Virtual attendees and in-person attendees are nearly equal in saying they would donate more than $100 at an event, according to a new survey of 1,000 adults who attended a fundraising event. Twenty-one percent of virtual attendees said they would pay $100 or more in addition to event registration, while 19 percent of in-person attendees said the same. The survey aimed to find out what elements of an event make attendees feel engaged, safe and motivated to give. It was made online on February 4 and sponsored by fundraising technology company Classy.
More than a quarter of respondents said the majority of fundraising events they attended between January 2020 and February 2022 were all-in-person events. Nearly 20% said they chose to attend the majority of fundraising events in person during this time, even though the events offered online options. A nearly equal share, however, said they mostly attended online events during this time because the events did not offer in-person options.
People who physically attended an event tend to be less satisfied. Ninety-six percent of virtual event attendees rated their event experience as good or excellent, but only 87% of in-person event attendees rated their experience the same.
One of the reasons for this divide is that virtual and in-person participants said they prioritized different factors. Virtual attendees, for example, tended to give events top marks if the format was enjoyable and easy to navigate. For their part, in-person attendees appreciated clear communication from the host organization prior to the event as well as opportunities to network and feel a sense of camaraderie. But there was an agreement. Both virtual and in-person attendees said they appreciated thoughtful and relevant event content and a simple registration process.
When asked why they participated in an event virtually, the largest proportion of respondents – 42% – said it was because they preferred to participate in an online auction or other activity. digital “from the comfort of my home”. Another 24 per cent said they wanted to show support for a charity they didn’t live near.
Looking ahead, survey respondents showed similar levels of enthusiasm for attending a range of events in person and virtually. Forty-three percent of respondents said they would participate in a charity walk or run in person, and 32% said they would participate virtually. Comedies, concerts and other live events inspired 38% of respondents to say they would attend in person, while 31% said they would attend virtually.
Among other discoveries:
- Some reasons attendees of an in-person event said they would give an event low ratings were if it had too many Covid-19 safety protocols or didn’t follow them well enough.
- Virtual event attendees rated events poorly if they had difficulty registering for the event online or if the event did not use a mobile app, among other reasons.
- Thirty-five percent of survey respondents said they had attended a hybrid event where attendees could choose whether to participate virtually or in person.