Engaging Your Community in Hybrid Events: 4 Tips for Success

Woman virtually participating in a hybrid event.

Written by guest contributor John Killoran. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we’ve seen a massive pivot to virtual events. Now, as many events are starting to be held in person again, some people are still not comfortable or cannot attend due to geographic restrictions. This has led many organizations to get creative and host hybrid events to accommodate both in-person and virtual attendees.

Although this type of event first became common during the pandemic, it is likely to remain popular because of the convenience and inclusion of attendees from any geographic location. If you’ve held any virtual events during the pandemic, you are in a great position to start planning successful hybrid events.

Here are our 4 tips for successful hybrid events: 

  • Streamline the sign-up process.
  • Stay organized. 
  • Encourage participation from in-person and virtual guests. 
  • Ask for feedback.

Many in-person events can be turned into hybrid events with the right planning. and a lot of the usual event and conference best practices will still apply. Keep reading to learn everything you need to plan a great hybrid event.

What is a Hybrid Event?

What is a hybrid event?

Hybrid events are a blend of the virtual events we’ve seen over the past year with the more traditional in-person format to accommodate different attendees. This gives guests the option to attend in person if they are able to, or tune in from their homes. Livestreaming for nonprofits and other organizations has opened up all kinds of opportunities to engage wider audiences than ever before. 

If your organization has supporters who are not local or you are unsure of everyone’s level of comfort with large, in-person events, consider hosting a hybrid event.

There are several benefits to hosting a hybrid event: 

  • Allows for local and far away participants to attend: This is a benefit for both your organization and your supporters. No matter where they’re located, they can participate. Even if you are primarily a local organization, friends or family members of your supporters who live farther away may consider joining virtually.
  • Reduces costs: With fewer in-person attendees, you can often spend less on things like catering or a venue. You can greatly increase the number of people who can attend an event without significantly increasing your venue size and costs. 
  • Meets your audience’s needs: Even if all of your supporters are local residents, offering a virtual option as part of your event helps accommodate everyone who might be interested. 

Hybrid events are likely here to stay and there are many situations where they are a convenient option for both organizations and attendees. If you’ve successfully hosted both in-person and virtual events before, with a little creativity your team will be able to host a great hybrid event as well. 

Streamline the sign-up process.

Streamline the sign-up process.

From the moment they click your sign-up link to when they join your hybrid event, you want to make sure the process is as smooth as possible for your attendees. After all, the harder it is for them to successfully sign up and join your event, the less likely they are to complete the process. 

Follow these tips for streamlining the sign-up process: 

  • Only ask for necessary information: Overly long or complicated forms will discourage sign-ups. Keep it short, clear, and to the point.  
  • Keep the form to one page: Being able to see all of the questions and estimate exactly how long it will take to fill out the form helps ensure that no one abandons the sign-up process midway through. 
  • Include engaging graphics: Having a fun flyer or graphic announcing the event and sharing crucial information is important for brand marketing at your event. Consider including an option for supporters to share your event graphic to their own social accounts or send it directly to friends. 
  • Send a follow-up email: A confirmation of sign-up message and a reminder email shortly before the event are both great ways to ensure that your attendees have all the necessary information and attend the event after signing up. 

However you choose to gather sign-ups and organize your event, the most important thing to remember is to make it easy. This is important for anyone trying to sign up, but especially for attendees who may have more difficulty navigating online platforms and other technology

Stay organized.

Stay organized.

Because hybrid events can sometimes become confusing or overwhelming, organized leadership can go a long way to keep your participants engaged. Make sure your team has a solid plan for the event and how you’re going to ensure good communication. Here are a few tips for staying organized while hosting a hybrid event: 

  • Create an agenda: If you’re unsure of what activities will do best, Snowball has many ideas, ranked by cost, revenue, and popularity to help you brainstorm. 
  • Send important materials ahead of time: Sending these ahead of time will help you ensure that all attendees have access to the materials and will give you time to resolve any issues before the event. 
  • Test all technology in advance: To ensure your virtual attendees have a good time, test all technology beforehand so that you don’t neglect their experience. Conduct several trial runs of your virtual programming a week or so in advance to make sure there’s enough time to make improvements. 
  • Provide attendees with reminders about the event: To ensure the highest attendance rate possible from your sign-ups, make sure to remind attendees a day or two before the event and a few hours before as well. 

Just like any other event you would plan, organization is going to be key to making your hybrid event into a seamless and pleasant experience for everyone. Make sure to take hybrid-specific tasks into account when planning to ensure a successful event.

Encourage participation from in-person and virtual guests.

Encourage participation from in-person and virtual guests.

Even though not all attendees will be in person, it’s important to encourage participation so that all attendees feel included. However, getting participation virtually can be more difficult. You and your team should prepare specific ways to create welcoming opportunities for virtual attendees to participate.

There are several different ways to do this:

  • Host ice breaker events: Depending on the size of your event, you could do this as a group or in break-out rooms while in-person attendees get to know each other through introductory activities.
  • Allow users to use the chat/raise hand functions: If there is a speaker or Q&A session, encourage online users to submit questions that can be read aloud or to unmute and participate when called on.
  • Break large gatherings into small breakout groups: Like mentioned above, break-out rooms are a great way to foster a more personal experience for virtual attendees. Smaller groups are often more welcoming and make it easier for all attendees to participate. 

You may have to get creative to make sure that everyone feels included. It can be particularly difficult to connect in-person and virtual attendees, but your team should aim to make your event as engaging and inclusive as possible. 

Ask for feedback.

Ask for feedback.

At the end of your event, be sure to send out a survey asking participants about their experiences. Asking for feedback should be the last step to help measure how well you’re presenting your brand and to show that your organization cares about the participant experience. This is also a good way to learn about your supporters’ preferences for personalizing their event experiences in the future.

Some things that you can ask your attendees about are: 

  • Engagement: Did they feel like active or passive participants? Were there enough opportunities to engage? 
  • Organization: Did the event feel organized? Did everything make sense? 
  • Connections with other participants: Did they have enough opportunities to speak with other attendees? Did they feel comfortable interacting with others and asking questions?
  • Learning opportunities: What did attendees take away from the event? Were there any perceived missed opportunities or ineffective parts of the event? 

As InitLive explains in their event branding guide, “an effective brand will be memorable and have long-term appeal.” Follow-up surveys give you the opportunity to measure the impact of your branding and UX choices—will they have long-term appeal, or should you make adjustments before your next hybrid event?  

Make sure you ask both in-person and virtual attendees about their experiences, as well, since their experience will naturally vary! You can send out separate surveys or create options for attendees to indicate how they attended the event to ensure you gather feedback from both. 


Hybrid events are increasingly popular and are likely here to stay. Now is the time for your team to perfect your strategy for hosting hybrid events. There are a lot of unique opportunities for engaging diverse groups of people when you host a hybrid event, which can be to your benefit if you are looking to position yourself as inclusive and progressive.

However you go about planning and hosting your hybrid event, remember to always put the attendee’s experience first when making decisions. When done right, hybrid events can broaden your network of supporters and help strengthen your brand while giving your supporters a fun way to engage with your organization.

About John Killoran

About John Killoran

John Killoran is an inventor, entrepreneur, and the Chairman of Clover Leaf Solutions, a national lab services company. He currently leads Clover Leaf’s investment in Snowball Fundraising, an online fundraising platform for nonprofit organizations. 

Snowball was one of John’s first public innovations; it’s a fundraising platform that offers text-to-give, online giving, events, and peer-to-peer fundraising tools for nonprofits. By making giving simple, Snowball increases the donations that these organizations can raise online. The Snowball effect is real! John founded Snowball in 2011. Now, it serves over 7,000 nonprofits and is the #1 nonprofit fundraising platform.