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Donor Alerts Philanthropy

Virtual vs. In-Person Fundraising Events—Study Shows Giving Levels Nearly Equal

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People who attend virtual fundraising events are just as likely to give and at a similar level as those who attend events held in person, a new study found.

Classy, an online fundraising platform for nonprofit organizations, surveyed 1,000 adults who attended charity events during January and February. Twenty-one percent of the respondents said they would be willing to donate $100 or more in addition to registration fees via an online fundraiser, compared to 19% who said they would do so at an in-person event. 

But nearly 20% said they preferred to participate in events in person even when a virtual option was given

Of those who chose virtual attendance, 42% said their reason was comfort, while another 24% said the online option gave them the opportunity to support a charity not in their geographical area. 

Thirty-five percent of those surveyed said they had attended a hybrid event that offered both online and in-person options.

Virtual events received a slightly more positive review from attendees, with only 87% of people who attended live events saying their experience was good or excellent compared with 96% of virtual event attendees. 

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When asked what was important to them when choosing how to attend an event, both those with virtual and live event preferences cited relevant content and a simple registration process as being most important. In addition, in-person attendees valued clear communication and networking opportunities, while virtual attendees wanted an easy-to-navigate format. 

In-person events lost points if they had too many COVID-19 safety protocols or if attendees perceived they didn’t follow their safety measures correctly. Virtual event scores were marked down if the registration process was complicated or if the event didn’t offer a mobile app.

Respondents said that, moving forward, they will still want options as far as what fundraisers look like. About 40% said they would be willing to attend live events like charity races and concerts live while approximately 30% said they would still prefer to attend virtually. 

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Anne Stych

Anne Stych is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.