Many organizations have been reaching out regarding their upcoming Spring, Summer, and even Fall events. What do we do? Should we cancel? Postpone? We want to help by taking you through your options.
This is a time to get creative! Not only can you still raise valuable funds with a virtual event, but you can also engage your supporters with your cause from a distance. Host a virtual gala, a virtual auction, have cyclists bike their own races and share their progress with a hashtag, or create the next viral stay-at-home challenge.
We’ve put together a great guide to take your Event virtual, and there are tons of others out there. In this time of “social isolation,” we are all craving a sense of community and normalcy. You can provide that by keeping your event alive or creating an all-new one.
Not wanting to go virtual? Another option is to postpone your event. When is a safe time to postpone until? No one can definitively say at this point. Some charities have already selected a date in the Fall but others are postponing indefinitely, as they wait to see how the current situation develops.
Postponing indefinitely gives you the flexibility to monitor the situation. At the same time, you want to respect your supporters who have committed their hard-earned dollars to your organization and your event. You will want to communicate with them and keep them updated. When you communicate your decision to postpone, share your situation in a voice that feels authentic to you and your relationship with your community.
You might also want to offer the option of a refund since the original date your supporters committed to is now off the table. This is obviously a difficult choice, as this event was likely budgeted to be a large portion of your annual revenue. Even without the current situation, this would have been tough. Add in the health crisis and economic uncertainty, and this hurts! For donors who wish to cancel, you could ask them to convert their ticket purchase into a donation (see the next section for a description of how this would work).
Your last option is to cancel your event altogether.
Like the postponement option, the economic realities of this decision are tough and you will want to share this with your community. Before issuing a refund, provide your supporters with the option to instead convert their ticket purchase into a donation.
How does this work?
It is likely that their ticket purchase was at least partially ineligible for a charitable tax receipt due to the advantage they were receiving in return for items such as food, entertainment, merchandise, among other things.
Since your event is cancelled, you now have the ability to offer the option to your purchaser to donate the ticket price to you and in turn, receive a charitable tax receipt for the full amount.
It is important to note that you cannot decide on behalf of your purchasers to convert their purchases into donations. This means that after communicating the options to your community, they will need to reply to you and explicitly confirm they wish to convert their purchase into a donation. Keep in mind that you will have to take into account any advantage they may have already received. Here is a deeper look into these considerations.