HTS Highlights: Corporate & Not For Profit Fundraising

The Hospitality and Tourism Summit welcomed Dayna Malow, CEO of Live Art International, and other panelists to discuss how Non Profit organizations have been affected by the pandemic and what they have done in light of the hardships. Panelist in the discussion included: 

Rosemary Matzl: Vice President Community Affairs at ITW 

Monika Lotter: Senior Event Specialist at GoLive! 

Meggan Hill-McQuenney: President and COO at Bravehearts and Trail to Zero

Dave Wille: Owner and Fundraising Consultant at Auction Merchandise Source Chicago 

Brandon Stec: Director of Marketing at GiveSmart 

The start of the pandemic resulted in incredible changes in the Non Profit realm. With social distancing regulations, many in-person events were canceled, including key fundraising events, galas, and community programming. Nonprofits also saw an initial cutback from donors, however, as the pandemic continued, many organizations were looking for a way to give back and serve the communities hit the hardest. 

Dayna Malow asked all the panelists to discuss how the pandemic has affected their organization and fundraising efforts. Hill-McQuenney runs Bravehearts, a therapeutic horse riding center, and noted that the pandemic canceled all in-person fundraising and almost entirely lost volunteers. While the changes were fast, her team acted faster and immediately switched to creating daily online programming for the most vulnerable groups of individuals battling with mental health. 

Her biggest advice in the midst of the pandemic, and moving forward, is to “be creative, be bold, be brave”. This is a time to act, and not to sit idly by and hope for the best. She encourages Non Profits to find corporate sponsors that want to make a change, and ask how they as a Non Profit can help them. Making the conversation a two-way street will ensure a long-lasting relationship. 

Matzl echoed much of the same concerns when the pandemic first hit, and worried if the amount of fundraising would drop significantly. Her organization acted quickly with a Match-Gift program, and not only met expected donations, but surpassed them. She recommended organizations use this type of tactics, in which companies incentivize their own employees to make donations, and those to be matched three-fold by the employer. 

As an event planner specialist, Lotter agreed that these new, innovative tactics are key to future success in a post-Covid world. However, she noted the growing concern for ‘Giving Fatigue’, in which companies may cut down on donations after the worry of the pandemic subsides. This is why event and meeting planners need to keep in mind the importance of cultivating an event that also has the capability to give back and help the community. 

Wille suggests that this is the perfect time to try something new. With the abrupt changes due to the pandemic, we now have leeway to try new things. If it fails, try again. The importance of getting your message out there by the many means available to you is what makes or breaks your strategy. Stec recommends incorporating fun, interactive ways to get involved. For example, he has seen an increase in online- competitions that never fail to spark some smiles and get people moving. 

Now more than ever, it is vital that corporations reach out and partner with nonprofit organizations. The pandemic has brought to light the many causes worth fighting for, and as event and meeting planners, it is a responsibility to initiate those conversations. The goal is to be ambassadors of change. We just need to find the right cause, the right corporation, and the right tactics to make it happen.