Scared Silly: The Frightening Fundraiser Crash

In the spirit of the season, this episode is inspired by being scared silly! You know the nonprofit style, when you’ve been planning months for this event and then… it all goes downhill. Check out the tips on how to navigate event planning for nonprofits and what to do to avoid a crash and burn.

Scared Silly: The Frightening Fundraiser Crash

You’ve planned and planned and planned. The fundraiser is all set up. You sold tickets, and you have a lot more to sell at the door, you’ve got the raffle tickets ready, the marketing has been amazing…and then. And then it rains like crazy. It snows. It hails. Traffic is backed up. People just want to be home tonight. At your event the chips get stale, the guacamole gets runny, and your volunteers are sitting around bored.

The Frightening Fundraiser Crash

This sucks. Like it really bites. I’ve seen people spend hundreds of hours organizing a fundraiser and then at the last minute a huge (out of their control) storm happens and sends all their work into disarray.

So what do you do when this happens? Here are some ideas to rebound from a Frightening Fundraiser Crash.

Prepare for the Worst

An out-of-control event can impact your fundraiser. Whether that be a storm, your main speaker getting sick, or the power going out. Your job in preparing an event is to set up a contingency plan for anything that you can think of. Think “Plan B” when you are planning out your event.

This contingency planning should be included in your fundraiser committee’s agenda. What if it storms? Can we move the date? Can we sell the goods? Can we move inside? Can we rotate the schedule?

Make Sure you Have a Clause in your Vendor Contract

Just two weeks ago, an organization I am part of had a golf tournament fundraiser. Yet on that same day, we had a tropical storm blow through the island. Needless to say, we decided to reschedule for the next weekend. The beauty is that we could as we had signed a contract with a “force majeure” clause in it. Make sure you have this in your contract as it states that if an “act of God” (i.e. fires, earthquakes, and hurricanes), venues and vendors have the right to cancel the event.

Presell tickets but include a Rain or Shine Clause

Maybe you don’t have time to reschedule the event as half-way through it pours down buckets. Make sure you have a ‘rain or shine’ on those tickets and try to still have fun in the puddles. Better yet, keep a stock full of swag umbrellas ready to go.

The major reason behind putting this ‘rain or shine’ clause on the tickets and event marketing is that it provides transparency. People know beforehand that they are taking a risk of buying the ticket and it will eliminate complaints and people demanding refunds!

Plan in the Best Seasons

On Guam, we have a rainy and dry season. Therefore it really does make a difference when we plan outdoor events. Sure, we still are in a tropical climate so it can rain at any time, but at least statistically we have a better chance in February to have a sunny day compared to September.

This also reminds me of the East Coast. I swear there is always a final ice storm sometime in March that shuts down all airports. One time in March I was ‘stuck’ at a conference in California for an entire week as the flights were backed up due to an ice storm in DC. Of course, this was pre-child, so I wasn’t sad at all to stay in California. So even if you have an indoor event, take into consideration the time of year and seasonal patterns.

Go Online Instead

The trend these days is doing more events (such as launches, summits and, conferences) online. One of my favorite authors, Honoree Corder, said she used to love doing book tours in different cities, but it just started costing way too much and impacting her quality of life. She switched to online launches as she felt like it had more impact and was more cost-effective.

I see this with nonprofits doing fundraisers as well. Crowdfunding is a great way to go as you are able to reach out to WAY more people and are not reliant on the brick and mortar woes.

There we have it. Some tips to mitigate a Frightening Fundraiser Crash.

Make sure you plan for the worst, have a clause in your contract, have rain or shine tickets, plan in the best season, or go online with your fundraising! All of these items will ensure that you have the best event yet!

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