Tips to Maintain Momentum for Your In-Person Fundraising Events Amidst COVID-19

With the evolving situation surrounding COVID-19 and new CDC guidance to avoid gatherings of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks, let’s discuss tips for maintaining momentum for your scheduled upcoming events.

Fortunately, we live in a time where technology can help bring people together in new and creative ways to fundraise without the requirement of being face-to-face with one another.

1. Be unashamed of the “fundraising” components of your event

Ensure that your past and present event participants understand the important role your FUNDRAISING event plays in your organization’s ability to accomplish its mission. Some programs focus marketing efforts on the event experience or awareness building.

While these goals are absolutely important, building a fundraising culture around your program can help your participants understand the important role of fundraising on your ability to accomplish your mission. It also can help reinforce the vital role your organization plays in the community.

Early in my career, I worked on the Race for the Cure in Houston when a hurricane swept through 10 days before our event. In response to some who proposed that we should cancel the event, I can vividly remember our Race Chair, Dorothy Paterson, saying, “The effects of breast cancer will remain long after the homes have been repaired from the hurricane. Our mission to end cancer is equally important as the hurricane relief efforts. The consequence of cancelling the Race [and stopping fundraising efforts] would be devastating on the community dependent on these funds.”

While your organization may decide your event cannot be held in it’s original form anymore, the same sentiment applies – think about how you can adjust so you are still raising the the crucial funds that power your mission.

2. Offer a “fundraising only” registration option to your participants

Adding an alternative registration option to your current event registration can help your event remain inclusive of those people who prefer to avoid large public gatherings. For those organizations that work in the health and human services space, these people are likely the same people who benefit from your organization’s programs and services.

For solutions like Blackbaud TeamRaiser®, it can be as simple as adding an additional registration type to your registration form with the option to “Fundraise Only.” These registration types often do not charge a registration fee and offer registrants with all the same fundraising tools available to people to physically attend the event. Some organizations have gotten creative with this, for example, the Race for the Cure offered a registration type of “Sleep In for the Cure.”

3. Develop online experiences for your participants

If the people can’t come to your event, bring the event to your people.

Running a stair climbing event? Recreate the event asking participants to climb the stairs in their home and track their progress using a fitness app like Strava or Map My Fitness. You can track flight progress at the individual level and add up all your participants’ stair climbing work to walk virtually to the International Space Station.

Looking for an alternative to a cycling event? Ask your cyclists to ride in their local community (if local guidelines allow) and track their distance via fitness tracking app or mobile app. Try as a community to cycle the distance around the globe by riding around your own neighborhood.

In response to the spread of COVID-19, the Center for Disease Control in the United States has released guidance about how to prepare your large community events for COVID-19. Please follow the CDC’s guidance, as well as, the recommendations of local government and health officials.