10 Strategies to Drive Engagement in Your Hybrid Event

Hybrid fundraising has gained momentum as a way to bring fundraising events to both live and virtual audiences. Think of it as the “best of both worlds,” blending fundraising best practices and technology to create seamless giving experiences – anytime, anywhere.

But here’s the trick: How do you engage with supporters and keep them bidding and donating when half are in the room and half are at home?

The good news is you don’t have to focus on one or the other. Both audiences can connect with your mission, be entertained, and drive up your proceeds for a successful event.

Our OneCause consulting team is sharing 10 effective strategies for capturing interest and keeping supporters coming back for more during a hybrid event.

Give An Attendance Award

Anyone who donates or bids during the live-streamed program is entered into a drawing to win a prize. It also encourages supporters to stay online for the full program to see who wins the attendance award!

– Kim Haugh

Create Virtual Rooms

Create a site with “rooms” to mimic an onsite event.  Rooms can include:

  • Cocktail hour (drink recipes, video of a sommelier doing a wine tasting)
  • Ballroom (post family recipes from some of the org recipients)
  • Photo journal for guests to post pictures in their virtual event attire
  • Zoom party room for virtual music & mingling when the dancing began for onsite attendees

– Lisa Ehrlich

Utilize Social Media

Utilize social media heavily. Give a prize for the person who shares your Facebook posts the most (FB will track shares for you).

Make sure to create an event hashtag and ask your ambassadors (board, volunteers, social media-savvy influencers) to use the hashtag in their posting. The A/V company (if using) can even pull public posts and share them during the show.

– Stacy Engstrom

Show Your Supporters On Screen

Bring your watch parties and virtual attendees into the ballroom by sharing watch party live feed or pre-recorded supporter videos so virtual attendees see themselves on screen.

– Pam Stusio

Save Entertainment For Last

Secure entertainment and place it at the end of your program. Keep your virtual attendees watching!

– Sara Brunner

Create Dual Experiences

Create dual experiences. For example, during one event, a chef shared the steps of a recipe on camera for virtual attendees prior to the event.

In-person attendees could taste in the room, while virtual attendees made their own at home. The organizations provided the list of ingredients in advance and even add menu boxes to sponsors’ benefits.

– Kayleigh Layton


Deliver Goodies to Virtual Attendees

Have virtual attendees receive their box of goodies in advance. Another popular dual experience idea: chocolate & wine tastings. 

– Chanel Henry

Use Chat Feature to Create Conversation

Using Chat as part of your virtual programming can enhance participation. But don’t just monitor it for comments—create conversations with pre-crafted conversation starters.

– Stefanie Zachery

Hire 2 EmceesOne For Each Audience

Hire two engaging emcees—one for each audience. Virtual attendees won’t feel like they are just “watching a show,” rather that they are participating in a full, wrap-around experience tailored to them specifically.

– LeToya Boyne

Record Mission -Focused Videos

Before the event, record casual videos from sponsors and board members with the theme, “Why I Give” and post those on your fundraising site and social media.

Make sure to send out email blasts and/or text messages letting supporters know that new content has been added. 

– Crystal Ward

Bonus Ideas

Since coming up with just ten is hard, we’ve added three more bonus ideas!

  1. Zoom Phone Booth at on-site events. Have a branded phone booth, where virtual and onsite guests can have quick “hello” calls. Virtual guests can see the live event taking place in the background.
  2. Include interactive entertainment. A children’s hospital event had families with young children watching the event and included interactive elements to engage the kids. For example, they had a magician/slight-of-hand artist begin the program, and he revealed how to the trick at the end of the segment. They also had a local children’s band perform intermittently, so the kids could get up and dance, either at home or in the ballroom.
  3. Reward early registration. Tell supporters that anyone who registers by a certain date will be entered into a drawing (doesn’t have a to be a big prize—could be a great way to use up gift card donations!). Announce that you will do this drawing at noon every day leading up to event day, so the earlier you register, the more chances you’ll have to win the prize.

Guest Author:

Laura Thomson

Laura Thomson
Consulting Manager

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