This has been a year of transformation and adaptation. So many events were cancelled, held virtually, or reimagined and just as we were planning to begin gathering again, the Delta variant has increased the risk and decreased audience attendance. So how do you remain agile and keep your fundraising on track in the fall of 2021? We addressed this question in our webinar last week and have some more suggestions.
1. Livestream Broadcast
Regardless of your ability to gather, if you have at least a livestream component, you have the ability to share your story, secure sponsors, and raise funds. Build your event plan for this fall and for the next year as virtual first. Then add gathering as you are able. It is much easier to add to your planning than to take away or cancel.
2. Secure Sponsors
Sponsors invest because of your mission and your ability to market and promote their brand. A virtual broadcast provides your sponsors with a ton of visibility and immediate analytics. They’d rather see their marketing dollar at work than attend the event. So regardless of your ability to gather, continue to build on your corporate partnerships and secure sponsors for your event with the notion that you hope to be able to gather, but regardless, your event will have a virtual broadcast component that gives them visibility and continues your fundraising.
3. Risk Assessment
If you decide that gathering is possible, conduct a risk assessment with your board and staff to understand your risk tolerance, develop a plan for contract tracing, and identify the COVID safety protocols that will be enforced. Within that plan, identify who will be running point on communications to the county/health department, your guests, and the press should there be an outbreak.
4. Guest Survey
Don’t move forward until you have a clear understanding of your donors’ interest. There is no use throwing a party if no one is attending. Survey your guests in advance to know what their comfort level is, what safety precautions they want adopted, and how many of them will actually attend. In fact, it may help your planning to survey your guests monthly because things keep changing. Donors like to have their opinions heard. Your transparency and your outreach are a form of donor stewardship that will only help you in the end.
5. Gather Small
When you decide it’s safe to gather again, start small. Have board members host a few key friends for a watch party of your virtual event, invite donors to attend as a small live in-studio audience for your virtual event, or hold a screening for your virtual event. Adding gathering elements to your event does not have to be in a ballroom as it was before. Think of ways to gather people in smaller groups that still allows for some fun but assures some safety.
Here are some resources to help you and your team better understand the risks in your community:
By Samantha Swaim + Sama Shagaga of Swaim Strategies