Minds Matter Colorado - Fundraising

Captivating Donors with a Hybrid Gala

“Moving our annual fundraiser into a hybrid space not only made it accessible to folks in April 2021, but it laid the foundation for us thinking differently about engaging people for the future. Now we get to plan an amazing in-person experience AND design an experience that allows our community to come together across the state. We’re just at the start of what is possible with this new format and can’t wait to continue to innovate with the creative, energetic folks at Bespoke!”

Kate Brenan, Chief Operating Officer
Minds Matter Colorado

Opportunity

Donor support is essential for Minds Matter Colorado to fulfill its mission to help high-achieving high school students from low-income households get into and succeed at the college of their choice. As the organization looked ahead to its April 2021 annual fundraising gala, it wanted to offer a hybrid event that was equally engaging for at-home and in-person attendees.

Bespoke Insights

For a hybrid event to succeed, planners needed to be very intentional about each audience’s experience. Having a live audience in the room, no matter how small, would provide energy to the event. At the same time, capturing and maintaining the attention of the at-home audience on a Saturday night would require much more than one camera and a live feed. Producing separate but concurrent experiences that came together for key moments would generate the highest level of attendee impact and engagement.

Strategy

Bespoke created multiple ways people could experience the Minds Matter gala. They could buy a ticket to attend in person. They could register to receive a link to watch from home. They could have dinner for four people sent to their home to enjoy while they participated virtually. Dinner for up to 10 at-home attendees was also available. They could even sign up for a dinner for 10, plus an in-home chef and bartender for an extra special evening.

Bespoke also literally flipped the script on the gala program. To ensure the at-home audience was as engaged as those in the room, Bespoke put the heart of the program up front. After hearing a Minds Matter student’s story of triumph over challenge and celebrating his admission into Harvard, both the live and at-home audiences were invited to donate through a fast-paced, virtual paddle raise. A second student was celebrated to close out the 75-minute shared portion of the event. When the at-home audience signed off, the in-person experience shifted to dinner and final remarks.

Results

By providing hybrid as an option for the gala, Minds Matter Colorado was able to continue the long tradition of hosting its most successful annual event, engaging its biggest supporters and sharing the inspiring stories of its incredible students. Between the at-home and in-person attendees, the gala drew nearly as many attendees as in previous years and raised over 80% of the event’s highest-ever profit. Additionally, the virtual experience expanded the organization’s donor base by making it possible for people outside of Denver to participate.

As a result of the gala’s overwhelming success, Bespoke has become a leader on producing hybrid events and has been asked to share our expertise on numerous industry panels. Clients are also exploring with Bespoke ways they can leverage the benefits of hybrid events well into a post-pandemic future.