The economic climate has not been kind to the non-profit sector. Despite a short-term rise in charitable giving, six month donation levels are falling back in line with macroeconomic trends and organizations face contraction in FY20 income. According to the most recent installment of CAF America’s “The Voice of Charities Facing COVID-19 Worldwide” tracking survey, as many as two-thirds of global non-profits are unsure if they will be able to maintain operations. One-third believe they will be unable to keep the lights on.1
In short: social sector organizations face a fight for every charitable dollar. It remains unclear how and when donations will normalize, but will likely come in fits and starts similar to the broader economic recovery. Many non-profits are looking to the traditional cornerstone of annual development efforts to help cover the gap: the gala. In normal years, galas can literally make or break programming. In the current COVID landscape, it may be the difference between sustaining programs or shutting down operations.
Non-profits seeking to push forward with socially distanced or remote galas must find creative ways of activating donors and creating meaningful engagement. Drawing donors with mission-themed virtual events is catching on as a good way to maintain the energy and passion that brought your community together in the first place. While the structure and format of each event will depend on the technology and skillsets available at each organization, here are some ways to drive engagement in a remote setting:
Free-to-use platforms such as Zoom and YouTube live can help provide the streaming platform required to unify a distanced community. While this year’s event cycle will undoubtedly be challenging to plan and execute, organizations can use creativity to engage and energize donor communities, manage costs, and sustain programs in these turbulent times.
¹“The Voice of Charities Facing COVID-19 Worldwide,” CAF America, https://www.cafamerica.org/wp-content/uploads/3_CV19_Report_6_10.pdf, June 2020