Event fundraising

COVID-19 Creates One Event Fundraising Choice: Go Virtual or Go Long – Non Profit News

“Canceled? What? Why?” Credit: Alan Levine

May 2, 2020; Star Tribune and The Cut

Fundraising has never been easy at the best of times. Now, the distancing required to slow the spread of COVID-19 has made the task even more difficult. Many traditional ways for nonprofits to raise donations – grand galas, poetry slams, live and silent auctions, races, marathons, and events to honor major supporters – have come to a screeching halt to follow stay orders. home.

Out of necessity, many nonprofits have had to find new avenues to raise the necessary funds. Nonprofits that depend on galas or events for a significant portion of their funds face tough choices. Go back to fall or winter and hope large gatherings are safe by then? Or do you rather go virtual and try to collect the same money online that you would have collected before at the gala?

Yasmine Falk, co-founder of Advance NYC, a consultancy that advises nonprofit organizations, said The cup, “At this point everyone has realized that it will be a marathon and not a sprint. To some extent, we are past that initial moment of panic and triage.

The loss of income generated by events can be particularly difficult for organizations that have spent in the hope that funds will be raised. Some organizations have chosen to postpone their galas until the fall or winter, hoping that by then people can and want to go to a ballroom or hotel theater for a traditional event. Kara Medoff Barnett, executive director of the American Ballet Theater, which faces an $ 18 million deficit, is hoping an event will be possible this fall. She expects “pent-up demand and this to be the most anticipated and successful gala in our history.”

Other organizations have instead gone virtual and moved planned events online, hoping to retain as much support as possible. Some have been doing quite well. For example, Girls on the Run Twin Cities had to replace its annual lunch with an online event; according to Star Tribune, the spokesperson for the organization said they had expected the change to come at a loss, but instead “attracted more people and $ 10,000 more, the most in five years “.

The virtual event allowed more donors, kids and coaches to attend and share their feedback live, which they couldn’t do at an official lunch.

When YWCA Minneapolis did a similar thing, their online event grossed $ 300,000, down 40% from the lunch total. However, “new donors made up 70% of those who gave to a YWCA emergency fund.”

Offsetting the event’s income through direct fundraising raises its own issues. A recent survey conducted by the Chronicle of philanthropy noted that some sectors would benefit more than others from the growing interest in dealing with the crisis:

Americans are more interested in supporting health charities, they remain steadfast in their desire to support social service groups. … but support for environmental organizations, [cultural organizations], and educational nonprofits have fallen since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, according to the survey.

Candid’s current tally of major gifts reveals that 616 major donors have committed $ 9.5 billion to coronavirus-specific efforts around the world, including $ 1.8 billion in grants in the United States. The Minneapolis Foundation has seen a significant increase in giving, as donor-advised funds have grown. But Bill Sternberg, a philanthropic advisor for the Foundation, questioned in comments to the Star Tribune if it wasn’t just a timing issue: “Are they just moving their contributions from December to April?” We don’t know the answer to this. The scale of the need right now is so much greater than what philanthropy can meet. “

What will fundraising look like during this pandemic time? The answers remain uncertain, but we will follow this question with considerable interest. — Martin Levine