4 Hybrid Event Management Practices that Will Last Past 2021October 18, 2021
As nonprofit professionals are aware, 2021 has seen the popularity of hybrid events escalate dramatically . While initially hybrid events were a necessity for public health due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they also offer a variety of benefits that make them worth considering, even when other event types are available. After all, a well-run nonprofit hybrid event combines the accessibility of virtual fundraisers with the engagement of face-to-face gatherings.
The combination of ongoing public health concerns and benefits of hybrid gatherings means that as we prepare to move on to 2022, many fundraising professionals predict that hybrid events will be here to stay. The new year is also a good time to reassess your prior event management practices to consider the wins for your organization and what you can improve upon.
To help guide your nonprofit through this process, this article will discuss four event management practices organizations planning to continue hosting hybrid events should keep doing or start doing if they haven’t already. These practices include:
- Investing in the right software
- Creating comprehensive registration forms
- Working with a wide range of volunteers
- Making your events accessible
Given the nature of hybrid events, many of these tips will revolve around or require support from event management software. Take inventory of your nonprofit’s current technology, then apply these tips to your unique situation.
Whether you have comprehensive event registration software or are in the midst of upgrading your techstack, you can still refine your hybrid event management for the better when implementing these practices. Let’s get started.
1. Invest in the right software.
Event software has come a long way in a few short years, giving nonprofit organizations a wide selection of tools to help host their hybrid events. With all of the new options and features available, your nonprofit may benefit from researching new platforms and upgrading your current techstack.
Hybrid events require technology with features designed for both in-person and online events. At the event itself, it can be easy to provide activities focused on engaging only on the in-person guests due to their physical proximity. This too often leaves virtual guests forgotten.
Your software should provide features that allow you to engage both audiences, preventing this from happening. Look for solutions that offer features dedicated to helping you reach all of your guests, including:
- Online registration software. Your guests should be able to complete the entire registration process online. While walk-ins can be accommodated with ticket purchases at the door, research shows that 90% of guests prefer online registration. Your online registration system should be flexible enough to account for multiple types of guest attendance, payment methods, and event types, allowing you to use one software solution for your virtual, in-person, and hybrid events.
- Text-to-give tools. Text-to-give can be a particularly effective way to encourage donations at live gatherings. Present your text-to-give number via speaker or signage at the event, then make a call for donations. Guests who see others pulling out their phones to make a contribution will be inclined to follow suit. Plus, due to its convenience, all of your guests, including those attending virtually, can send a text to donate, no matter how they’re attending your event.
- Live streaming. Most hybrid events heavily rely on live streaming for keeping their virtual attendees engaged. However, too many organizations fail to make full use of all of the features and opportunities associated with live streaming solutions. Make sure your guests can engage with you during your live stream by sending messages in a chat, filing out polls, and more.
Before investing in a new tech solution, make sure it integrates with the rest of your software. Ask software providers about compatibility and integration options before making a purchase. Otherwise, you may end up with a number of piecemeal solutions that have difficulty communicating with one another.
2. Create comprehensive registration forms.
Your guests’ event experience begins when they first click on your registration forms. As hybrid events tend to provide more options for guest attendance, these forms may be more complex than your usual registration process. However, even with more questions, your forms should still be user-friendly and accommodating to all guests.
Regpack’s guide to event registration forms walks through a few basics for creating comprehensive registration forms for all types of events:
- Use conditional logic. Conditional logic reduces the length of your registration forms by using your guests’ previous answers to determine which questions to show them. For example, your hybrid event registration form will likely ask guests how they plan to attend. Once guests select in-person or online, the rest of the form will conform to show questions related to their response.
- Make payment easy. Your users should never have to leave your registration form to make their payment. Use an integrated payment processor to streamline their experience and reduce form abandonment. Additionally, make sure your payment processor can accept multiple payment forms and allows guests to save their financial information, reducing data re-entry for future events.
- Analyze your form results. You can improve your forms and registration process by collecting user data. Make sure your registration software has comprehensive reporting tools, allowing you to monitor how guests are completing your forms. Additionally, consider looking for a solution with post-event surveys so you can get feedback on each part of your event experience, helping to create better interactions with supporters in the future.
Your registration forms should also be optimized for both your guests’ experience and your event team’s planning. While most aspects of your event will need to be ready before you begin selling tickets, registration forms provide vital information about your event attendance that you should be sure to share with your event team. This is especially true for hybrid events where your team will need to prepare for two different sets of guests.
3. Work with a wide range of volunteers.
As mentioned, hybrid events require balancing the activities for multiple groups of guests, which can complicate your event management. Make sure you have enough volunteers recruited and that they are properly stationed to accommodate your event.
Your registration forms will allow you to get estimates of the number of in-person and online guests you can expect at the event. Use this information to staff volunteers at your venue and as online moderates, respectively, to help create an exemplary experience for all guests. Due to hybrid events’ reliance on technology, you may need to recruit volunteers who are more tech-savvy than you would otherwise and dedicate a significant portion of onboarding to teaching them how to use your software.
When leveraged correctly, your volunteers can handle a significant portion of administrative and logistical tasks that your team would otherwise have to manage alone. Plus, after working several hours, your volunteers may be eligible for volunteer grants, monetary contributions made by employers when their employees donate their time to work for a nonprofit or charity. After your event, work with your volunteers to check their eligibility to receive these grants and help them fill out any necessary forms to complete their application.
4. Make your events accessible.
Your hybrid events should allow almost anyone with an internet connection to attend virtually. Moving into 2022, accessibility remains just as important as it always has been, and if your event’s website, registration process, or engagement opportunities need an update to accommodate your entire audience, now is the time.
If you’re unsure where to start, DNL OmniMedia’s guide to nonprofit website accessibility offers a few points to consider, specifically for improving your event forms:
- Mark required fields. Label your required fields with universally understood symbols, such as an asterisk, or text instructions. Non-text visual indicators like color differences are not always picked up by assistive technology, which can make your forms inaccessible for certain users.
- Use external labels. Placeholder text inside of an information field can be useful for demonstrating examples and providing additional information. However, using disappearing placeholder text, alone, for your directions can be difficult for users, as their instructions will disappear as they start typing.
- Use visual markers other than color. Color can act as a shorthand for various elements of your registration forms, such as using red to mark information fields that weren’t properly filled out. However, color alone can be difficult for assistive technology such as screen readers to pick up on and may also be inconvenient for colorblind users. Color still works as a visual marker, but be sure to pair it with other accessible visual elements.
Event planning and marketing require a significant investment of your staff’s time and resources. Inaccessible forms can inadvertently turn away a significant portion of your potential audience, undermining one of hybrid event’s biggest draws—that guests can attend in the manner most convenient for them.
Hybrid events can provide your guests with the benefits of both in-person and online gatherings, allowing you to accommodate a wide range of supporters. As you prepare your fundraising activities for the new year, make sure you have the right software, a strong volunteer base, and best practices in place for your hybrid activities.
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