John Killoran is an inventor, entrepreneur, and chair of Clover Leaf Solutions, a national lab services company. He currently leads Clover Leaf’s investment in Snowball Fundraising, an online fundraising platform for nonprofits.
Hybrid events leverage digital tools to shift in-person experiences online. Learn how your association can use three tools to host a successful hybrid event.
In-person gatherings offer the opportunity to connect with a community, but virtual adaptations to these events provide convenience for both management and attendance. Today, associations can have the best of both worlds by combining the benefits of each in a hybrid format. Let’s look at three digital tools that will set your association’s next hybrid event up for success.
Planning processes look different for both in-person and virtual events, but they’re all similarly tedious. However, hybrid events can be especially complex since you need to account for both in-person and virtual experiences.
An event management platform can organize your planning, promotion, and performance to better appeal to your members. Some of the features to look for in event management software include:
Event check-in. Instead of having different check-in processes for virtual and in-person attendees, event management software allows everyone to check in to the event from their phones.
Donation management. Use software to manage any event registration fees or donations made during your event. This sends all your revenue to the same place, whether people are paying online or swiping their debit cards at an event. As an added bonus, this will separate donations from the rest of your organization’s revenue and help you manage your finances more efficiently.
Volunteer tools. Whatever task you give your event volunteers, software can give them the tools they need to complete it. For example, if you assign the check-out process of a hybrid auction to a volunteer, event management software can make it easy for them to find a participant and charge them the correct amount for the items they won.
To create an event that attracts both in-person and virtual audiences, it’s important to understand and appeal to your supporters and members. For efficient and focused outreach, Double the Donation recommends researching donors and potential donors to learn more about them. When your association understands its audience, you can make more appealing and targeted event invitations. Use donor management software (DMS) to organize and use donor information effectively.
This software can track information as simple as contact details or as in-depth as philanthropic engagement with related causes. Consider how the following details can influence your event planning:
Preferred contact method. You’ll want to know how to get in touch with your potential supporters, but preferred methods of communication can help you reach them more efficiently. For example, if a prospect prefers to text rather than email, you might send them a text invitation rather than an email one.
Membership history. Your supporters care about your association’s story, and you should care about theirs too. Note a supporter’s history with your organization so you can celebrate important milestones with them. For example, host an event celebrating the members who have been a part of your organization for 10 years.
Occupation. By knowing what your members or potential supporters do for a living, you will have a better understanding of their weekly schedules and availability. This can help plan the timing of your upcoming event and estimate how many people will be available to attend in-person.
According to Snowball Fundraising, “building an environment where donors feel connected to your organization is of the utmost importance to ensure the longevity of your organization.” When prospect research guides your event planning and promotion, your association can effectively strengthen relationships with its supporters.
Develop an engaging website to draw people into your cause, then add a landing page dedicated to your hybrid event that includes the information your supporters need to register and attend.
Consider these elements of a landing page that will help prepare supporters for your event:
Event information. Give details about the nature of the event. Is it an auction, gala, or webinar? What should attendees expect and why should they be interested in coming?
Registration form. Immediately after explaining your event, allow site visitors to register. This will encourage them to sign up while event details are fresh on their minds.
Donation portal. Provide a way for supporters to give, whether as an event registration fee or optional donation. Online donation platforms make it easier to give: even if your supporters are attending the event in-person, donations will be easier with a digital tool.
The right content management software will provide plugins and website-development tools that can make building your hybrid event landing page simple.
As you plan your next event, leverage event, donor, and content management software to organize event information and encourage a larger turnout. To narrow down which tools you’ll need, set specific goals and develop a detailed to-do list that covers everything your event will require.