Steps to Take When Postponing your Fundraising Event
First and foremost, we hope that everyone is staying safe and healthy during these unprecedented times that require all of us to work together to reduce the risk of spreading the virus. With this mindset, we want to share some of the steps that you need to take when postponing your fundraising event. Let’s face it, there are a lot of details that go into such a decision and we want to make sure you anticipate them and set the stage for when things begin to normalize and events can be rescheduled and planned.
The Process of Making the Decision to Postpone or Cancel an Event
Determining whether to postpone or cancel a significant fundraising event can be daunting; especially if it is one that traditionally brings in a bulk of your fundraising dollars. Much of your consideration must be centered around what’s best for your patrons and ultimately your organization. New mandates are coming out daily that may “make the decision for you”. Such as state prohibitions against gatherings of more than 50 people. Some venues are actually closing for a period of time that may, by necessity alter your event date. The mindset of your patrons is also key to the decision-making process. Your “cause” will still be relevant to them but may not be top of mind until the crisis passes. You want to make sure you are communicating with your patrons, carrying positive messaging to them, engaging them in your mission through words, testimonials and online support. Use this time to educate your patrons on the profound depth of your organization and what it does. Like no other time, you will have their undivided attention to read your materials – so use it wisely and effectively. It will pay great dividends in the future.
Contact the Key Players
When we talk about key players, we mean your venue, speakers, DJ, caterers, etc. These are the people and services that make your event go. You need to inform them that your event is being postponed to a later date. Most of today’s businesses will understand due to the current circumstances in our country. In most cases, you will not get hit with any cancellation fees. However, it is important to discuss finances with everyone so that there are no misunderstandings down the road. The same financial arrangements should apply to the future event that you will hold.
Inform your Guests
This is the most time-consuming step in this process requiring the most effort from you and your staff. Again, most of your guests will understand the need to postpone when it comes to a national emergency such as COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep them up-to-date.
In fact, your guests will really appreciate an ongoing flow of updates whenever possible.
Here are the steps to take when reaching out to your guests:
1. Reach out to them on their preferred communication platforms. You may make the decision to reach out on social media, phone calls, e-mails or texts. It’s best to use all of these avenues if you want to be safe. But if your contact database informs you of preferred communication methods, utilize those. It’s also important to update your website to ensure that all event information is current.
Sequencing of the calls and notifications is also vitally important. Your guest of honor, special guest speakers or key donors should not read about it on a social media post. Take the time to make a personal call to each. Under the circumstances they won’t be surprised but letting them know you're wanted to call them personally before the announcement being made public will solidify your relationship with them.
2. Provide clear and concise information. Clearly state that the event has been POSTPONED. If you were able to work out a new date, then be sure to share this new date with your guests so that they can mark their calendars.
If you do not have a new date scheduled yet, let them know that a new date will be announced in the future. Don’t dwell in your communiques or in personal conversations about COVID-19. Everyone is getting enough about that through the newspaper and media. Try to keep your focus on the pertinent needs of your organization and the future of your event.
3. Talk about your refund policy. Refunds will be a common question asked by your guests. Be prepared with a fully detailed refund policy in the event some of your guests will not be able to attend the future event date
4. Keep an Open Channel of Communication. Stay in touch with your guests on a regular basis. Social media is a great tool to assist you here. Let them know that you are excited about the plans for your future event, knowing it will be bigger and better because of the support of your special patrons.
Many organizations are creatively moving to a virtual fundraising event this year. In response to your needs, the American Fundraising Foundation has developed AmFund VIP – your virtual silent auction.
It is easy to launch, ready for online or mobile offerings and can help you quickly raise essential unrestricted funds, something that is needed by all our nonprofit partners. We offer extraordinary trips that have our signature “three years to travel with no blackout dates”. Now more than ever, that lengthy travel window is important to your donors that want to support your organization as well as feel that their investment in a trip is secure. AmFund VIP can be one of the best answers to your
virtual event planning.
Our Development Staff is available and ready to help and would be happy to discuss our AmFund V.I.P Virtual Fundraising Offering.
Remember, we are all in this together! If you run into any challenges as you postpone your event, please don’t hesitate to contact us here at AmFund.