We’ve had a lot of events cancelled outright lately. But now we’re entering a new no-person’s land of should we or shouldn’t we march ahead with “Our Thing”? States are re-opening at different rates and people will have different comfort levels with crowds and being in public, along with fear of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

How do we know what’s right? How do we know how much of our precious time and resources we should spend figuring it out? This posts will give you a few ideas on how to approach the discussion and issues to consider.

Assess risk. What is the worst-case scenario if you cancel?

  • What was your event supposed to gross and net?
  • What’s the monetary loss to the organization bottom line this year?
  • If we cancel or postpone, do we become “invisible” to our event attendees and risk losing that date for a live event in subsequent years?

Virtual “live” events are not for all events, all audiences and all nonprofits.

  • Is the type of event easy to replicate virtually?  Depending on what the event is…maybe.  Think of the virtual 5k your sister in law did recently. What about the bridal expo a friend “exhibited” at a few weeks ago.?Can you replicate virtually your “Fund a Need” and have it be relevant and engaging?
  • Will your audience attend a virtual event?  Think about your guest list.  Are they tech savvy?  Do they attend your event because they also want to network and connect with people?  Some audiences WILL NOT attend a virtual event.
  • Is your nonprofit set up with the right tech to handle a virtual event?  If so, check! On with the show!  If not, look at the cost of the software platforms needed to host an event, and the training necessary.  This may or may not be in your budget.

Talk to your events/fundraising committee about a “non-event” campaign.

Yes, your event is big deal.  It not only raises significant operational capital for your nonprofit, it serves as an educational and marketing tool for your organization.  And, let’s be real – it’s a bummer to not be able to gather in the way we’re accustomed.

Folks, this may be our new reality.  And you still need this revenue.  Talk to your leadership about continuing with the event, but in a “non-event” way.  You still have a fundraising goal, you just don’t have the party.  There are already demonstrated successes across the country of nonprofits that have said, “to heck with the event”.  Instead, they’ve launched a “non-event” over the course of two weeks to one month with the same monetary goal as your event, and can give by going to your website or by sending a check.

After running through some options with your event, you’ll feel prepared to make the right decision. Use the resources you have- your experience, your board, your trusted colleagues, your gut and your heart to help you get there.