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Marquee Cancellations: Five Ways to Mitigate Event Losses due to Coronavirus

As Coronavirus impacts the United States, more and more nonprofit organizations are canceling galas, conferences, and significant donor events. Fundraising events can represent a large portion of unrestricted funds for operations or restricted funds for campaigns. With a potential recession looming, charities will need to be even more creative in fundraising strategies. If your nonprofit has recently canceled or postponed an important fundraising or community-building event, here are some possible strategies to to explore to mitigate the impacts of the disruptions:

1. Consider a webcast, online conference, or experience.

While participation may drop as the convening moves online, the general low cost of webcasts and virtual meetings can keep things moving as normally as possible and celebrate the nonprofit’s mission. From Zoom to Uberconference, there are many platforms for web meetings and conferences. PC magazine provides this analysis of 2020 online conference support software. An old-fashioned webinar also connects and educates supporters.

An online experience could be a good option for nonprofits that focus on issue advocacy, research, or education. Social media tools like Facebook Live keep donors engaged and committed to the cause even if a big event is canceled. Engaging, positive videos about the latest research or issue advocacy could also provide a welcome distraction. A charity could, for example, approach a donor to the canceled event and ask for support for the number of views or downloads of the educational video or match an online fundraising appeal. Given the dramatically changing landscape of the Coronavirus outbreak, the charity, of course, must be cognizant of timing, approach, and the appropriateness of the ask.

2. Create an online auction and leverage email and social media to generate interest.

If your organization’s annual keystone fundraising event was canceled, then explore creating or expanding an online auction. Leverage social media and the charity’s email lists to connect to your audience and remind them of the mission. If you canceled the event last minute, one option is to donate flowers or other perishables to another cause and garner earned media on the gift. Consider mailing any planned gift bags to hosts or guests with a thank you and “light touch” appeal for support.

Please view the additional strategies in my article at


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