Navigating your fundraising events in 2020

Fundraising events are fun and highly visible but they can be hard work. For many organisations events are a key date on the calendar as a vital income stream. However, we’re all having to rethink things in light of Covid-19. If you’ve had to cancel your event, hopefully your broader strategy means you can move to create smaller, simple fundraising activities or approach your donors in another way. Don’t be afraid to rethink how you want to personally engage with people and potential fundraising opportunities.

If you did have an event planned you’ll need to ask yourself some key questions.

  • Are you still in a position to go ahead with the event this year and is it critical to your fundraising income stream?
  • Can you move it to later in the year or early next year without having to incur cancellation fees?
  • How is your target audience placed right now and what will their circumstances be when you do decide to hold the event?

Keep communicating about your fundraising event

Be open and transparent in communications around your event.  Make sure you contact everyone to let them know what is happening.  Personal engagement with your big ticket donors is essential at this stage, especially if they have already contributed to the event with money or product. When speaking to them remind them why they are supporting your cause, and talk about what it is you have been doing during this time. Let them know about the increased need for your service, and the impact your cause is having on the community. Ask if they would be willing to redirect their donation to directly assisting with your services or programs or to another part of your operations. Be transparent.

At the same time be sensitive to your donors’ circumstances and offer to refund any monies you might have received.

Remember also to consider your partners. Let them know what is happening with your event as early on as possible in the decision-making process. Event venues are facing hardship too at this time, so be upfront, and give people plenty of notice. It’s better to over communicating and focus on maintaining good relationships. Take the time to personally contact partners if you do cancel and let them know.

Use technology to be effective with your fundraising event

You may have postponed your event but be facing some logistic issues, such as lack of resources to produce the event in the way you’d originally planned or uncertainty about attendance due to changed circumstances. Don’t let this put you off. Consider running a virtual event instead of your planned event. In some instances virtual events can require less planning cost less and if you’ve lucky raise just as much revenue.

Keep your fundraising event focused toward your mission

Advancing your mission and raising money to support your cause should be at the heart of your event strategy. People understand the difficulties and changes that are taking place as we navigate the next few months. Share your mission and keep your donors, guests, partners, and stakeholders informed with honest and authentic communications – you may find they will still donate to your cause without attending that black tie gala or music performance.


June 2020