There has been a lot of guidance around about returning safely to events in line with roadmaps, and although clearer across England, I can’t help but feel questions are being raised in every charity about next steps.
Whilst some have jumped in with sky dives or other amazing challenge events over the summer months, there are many, like my own organisation, with reservations about getting out there too quickly.
Working for an NHS charity we have had many conversations about how we want to promote and when. Pre-2020, events fundraising was one of our biggest income streams, and although it still performed so much better than we had thought, the last year helped us look differently at how we can engage supporters and take the time to find out exactly how they want to fundraise.
Over the last year, many of us have had to adapt, cancel or postpone events – often, more than once. Not only has this tested the resilience of our team members, but the resilience of our supporters and highlighted the need for relationship based fundraising and amazing stewardship journeys.
Our events calendar this year still looks very different – partially due to the changes to timings of third-party events, but also based on what our supporters want. We decided early last year to strip back activities and the events we are going to focus on were moved to take place in Autumn 2021.
But now we face the challenge of when to start promoting our events. Keen not to miss the boat on the incredible support received for NHS and health charities over the last year, we of course want to start recruiting for in person events as soon as possible. However, on the other side, we are cautious as a health charity to not be promoting large gatherings too soon… especially when our big event this year is on hospital grounds.
As internal debates and challenges continue, at what point do we bite the bullet and put ourselves out there again to ensure we meet our targets and keep our audiences engaged? I think it will be different for every organisation – even within various NHS Charities the debate is different as experiences for Acute Trusts have been very different to others Trusts – but it is obvious that one size will not fit us all, and it will be interesting to see the roll out of events marketing over the months ahead.
One thing for sure though, is that I cannot wait to be side-by-side with supporters, cheering until I lose my voice, and collapsing in an exhausted heap at the end of a manic event day… at a socially safe distance, of course!