In-Person, Virtual, or Hybrid Events?

In-Person, Virtual, or Hybrid Events?

Just like many other sectors, the fundraising and engagement world is grappling with the challenges posed by the pandemic(s) – medical, economic, and social – over the last 18 months. Fundraisers everywhere are continuously looking at how best to bring together their respective communities in ways that are engaging, welcoming, and above all – safe. If your organization finds itself struggling to land on the right event format for the fall and beyond – you are not alone. Many organizations are looking toward in-person events with equal parts optimism and caution.

Virtual events, in-person events, or a hybrid of both models are the options that many organizations are weighing as they approach navigating the new normal. While a recent report indicates that 40% of organizations may already be meeting with donors and other constituents in person, there is still lots of uncertainty around what this can mean for in-person events.

What remains clear is the nature of the challenge that lies ahead as organizations navigate the next few weeks and months. On a more positive note, I have seen all 3 of these event “venues” – in-person, virtual, and hybrid – carried out exceptionally well resulting in well thought-out, fun, and safe events. It may take some creativity and an honest look at what is or is not possible, but this work is worth it. Here are a few things I have seen work well for many mission-focused organizations:

  1. An outdoor event in a large field where gathered community members can spread out
  2. Small in-person groups with real-time virtual tie-in for remote participants.
  3. Smaller in-person events with digital replay and engagement opportunities for all community members.
  4. Completely virtual events with engaging features for participants using tools such as Padlet and Slido.
  5. In-person events with scheduled groups of participants assigned to attend and leave at staggered, non-overlapping times.
  6. A rotation of participant groups where participants go through various “mini-event stations” at the event, keeping the total number of people at any given station low.

I know that many of us are burnt out, and still looking with uncertainty at the months ahead. Even so, donors are still planning to give! Throughout the challenges of the last year and a half, we have seen donors become even more loyal to mission-driven causes, particularly those that address immediate needs. Your creativity, persistence, and resilience will be well worth it! Do you have any in-person, virtual, or hybrid event tips to share? Comment below!

I’ve Started My Non-Profit. I Just Need Funds…

I’ve Started My Non-Profit. I Just Need Funds…

Congratulations! You’ve officially started your non-profit organization. You’ve come up with a creative name for your organization — perhaps a combination of your names, a clever way to honor a beloved friend, parent, or your journey to this point. You’ve told all your friends, coworkers, family (anyone who has ears, really) that you. finally. did. it. Your non-profit is live! Motivated by wanting to give back to your community, solve a local problem, or serve others, you moved forward in faith that if you could only get started, things would fall into place. The joy you felt was indescribable – you are over the moon. Remember that feeling. Hold on to it. We’ll revisit it soon. 

You know there is a “but” coming, right? There always is. Except this time, you probably know the “but” before I even say it. Let’s say it together…3…2…1….FUNDING. Creating your non-profit, perhaps even filing for your 501c3 designation, are important and steps you should be proud of. However, they are just the beginning of the journey. Something many people forget is that just because you are doing work on behalf and in the community, does not mean that the community will immediately be paying for those services. “Fine, Shaïnah,” you may say, “I get that. I don’t expect the community I am serving to pay for my programs. The reason why I even stumbled onto your site is because I am looking for grant funding and grant sources.” First, welcome to the site – it is wonderful to have you here! Second, while I have no doubt in my mind that your organization will be awarded grants, what many non-profit founders do not realize earlier on is that, those grant awarded funds may be months, even years, away.

At this point, you are probably feeling a bit defeated in your pursuits. You are probably thinking you will never read this blog ever again. Wait! Before you make up your mind, remember that feeling I suggested you hold at the start of this post? The one of pride, accomplishment, and pure joy at starting your non-profit? That’s the one. Find it and breathe. All is not lost. Rather, you are just getting started and I am going to let you in on a little secret that many Founders have never heard. I promise, this secret will change your (funding) life.

You ready? Here it goes: there is such a thing as being “grant ready.” If you are not grant ready, well, you guessed it, you are not going to be getting any grants. Except perhaps funding specifically intended for emerging organizations, but that is a topic for another post.

If at this point in the post your question is, “Shaïnah, how do I get my organization grant ready?” you are absolutely in the right place. This blog will be chock-full of resources, tips, tricks, and even news about upcoming funding sources. Together, we can put the “fun” back in “funding.” Oh — there will be plenty of puns, “dad” jokes, and overall Shaïnah-ness over here. Welcome, so glad to have you in the Innovative Solving family!