My fundraising event has been cancelled. What’s next?

chairs set up in a room for an event


With the coronavirus outbreak, like me you’ve probably had to postpone or cancel any major fundraising events taking place in the next six months. And for many, these events are what keep your not for profit running so that you can help those in need. I wanted to share some of the steps I’ve taken during this unsettling time:

Think of pruning not cutting
If you can postpone your event and run it later on in the year, then this will be the best outcome for your charity and everyone involved. When making this decision take on board the government’s guidelines and the health and wellbeing of your participants, volunteers and team. If you have to cancel then think about the communications you are going to send out to mitigate the impact of the cancellation.

Can you offer the event in a different format?
Virtual events can be successful. You just have to look at the British Heart Foundation’s My Marathon . They ran two virtual events in May and September of 2018 and raised more than GBP1million from 31,000 participants. The Australian Heart Foundation ran the same campaign with similar results.

Behind the whole campaign was a solid digital marketing campaign that consisted of a microsite, lots of engaging video content, which were promoted on Facebook and YouTube as well as online collateral and downloads.

In Australia not much has been done in this area, so there’s a great opportunity. But don’t just jump into it, you need to think through your strategy carefully, what is the message, what content are you going to be delivering and how?

If you’re changing strategy it’s going to take some time to deliver something new, it can’t be rushed through because this could impact the success of even going virtual in the first place. Use a platform that can manage a virtual event successfully, to make your life easier and to ensure the user experience is amazing.

Plan a crisis appeal campaign
If you’ve made the decision to cancel your event, you’ve lost valuable income that can be helping those in need. If you work with vulnerable people including homeless, refugees, disabled, elderly or are involved in medical research now would be the best time to send out a crisis appeal. If you haven’t done it already, what are you waiting for?

Preemptive Love are a great example of a company who jumped on this opportunity straight away, their crisis appeal has been live for quite some time.

Connect regularly
If you’ve postponed your event, don’t forget to keep on engaging with everyone. You don’t want to lose anyone who has signed up, so keep sending them engaging content and helpful tips. Provide clear messages about the steps you are taking to keep them safe and healthy. And alleviate any concerns they might have when your event does run again, as there is going to be some nervousness about attending a live event, so what can you do to stop this?

There are a lot of webinars available at the moment that are providing great tips on what you can do during the coronavirus crisis. Make sure you are signed up for notifications from the Fundraising Institute of Australia and look at what other industries are doing in the events space. Often the greatest ideas are being undertaken in another sector. Whatever you do stay up to date and share the information with your team.

Prepare for the future
With major events out of action, some charities are taking the chance to revamp fundraising packs, information for individual donors, as well as planning marketing pushes for later in the year and events for next year. They’re getting ready for fundraising in a post-coronavirus environment.

Look after yourself, your staff and volunteers
Your main concern should always be on the health and wellbeing of yourself, staff, volunteers and supporters. Any decisions around events should always have this as the main concern. At the end of the day if your team is out of action no fundraising will be taking place.

The next few weeks and months are going to be a period of uncertainty and we aren’t going to know the full impact of the coronavirus for some time. But there’s lots we can do to alleviate the impact on events income. If you had an event plan in place for the rest of the year, review it now and change things based on the current situation. Be quick, be nimble, be strong.

Always keep the safety and wellbeing of your staff, volunteers and supporters top of mind when making any major decisions.

Keep positive and network with colleagues in your industry, share ideas, what you’re going through, how you’re feeling – we’re all in this together. Good luck!

Redhead Digital Marketing are experienced at running major events and managing crisis communications. If you need some help in this space, or if you want to keep up to date with the latest innovations in digital marketing why not contact Andrea Jones at Redhead Digital Marketing – Or book a free one-hour consultation.