By Missy Gale, CFRE, President & CEO at M. Gale & Associates

The new surge of Covid-19 cases across our nation has nonprofits scrambling [again] over in-person fundraising events. Most of us had become comfortable gathering in person again, and organizations had committed to moving forward with in-person special events this fall. However, as of August 15th, only 50% of the U.S. population was fully vaccinated*, leaving the door open to the highly transmissible delta variant, and upending all progress towards normalcy. So, while it’s hard to accept the redundancy of this conversation in 2021, the current events are not terribly surprising.   

Hopefully the lessons nonprofits and fundraisers learned during 2020 were not forgotten, and many of your successful tactics have been intertwined with your development plans. 

When the current surge diminishes, smaller and more intimate outdoor events may be highly successful if they ensure access to appropriate PPE (personal protective equipment). Meanwhile, frequent and direct stewardship calls may yield more goodwill and connection, resulting in a better response to direct giving requests than scaled back in-person events.  

First and foremost, our nonprofits carry the torch for the safety of the clients and community they serve, their employees, and volunteers. Public health and safety are paramount to everything we commonly stand for, including healthy children and families, strong education systems, business, and economic health. I believe that those who keep this vision—guided by their mission—and act swiftly will be less negatively impacted by canceling their in-person event(s). When your decision is made, put the messaging and action plan in place to continue fundraising. 

Finally, if your organization only marginally adapted from 2020 and went into 2021 with the intent to fully resume your fundraising plan from 2019 – STOP in your tracks. No one knows what 2022 will bring. It will be the ingenuity and evolution of our communication strategies and technology advancements, coupled with commitment, compassion, and understanding of relationship management, that will give rise to strong fundraising programs.   

You can do this – even without the gala.