Navigating your fundraising events in 2020


Fundraising events are fun and highly visible but they can be hard work. For many organisations events are a key date on the calendar as a vital income stream. However, we’re all having to rethink things in light of Covid-19. If you’ve had to cancel your event, hopefully your broader strategy means you can move to create smaller, simple fundraising activities or approach your donors in another way. Don’t be afraid to rethink how you want to personally engage with people and potential fundraising opportunities.

If you did have an event planned you’ll need to ask yourself some key questions.

  • Are you still in a position to go ahead with the event this year and is it critical to your fundraising income stream?
  • Can you move it to later in the year or early next year without having to incur cancellation fees?
  • How is your target audience placed right now and what will their circumstances be when you do decide to hold the event?

Keep communicating about your fundraising event

Be open and transparent in communications around your event.  Make sure you contact everyone to let them know what is happening.  Personal engagement with your big ticket donors is essential at this stage, especially if they have already contributed to the event with money or product. When speaking to them remind them why they are supporting your cause, and talk about what it is you have been doing during this time. Let them know about the increased need for your service, and the impact your cause is having on the community. Ask if they would be willing to redirect their donation to directly assisting with your services or programs or to another part of your operations. Be transparent.

At the same time be sensitive to your donors’ circumstances and offer to refund any monies you might have received.

Remember also to consider your partners. Let them know what is happening with your event as early on as possible in the decision-making process. Event venues are facing hardship too at this time, so be upfront, and give people plenty of notice. It’s better to over communicating and focus on maintaining good relationships. Take the time to personally contact partners if you do cancel and let them know.

Use technology to be effective with your fundraising event

You may have postponed your event but be facing some logistic issues, such as lack of resources to produce the event in the way you’d originally planned or uncertainty about attendance due to changed circumstances. Don’t let this put you off. Consider running a virtual event instead of your planned event. In some instances virtual events can require less planning cost less and if you’ve lucky raise just as much revenue.

Keep your fundraising event focused toward your mission

Advancing your mission and raising money to support your cause should be at the heart of your event strategy. People understand the difficulties and changes that are taking place as we navigate the next few months. Share your mission and keep your donors, guests, partners, and stakeholders informed with honest and authentic communications – you may find they will still donate to your cause without attending that black tie gala or music performance.


June 2020

Since 2011 I have worked with Jenni and Christine on a number of highly successful fundraising initiatives in support of the Sarjeant Gallery Redevelopment Project. With their help and expertise, we have raised more than $28.8m from central government and Lottery sources. The Giblin Group are a pleasure to work with and have provided great advice on many occasions concerning communications and public engagement. I can certainly recommend their services.

Greg Anderson, Director, Sarjeant Gallery

Giblin Group supported Blue Oyster with developing a robust Funding Strategy that took into account the specific needs of our organisation and activity. Jenni and Jess offered substantial advice and support in, not only establishing this strategy but giving us helpful tools for implementation and always prioritised sustainability throughout. Their enthusiasm for our space and activity was truly felt and appreciated – our relationship with them will be nourished and valued well into the future.

Grace Ryder, Gallery Director, Blue Oyster Gallery

“As our thinking evolved, Giblin Group showed a steady commitment to deepen their understanding of our needs. We always looked forward to our coaching sessions which were stimulating and inspiring. Jess and Jenni became valued colleagues that supported and provoked thinking with rigour and generosity. They’re now not only valuable advocates for BATS but part of our whānau.”

Jonty Hendry - General Manager, BATS Theatre

“Jenni did a fantastic job in helping us to secure critical partnerships and funding support for our internationally significant Len Lye Centre project – what’s more we really enjoyed working with her.”

Barbara McKerrow - Former CEO New Plymouth District Council

“Giblin Group’s knowledge of government practices and procedures on a national and local level is invaluable, and I often find that they are well connected with staff and officials on all levels of Government. Giblin Group scopes their assignments well, provides accurate cost estimates for their services, delivers within the agreed timeframes and always deliver excellent quality work – no project manager can really ask for more!”

Kritzo Venter, Senior Stormwater Engineer, Wanganui District Council

“The work that the Giblin Group completed, in collaboration with our staff, was instrumental in the success the project has had in securing significant funding to this key City initiative. In particular we have found the experience of the Giblin Group to been invaluable in seeking funding from a variety of sources in an increasingly challenging environment.”

Lance Vervoort, General Manager – Community, Hamilton City Council