With the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, we explore how charities will run events next year and beyond
The pandemic has had a huge knock-on effect on charity events. From fundraising to awareness raising, events are vital for not-for-profit organisations. Many charities rely on event fundraising to grow their income, so not being able to hold physical
gatherings has been a real blow for the sector.
For the past 18 months, charities have turned their hands to virtual events to increase fundraising income. They’ve shown great skill and ability to run these well.
Now that life in the UK has returned to an “improved normal”, how will event teams run events next year and beyond? Will they stick with virtual, move back to physical, or combine the best of both worlds?
There are lot of benefits to hosting events online, including being able to reach broader audiences and cost savings. For example, when you run events virtually, you save on things like venue fees, photography, and merchandise.
On the flip side, we know there are lots of benefits to holding physical events. One of the biggest advantages is they give delegates the chance to network with others and feel a part of something. This social element is harder to achieve virtually.
So, is it possible to merge the two? Hybrid events – combining virtual and live elements – can bring together the benefits of both types of events.
YourStory says hybrid events combine a small group of people at one location with lots of others joining in remotely. It says: “Hybrid events are made for the COVID-19 era. They bring together the charm of physical presence as well as the convenience of remote participation.”
Hybrid events also give people choice about whether to attend virtually or in person. This is particularly helpful for people who may have health concerns and don’t yet feel comfortable returning to physical events.
It’s important charities think about how they can host physical events safely. Delegates will want to know there are protocols in place to keep everyone safe. This includes everything from providing hand sanitiser at registration desks to reducing occupancy numbers in venues.
Open Audience says there are lots of health and safety protocols and different groups of people to consider. It says: “There is the audience, the speakers and the technology crew. For example, in physical meetings the AV team normally stand by to attach the mic to the speaker. Does the tech person leave the mic on the table, and explain how to attach and use the mic?”
Event venues will need to be more tech savvy. EventsCase says that having a larger online audience means you need the latest technology in networking, cyber-security, online conferencing, audio components, and cloud-based technology.
Event organisers may also want to consider introducing more visual content using augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR).
You need to think carefully about how you engage your physical and online audiences. It’s important that virtual audiences can interact in the same way as those attending in-person.
Hybrid events will also need online audiences to be able to interact with live audiences. You could use mobile apps to connect the two groups and help people network, or live polling and Q&As with audiences able to submit questions.
An article in Forbes, which featured interviews with events professionals, says when running hybrid events, you need to think about the content you share with your virtual audience.
Events specialist Dahlia El Gazzar says: “Hybrid doesn’t mean you only broadcast the face-to-face content, because often that content doesn’t translate well to the online audience. You need to consider their online experience and have exclusive content for the online audience.”
It’s important to plan a hybrid event carefully. As part of your planning, you need a strategy and goals. The goal for all hybrid events is to engage as many attendees as possible, no matter how they are taking part.
You should also think about your event programme as it will need more consideration as you balance the needs of two audiences. Marketing is also important so think about creating a website for your event or adding dedicated event pages to your existing website. You also need to send out emails to potential delegates.