Jerry Askew, president of the Alliance for Better Nonprofits, says organizations should recognize that the current pandemic has forced everyone to try to cram a year’s worth of events into the last half of this year. This will put stress on the donor community. In an interview with the blog, “In Any Event,” Askew offers some suggestions. That blog post, written by Moxley Carmichael’s Maria Cornelius, is re-posted here. -Cynthia
“This, too, shall pass.”
Those encouraging words come from Jerry Askew, the president of the Alliance for Better Nonprofits (ABN), which helps organizations in East Tennessee stay strong and sustainable.
Nonprofits have been battered by COVID-19 because of the postponement or cancellation of primary fundraisers, many of which occur in the spring months.
A survey of 400 nonprofits in the region by ABN and the United Way of Greater Knoxville asked about revenue loss and received 203 responses. The results revealed an eye-popping $12 million loss among those 203 nonprofits.
Askew also has some advice: “Get your event on EventCheck Knox now.”
EventCheck Knox, which was started by Moxley Carmichael in 2014, reminds event planners to “Look Before You Book.” The calendar focuses on galas, dinners, luncheons and other fundraisers for nonprofits. Read the About information and then Submit Your Event.
Organizations have had to shift many events from spring to fall, and that could put attendees on overload.
“The community will continue its support,” Askew said. “However, having lost a quarter of a year and maybe up to half a year, the pressure on the donor community is going to increase.”
Askew recommended that nonprofits seek to consolidate their events later in 2020, given the unusual circumstances created by novel coronavirus. Organizations with similar missions – such as assistance for the homeless, animal welfare or child advocacy – could join forces, combine costs, host an event together and split the proceeds.
“It will make things simpler for the nonprofits and make it easier for the donor community to attend and support the cause,” Askew said. “The missions are critical to the community. Times like these exacerbate the community needs that already exist. It’s going to take all of us to be creative and figure out the best solutions to raise much-needed funds in 2020.”
Organizers of some of the early spring events elected to reschedule in the month of June with the hopes that large gatherings would be allowed by then, but the phased reopening for the City of Knoxville and Knox County, which is outlined in full detail HERE, will still limit how many people can congregate in one space, and social distancing guidelines remain in effect.
None of those restrictions would make for a festive and fun event, so fall is the new spring. (As pointed out in this blog entry, COVID-19 is the worst party crasher ever.)
One by one, beginning in mid-March and continuing through April and May, events were wiped off planners’ calendars and either canceled, postponed to later in 2020 or even moved to 2021.
The months of August, September, October and November already host regular fundraisers in late summer and fall. Now, the spring events are trying to squeeze in, too.
“EventCheck Knox is the best place to see what other events are happening,” Askew said. “But it only works if event planners and nonprofits submit their events. I encourage everyone to use this valuable resource.”
Askew also encouraged nonprofits to help each other get through this time period.
“You know that your mission is critical to the health and well-being of our community,” he said. “The work you do all year-round does not go unnoticed. East Tennessee has an abundance of nonprofits focused on everything from youth to education to animal welfare to the arts to advocacy for multiple causes and community initiatives.”
He is boosted by the can-do spirit that has resulted amidst trying times.
“It would be easy for nonprofits to fall into, ‘Woe is me.’ But I haven’t heard anyone express anything remotely like self-pity,” Askew said. “Everyone instead is determined to keep going.”
Askew also knows that Knoxville steps up when a need goes out.
“It still has a sense of community that we think of existing in small towns,” said Askew, who came to Knoxville in 1985, expecting to stay a few years, and has been here ever since. “As it’s grown, Knoxville hasn’t lost that sense of community and loyalty to the hometown.”
Maria Cornelius, a writer/editor for Moxley Carmichael, populates the EventCheck Knox calendar. Her favorite events involve sports, of which there are none right now, and cold beer, of which there is plenty in quarantine.
Email her with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.