Should Your Nonprofit Event Return to In-Person?

Should your nonprofit event return to in-person?

Many event professionals resisted the idea of streamed or virtual events in the past. And, while the pandemic forced their hand with transitioning to virtual space, they’ve now begun to understand the benefits that virtual programming can have.

Even if your fundraiser is not a black-tie event, there are costs involved in the production, AV, venue, catering, design, printing, etc. A couple hundred-person event can easily run you tens of thousands of dollars.

But, at the end of the day, is this what your donors are expecting from their financial support of your organization? Or would they prefer for a greater percentage of their sponsorship or donation to go towards the work you do year-round?

Below we will break down a few key features of different fundraising events, and the aspects you need to consider when deciding between hosting an in-person or virtual event.

Mission Awareness

Most of your attendees have heard of your organization but sponsors, volunteers, and other supporters often bring guests, and those attendees could become future donors. Either way, it’s important to make sure your brand, mission, and message are clear and prevalent at your event. Creating a highlight video of the past year of your organization’s work and accomplishments can be a great way to show the ways your attendees’ financial support makes an impact.

Keep in mind the attendee attention span! In-person events can be loud and boisterous with networking, but virtual programming needs to be fast-paced enough to engage people sitting in front of their computers.


Balancing your fundraising goal with the expenses of the event experience is important. While branded giveaways can be a fun surprise for guests, many donors would prefer their full donation or sponsorship to go towards the mission of your organization. Live auctions, 50/50 raffles, and gift baskets provide a fun activity for your guests at the event, but it’s often limited to the time of the actual event. Virtual fundraising options allow you to promote those opportunities for a greater length of time and to a wider audience, regardless of their location.

Age and technical proficiency of your attendees is an important aspect to consider, anything that’s too complicated would provide unnecessary barriers for your attendees to donate. Luckily, Givebox offers comprehensive and easy-to-use fundraising tools to help you effectively manage your fundraising.

Networking / Connections

Events can provide a lot of opportunities for networking and connections to be made. While in-person can often be more enjoyable for existing relationships to reconnect, virtual events can be easier to help facilitate new connections, or for attendees that are less comfortable in networking environments.

Is networking important for your donors and other attendees? If so, what are the takeaways, and what type of experience would be a more valuable experience for you to provide.

At the end of the day, when you’re considering virtual, in-person, or hybrid, the most important piece is to understand your audience and refocus on your mission. We encourage you to ask yourself these two questions.

  1. Why do your donors, volunteers, and communities support your organization?
  2. What is the goal of your event? (i.e. education, fundraising, etc.)

If you relate every decision to the answers of these two questions, it can help steer you in the right direction. Just because things will begin to return to normal, doesn’t mean we should forget all of the value we’ve seen through virtual programming over the past year.

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