This is 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) directed by an auctioneer. In-person attendees make their donations by raising bid paddles. At home viewers watch a livestream of your program and donate on their smart phones, tablets, or computers.
Tips and Best Practices
Make sure your paddle raise/cash donation option is set to Pledges via Bid Paddles, Online/Mobile, AND Virtual Event. This allows you to accept/record donations made by any method during your event.
Your auctioneer should focus their attention on the in-person attendees. Make sure they also have an assistant to alert them to large donations placed online, so that they can publicly acknowledge those donors.
Get creative about making sure your virtual donors feel like they are part of the moment. Use multiple camera feeds to show people in the room raising their paddles. Perhaps have your emcee read out some of the more interesting/encouraging chats to your live audience. Make use of the Celebration Animations to add a celebratory feel to your virtual livestream screen.
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 want to give more.
Things to Avoid or Consider
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 start your livestream 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 a 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.
You can display a mobile bidding screen with a thermometer at your event and a progress tracker on the virtual donation screen, but these will not count in-the-room paddle donations until those are entered. A heavy burden for data entry people the night of.