Fundraising events have taken on an entirely different form in the past two years, with many shifting to online venues or some hybrid component of in-person and virtual. Each supporter or donor is different in how they feel about attending events and a new survey examines precisely their preferences when it comes to their attendance.
The 2022 Fundraising Event Experience Report by Classy, a San Diego-based fundraising platform that was recently acquired by GoFundMe, surveyed 1,000 people who attended fundraising events between January 2020 and February 2022.
More than a quarter of respondents (26%) attended events in person while 21% attended virtually because the event was 100% virtual. Twenty percent attended in person but the event had a virtual component as well. Almost as many (19%) did not attend any events since before the pandemic and another 15% attended from home but the event had an in-person component as well.
Authors of the 22-page report suggested that the flexibility of multiple attendance options attracts supporters. Some 35% of respondents attended fundraising events that gave them the option to participate in-person or virtually. Events that are strictly in-person or 100% virtual could deter a significant group of attendees who value the opportunity to choose, they argue.
Events that offer more attendance options appeal to survey respondents, ultimately coming down to location, safety and the ability to choose. The motivations of respondents to select events with both virtual and in-person options included:
- They want the ability to choose how they prefer to attend;
- Virtual components make them feel more comfortable;
- They can attend events they would not have otherwise;
- There is more flexibility around the location from which they attend; and,
- Virtual components extend the value of the in-person experience.
Respondents were asked how likely they are to make donations during an event, in addition to registration costs. More than two out of five donations (41%) on either side are likely to be more than $100, which speaks to the power of an excellent experience and a thoughtful donation appeal, according to the report.
“While in-person events offer the human-to-human connection you can’t easily replicate through a screen, organizations shouldn’t discount virtual components,” the authors wrote. “Thoughtful virtual experience carried the highest satisfaction.”
About 42% of those who chose a virtual event said they wanted to participate in components like an online auction from the comfort of their home while 24% said they were not located near the organization’s local community but wanted to provide support. Another 16% said they only wanted to access specific portions of the event.
The top four reasons all attendees would not attend a fundraising event in the future were:
- The event’s cost is too high
- The purpose is unclear
- The event promotion feels robotic and ungenuine
- It doesn’t feel safe due to a lack of COVID-19 restrictions