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3 Creative Hybrid Event Examples You Need to See

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Published May 25, 2023 Reading Time: 6 minutes

Today, your nonprofit is in a unique position to take advantage of fundraising with hybrid events. Classy’s annual Why America Gives report demonstrated that today’s donors are passionate and ready to give more but want to see personalized experiences to feel connected to the organization. Events that meet them where they are and cater to the way they’d like to interact are a wonderful way to unlock new levels of generosity.

Hybrid events take things up a notch by helping nonprofits offer authentic and memorable digital experiences alongside physical events in a consistent way. Plus, we saw in Classy’s latest State of Modern Philanthropy 2023 report that multiple avenues for donor interaction deepen supporters’ connection to the cause and positively impact their giving patterns over time.

Today, we’re looking at three of the best hybrid event planning examples from nonprofits that crafted meaningful in-person and virtual interactions to raise more. 

Not All Experiences Are Equal

The days of gathering people on Zoom webinars and closely monitoring the “you’re on mute” or “your sound isn’t working” flukes are over. A hybrid event means so much more when your virtual component thoughtfully complements your in-person efforts. Today’s event attendees want to know that if they log in from home or another part of the country, they’ll still be just as part of the event as your live attendees. 

Our Fundraising Event Attendee Insights Report found that 91% of event attendees are more likely to take further action with a nonprofit through future events and fundraising opportunities after a positive event experience. We also discovered through our research for the State of Modern Philanthropy report that customers offering their experience through Classy’s hybrid event platform, Classy Live, saw an average of $1,258 per donor over the course of a year. 

To put it into perspective, that’s more than a donor who gives a recurring monthly donation of $100 for 12 consecutive months. That’s proof positive the true power of a great hybrid event experience is its far-reaching impact on attendees who return to show their generosity through all other fundraising campaigns you host throughout the year.

The Benefits of Hybrid Events in Your Fundraising Strategy

The hybrid model gives event planners a simple way to provide attendees with the best of both worlds. Instead of narrowing event marketing down to in person or virtual, you give your audience the option to choose based on what matters most. 

Hybrid Is a Practical Event Strategy to Deliver:

  • Stronger connections with donors who have the ability to attend
  • Broad participation on a global scale with lower overhead costs, a higher number of attendees, and more networking opportunities
  • Ample amounts of data to track attendee interactions and donation metrics
  • Personal touches through live polls, gamification, and follow-up functionality of a live and virtual event platform
  • Global communities united around your cause and stories
  • Natural content creation with recordings for social media and promotions

What do hybrid events look like?

You can make anything from your endurance event, performance, auction, gala, or competition into a hybrid event experience. That might mean different aspects catered to in-person or online attendees, but ultimately you’re looking to create a feeling of community and togetherness between the two audiences. 

Hosting your event through an online venue like the nonprofits we’re about to introduce gives you access to everything you need before, during, and after the event.

3 Successful Hybrid Event Examples

1. Shriners Children’s Celebration of the Century

Shriners Children’s has a long reputation of bringing supporters into its community in new and creative ways. When it came to its 100th anniversary, the nonprofit’s team knew they had to make a big impression, and well, they delivered. Not only did they put on an in-person event in November at Minute Maid Park in Houston, TX, but they also carefully orchestrated a livestreamed event and curated content for attendees to enjoy virtually. 

The organization maintained a consistent experience for all attendees through single-event software. In-person attendees quickly checked in through a mobile event app to enjoy the live auction and Dierks Bentley concert. At the same time, virtual attendees could also enjoy the concert from the comfort of their homes alongside recorded interviews with patient families and an online silent auction.

Read More About This Unique Event Approach

The impact: 750 virtual participants, 700 live attendees, and $1.6M raised 


Takeaways for Your Next Hybrid Event:

  • Create momentum: Add natural moments of giving for attendees online and in person with a virtual silent auction. Displaying fund-a-need items or selling fixed-price items and merchandise are other ways to encourage giving and ensure attendees remember your event.
  • Livestream key moments: Broadcast the on-site portions of your event or featured performances and sessions to everyone in real time. This brings experiences like the Dierks Bentley concert right to your guests despite which event format they choose.
  • Clarify the impact: Highlight your “why” from the moment supporters view your event page through the in-person signage, online campaign progress bar, and live fundraising thermometer celebrating key milestones.

2. Central Caribbean Marine Institute’s Reefs Go Live

Central Caribbean Marine Institute (CCMI) brings the ocean directly to classrooms around the world through livestream, underwater lessons in its famous Reefs Go Live hybrid event series. The creativity level is pretty high for the CCMI team, which shares new episodes and supplemental teaching resources with students and teachers for engagement in a whole new way. 

By opening up their undersea world and love for vibrant oceans and coral reefs, the CCMI team reaches wider audiences. The hybrid event model gives them the platform to bring real-time interactions with their Little Cayman Research Centre to students everywhere. And of course, recordings are available afterward to reach more with their adventures. Viewers are then encouraged to engage with a simple donation page to make an even bigger impact.

We feel that creating a connection to the ocean and sharing the beautiful coral reefs of Little Cayman with others, both locally and abroad, is one of the most important ways to increase support for critical, timely issues such as marine protection and sustainability.

The CCMI team

The impact: More than 107,000 viewers in 22 countries for the 2022 broadcasts


Takeaways for Your Hybrid Event:

  • Share event content: Follow the lead of CCMI’s readily available resources by creating unique learning materials, launching an annual report, sending out  letters from those who have benefited from your nonprofit’s work, or providing instructions for attendees to access at any time and participate in your next event. 
  • Build your agenda: Feature engaging sessions or segments like the Reefs Go Live episodes, keynote speakers, breakout sessions, and dedicated networking time for registrants to get them excited about your hybrid experience.
  • Simplify the payment process: Give attendees an option to donate directly and make it as simple as possible with trusted payment options, like PayPal or Venmo, then pair it with the convenience of fast mobile checkout. 

3. King County Sexual Assault Resource Center’s BE LOUD Breakfast

King County Sexual Assault Resource Center (KCSARC) took a long-standing tradition and brought it to a live and virtual audience. The organization’s annual BE LOUD Breakfast is an event that supporters look forward to attending to celebrate how they raised their voices for survivors over the past year. In 2023, KCSARC hosted its 34th annual breakfast at a venue in Seattle and online with virtual elements for anyone who couldn’t be there live.

What better way to celebrate four decades of advocacy and progress than to bring as many supporters together without location barriers? KCSARC then invited registrants to participate in peer-to-peer fundraising to raise even more awareness leading up to the main event, where they heard inspiring stories of hope and recovery from the organization’s Empowered Voices program. Virtual attendees could also stream these speeches.

The impact: Sponsorship from names like Amazon, Chase, and The Seattle Times


Takeaways for Your Hybrid Event:

  • Unite supporters through online fundraising: Show attendees how easy it is to set up an individual fundraising page, and give supporters who can’t attend the ability to donate directly to your cause pre- and post-event.
  • Recognize sponsorships: Give your sponsors and exhibitors a shoutout directly within your online event venue and offer them the opportunity to engage with virtual attendees through digital booths, breakout rooms, and Q&A sessions.
  • Get the most out of your event content: Make it easy for attendees and livestreamers to hear from incredible speakers with high-quality livestreams available on demand through Vimeo. These captivating conversations can help your organization continue raising money even after the event concludes. 

Choosing the Right Hybrid Event Platform

All three organizations we’ve highlighted take a unique approach to hybrid events that reflect the target audience, mission, and goals. With the support of the right event technology built to engage virtual and in-person audiences in any time zone, each organization could focus on growing supporter relationships.

Classy Live takes care of everything, from an easy registration process to event management and reporting. What could your event look like with more time to focus on the guest experience?

Classy Live Stream

Host Your Event on Classy Live

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