mission Matters Tips for Event Planning in a Post-COVID World November 22, 2021 Navigating fundraising and networking events in the “new normal” presents both opportunities and challenges to businesses. What are some best practices? We share here. Early into the COVID pandemic, we asked – Should we cancel? Postpone? Over the course of the last 18 months, some of us cancelled; some of us postponed. However, many of us found clever ways to make sure the celebrations, fundraisers and events could go on, safely, for employees and donors. Now, as fall is here and as winter approaches, what comes next? Virtual vs. Live For many, the option to be fully virtual or cancel the event entirely is absolutely something that is considered before going through extra efforts to host an event in person. But after being holed up inside for months, away from co-workers, donors and our community members, many are championing live meetings. After all, people miss networking and seeing each other, and if there is enough support behind holding your event safely in person, adhering to executive orders/CDC guidelines, then why not try? There are many ways to make these events a success as we continue to navigate fundraising and networking events as the pandemic lingers on. Let’s take a look. Host smaller in-person events Depending on the nature of those attending your event, you may want to consider paring down the number of attendees at your event. One benefit of hosting a smaller event is the ability to connect one-on-one with your most dedicated supporters. This presents the opportunity to introduce beneficiaries directly to donors and make the deeper, more meaningful connections that often lead to larger donations. Make in-person events touchless and safe Host outdoor meetings whenever possible- Weather permitting, outdoor events are typically a safer option for your community and allow guests to spread out in the fresh air. We continue to see clients take advantage of the outdoor heated spaces many restaurants have put into use to navigate the pandemic. Use your event Page to sell tickets to the event ahead of time and limit on-site purchases. Promote a text-to-donate keyword on signage around the outdoor space and project a real-time fundraising thermometer on screens and on stage to encourage donors to make safe donations from their own device. Publicize state and local guidelines, as well as any specific safety measures, your nonprofit is following on your event Page and in text messages directly to guests. Send text reminders leading up to the event- In the days leading up to your event as well as day of the event, send text messages reminding attendees to bring masks, proof of negative test results, vaccination cards, etc. Seek help from volunteers- Depending on the size of your event, your local National Guard will likely be willing to offer volunteers to help monitor admission into your event. For larger events, clients have been able to leverage this additional help. Always be prepared to go virtual as a backup – have your technology prepared and up to date Worst case scenario, be prepared to pivot your in-person fundraising event into a virtual event. Create a condensed version of your in-person program that can be presented over video and shared on your event page. Take into consideration how many virtual events your nonprofit has recently held and aim to keep virtual events shorter and make them as interactive as possible to keep attendees interested. Keep in mind that your virtual fundraising event does not have to be livestreamed. Consider filming your guest speakers ahead of time, and even spacing out the presentation over a week or so. Even as the pandemic subsides in the future, virtual events will continue to be a part of the landscape for years to come so getting a handle on how to best put them on is key to your Organization’s future success. Having a robust web presence is also key to a successful virtual event. KLR provides consulting, tax and audit services to over 250 nonprofit organizations throughout New England. Your digital presence is your organization’s connection to the world. Our affiliate company, Envision Technology Advisors, is so much more than just another web design/development provider – they are a digital extension of your marketing organization. Please contact us for more information.