The widespread usage of the internet and mobile devices has deeply influenced how nonprofits raise funds, making it easier than ever before for them to connect with donors. For years, we have been witnessing a growing trend in the nonprofit sector—nonprofits turning to virtual fundraisers. This ranged from simply having a donation page online to running full-fledged fundraising campaigns online.
However, it was the COVID-19 pandemic that accelerated the adoption of online fundraising. Because of social distancing guidelines, in-person fundraising events were difficult to organize, compelling nonprofits to find other ways of soliciting donations. And online fundraising turned out to be the only viable option.
Research shows that of the nonprofits that postponed their in-person events, 62% converted to virtual events and 70% described their events as successful.
But now as the world returns to normal, nonprofits no longer have to restrict themselves to online-only fundraisers; they have the option to run hybrid fundraisers—which have been a growing trend in recent times. In this article, we will look at what these are and how you can use them in conjunction with charitable gaming-based fundraisers like 50/50 raffles.
What are hybrid fundraisers?
A hybrid fundraiser refers to a fundraising event that happens both in-person and virtually simultaneously. So, your audience has two choices to participate—they may do it either in-person or online, or both. This gives nonprofits a chance to capitalize on the benefits of both types of events.
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic is almost under control, some people are still apprehensive about being in crowded places. Allowing them to participate in the event virtually means you don’t miss out on their donation.
Hybrid events aren’t new. In the past, the largest audience used to be in-person, with a few people participating virtually. Moving forward, this trend will likely be reversed.
So, as you are designing your events, it’s best to prioritize online engagement—it takes creativity and planning to successfully engage people online.
Examples of hybrid events
There are plenty of ways on how to design a hybrid event. Here are just some of the examples:
- A hybrid fun run, where participants can run at a preferred time wherever they are and report their mileage and time.
- A gala with online pledges and payments for donors attending virtually.
- Hybrid golf, where golfers will participate at a course of their choice, and report their scores afterward.
- A group dinner where 8-10 people gather in one home and join other groups virtually from all over the world.
Running a hybrid fundraiser with online charitable games
One of the best ways to amplify the engagement of your hybrid fundraiser is by using gamification. And you can do this by hosting raffles and sweepstakes along with your in-person events. The prospect of winning excites participants and serves as a gesture of appreciation for their support of your nonprofit.
These games are easy and affordable to set up (when compared to other forms of fundraisers). And yet, they are known to have a high ROI (Return on Investment). You can encourage people that have registered to attend the in-person event to buy tickets online to enter the contest. The whole process is automated, quick, and easy (rather than running physical raffles).
Plus, having the game online means participants can share the link for the charitable game with others not attending the event. Popular games to try are 50/50 raffles, Catch the Ace and sweepstakes.
Benefits of hybrid fundraising
Hybrid events are growing in popularity because they offer plenty of benefits to nonprofits. Here are some of the most important ones:
1. Get a great return on investment
Having your event online doesn’t come with the same obligations that are associated with an in-person event. Usually, the venue will be smaller. And you won’t need a lot of staff or volunteers. All this equates to lower costs (online fundraisers are naturally cost-effective).
2. Expand your reach
With an in-person event, people have to travel to the location of the event. This might mean booking flights, searching for hotels, taking a break from work, etc. All these factors act as barriers to participating in the event, meaning most of the attendees of an in-person event are likely to be local— this severely limits the pool of donors to tap from.
But when the event is online and in-person, the attendance rate will organically improve. Those who can’t make it to the event venue will join you online, making it a win-win for both parties.
3. Collect more data
Having an event online allows you to collect plenty of data that would be difficult (and awkward) to do in person. Plus, you don’t only get names and addresses. You can also know which channels drive the most traffic, the kind of messages donors respond to, and so much more. This grows your donor database and helps you gather insights to better understand your donors and supporters.
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4 tips to maximize the potential of your hybrid fundraiser
Just because hybrid fundraisers are great doesn’t mean you should take them lightly. There is still plenty of planning and work to be done to ensure the success of the event. Here are some key things you need to keep in mind:
1. Start planning and budgeting early on
It is important to get your message about the fundraiser to your donors and supporters in time. You also need to create a budget, secure funds, acquire tools and create promotional materials. This is why it’s important to start planning and budgeting for every step as early as possible. Otherwise, you might end up working with very tight timelines or worse, postponing the event because a crucial step hasn’t been finalized.
2. Know your audience and their habits
You must get as much information as you can about your audience and the event you plan to host. For instance, if you are planning on inviting a speaker, you need to know which ones your audience will be eager to see. Your donor database could offer some pointers. But you can also run surveys to discover things you don’t already know. SurveyMonkey or Typeform are some of the tools you can use for this purpose.
3. Use multichannel communication
The more people that can attend your event, the more money you can raise. This is why you should focus on promoting the event as much as you can. It’s a capital mistake to focus on just one channel—only using your website, for example. Instead, adopt a strategy that combines social networks, your partners, email marketing, and digital advertising.
4. Track performance
The best part with hybrid events is that you have data coming in real-time. If the event spans several days or weeks, you can use this data to tweak your strategy. Remember, good plans change based on how the situation plays out once you launch.
As we emerge out of the pandemic, it’s safe to say that hybrid fundraising is the future. Its growing popularity is an enough indication that it’s here to stay. If you are yet to host a hybrid event, consider doing so in conjunction with an online charity raffle or sweepstakes.