How to Host a Successful Charity Event in a Hybrid World
Best practices for adapting your fundraisers to suit in-person and virtual donors
In-person fundraising events are slowly returning to our calendars after a nearly two-year hiatus. But, even though most of the world is returning to its pre-pandemic way of operating, comfort levels for in-person events may vary among your donors.
Deciding to jump back into fully in-person fundraising events may prove to be challenging for a variety of reasons, so it may not be for your organization. However, virtual event fatigue may still linger within your donor network. So, what is the best way to move ahead with organizing fundraising events in the post-pandemic world? Let’s dive in.
Is it worth it to make your event hybrid?
The short answer is, yes. Especially if your organization has supporters with disabilities or immunodeficiencies that could make it difficult for them to fully participate in an in-person-only event. That being said, not all hybrid or virtual events have to be set up just like an in-person event connected to a camera streaming to Zoom or Facebook Live. Hybrid events should ensure a blended atmosphere that enables all participants to fully enjoy the fundraising event experience from wherever they are.
If you are undecided about hosting an event
If you are unsure about whether or not to move forward with planning an in-person charity event because of health and safety measures, consider the implications of the path you take.
If your event could theoretically be held at any time during the year – like a gala, for example – it may be worth it to postpone it until health and safety measures loosen a bit. In order to secure registration and help you prepare for the postponed event, opt to send out a pre-registration. In this way, participants can sign up and receive reminders about the event whenever you decide to host it.
If you decide to host the event anyway, set a deadline in the event that you will need to do a last-minute cancellation. Furthermore, you should be transparent about your decision to host or cancel, and give supporters the option to be refunded. When you decide to go forward with hosting the event, you become responsible for ensuring the health and safety of your participants.
Should you decide to cancel the event entirely, transparency should still be a priority. Let supporters know that you took this action having considered the safety of staff, volunteers, and participants. Give supporters who have already purchased tickets a few refund options. Some of these could include a full refund, the ability to convert their ticket into a donation, or a credit toward a future event.
Steps you can take to plan your hybrid event
Planning a charity fundraising event can often be seen as a lengthy process. But it doesn’t have to be. Break your planning down into three key categories: financials, logistics, and promotions.
- Set fundraising goals: Your goals should be based on how much your organization is trying to accomplish in the future, and how much you will need for your projects.
- Outline your budget: Identify a limit to control your spending. Things to include in your budget are the venue, catering, vendors, entertainment, marketing, and decorations.
- Find sponsors: Get people in the community interested in your event using the networks of sponsors. Some potential sponsors could include: small businesses and restaurants, as well as local artists, athletes, or celebrities.
- Select the date and venue: When selecting a date and venue for your event, consider the ideal size and layout, cost, accessibility, amenities, and licensing for alcohol, sales and lotteries.
- Prepare to go live: Choosing your technology is key to making your fundraiser a successful hybrid event. Whatever streaming platform or tools you use, you will want to test ahead of time to be sure everything is working properly for the big day. Further, you will want to make sure that the platform allows for two-way communication in some way.
- Choose your fundraising and ticketing platform: Find an online ticketing and donation platform that best meets your needs. For example, Zeffy provides scannable tickets, automatic tax receipt generation, donor communication tools, and so much more at no cost to your nonprofit.
- Define your theme: There are so many options for event themes. Try to start brainstorming ideas based on who will be attending the event. You can also come up with ideas based on the season. When in doubt, you can send out a survey to supporters to see what theme they would like your event to have.
- Choose your target audience: Use your goal and budget for the event to guide you. Decide who you need in order to reach your goal. This is the group you want to have at your event.
- Communicate with your network: Marketing will be the key to your success in this stage. Use all avenues available to you, including social media, email, and local advertising to reach your supporters and tell them about the event.
More best practices for events
Keep some of these fundraising event best practices in mind to ensure a seamless and successful event for both you and your attendees.
- Use visuals: Create visual interest by adding your nonprofit’s logo, color scheme, photos, and video. With compelling media elements incorporated into your donation form, you can grab your potential donor’s attention, evoke their emotion, and inspire them to act.
- Provide examples of your impact: When creating your online donation form, be sure to include at least three preset donation amounts, with each one providing a brief description of what the donation amount can be used for.
- Make forms shareable: Add buttons to your donation form that make it easily shareable via email, text, and major social media platforms. By making your donation form shareable, potential donors can easily spread the word to more potential donors within their networks.
- Offer a variety of ways to pay: Be sure to add multiple payment options – such as credit cards, direct debit (ACH), ApplePay, Google Pay, checks, and more – so that potential donors can give to your cause without having to think too much about it.
- Use a simple and intuitive interface: Your online donation forms should have a visually simple, intuitive interface that allows your potential donors to navigate filling out the form without putting too much thought and effort into it.
When generating event tickets for your fundraiser, consider the following. We can assure you that the event ticketing process will go much more smoothly for both you and your attendees!
- Create ticket packages and include a maximum number of tickets for each tier
- Offer the option for attendees to purchase a group of tickets or a single ticket
- Generate scannable tickets to save time at the door
- Provide discount options
- Use your online ticketing platform to generate and send tax receipts to donors automatically
Post event communications
Your work isn’t done after the event. Be sure to send thank you messages to everyone who contributed to your event, including all attendees, volunteers, sponsors and staff. Attach pictures and a brief recap of how it went. And of course, don’t forget to celebrate how much was raised and how it will go to furthering your mission.
Anticipate a few challenges
Expect a few bumps in the road so that you can prepare during the time period leading up to the event. When you find yourself in these situations, make sure to stick with what you know rather than taking risks. Be sure to clearly communicate with your donors if anything does come up.
Here are some things you should look out for:
- Low ticket sales or overspending on budget
- Being understaffed
- Tech malfunctions