I’m afraid we’re just seeing the start of the effects of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) on charity events. Among the various things I’ve witnessed this week, is something that I feel must be addressed. In fact, what I’ve seen is potentially more damaging and dangerous to a charity and it’s brand than the virus itself!
I have received a number of emails from charities and corporations informing their donors and/or attendees that their upcoming events have been canceled. First, and most importantly, ALWAYS inform your staff, vendors, and volunteers about a cancellation before any official email or announcement is made to the general public. This makes them all feel important, valued, and will ultimately keep them motivated to help your organization through whatever next steps need to be taken. Second, when emailing your attendees and/or donors, make sure that the message being conveyed is one that assures them that your number one priority and concern is THEIR health, safety and well being and not YOUR event, mission statement, operations, losses, or bottom line.
Third, either give your attendees and/or donors a specific date to hold for the rescheduled event, or give them a specific time by which you will announce a replacement date. When a sporting event is canceled due to inclement weather, or when a concert is canceled due to a performer getting sick, the very first place a ticket-holder’s brain goes is into refund territory. Why? Cuz there are too many unknowns on what will be, what might be, etc. By giving your donors a clear plan of action, you’re allowing them to feel that you have them, and their best interests in mind, and you are giving them a sense of security and calm in an otherwise chaotic situation.
Good communication is the bridge between confusion and clarity. With proper communication, you will not only maintain your charity’s brand, but build on it.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this all. What other tips would you suggest to a charity having to communicate that their event is OFF?
For ideas on how charities might be able to continue to reach their fundraising goals in an environment where public events are becoming more and more challenging, read my article here.