Hybrid Fundraising Events – In the ballroom and beyond

March 21, 2022

The future of fundraising is all about creativity, engagement, and technology for greater inclusivity and profitability. Charities and non-profits are always looking for new and innovative ways to raise money, and the internet has created a wealth of opportunities for them to do so. One popular trend that is emerging is hybrid fundraising events.


Watch a walkthrough video from ClickBid founder Matt Burnell on how to successfully run your hybrid gala.

A hybrid fundraising event is any fundraiser that combines both online and offline elements. For example, a charity might hold an online auction where people can bid on items from anywhere in the world and have a physical event where people can come and enjoy the atmosphere and meet other like-minded people.

As a diligent fundraiser, you would have already caught wind of the power of hybrid fundraising events and started considering how you could make one work for your charity.



How can you make a hybrid fundraising event work for your charity?

Fortunately for event organizers, we’re back in the ballroom and ready to return to some level of ‘normal.’ It’s time to start planning your upcoming in-person gala. In this context, that means picking a venue, caterer, band, auctioneer, auction items, ticket sales, and more.

This article will explore an easy-to-skip-step that you need to consider going forward. It is the step where you include anyone who cannot make it to the venue on the night of your event. You’re putting so much into your gala with decor, lighting, music, speakers, and more that it would be a shame if someone who had to be out of town missed it. 

In addition, did you know that we saw virtual silent auction sales increase from 80% fair market value to 93%? We also saw a 22% increase in bids when donors participated from home. That is information you want to make work for you in the future.

Over the 20 years of events we have conducted, we have heard several concerns about letting donors participate from home. For instance, “Why buy a ticket when I can stay home and bid or watch?” In the past, I would do my best to reassure planners that if you design it, they will come. However, having experienced two years of pandemic fundraising, we can assure you that people would rather attend in person than stay home. I will be the first to admit that there is no substitute for being in person.

Instead, your goal should be to include and expand your reach to whoever is unable to be physically present. There are many reasons a person could be unable to attend. People could:

  • Have work conflicts
  • Have prior family commitments
  • Be alumni who live somewhere other than your city
  • Be friends of donors who didn’t know about or otherwise cannot attend the event

Frankly, it’s the last example that gets me excited! Every charity has to figure out how to expand its donor base. While social sharing has helped, there’s no substitute for video. Having your donors tell their friends to tune in and “look for us” is a great way to engage new donors. In fact, 72% of your potential donors would rather learn about your charity through video.



How does video help my event?

If you’ve ever watched a live sporting event, you know that the commentators do a great job educating viewers about what is happening on the field. They explain the strategy and how each play impacts the game. You can do the same for your hybrid fundraiser.

Your job as the host or emcee is to make sure everyone knows what is going on and how their donations or participation will make an impact. You will have a few minutes to do this at the beginning of your event, but that is not nearly enough time.

This is where video comes in. You can create several videos that play throughout your event that educate viewers about:

  • Your charity and the work you do
  • How to participate in the silent or live auction
  • What the evening will be like

How to create hybrid fundraising events

So, how do you organize hybrid fundraising events easily and with the least amount of stress and risk? The good news is that most charity events have everything they need already set up for virtual fundraising. Just add one laptop and a cable, and you’re good to go. With your AV and CB teams, you can expand your donor base outside those four walls.

Now that you’re showing people at home and abroad what’s going on in the room, you can take the next step of letting them participate. The video you are sending all your at-home donors is delayed only one-half of one second. This means that your donors at home can bid on live items just like everyone else in the room. They can also participate in the paddle raise, raffle, chat, etc.

This is so exciting because now you have an organization that can reach beyond the gala’s four walls and share your charity’s vision with anyone with a smartphone. This is the future of fundraising.

Hybrid Fundraising Events

Benefits of hosting hybrid events

1. You can reach a wider audience

You are no longer limited to the people who can be at your venue on the night of your event. You can invite anyone, anywhere, to participate.

2. You can engage your donors

By using video, you can tell your story engagingly and interestingly. This will encourage people to donate and participate in your auction.

3. You can increase your fundraising potential

By using video, you can reach more donors and increase the amount of money you raise.

4. You can create a sense of community

When people watch your event online, they feel like they are a part of it. This creates a sense of community and encourages people to donate in the future.


Hosting hybrid fundraising events are a great way to increase your donor base and raise more money for your charity. Using video can engage your donors and create a sense of community. This will encourage people to donate in the future. Hybrid events are definitely the future of fundraising.

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