The Event Leadership Institute has convened a select number of senior leaders from non-profit organizations across the US and Canada to discuss the challenges and solutions amid the disruption caused by COVID-19. Sequence CEO Adam Sloyer was asked to moderate the weekly leadership council and so we’re pleased to share a brief summary of organizational trends discussed to-date.
General Trends / Thoughts
- Within the leadership council, five organizations had signature galas planned for the spring. One organization transitioned to a spring virtual gala, two organizations cancelled their galas with no plans to reschedule this year, and two are looking to reschedule for the fall.
- Between pre-existing fall events and those that were rescheduled, the group has seven galas planned for the fall. Two of those have confirmed virtual, two are planning for live, one is planning virtual and live simultaneously, and two are still undecided.
- One concern from the majority of the group is the prospect of donor fatigue, driven by an over-scheduled fall and amplified by continued economic fall-out.
- Also discussed at length are the optics of live events in Q3 and/or Q4, even if they are legally permitted by that time. The perceived notion of putting attendees in an at-risk environment is a significant concern, and especially so for organizations whose missions focus on health and well-being.
- A key buzzword from the discussion was ‘reimagining’. More specifically, infusing new creativity and imagination into how organizations are engaging donors, communicating with key stakeholders, and planning for future events. This includes the possibility of incorporating more peer-to-peer fundraisers, or other events outside of the traditional galas.
- As it relates to virtual events, the council found mutual agreement on:
- Finding a balance between live and pre-recorded remarks. Leaning too heavily on live remarks creates more potential for miscues and run of show delays. Too much pre-recorded video feels less like a live event and more like a content share.
- Utilizing technology platforms beyond the usual meeting software (Zoom, WebEx, BlueJeans, etc.). The perceived notion of ‘just another meeting’ could have a negative effect on attendance and engagement.
- The importance of the technical production aspect. For speakers/honorees, ensuring that lighting, sound and video are assessed and enhanced as needed. Just like with live events, a higher production value affects attendee engagement, organizational-perception and potentially fundraising.
Thank you to the participating organizations: American Red Cross, BC Cancer Foundation, Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy, Family Equality, Federation of Canadian Municipalities, Ronald McDonald House BC & Yukon, Skowhegan, and Women In Need (WIN).