Eight Things to Include in Your Year-Round Hybrid Event Strategy

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As fundraising events begin to return, hybrid is the buzzword of 2021. Hybrid events combine virtual and in-person elements, creating fundraising events with both the engagement of an in-person event and the inclusiveness of a virtual event.

But hybrid shouldn’t just apply to a single fundraising event. To build the most effective year-round fundraising strategy, create your entire calendar with a hybrid mindset. Implement a fundraising strategy with a range of event types and online fundraising opportunities to expand your reach.

What are the elements of a modern, agile fundraising strategy that grows your supporter base? To get you started, here are eight components to include:

1. Hybrid Events

Example: Every Step Counts Walk and 5K Run from the Howard County Autism Society offers plenty of flexibility for supporters to switch between their in-person and virtual options right up until the day before the event. Either way, the emphasis is on fundraising: every registrant gets a personal fundraising page.

Ideal for: Every event possible! There are some examples below of ticket events and challenges where it may be more reasonable to focus on either the virtual or in-person option, but anytime you can offer a good experience in both formats, you should. Hybrid events take a little extra planning but can pay off with more engagement and larger audiences.

Tech Tip: For any hybrid Run/Walk/Ride, keep your results sets separate – and allow virtual participants to choose to report a finish instead of a time. This makes your virtual event welcome even to those who would be intimidated by a “real” race.

2. Premier In-Person Ticket Events

Example: The Drive Golf Tournment from from the Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado is a full day Golf Tournament with deluxe features that include everything from a Bloody Mary bar to raffle tickets to a Poolside dinner and awards party…and of course, a day of golf.

Ideal for: High-touch connections with to impress your strongest supporters. These events can be more time consuming to produce (like Galas or Golf Tournaments), but there’s nothing like premium entertainment to bring out big donors.

Tech Tip: Use technology to streamline your event day by creating time slots with Ticket Groups and checking people in quickly via the Ticket CheckIn App.

3. Community Ticket Events

Example: Explore Kenya: Virtual Cooking & Baobab Juice Tasting from the Starship Orion PTO offered a highly personal experience, featuring a (virtual) Kenyan cooking class intertwined with historical facts, local music, and stories.

Ideal for: Whether virtual or in-person, these smaller, community-oriented events are a lighter lift for your team while creating a personal connection with supporters. Community ticket events are great for young friends and other new donors that you hope to cultivate into lifelong supporters.

Tech Tip: Use ticket caps to keep your event size appropriate and enusure that every attendee has a positive experience. Bonus: display the number of tickets remaining to provide a little extra motivation to purchase the ticket now.

4. Free, Fundraising-Focused Virtual Events

Example: @Home Saturday from the Kentlands Community Foundation offered a free virtual concert. Instead of charging for the event, they emphasized the need for donations, and one-third of the attendees made a donation.

Ideal for: A low-overhead opportunity to build goodwill with your community and cultivate your donor pipeline while keeping all the focus on your cause. A no-frills virtual event can be anything from a virtual 5k to a virtual speaker – just keep your costs (and efforts) low to prioritize donations over registration fees.

Tech Tip: Enable a second donation option at checkout. This gives supporters who skip the initial donation option a second nudge to donate – and they often do. Those who donate during the ticket purchase do not see the checkbox.

5. Virtual Challenge

Example: The WordCount Challenge supporting the Illinois Humanities encouraged supporters to read (and log their books) through the cold, indoor months of winter. Top supporters did more than read – they also fundraised for the organization.

Ideal for: Summer vacations and holiday seasons when supporters are traveling and your team is ready for a break. A virtual challenge can be a lightweight way to keep supporters engaged wherever they are – and with the participant progress uploads and ability to pre-set options like Milestones and Badges (digital rewards for each accomplishment on the way to the ultimate goal), you can stay connected to your supporters even while you disconnect.

Tech Tip: Use a free tool like Canva (for GIFs) or Open Badge Designer (for classic badges) to create custom badges for your Virtual Challenge.

6. Donation Forms

Example: A donation form for The Epilepsy Foundation of Colorado provides a financial level for every budget, along with extra encouragement to make it a recurring monthly donation.

Ideal for: An “always open” approach to accepting donations, making it simple and easy for supporters to donate (or setup recurring donations) in the moment that they are thinking about it. Want to make a specific appeal? Create unique donation forms for different fundraising campaigns.

Tech Tip: Give donors the option to cover the 4% donation processing fee. When given the choice, many donors opt to pay it for you, taking the effective donation processing fee under 2%.

7. Donation Websites

Example: The Pat Tillman Foundation’s creative Donation Website Tillman Tussle comes with an extra incentive: donors are encouraged to “vote” for the fastest runner in the organization with their donation.

Ideal for: A white-label solution to collecting one-time and recurring donations with custom branding, robust reporting, and auto-receipts.

Tech Tip: Add a little pizzaz by enabling E-Cards that allow your donors to automatically send a fun notification to the honoree of their donation.

8. DIY Fundraising campaigns

Example: The Live Like Bella Foundation’s detailed DIY fundraising option inspires supporters to fundraise for their birthday, a special event, or just because they’re passionate about the cause.

Ideal for: Empowering your most motivated, self-directed supporters with the ability to fundraise for you – anytime. Offer motivation (birthdays are popular – but any special occasion works), provide instructions and let supporters do more for your mission.

Tech Tip: Encourage supporters to connect their fundraiser to Facebook Fundraisers for maximum reach.

Use Social Tools toGet More Out of Your Fundraising Strategy

The biggest benefit of a hybrid fundraising strategy is the ability to connect with people across the country. Enable referral rewards for your events, customize your social sharing options, and enable Facebook Fundraisers to encourage your supporters to activate their friends and family.

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