Events and COVID-19 aka Coronavirus

Events and COVID-19 aka Coronavirus

image COVID-19 of virus itself
COVID-19 Virus

So what’s new and exciting?

This is how I start a lot of my conversations with people I have not spoken to in a bit. I am guessing that you probably have some stuff going on these days.  Regardless of the size of your NPO or its geographic location, you probably have fielded a call/text/ or email or two (or hundreds) re COVID-19 virus (aka Coronavirus Disease).

As a member of a few NPO Consultant groups in my geographic region, I have been fortunate enough to be on some calls/email chains and webinars about this unfolding situation. In case you feel like you are stranded on an island, you are not.

You probably have an event, and OMG right now you are freaking out.

sign snowing two directions now or later and two roads

So let’s talk about some basic strategies:

  1. Go Foward as Planned
  2. Postpone Your Event
  3. Cancel Your Event
  4. Make Your Event Virtual

So one by one let’s run through the options

Go Foward as Planned

Now what ????

child's hands washing themselves with soap bubbles
  • Tell EVERYONE- let them know your plans
  • Be prepared for questions regarding refunds
    • Have the policy out there to be seen by all on your social media platforms, if possible
  • Keep in contact with your vendors and venue
    • Things are ever-changing in most geographic locations
    • See what their plans are and how it may affect you
    • Ask about what precautions they are taking
    • How is the COVID-19 virus being dealt with

Things to do or think about

  • If possible rent more handwashing stations or hand sanitizer stations
    • Small bottles on tables or at each seat
  • Opt for disposable silverware (not green, but valid reasons)
  • Signage at the venue to let attendees know steps being taken by you and venue regarding COVID-19
  • Review the timeline of events to see if you need to adjust anything. Why? Well what about:
    • Speakers not attending
    • Honorees unavailable
    • Video clips vs. in-person speeches
    • Canceling mass group hug that starts the evening
  • Be aware of the probable drop in attendance
  • Have messaging about how it is ok not to attend if you have symptoms
    • CDC has some great info and wording on their site.

Postpone Your Event

hands holding cell phone and network of people in graphic image
  • Speak individually to each of your major stakeholders to tell them your plans regarding COVID-19
  • Message everyone else (attendees, vendors, sponsors) to let them know what the plans are
    • TBD is ok to say as this situation unfolds
  • Leverage your social media or create ways to thank your sponsors in the interim
  • Look at ways of augmenting your revenue stream if the delay will be painful to your budget cycle

Cancel your Event

goodbye sign on street says "time to say goodbye"
  • Be clear in messaging as to why you are doing this
    • Honest and open communication is appreciated at this time
    • Everyone is affected, so most will understand
  • Look into ways to alternatively fundraise
    • Virtual Event
    • Raffles
    • Text to Give
    • Once in a lifetime experiences to auction online/raffle
    • Online Auction of items you were going to sell at your event
  • Message about the importance of event and funding and how the COVID-19 situation does not diminish your needs

Virtual Events

A lot of emails/posts are going on about who is doing this, how to do it, or why it may or may not work for you.

Be creative, let your staff/stakeholders come up with crazy ideas, one may just be perfect for you. Right now nothing is off the table, we are all looking for ways to engage, retain, and speak to our donors in ways that we have not had to before. Some exciting things may come out of this!

Parting Thoughts

Everyone, everywhere has been, will be, or is affected by this. So most people will be understanding of the situation. If you are upfront and honest about what you are doing and why it should be received well. This is a learning experience for all of us.


The John Hopkins Tracker Map is a great resource for you to see what is going on in your area.

I bet most of you never thought to read through ALL of your contracts minute details or would ever be such an expert on force majeure

Necessity is the mother of invention, and remember
Wash Your Hands!

As always, Alpenglow is here to help you. Feel free to reach out (virtually)
Be Well!