Memorial Day is an inflection point with the end of the school year, the opening of pools, summer vacations, cookouts, and outdoor activities.
This year, there is an even greater inflection point as we kick off summer –– the end of public health orders including mask wearing and social distancing.
For 15 months, we have been living, working, and learning in a public health crisis. We shifted to Zoom instead of in-person meetings, worked from home, wore masks, stood six feet apart in lines, and delayed gathering with family and friends to stay healthy.
We got used to this new existence. Now, sooner than many people expected, we are transitioning back to some semblance of pre-pandemic life.
For nonprofits, there are many questions to answer as the fundraising profession adjusts once again. Similar to the beginning of the pandemic, questions continue to circle around annual fundraisers and galas. Should they remain virtual or transition to an in-person or hybrid event?
The Chronicle of Philanthropy published an article last week aptly titled, “After a Year of Zoom Galas, Are Charities and Donors Ready to Party — and Attend Other Events — in Person?”
Nonprofit leaders must calibrate the rules (such as masks are no longer required indoors) with donor sentiment (whether they are comfortable attending a large gathering) and the potential for changes should COVID cases increase.
Doug Ullman, CEO of Pelotonia, was quoted in the article saying, “The challenge really is the ever-changing information and designing for today when you know tomorrow’s going to be different and a month from now is going to be different.”
“For now, the charity won’t require riders to be vaccinated or wear masks while they’re cycling. Riders signed a new participant waiver this year. They’ll bike in smaller heats and spread out across the starting line. Food will be prepackaged, and sanitation stations will be more numerous. Pelotonia even asked students at Ohio State to dream up a new rest-stop design so the race’s roughly 7,000 participants can stay distant while they take breaks. All of these measures mean event overhead will cost as much as 75 percent more than in 2019.”
The example of Pelotonia illustrates the complexity of transitioning back to in-person events. Multiply this example times the millions of nonprofits that exist and it’s a stark reminder that the sector has continued challenges and increased costs to contend with.
Nonprofit leaders have shown how highly adept they are at navigating, problem solving, and pivoting. While they will have to continue to be nimble throughout this year, the fatigue factor is real.
We encourage nonprofit leaders to pay attention to the human element in all of this. Yes, raising money is critical for mission fulfillment, and understanding both donor sentiment and the dynamics of public health is essential, but none of it is possible unless your employees have the energy to be nimble and creative.
We encourage nonprofits to find ways to support them as, together, you find ways to manage your fundraising events.
Article by: Kerri Laubenthal Mollard, Founder & CEO