Coronavirus Got You Down?


Navigating Fundraising Pivots Amidst the Chaos. What should you do?

Do Over-Communicate! Don’t Overreact.

What are people talking about today (besides the weather)? Coronavirus. It’s a fact.

It’s a word on everyone’s lips. Yes, per the World Health Organization, it is a bona fide public health crisis. But panic, misinformation and rumors regarding COVID-19 are spreading faster than the virus – that’s definitely not healthy! It’s novel and it’s unfamiliar and there’s a lot we don’t know about it (perhaps that’s a major source of much of the fear?). It’s forcing folks around the world to reschedule events and devise back-up plans. But closer to home, experts are recommending healthy people go about their business – albeit washing their hands more often and avoiding touching their faces. Here is our best advice as of today for navigating fundraising event season amid the chaos.

Communicate with Donors + Guests ASAP

It’s always better to over-communicate than under-communicate, ESPECIALLY these days. So be in contact with major donors as soon as possible and reassure them of your plan – whatever it is. We won’t advise you on what you should do but if you’re planning on moving forward with smaller or virtual events, communication is KEY to ensure donors know they are welcome and still invited to join you in whatever capacity you opt for. Given Oregon’s state-mandated gatherings of 250+ people closure, it’s high time to discuss rescheduling (or other viable online or simulcast options) now. We’ve always considered this a last resort, due to the expense of rescheduling events along with data telling us that online events bring about a third of what a live event would have. But what can you do in the meantime for smaller in-person events?

Do request that guests who are feeling ill STAY HOME and that if they are showing visible signs of illness at the doors, they will be turned away. It’s very, VERY unlikely you’d ever have to do this – most people know better – but again, over-communicate! 

And if you know you’ll have a lot of no-shows for a live event, offer online bidding options so that folks may participate and support you from home in lieu of attending. Your event software company can help with this and it’s also a viable option, should rescheduling completely be a necessity. We have great relationships with Greater Giving, SchoolAuction.net and Tofino – if you need online capability options. And they are also offering steep discounts for folks to migrate and upgrade at this time.

For those of you rescheduling now, we’ve been navigating back-up plans with NPOs that include two options: Reschedule for a future date (most early this summer or fall), or proceed with an online or virtual event alternative which could include a simulcasted broadcast with all sorts of online bidding options to remedy most sales scenarios or an online auction. Our partners at the AV Department can handle a full pivot to a virtual gala and have all of the tech, staff and answers for you willing to jump head first with us. Reach out. All is not lost. We got you!

Read this to convert to an online hosted event: https://www.schoolauction.net/blog/converting-a-gala-to-an-online-auction/. Our good buddy, Roger at www.schoolauction.net is offering wonderful incentives to upgrade to their full-service levels of the software at no additional cost

Mitigate Losses – Pore over Contracts!

Do check ALL of your vendor contracts ASAP to see where you stand while devising your plan B. Most event vendors (think: AV, venue, catering, emcee, auctioneer, event planner, etc.) do have late notice reschedule and cancellation policies/penalties built into their contracts. Know what you’re in for, as this could cost you nearly as much as holding an event (without the benefit of the revenue earned from hosting one). We can assure you that if you reschedule with us due to this government mandated closure, that we will be more than reasonable with penalty assessments. Again, over communicate. We’re all in this together. And we want the best for you and the populations you serve. 

So what’s the fundraising event climate like today? We can offer this: last week, for example, we led eight successful events. Approximately 13-18% of folks who RSVPd “yes” were no-shows (normally, we note about 7-12% no-shows). The good news is that nearly all of these events hit or exceeded their financial goals! Meanwhile, this week, we’ve noted a STEEP uptick in orgs doing recon on their plan B alternatives. Given today’s news about gatherings of 250+ people being banned,  proceed with your best interest top of mind. And do so quickly!

Protect Yourself + Your Guests in Public

Guests have been asking us the same questions while at events recently – has this venue been thoroughly cleaned since the last event held here? What are you doing to protect us from Coronavirus while we’re here? Our advice? If you’re going to host or attend smaller public events, invest in loads of hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes and USE them ad nauseum. Also encourage everyone to observe these basic public safety measures: 

  • Initiate a no-contact event where you greet folks with elbow, fist or foot bumps, in lieu of handshakes.
  • Provide and use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol for all of your guests. Place bottles of it near registration areas and all entrances, restrooms and exits.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and always after touching community surfaces (door handles, light switches, elevator buttons, pens, seat arms), using the bathroom, blowing your nose and/or coughing and sneezing into a tissue, and before eating.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue away. (To prevent the spread of coronavirus, it’s not recommended you cough into your elbow.)
  • Avoid close contact with anyone who is sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • If you’re a member of a vulnerable population (over 70, have a compromised immune system or are sick) please stay home.
  • Follow recommendations from your local government.

Know the Facts. Avoid Mass Hysteria

This is a situation that’s constantly changing – literally every hour. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is continually updating its website. The World Health Organization is also updating its website daily – so check back often. A decision to postpone or transform your event into a virtual gathering today should be very intentionally considered and then executed without delay. Today, and every day, brilliant scientists are working around the clock to learn more about the virus and how to push back this pandemic.

We’re taking coronavirus very seriously – sanitizing all of our work surfaces at events as well as hand washing at every opportunity. Also, if you see us, please don’t be offended when we offer our elbow instead of a hand in greeting. We’re also wary of sensationalism and don’t want to overreact or cause undue anxiety. We’ve all heard that the virus can be deadly, but what we don’t often hear is that it’s not deadly for most healthy people. At this point in time, it doesn’t appear unreasonable to hope that with proper care and observation of basic safety protocol that we can curb the spread of Coronavirus. 

So, what will you do now? We are confident that whatever you decide will be the best decision for you, your org and your guests. Stay healthy, my friends! And please reach out with any questions about your upcoming events. We have strategies to mitigate your losses, as well as a host of online options for those not in attendance or for events held virtually. We’ll get through this – together. Now, let’s master the art of the pivot!