoters and connect in-person with the cause you’re supporting will motivate people to donate a larger percentage of funding. Fundraising events are meant to be a fun way to get their brand out there and let people know what they do.
As COVID-19 brought about changes in social gatherings, solutions for people to connect more online to limit exposure began to arise. In-person gatherings were put on hold altogether, and more virtual meetings were conducted to maintain contact and keep business going, as close to as normal as possible. Yes, to many it was a little disappointing to not be able to hold in-person meetings, but online fundraising platforms like PayBee, made it possible to still continue to hold fundraising activities in a different way. That meant that fewer fundraisers had to be cancelled since it was now possible to shift the event to be held in a virtual environment.
Being forced to change made many nonprofits realize the benefits that virtual fundraising truly offered. Many were surprised that these benefits exceeded their expectations and in many different areas was an enhancement over traditional brick and mortar events:
- More people could attend: Hundreds or thousands of people can attend virtual meetings, rather than just a few hundred people due to space restrictions.
- Increased donations: Being able to make a donation online using a mobile app, along with no admission fees allows attendees to donate more funding, increasing the proceeds collected.
- Reduced cost: Holding an event online reduces operating costs because no on-site staff are needed and no venue for holding the event.
No physical limitations: Another benefit is that it removes barriers for admission. Anyone with an Internet connection can attend a virtual gala. This allows people to join by phone, tablet, or desktop computer.
Video Chat Facilitates Online Communication
Zoom calls and video chat opened the door to online communications. Although there are many benefits, virtual fundraisers do have a few drawbacks. Talking to people through a computer screen does not offer the same intimacy as face-to-face meetings, and attendees may become tired from long galas because they are tied to their screen instead of being able to walk around. Then there are some people who have trouble navigating an online platform because they’re not used to using a computer.
As 2021 saw a decrease in the waves of the pandemic, a few more opportunities became available. Hybrid fundraising came on the scene as a way to hold small gatherings as well as allow donors to join in a virtual environment, essentially offering nonprofits the best of the in-person and virtual worlds. Both opportunities offered more benefits and less risk.
Additional benefits of this type of event include:
- Increased demand: After being in lockdown and isolated from social gatherings for a year, more people are excited about being able to attend an in-person event, even if the cost is a little higher.
- Convenience: The ability to attend a fundraiser online offers greater convenience for those who travel for business and cannot always attend in-person.
- Lower costs: On-site staff are sometimes needed for hybrid events, but with meeting areas being smaller, it keeps the cost low in relation to a larger area.
- Increased Profits: Since virtual meetings allow more people to attend (several thousand), that means more people can donate funds both online and in-person.
Ultimately, virtual and hybrid fundraisers taught nonprofits they could raise money under almost any circumstance. However, this hinged upon adapting a fundraising events strategy that could adapt popular activities and events to equally compelling online and hybrid avenues. While this is definitely possible, it does require some rethinking of traditional fundraising strategies.
Virtual and Hybrid fundraising proved that nonprofit organizations don’t have to limit or stop fundraising in the event they can’t hold physical events. Rethinking traditional methods opens the door to more opportunities and increased profits.
How to Adapt Popular Fundraising Activities to Online or Hybrid Galas
Nearly all types of fundraising activities can be adapted to a virtual environment or hybrid gala. A little creative thinking enables fundraisers to continue with popular activities, but on a different platform. Let’s look at how this can be done.
Traditional charity lunches and dinners are normally held in-person. To adapt this type of activity to a virtual or hybrid gala, a few changes are necessary to make it possible to continue in a different environment. Zoom meetings and video chat enable people to attend remotely, while catering companies and delivery services can provide the food and drinks for the event. Attendees can socialize and chat with others, and enjoy the event, while their food is being delivered from a local restaurant hired to cater the event.
● When planning this type of event, make sure to:
● Tickets should be made available online.
● Provide menu options for people with dietary restrictions
● Contract with a local restaurant or catering service for food delivery
● Encourage attendees to dress up for the event
● Obey social distancing requirements for small, in-person gatherings
● Include activities for in-person and virtual attendees.
● Post photos of the festivities online through social media for promotion
Virtual Music Concerts
Virtual music concerts provide an opportunity for multitudes of people to attend without worrying about social distancing requirements and no occupancy restrictions. To host a virtual concert, make sure to include the following.
•Excellent livestream broadcast with great picture and sound:
•Virtual meet and greet with performers and a Q&A session.
• Convenient log-in opportunities
Live and Silent Auctions
Auctions are a popular method of fundraising for many nonprofit and charity organizations. People love to bid against one another for a highly-prized item, knowing that the money is going to a good cause.
Live streaming auctions offer the same level of fun and excitement for bidders as traditional auctions. Mobile bidding apps make placing a bid easier and more convenient, plus virtual auctions can accommodate a larger audience.
When adapting an auction to a virtual setting, keep the following in mind:
- PayBee is the only platform that allows true virtual live auctions with a live auctioneer.
- Be sure your live auctioneer has experience building excitement with a live crowd.
- Make sure to hold silent and live auctions separately, ensuring one has finished before the other starts to encourage bidders to get their final bids in before concentrating on the live auction items. Silent auctions are a great lead-in to an online fundraiser, but they should end before the live auction begins to avoid confusing the audience.
It is important to learn about all the opportunities available for nonprofits to continue their fundraising activities. Many types of fundraising events can be adapted to a virtual or hybrid event which can be just as enjoyable as their in-person counterpart while also raising significant funds for your good cause. Start by checking out PayBee’s online fundraising platform. You can request a free live demo to see how a live auction works on this platform. You’ll also have a chance to ask questions and get advice for making virtual and hybrid fundraisers work for your organization.