In the first Konect Webinar presented in partnership with Una Buro and Phil, Zeffy’s co-founder François de Kerret discusses ways to deal with event cancellation due to COVID-19 along with some good fundraising tactics for the pandemic. These tips are based off expertise from nonprofits using Zeffy's services.
Adjusting your Charity events to the new COVID-19 normal
Organizing charity events doesn’t come without its challenges. However, COVID-19 is a challenge that no organization was able to prepare for. At this point, we know that all events from spring to fall have or may be affected by the pandemic. No matter what you do to adapt your strategy, you need to reach out to your community and keep communication open. Let them know how you will be proceeding for upcoming events. Will they be cancelled, delayed, or is it to be determined? Let them know as soon as possible and respond to any concerns they have.
Choosing the right strategy
Postponing your charity event
Postponing your event is a good option if the event is applicable to any time of year, meaning it doesn’t depend on the weather, other events you want to host or any other variable factors.
Maintaining your charity event
Especially if your event is a few months away, you can maintain the date until you have a better idea of what the situation will be on that date. Here are a few tips if you choose to keep the date the same:
- Set a deadline to decide if the event will happen. This way it is clear for you and the rest of your organization that a decision will be made on this day. It will allow you to keep preparing and also give expectations to everyone who depends on the event.
- Communicate with your attendees. Let them know how you are going about the process, what you are planning and how they can adjust.
- Give them the option to be refunded. Participants may not want to attend for various reasons, so you need to be accommodating to cancellations. Be sure to communicate clearly that you are accepting cancellations if you choose to do so.
Our tip: Whether you maintain the event or post-pone it, you can replace the registration with free pre-registration. Right now people don’t want to pay when they don’t know if the event will happen. It will give your participants flexibility, but also keep the date marked in their calendar.
Canceling your charity event
If you must cancel the event due to COVID-19, there are different options you can choose from to deal with ticket sales:
- Convert the tickets to donations. For example, if cancelling a gala with tickets priced at $200, suggest your guests convert the payment to a donation and provide a tax receipt on the full value.
- Propose credit for a future event. This way you maintain the funding and guests can look forward to a free entrance to your future event.
- Cancel the event and refund the payment.
You may be wondering which option is best for your charity. Find out by reaching out to those who were supposed to attend your event. Call a few key participants to see what they think is best and what they prefer.
In general, 50 % of donors will ask for a refund, especially corporate donors. The bright side is the other half will want to convert their ticket into a donation!
More pandemic-wise strategies for your charity
There is still a lot of great work you can be doing right now, even if your operations have slowed down. You can start implementing creative ways to fundraise virtually or begin planning for the future! Here are some ways you can plan long term.
Interact with your donors
Before you start on your new plan, you’ll want to do some research on what you should be doing during this time. Specifically, you want to know how your donors are expecting to interact with your organization right now. To find out, reach out directly to 10-20 of your largest donors. Really take the time to know how they are feeling and reacting to the situation. Your strategy will depend on them, so you need to know before you start planning new fundraising activities. For example, you might find out that your donors have more availability and are eager to participate with your charity online. This will let you know that you can focus on online events.
Start thinking longterm
Your activities may have ground to a halt because you just can’t do your usual programming. This could be the time to do that long term planning you’ve always wanted to do, but never get around to. Look 6 months to 5 years into the future. Where do you want your organization to be? How many lives do you want to have touched? Once you get a good sense of your long term goals. You can develop steps to slowly achieving them. You may want to adjust:
1: Your communications strategy: you might want to focus more time there or start using a new technology that will help improve it.
2: How you're using data: are you analyzing donor behaviour? Or what is really making your events successful? Take the time to see how you can use your data to get better results.
3: Your donation form: Is it the best it could be? Look for improvements you can make such as:
- Embedding it to your website
- Adding clear and precise explanations of why donors should give (using examples with pictures and numbers!)
- Adding a call-to-action
- Thanking the donor
This will prepare you for the next few years, so when things start going again you have that organized, and can focus on getting back up and running.
Our tip: This may also be a great time to work with consulting companies. Look out for some that have more time and are offering discounts for nonprofit organizations.