in-person fundraising event

As the world starts to open back up after the COVID-19 pandemic, now is an excellent time to re-imagine the various components of your organization and whether or not an in-person fundraising event makes sense. As stressful and unpredictable as the pandemic was, 2020 also pushed organizations to look at things in a new way and offered the opportunity to reconsider how business (or, in our case, fundraising) is done.

One area a lot of nonprofits are starting to dissect even more is the world of fundraising events. Because of the restrictions on in-person gatherings, there were a lot of changes in the past year when it came to nonprofit events. Many organizations went virtual and saw great success. They found that people still wanted to support their favorite missions and wanted to do something good, and virtual was really the only option at the time. 

Moving forward, many expect that virtual events, or at least hybrid events, will stick around as we have all grown more comfortable with digital platforms and because we saw the benefit in reaching out to a larger constituent base. However, many people have also become extremely fatigued from staring at screens. Now that restrictions on in-person gatherings are lifting, they’re starting to look at hosting an in-person fundraising event again. 

People want to support missions, but theory tells us that the more fun an event is, the higher the giving is. It makes sense: If people are enjoying themselves, they’re more likely to be generous. Keeping the pulse on what people are looking to do is important. 

This blog will focus on some innovative tips for in-person events. 

Host a hybrid event

Hosting one event with both in-person and virtual components could help create synergy between the two events. 

If you’re looking to host such an event, you could host an in-person fundraising event and then broadcast it on Facebook Live or other platforms. This will allow a certain (safe) number of guests to gather in person while still reaching those who don’t feel comfortable leaving their homes yet or are out of town. 

Think about how you could have a host for the in-person component and a host for the virtual component who could play off of each other while still giving attention to the guests. Brainstorm how the events could intersect at certain moments. Consider how the guests could “interact” with each other in a chat or through hashtags.

Host multiple events

Could you host multiple events in the same year? Consider offering an in-person fundraising event for those who are comfortable at one time of the year and then host a virtual event for another time of the year. This gives your audience multiple chances to support you while choosing to attend the event they’re most comfortable with.

Host an outdoor in-person fundraising event

While charity golf outings will be an ever-popular option for some, there are more options for other types of outdoor events that offer lots of space and fresh air for your guests. A lot of our eyes were opened to how to be more health conscious in general last year, and many of those practices (wearing masks, social distancing) will be something people will continue to consider. 

Other options to consider could be a Movie at the Park Event with a giant screen and projector, an outdoor Block Party with festival games and food, a Scavenger Hunt set up through the city, or an outdoor Dance Marathon. 

Stay safe

Follow CDC guidelines and communicate your efforts to do so. To help your attendees feel comfortable coming back to an in-person fundraising event, be consistent with your messaging and communicate the steps you’ve taken to ensure their safety when announcing the event and in the communication leading up to the event. 

If you plan to screen your guests or require masks, be sure to tell them this prior to your event. Consider polling your attendees after the event to see if they have any suggestions for improvement or feedback they would like to give.

Madison Gonzalez

Madison Gonzalez

Advancement Director at Morning Light, Inc.
Madison Gonzalez is a National Public Speaker, Storyteller of the Year Award-Winner, Best-Selling Author of Dear Mirror, Events Manager, and Published Poet. She is also the Advancement Director at Morning Light, Inc., and Indianapolis-based nonprofit that fosters community programs in Indiana for the terminally ill, seniors, families and the home-bound. As a storytelling coach and consultant, it is her mission to empower others to share their stories for impact and income. Madison can be reached at madison@toldcoaching.com.