4 minute read

Big events and nonprofits go hand in hand, but in light of today’s “social distancing” climate, most in-person gatherings have been canceled or postponed, leaving many nonprofits scrambling to figure out what’s next.

No need to panic; but it is time to pivot, at least for now. Events will have their time and place later, but until then, here are six things you can do to stay connected and engaged with your constituents and donors so that when you’re ready to ramp up your nonprofit’s event calendar again, you’ll have a slew of people eager to attend.

Plan a “non-event.”

Send out invitations to everyone on your email list saying, “In lieu of hosting a big event this year, selling tickets or asking for donations in person, we’re cutting costs, keeping people safe and funneling as much money toward our cause as possible. Please consider making a donation: All money will go to supporting our mission, not to planning our nonprofit event. We’re thankful for your support during these extraordinary times.” Just be sure that in your invite, you include the URL for the specific landing page you want them to visit to make their “non-event” donation.

Host a virtual event.

Think Google Hangout, Zoom teleconferencing, Facebook or Instagram Live events. Invite your followers with a fun email invitation (plus social media posts) that say when to join, and make your agenda clear. Do you have a specific campaign to talk about? A fundraising update to share? Or maybe you just want to educate your audience about something relevant to what we’re experiencing right now, whether it’s health-related or all about financial planning. Give everyone a little info beforehand to whet their appetite and get them interested.

The upside of social media or online events is that they can be easily shared and by both you and your networks, which can expand your reach even more than an in-person event. And of course, don’t forget to create a landing page on your website specifically for your virtual event where attendees can get more information or make a donation. Everything leads back to your website (or, honestly, should).

Plan a crowdfunding campaign.

This is a perfect way to raise awareness and funds and create a sense of comradery, especially if you have a specific project or need in your organization that you can highlight and feature on a fundraising page. Crowdfunding campaigns use a sense of urgency and an organization’s core group of constituents (or, their “street team”) to motivate donors to give, and while they do require some advance planning, the amount of overhead is insignificant compared to the costs of holding an event. And right now, many people are willing and able to help. Give them an opportunity.

Create a webinar.

This is especially useful if you have an educational event coming up that you’re planning to cancel or postpone. Just take the content you would be presenting in person and transfer over to a webinar platform, then let people know your event is still on–but in the form of a webinar. Here are more ideas on how to make this happen.

Send out swag bags.

How about mailing a “quarantine care package”? Or even something as simple as a branded bottle of hand sanitizer or hand soap? It’s a way to spread some love while keeping your organization on people’s minds, especially while they’re so distracted by other things right now. For some other ideas of swag that everyone loves, take a look at what our trade show experts recommend. It might cost a little money, sure, but you’re saving on the events you’re not hosting, right? Mailing branded swag might be a good place to channel some of your event budget.

Plan a smaller event at a board or staff member’s home.

Once you feel like it’s a safe idea, you can begin to plan events that include just a handful of people. These types of events don’t even require much planning—they can be as simple as wine and cheese or beer and pizza. In-home events are more intimate and can give you a better opportunity to get to know prospects and supporters, and they can be an even more effective way to build important relationships.

If you’re still feeling unsettled, unsure or uneasy about what to do next or how to keep your organization’s fundraising afloat, we’ve got you. Right now, our marketing strategists are meeting one-on-one with organizations for free, conducting 30-minute strategy sessions over the phone to give you ideas and direction in order to reach your objectives.

This session is completely free, interactive and guaranteed to give you solid ideas to increase engagement and keep your organization on track. Let us help you by scheduling your strategy session today.

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