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Forever changed? Why hybrid fundraisers may be here to stay



Though the pandemic and its accompanying restrictions have eased, many innovations from that time have a bright and beneficial future. This is especially true when considering ways to build your endowment at the Sturgis Area Community Foundation.


Take hybrid-style fundraisers, for example. Though mail and digital campaigns had long been used to complement or even substitute for in-person events, the simultaneous execution of online and offline events was hardly a pre-pandemic consideration. Yet, first virtual, and then hybrid events, soon became a necessity.


What We Learned


Many donors enjoyed the hybrid setup. It alleviated fears about in-person attendance while providing a sense of belonging through participation. This was especially true for legacy and well-intentioned donors with limited mobility or other means to attend a traditional-style event, not to mention the near-infinite reach of digital. And while “annual” events make for nice one-time gifts, hybrid events with their digital capabilities offer donors new opportunities to make automatically recurring gifts.


Hybrid-style events quickly gained speed as a way to capture or maintain anticipated revenue. Just 12 months into the pandemic—in April 2021—studies showed that more than twice the number of surveyed respondents who’d planned to hold a hybrid event in 2020 anticipated doing so in 2021. A year later, in April 2022—and amidst a slow-growing return to in-person events—21% of respondents were planning for a hybrid option, evidencing its staying power and relevance.


The hybrid option has new importance as high inflation pushes up the price, and potentially compresses the margins, of in-person events. These same price pressures are increasing the burden on those in need. Fortunately, many donors recognize this confluence of circumstances and remain willing to help.


As you consider the ways your organization can accomplish its 2023 goals, keep these tips in mind when speaking to donors or prospects:


  • First, stay in touch with the community foundation team! We speak daily with donors who have their own goals, and they appreciate creatively delivered solutions. For donors expressing concerns in light of the current economy, planned giving commitments like bequests and charitable remainder trusts may be the answer. The community foundation can collaborate with your team to structure and facilitate those gifts.


  • Second, gifts of highly appreciated stock, whether in public or privately-held companies, remain tax-efficient for the donor and beneficial to your organization’s endowment fund. Not all stocks are down (with January 2023 indices up!) and we can help you structure these gifts.


  • Third, speak to both your short-term and long-term needs. If anything, the economy is cyclical. While quick and hoped-for relief is on the minds of many, longer-term needs will always be on the horizon. Thus, there is a need for ample reserves so as not to turn away people in need. Accordingly, the community foundation can facilitate gift-making directly to your endowment fund by donors.


  • Lastly, re-focus on high-net-worth donors. Despite the economy’s strong recovery from the Great Recession of 2008-2010, research points to fewer donors, but larger donations. Taking advantage of this “new normal” will require nurturing and building relationships with the most impactful donors.


This newsletter is provided for informational purposes only. It is not intended as legal, accounting, or financial planning advice.


The Sturgis Area Community Foundation is a $30M foundation committed to serving the charitable needs of our community and enriching the quality of life for all people in the Sturgis area. Through philanthropic services, strategic investments, and community leadership, Sturgis Area Community Foundation helps people support the causes they care about now and for generations.


For more information on grants or donor services, email sacf@sturgisfoundation.org.

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