Nonprofit Annual Gala: Navigating postponed or canceled events

During this bizarre time, it is important for all of us to keep calm and jump-start our creative juices. This is an opportunity for us all to come together as a community and look forward to creating a space for innovation in spite of the uncertainty we all are facing. As an individual working for a nonprofit organization, you may be in the position of having to rethink your upcoming events. We sat down and brainstormed some top tips to keep in mind.

Get the Facts Straight 

It is important to rely on information from The CDC, The World Health Organization and your local government to make sure that you have all of the facts you need to understand what to expect and keep up-to-date on the recommended precautions. 

Next, understanding insurance agreements and contracts will be very helpful in moving forward. Make sure that you have all of these documents ready before having conversations with vendors and guests. 

Ask Questions 

We are all experiencing this together. It is important to be transparent with each other and understand whether there is an opportunity to postpone services or keep payment in place for a future event. Be prepared that each vendor may have a different approach due to what they are currently dealing with. 

Communication & Language

Once you have made the decision to either cancel or reschedule your event make sure you are communicating with all parties that need to be kept informed. During this time language is crucial. Being aware of what is happening around the world, being sensitive, and informative will be very important in communicating with your audience. Create a message that is brief that will go out to all your communication channels that the event is canceled or postponed. Provide refunds and gratitude for all of their support. Lastly, communicate when they can expect the event to be rescheduled. We realize that this may be subject to change but having something for your audience to put on the calendar will be helpful. 

Get Creative 

While it may be frustrating to have to cancel or reschedule your event it is important to stay optimistic and get creative. Now is the time to brainstorm ways to keep your supporters engaged with your nonprofit’s mission and story. Here are a couple of ideas to give your audience a sense of community and interaction with your cause. 

  1. Virtual Events: this is an opportunity to keep the community connected. This may be a chance to informally introduce guest speakers or individuals close to the cause. Do you do a live stream or an online auction? Maybe a virtual walk or run to raise money?
  2. Contests: video, photo, or social media. 
  3. Email Campaign: focus on past events, testimonials, introduce the upcoming event, speakers, raffle items, sponsors. 
  4. Create Website Content: create messaging around sponsors, speakers, call-to-actions, blog posts, etc. 
  5. Media: reaching out to local media to raise awareness for your cause. This is best done in the form of an email or press release. 

This is a time of uncertainty for all of us, but we are here as a resource to help you navigate and adapt. Our goal is to provide you with optimism, expertise, and the ability to explore creative solutions during this bizarre time in our history.