Over the next few days, THINK will be sharing some guidance on how to approach fundraising activities against the backdrop of the current coronavirus outbreak. In the first in this series, Matt Smith looks at advice for event fundraisers and what they should consider in the current environment.
The primary consideration should always be the health and wellbeing of supporters, volunteers and staff, however the fundraising wheels need to keep turning as much as possible.
One of the areas of most concern is events and below we share our top ten tips for events fundraisers dealing with the impact of coronavirus:
• Communicate regularly and openly with participants – like us all, they will be extra nervous about attending mass events and more frequent messaging will help mitigate this.
• Stay in regular contact with events organisers, both via email updates and on social media. Each provider is likely to respond in different ways (based on their own insurance, local government advice and from their own parent companies). Unless the government bans all large scale events, we are unlikely to see the same response from all organisers.
• Don’t forget to also keep your volunteers and participants’ friends and families updated too. Provide clear instructions and reassurance that you’ll be taking actions to keep them, and those they’re supporting, safe.
• Have messaging ready for all scenarios – including event postponement and cancellation. Your teams should also be prepared to send this out of working hours, in the evening and weekends. Assign a team member to be responsible for emergency out of hours comms who has secure access to participant and volunteer data who can send emails and update your social media channels.
• For supporter-led mass participation events, such as tea parties and dress up/down days, consider offering a digital alternative where your supporters can share their efforts over social media. Ensure supporters have digital versions of all materials and they could even host their event virtually over Facebook Live or Skype.
• In the event of cancellation, the most important thing is the health and wellbeing of your participants, volunteers and your team – everyone will be disappointed, but the decision to cancel or postpone will not have been taken lightly. Ensure your supporters are putting their health and wellbeing, and that of their families, first before taking any decision around how to mitigate the impact of cancellation.
• Where appropriate, offer other ways for your participants to support your charity. This could be via a virtual version of the event they were due to take part in. You can support them further by sharing route mapping and online tracking tools, copy for their social media and online fundraising pages and virtual cheer stations via What’s App or Facebook groups.
• Consider additional follow-up support by offering a token of acknowledgement, either a medal, certificate or social badge they can share with friends and family. Ask participants to take photos of their accomplishment (e.g. photos of their fitness tracker or app) and share on their social media and online fundraising pages.
• Modify your ongoing supporter journeys to reflect what has happened (whether the event was cancelled or affected in some other way) and ensure their future comms contain updates about how the virus has affected the event, your fundraising and the charity as a whole.
• Most importantly, look after your teams and volunteers. Keeping your team healthy and supported will give you the best chance to limit the impact of the virus on your fundraising.
The next few weeks will be a period of uncertainty, and we will likely not know the full impact of the virus for some time. However, we can take steps now to mitigate the knock-on effect on events income.
Remember, your main concern must always be the health and wellbeing of supporters, volunteers and staff – any and all decisions must have this as the primary consideration. Next week, we will be sharing our thoughts on how best to mitigate the impact on other areas of fundraising including; philanthropy, corporate partnerships, individual giving, supporter services and leadership.