As you’d imagine, fabulous fundraisers, we’re fielding a lot of questions right now. Maybe you know this because you are too! Should we host a live auction? A virtual auction? A hybrid event for our most enthusiastic givers? When will it be safe to bring people back together again…and how can we be good stewards of our resources at the same time that we must meet so many disparate needs? What happens if our country is open today and closes tomorrow?
Trust us fundraisers, we feel you. We are spinning too. We also know what this feels like because we’ve been here before! Early-summer of 2021 is shaping up to feel a lot like mid-spring 2020: a flurry of activity, lots of discussion, information and opinions floating around but not much clarity.
But here’s what we know for sure:
We all want to get back to live, in-person events as soon as possible
There’s isn’t a common guidebook to help us make sound choices right now
Please oh please plan a backup virtual event whatever you do
We believe unequivocally in a “safety first” model
A lot of what we do in event management, no matter what the circumstances, is mitigate risk. Your organization’s donor-base is filled with people who need special physical accommodations? Let’s be sure to book you an event space that’s more accessible than most. Your donor base tends toward seniors? Let’s be sure that last paddle gets raised early enough in the evening, so folks still have time for fun and make it home before their carriages turn into pumpkins.
We’re going to advise you to operate from this vantage now. For example, what if your county is in the extreme risk category but you’re able to gather in socially distanced crowds up to 100. At first, hosting an in-person event for 100 eager-to-gather donors sounds great…until you realize that this 100 must include catering staff, your staff, your auctioneering team, your AV team, etc. All of a sudden, you’ll be lucky to fill half of your 100-person quota with donors.
But Artisan, we’re hearing about 700-person events in Nevada, not to mention the fact that the Kentucky Derby hosted a 50,000 in-person event! Doesn’t this mean there should be a will and a way for our (relatively tiny) 300-person event to be in person? When can we count on this? (And why can’t it be right now??)
We feel you, fundraisers. This is tricky, challenging—and may sometimes feel profoundly unfair. Haven’t we been through enough?
And yes, we have. But we also have to remember in these times that we love each other. That donor stewardship is ultimately an expression of that love. That in order to love each other through these times, we must prioritize safety first. When you boil all the questions and uncertainties down to this, it’s easier. When will it be time to stop loving people enough to look out for them? To be respectful of their physical safety above all else? We, for one, hope this time never comes. If this means you have to cut through the noise of these times and opt for the safest (though potentially less fun) choice, we applaud you.
Last but not least, if you do nothing else, promise you’ll keep your organization’s safety top of mind by planning to host your event virtually as a failsafe. You can thank us later!
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