A non-bidding event where some of your supporters gather in person, perhaps for a dinner or to hear inspirational speakers, and others view a livestream from home, with the highlight of the evening being a paddle raise (fund-a-need, special appeal, cash call). Both at-home viewers and in-person attendees make their donations online: via smart phone if in-person; on any device type if at home.
Best Practices and Tips
Make sure your paddle raise/cash donation option is set to Pledges via Bid Paddles, Online/Mobile, AND Virtual Event. This allows you to collect and record donations made by any method during your event.
So that donations are all made on the same interface, instruct your in-person guests to select the "Attending In Person" option when they arrive at your virtual event welcome screen. This allows them to make donations on a stripped down version (with no livestream view) of your virtual livestream bidding interface. Which means that donations from in-person and at-home guests appear on the same screen, making it easier for your auctioneer to call out specific donations.
Think about how to keep your remote viewers engaged. Because in-person attendees aren’t raising their paddles to donate, a camera feed of the action (or lack thereof) in the room may be underwhelming. You may want to add some performances or brief inspirational programming between donation levels to punch up the excitement level.
Assess the connectivity at your venue well in advance of your event to make sure it can support mobile bidding (donating) for the number of guests you expect.
At the end of your event, leave your paddle raise open online. Also post it on your virtual post-event screen, with all donation levels enabled. This allows you to collect additional donations from people who couldn’t attend, or, who later decided they could give more.
Things to Avoid or Consider
While it’s certainly easier administratively to have in-person attendees donate on their phones, imagine what this will look/feel like in the moment: many heads bowed silently over devices, rather than excited guests focusing on your programming and cheering each other on. Raising actual paddles is far more entertaining and creates a peer pressure dynamic in the room, because people can see what their neighbors are donating. It also makes it easier for your auctioneer to engage with your in-person audience.
How necessary is it to have an at-home viewing option? The energy in the room can really pump up donations. If you offer an at-home option, will people who otherwise would have attended sit at home, wait until they can click the donate button and then disappear from your event? Would they have perhaps donated more if they were surrounded by their peers, feeling the energy of the room? Adding an at-home component is a lot of work, so make sure it’s worth the added time and effort.
Don’t launch your livestream feed until you have something entertaining/inspiring for your home viewers to watch. When the virtual livestream is live, the screen should be filled with interesting content (i.e. something more exciting than watching in-person attendees eat dinner, or a monotonous loop of sponsor logos). Otherwise your remote viewers are likely to turn their attention elsewhere.
If you’ll be displaying pre-recorded video at your gala, incorporate that directly into your livestream. Do not attempt to film the screen at your gala and livestream that to your at-home viewers. The video quality will not translate, and sound will be distant and garbled.