Even though we are only a week into this pandemic, it is no doubt that the Coronavirus has put a big dent in non-profit fundraising all over the United States. Non-profits that are hosting Spring Gala's are forced to cancel these annual events and scramble to consider how they are going to raise the funds necessary to cover many different projects that these events support. As a former Advancement Director I understand the anxiety that these non-profits must be feeling. While adhering to the social distancing that our local, state and national government is asking us all to do it has truly given me time to think about how non-profits may be able to make lemonade from the lemons that are being handed to them with this pandemic.
Don't cancel your spring gala, just re-invent it. Make it something new, something that your attendees have never seen before. The best event you never went to! Is your non-profit already doing mobile bidding? Make this gala a get a drink whenever you want, have the meal you want in the comfort of your own home, wear your pajamas if you want and competitively bid for a great cause. Take some time to make this fun for your attendees that were going to attend and make it a social media event. Bring in your Advancement Office, do a Facebook live displaying all your silent and live auction items. Close the bidding on silent auction as you would during the event and come back on to Facebook live when it is time for the live auction to start. Get your auctioneer in on the fun, have them do their best auctioneering live as they watch the bids come in and get the excitement building. While it will not be the same as the fun lively crowds that you get in a room full of supporters, it is a great way to rethink the spring gala during a time that is very uncertain.
All other vendors don't worry, the party will go on at a later time in the year. You have already paid the deposit for that venue, that caterer, that decor, that entertainment; work out the rescheduling of the event but instead of a fundraiser let it become the after event party celebrating what you were able to do in uncertain times.
Our non-profits still need us all during this time, they support many different sectors of our society and we must still assist them and know that their fundraising needs do not change just because we are in the middle of something so uncommon. If you have sponsored an event or purchased a ticket to an event, support a possible change that could be coming to the spring Gala....