What is a Hybrid Event and How Do I Plan One?

Pivoting to virtual events proved successful during the COVID-19 lockdown, and continues to be a valuable asset in your event calendar. But what about hybrid fundraising?

Let’s uncover what a Hybrid event is, and the key strategies to planning a successful one:

What is a Hybrid Event?

Plain and simple, a Hybrid fundraising event consists of your in-person event on a smaller level combined with live stream for virtual attendees to participate in the fundraising.

There are really two things to consider when analyzing whether a Hybrid event would make sense for your organization and donor base.

  1. Determine how many guests you can accommodate in person based on:
    • State, city, and county regulations and requirements
    • Venue regulations and requirements
  2. Determine key donors and what their preferences are:
    • Who wants to attend an in-person event
    • Those that plan to attend virtually

After understanding the basics of a Hybrid event, let’s get started planning your fundraiser.

Hybrid Engagement Tactics

The next step is… engagement tactics! Let’s see what you can do to get all supporters excited about your event.

In Person

Think way back to when you could have in person fundraising events. Bring back those strategies for engagement, including:

  • Communication. The key to engagement is effective communication. Provide resources, utilize social media, have an email communication strategy, as well as a communication strategy during the event and after.
  • Gamification. Today’s gamification programs are both mobile optimized and accessible anywhere at any time, making it easy for donors to join and engage in fundraising. Fundraising gamification makes charitable donations fun and social. Tools include: scoreboard, text messaging, and social media.
  • OneCause Giving Center. Publish your Giving Center early and promote it as soon as possible. The average OneCause Giving Center is published approximately 39 days pre-event.
  • Use your Ambassadors. This new trend harnesses “Ambassadors,” or your most loyal supporters, to social fundraise, before, during and sometimes even after your signature fundraiser. The best Ambassadors are people of influence, who have strong networks and social clout in your community. Think of: board members, volunteers, social media stars, and the honorees at your event.


Nowadays, virtual fundraising engagement can be the differentiator between a great fundraising event and a good one. Consider:

  • Communication. Pre-event communication for a virtual event is key to make your supporters have clarity leading into the big night. For example, make sure you lay out step-by-step online fundraising directions for those who are not tech savvy.
  • OneCause Giving Center. You can strategically use your Giving Center in a virtual environment. Display auction item photos, embed videos, and host your livestream program all in one place.
  • Text2Register. Text Messages are also key to engagement during your virtual event fundraiser. Who doesn’t have their phone on them at all times now-a-days? Through your fundraising platform, you should be able to collect cell phone numbers of your guests through registration.
  • Gamification. Easy strategies to gamify your event in a virtual world include: display a fundraising thermometer, offer prizes to top fundraisers, encourage interaction on the livestream program.
  • Use your Ambassadors. Leveraging Ambassadors in a virtual space can help you spread the word of your virtual fundraiser faster. Make sure you set them up for success with social media toolkits and templates and motivate them with fun contests throughout your campaign.


Winning Hybrid Event Ideas

Need help getting the wheels turning with Hybrid event ideas? The top 3 Hybrid event ideas are ready for you:

Small Group Watch Parties

Turn table sponsors into small group watch parties! Tables of 8 or 10 can gather in a table sponsor’s home and view the live stream event together. Here’s 3 tips for awesome and engaging watch parties:

  1. Pre-Event Contests: You can gamify your watch parties by organizing a competition! Announce that the table with the most silent auction bids wins a prize to be enjoyed during the live stream event.  Wine, dinner, and/or a shout out during the event with video/picture share to the in-person event are just some options to choose from. Make it unique to your mission!
  2. In Event Gamification: Try gamification during the event. Create a competition between each “table” (small group party) and offer a prize to the winning table. This could be number of social media shares, number of bids, etc. Use texts to let virtual attendees know which table is in the lead.
  3. Social Media Competition: Have individuals post pics of their viewing parties on social media and use a special hashtag. Reward your top 3 favorite posts, or the posts with the most likes. You’ll be surprised what great (and free) visibility you can drive and make it fun too!

Having small groups gather together for your mission will create a community unique to your event.

Dessert Frenzy / Dinner Party

Local bakers come up with special desserts that volunteers deliver to the winners the day of event prior to event start time.

  1. The key is to open bidding 2-3 days before the event to allow for the correct dessert prep time and build excitement for your donors.
  2. Close bidding the day before the event so supporters can enjoy the program without having to focus on bidding.
  3. Have the winners post on social media, tagging you and the local business!

Encourage watch party pictures and social sharing during your live stream—especially if they are lucky enough to eat a delicious dessert!

Wine Wall

Create a fixed price package in your OneCause Planner and call it “Wine Wall”, “Wine Pull”, or something of the sort. Here’s a few quick success tips:

  1. Open the fixed price package prior to the event.
  2. Close it before the event so the winners have the wine to enjoy during your livestream program!
  3. Depending on the amount of wine you have, make sure you create a ticket limit in the OneCause Planner. You will have to pull the wine yourself and communicate to them which wine they won. Or make it a surprise when you deliver it to them!
  4. You could also go another route—a sign-up party wine pull! A supporter donates a small get together with hors d’oeuvres and drinks at their home. Attendance requires a bottle of wine (or liquor) at a minimum value.

The bottle(s) that each party goer provides are donated to your virtual Wine (or Liquor) Pull, or, you execute the wine pull at your house on the night of the livestream.