Fun with Hybrid Fusion Event Fundraising
Want to be on the cutting edge of a fundraising trend that’s constantly evolving and has legs? Want to provide each individual donor a forum in which they can support you in a way that works best for them? Then it’s time to embrace hybrid Fusion Fundraising events! Fusion WORKS. These hybrid events are proving to be not only fun but also lucrative. They’re defined by inclusivity, expanded reach and CHOICE. There’s literally something for everyone. Fusion fundraising events offer different experiences for all of your supporters, depending on what EACH INDIVIDUAL is comfortable with. Fusion events offer the best of both in-person and virtual worlds. They’re not going anywhere. They are too successful. And think of the possibilities! That’s what we’ve been doing for a year and a half – thinking of the possibilities. So let’s for you, your org and your loyal supporters. Our hope is that this information will help you decide IF fusion is right for you, and if it is, what type of fusion event is best for you and YOUR peeps!
“Drive-In” Style Fusion Event
In this variation, you can offer an in-person stage show with your dynamic duo (auctioneer and emcee) that folks present are watching, and you live stream to folks at home. Remember drive-in movies? Same concept. You’re justified in charging a ticket price, since there is entertainment. Deliver meals, snacks and drinks to guests in their cars. Then you could also be justified in charging a small fee per car, as well. Provide some additional entertainment for the car guests – for example, feature live music or screen a movie after the livestream. Make it a multi-faceted night of entertainment for the car crowd, to entice them to come out instead of watching from home. Because we want to be totally honest here – there can be a bit of a disadvantage for the home crowd. It’s difficult for your on- stage hosts to cater to both groups equally. The home crowd can sometimes potentially feel left out, like they’re not being heard or seen – if you don’t craft a show just for them. That’s why if you’re going to go this route, we recommend using a separate host/emcee to host the pre- and post-virtual programs. You could also have your emcee pre-record those elements of the virtual broadcast. That way, the activities that don’t translate well wouldn’t be included in the broadcast that’s going out to folks at home.
One Theme – Two Events
Wait. What? Separate dates for the same event? YES and no. It’s the two-birds-one-stone concept – just an expanded type of fundraiser. Consider a Week of Giving! Stretch the event out over an entire week, bookended by two events. Your first date is specifically focused on the in-person event. How many people can you host? Don’t forget to check local guidelines! Let’s say 200 people in a venue is allowable. This event is going to look a lot like traditional in-person events, except perhaps a bit smaller. But at this event, you’ll rely more on in-person speeches, revenue streams, and games (remember Heads and Tails? We do!). You’ll do all of the fun things we used to do in person. INCLUDING HUG! You’ll charge these folks admission, so add value by offering entertainment, dinner, swag bags. Have multiple cameras at this event. Then after the night is over, your video editor can take some of that content and use it during your virtual event. Which, if you’re doing the Week of Giving style, is approximately a week after your in-person event. Use the days in between the in-person and virtual events for fundraising fun and games, peer-to-peer campaigns, trivia, social media contests, what have you – mini-events that tie the entire Week of Giving together. Remember to breathe – it’s going to be a hectic week! But you’re maximizing the momentum, and as a result, you’re staying in people’s hearts and minds for longer. You’ll expand your reach because the folks who were at the in-person event will want to watch the edited-down version, too! Then you can further maximize the fun with a formal or informal watch party.
In-person private watch parties bring together a small group of people, typically those who already know each other, to tune into the virtual or live gala from the comfort of their own home or chosen intimate venue. It’s an intimate yet powerful format for guests who prefer smaller crowds. It works well for folks who respond to VIP experiences – those who love socializing (almost?) as much as they love supporting your great cause! Watch parties provide great opportunities for giving, as well. Consider making a splashy momentum gift as a group – a gift that’s announced live during the main event! Harnessing group energy is fun for everyone AND potentially lucrative for your nonprofit. You may also be able to capitalize on competition. Challenge other “watch partiers” to step up and donate. Pro Tip: Incentivize your watch parties by offering a VIP appearance or celebrity chef at next year’s watch party, for the party that raises the most money. We’re forward thinking around here! And a little healthy competition can help fill your coffers quickly! How about you think about next year and offer up an auction item – a watch party at your house… with your dynamic duo present!
Live From Your Watch Party
A fusion variation built around a small private watch party. You (or one of your org’s leaders) open up your home to a group, and have a host at your house broadcasting to a greater audience. It’s extra fun for those who ARE comfortable in groups, but those who are not comfortable in groups don’t feel left out. They may be watching alone, or just with members of their household, but they won’t feel disconnected since they’ll be able to interact via the live chat. And in other ways, too!
Involve your Viewers
There are plenty of tricks to involve the viewers at home. Chat trivia, giveaways, incentive drawings, raffles, “buying” votes for some sort of competition or costume contest. Whatever you choose to do, be sure you motivate the home crowd! This is one of the secrets to your success, whether you’re going drive-in fusion style or if you’re doing the Week of Giving style.
One Theme – One Date
Broadcast from a livestream studio with a live studio audience. This style of fusion creates a symbiotic relationship for your Dynamic Duo AND the audience that’s present. Your emcee and auctioneer feed off of the higher-energy environment, the in-person authentic reactions and applause. If you have the opportunity to take your livestream on location (we can help you do it – reach out!), where would you go? Are you raising money for infrastructure improvements, or a brand new facility? Charge a premium ticket price for folks to watch the livestream from that new building. It’s a VIP experience for those in attendance – behind-the-scenes entertainment!
Have you ever had a chance to visit a TV newsroom and studio? Or if you grew up in Portland in the 70s, maybe you were even on the Ramblin’ Rod show! Our point is, it’s pure entertainment to see what goes on behind the scenes of a live virtual program. Your guests are watching the show folks at home are watching, but from a completely different perspective. And they can use their smartphones to engage with guests who are watching from home. You’re texting and/or live chatting with your friends and fellow supporters who are watching the show that’s unfolding right in front of you, while they’re watching from home. Imagine a video chat booth, where you could charge folks to hop in and say hi to the folks watching at home. That could get interesting, right?! The whole experience is more fun for all, when you look for ways to maximize your every environment. What else can YOU come up with?
Maximize your Environment
Now that you’re in the mindset of livestreaming from different locations, start thinking about where that might be! It doesn’t have to be inside, either. In fact, outdoor venues are preferable for many fundraisers in the current climate. So plan an outside event and have some fun! Raising money for a school? Get those kids out there singing, dancing, performing and doing cute kid stuff! Are you raising money for an animal shelter? Cute animals are your adorable, camera-ready props. Those watch parties we mentioned earlier – might one of your long-term donors host one in their backyard? Then you can go live from their home! Help them decorate with your colors, your logo, your sponsors’ logos, props that align with your event’s theme.
The good news is, no matter what the future holds, we’ve got you covered! Will you and your org want to go back to in-person? Some of you certainly do, and some of you definitely do not – at least not any time soon. Speaking of time, it means something different these days, doesn’t it? It’s still sort of warped and has lost a lot of meaning, as we slowly emerge from a global pandemic. It sounds strange to say fall is right around the corner. BUT – FALL IS RIGHT AROUND THE CORNER! So be a forward-thinking fundraiser and start planning your Fusion event. Which type is right for you? Reach out for a consultation and let’s do this!