Getting back to in-person events and fundraising has been quite the learning curve. After a forceful pivot to virtual and hybrid events over the past (almost) two years, the walk back to “normal” is anything but. There are so many emerging post-pandemic dynamics and challenges that create an interesting landscape for much of the work K2 & Co. does. Below are a few things I learned to consider over the past few months when it comes to events and fundraising.
The “Great Resignation” is real. It’s not news, but there is a labor shortage just about everywhere right now, and unfortunately this is likely true of wherever you may be hosting an event. Although you may not be able to do anything about staffing numbers, it could be helpful to know the situation so you can schedule the event accordingly. For example, if there are only two bartenders available, consider scheduling a few more minutes into the reception time before any speakers so all your guests have a chance to get a drink.
Considering how virtual the world turned in response to COVID-19, it’s interesting to see that there is still an appeal for more traditional event elements — especially for some of your older or more traditional donors. Sticking with a reliable pen and paper silent auction set-up or using physical auction paddles for a giving moment could be a better option for your guests. This format has it’s pros and cons, but if it will make your guests more comfortable and more likely to engage it will be worth it.
On the same beat, however, now might be the time to switch to an online event and fundraising platform. Because so many of us have become used to doing everything through technology, it could be easier to streamline your event online. Through an online platform, guests can use their phone for registering, donating, bidding on auction items, receiving important updates and more. Most people have their credit card information saved in their phones anyways. In an ideal world this would be my recommendation to all event and fundraising coordinators.
You’ll have to consider the pros and cons for each circumstance you encounter, but knowing your options is a good place to start. One of the biggest things I have learned — and would give as a warning to you — is to not try and do both traditional and virtual options. While it may seem like a great way to meet your donors where they are and provide lots of options, it will likely end up being way too much effort on your end. Trying to make it a hybrid of traditional and virtual will mean you are doing a lot of housekeeping to manage duplicates, send cohesive communications, and keep up with payment forms.
There’s a lot to consider and learn in the world of events and fundraising right now. Luckily, this isn’t K2 & Co.’s first rodeo.