With continued uncertainty over the repercussions of COVID-19 for 2021 and beyond, hybrid events offer a way forward
This article is sponsored by Enthuse, the fundraising, donations and events registration platform.
The charity events sector is in a state of flux.
When the COVID-19 pandemic first struck, the NCVO published worrying projections for the immediate impact of lockdowns and social distancing on the UK charity sector. Traditional routes of fundraising were stopped in their tracks, with devastating effects for many charities.
Virtual events have provided charity fundraisers with a lifeline. Over the past few months, an increasing number of charities have made the switch to virtual events. Many of them have seen benefits to this model - including increased reach and accessibility. Charities with a global supporter network are able to mobilise them and create a shared experience without barriers to entry. And organisations with a local base are able to expand.
There will always be benefits to staging an in-person event. Studies have shown that people continue to value physical events for a number of factors, including a change in routine and an opportunity to network with like-minded people.
For some organisations, physical events retain an edge in lead generation. In-person events have been rated the most effective B2B tactic, with 81% of marketers using them. Events that are well planned with a carefully curated attendee targeting, are more likely to drive open discussions. This is partly because face to face connection is valued more highly in an increasingly digital world.
Hybrid Events offer an opportunity for charities to experience the best of both worlds: bringing together the accessibility and reach of virtual events and the memorable experiences and opportunities for networking that come with physical ones.
A ‘Hybrid Event’ is any event (such as a fundraiser, networking event, conference, seminar or workshop) that combines a traditional physical event infrastructure with a virtual component.
Hybrid events usually follow the same model as in-person ones, with the addition of virtual components. For example, a conference following the Hybrid Event model would retain many features of a physical event, such as a central venue, a programme of events, and in-person networking. Speakers may be present in person, attending virtually through video-conferencing software, or a combination of both.
Hybrid Events combine the best characteristics of both virtual and physical events. That’s why they are often used as a means of increasing participation and engagement. They enable the participation of people who might be unable to attend physically due to travel or time zone constraints or through a wish to reduce the carbon footprint of the event.
The Edinburgh Dog and Cat Home recently adopted the hybrid approach with an event called ’In the Dog House’. The first event was organised in 2017 and has traditionally been a physical event where business leaders and influencers from across Edinburgh are locked in dog kennels to raise funds for the charity. However, this year, they are adding a virtual element to it allowing anyone to take part from home. Armed with just a laptop and phone, participants must reach out to their social media networks and contacts to raise as much money as possible to be released. Throughout the day participants will be rewarded when they reach milestones and the individual who raises the most will be crowned Top Dog.
There is a growing demand for this kind of event. Should the UK face more stringent local lockdowns as the result of a ‘second wave’ of COVID-19, hybrid events will prevent that from becoming another barrier to attendance.
Even in a post-COVID-19 world, the UK charity sector has often been accused of being too London-centric. Hybrid events allow for greater accessibility, particularly for smaller charities with limited resources.
Hybrid Events can also offer greater fundraising potential. A physical event can be a very effective way to mobilise your supporter base. These types of events create a sense of community action around a shared cause. This inspires people to raise funds and to donate.
But by restricting participation to those in the immediate vicinity of an event, charities are leaving money on the table. The inclusion of a virtual element to a fundraiser can unlock a much wider pool of potential fundraisers and donors.
The new ebook from fundraising, donations and events registration platform Enthuse provides detailed, step-by-step guidance on setting up your very own Hybrid Event.
This free online resource offers practical advice on everything you need to know to maximise reach: from finding the right idea, through to setting targets, driving participation and tracking engagement.
By providing thought-provoking questions and offering the learned experience of successful virtual event organisers, the guide can help charities to create a workable framework for planning and optimising virtual events that will connect with your supporters.
Find out more by downloading the ebook below.
Want to see Enthuse in action? Join us on 15th October 2020 for #BeMoreDigital Fundraising Day, where Enthuse will be delivering a fantastic session, ’Who did you last donate to?’.
Download 'Virtual Realities: The Essential Guide to Raising More From Your Virtual Events' and learn more about staging effective virtual events