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How to Manage Your Events Amidst COVID-19

Tips for saving your fundraiser in this time of uncertainty

We understand that your carefully planned fundraisers and galas might be in a state of flux because of disruptions related to the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. When it comes to bouncing back from these turbulent circumstances, we want to do as much as we can to help nonprofits manage their events.

We’ve put together a few tips and resources for you to navigate this period of uncertainty.

Donation management when your plans shift

What to do if you still need additional donations

If it seems like a business may be impacted by COVID-19 and you see their donation form still available, give them a call to check if they're still taking donations. Some businesses may have not gotten around to taking down their donation request page. Some businesses, however, are taking this period of uncertainty as an opportunity to be even more charitable.

What to do with donations that you have already received but no longer “need”

If you’ve already received donated items for a cancelled in-person event, you can still incorporate the items in a virtual event. Virtual fundraisers could be just as involved as in-person ones (see below for virtual fundraiser tips). Take this time spent at home to wrap raffle prizes into thoughtful packaging, and mail them out with hand-written cards.

Repurpose the donated items as much as you can. If you’ve already received cases of wine or chocolates to serve at your event, consider mailing them out as gifts to your would-be attendees to incentivize them to donate or participate in a virtual fundraiser.

Perhaps you’ve received tickets to a sporting event, and vouchers to tour your local winery for a free wine tasting—but now all sporting events, bars, and wineries have been shut down until further notice. If you’re still hosting an event, whether virtual or postponed, we recommend to hold onto all of these tickets and vouchers. It would be best to encourage your virtual/future attendees to still participate in raffles, even if they can’t reap their rewards immediately. Communicate that their contribution will help support local businesses when they reopen.

To encourage participants even more, offer small incentives, like repurposed donated items, or branded stickers and pins, for every contribution they make.

What to do if you haven’t received your donations yet, and if your sponsor has closed their operations indefinitely

Let’s say that you’ve been approved to receive several cases of beer for your now-cancelled event that was slated to take place in April. If your sponsor was a bar or restaurant that needed to close in adherence to shelter in place policies, you might not receive any donated items even if you plan on transitioning your event to be virtual. Ask whether they can offer vouchers or coupons instead, so that you can redirect your attendees to their businesses when they re-open.

No matter what situation your sponsor is in, it’s still best practice to send them a thank you note for their would-be donation. Your sponsors are likely going through a rough period as well. At this stage, show goodwill and keep your relationships strong. Whenever your next event comes around, they’ll remember your kindness.

Maintain high engagement with attendees to continue the momentum

If you haven’t cancelled your event entirely, it’s time to double down on keeping engagement high.

Empower, instead of pressure. It’s possible that your attendees are no longer able to contribute as much financially to your event. They’re likely already feeling pressured in their work and family life. Instead of putting pressure on donors and attendees to help you meet your fundraising goals, use language that empowers them to contribute as much as they are able. Gentle phrases like “You’re making a difference,” “We appreciate you,” and “We’re grateful to have you” tend to be more effective than distress phrases like “We’re unable to get through this without you.” Maintaining great relationships is more important in the long run than earning a few more dollars in the short run.

If you’re now hosting a virtual event, it will be easier than ever to empower a far broader audience of people who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to attend your event. Add personal, human elements to your campaign for a more powerful impact. Have your team create fun videos or social media posts to broadcast your mission. Don’t worry about production quality—putting your heart into whatever you make is the best advertising tool.

Options for a virtual or remote fundraising event

To help you successfully transition your gala or fundraiser into an online event, we’ve consolidated some of the many virtual fundraising resources into this list:

Free Virtual platforms to host your fundraising event or online auction:

  • Facebook Live (recommended: it’s the easiest way for donors to broadcast your event with their network)

  • YouTube Live

  • Google Hangouts

  • Zoom

Paid Virtual platforms to host your fundraising event or online auction

Crowd-funding platforms and other ways to receive donations digitally

Making the most out of TheShareWay, even if your event has been cancelled or postponed

We still want TheShareWay to be a useful resource for nonprofits to secure donations, even if your fundraising event plans have changed. Whether you still need tips to receive donations for an alternate or future event, we’re here to help.

Check out our COVID-19 Resource List for a more comprehensive guide to the coronavirus.

If you know of any companies that are still providing donations and have been a great asset to your event cancellation or postponement, please suggest a company so that we can share with the rest of TheShareWay community.

We believe in you and every nonprofit to weather through COVID-19 and come out even stronger on the other end. You all have incredible missions that we love to support. Reach out to us at or join TheShareWay Community if you have any feedback on how we can better support you.

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