Our Collaboration Drives Innovation series aims to provide help and advice specific to this unique moment in time. Last week we talked about working from home, collecting input from several teammates in a variety of roles here at Event 360. This week, our Director of Local Operations, Molly Fast, who oversees all of our participant coaches, shares what she and her team have learned about how to support event participants during this time of crisis.
One thing I know for sure is that we are living through uncertain times. There isn’t a single person who is untouched by the instability and change brought about by COVID-19. While our personal and professional lives are being uprooted in countless ways, there have also been some positive ways in which this has impacted our lives. Most notably, there seems to be a real craving for conversation and connection during our time of physical distancing and self-isolation.
The work we do at Event 360 revolves around in-person experiences which allow people to connect deeply over the causes that matter most to them. We have always taken great pride in the opportunity to work hand-in-hand with our clients to bring the very best event experiences to each of their participants and supporters.
We had a busy schedule of spring events we were so looking forward to executing. Now, like everyone else in the event production business, we are forced to postpone many events until later this year and are working through the various contingency plans that come along with juggling scheduling and logistical changes. There are so many unknowns as we consider alternatives. But a bright spot among all of this has been the ability to keep the lines of communication open with our event participants.
We have an incredible opportunity to step up and fill a void in people’s lives. At a time when so much is being taken away from everyone, consider how you can fill that space with meaningful interaction. Here are three things we suggest integrating into your business practices. We hope you and your participants can look to them as a comforting source during this time.
- Connection: I’d venture to say the majority (but most certainly not all!) of event participants are outgoing, social beings who crave connection and replenish their energy by being around others. These are all things that can’t happen right now. So how can your organization bring that to people in our time of physical distancing? Think of the elements of your community that are unique to your event. Are there ways you can carry that over into a virtual dimension to bring that feeling and energy to your event participants now? Consider hosting a Zoom social hour to bring people together to connect, communicate and be together. What ways can this extend to your social media presence? Do you have a hashtag that promotes this social connectedness to see how your event participants are showing up for others during this time of crisis?
- Communication: At a time when so much is unknown and we’re all waiting for things to return to “normal” (while knowing normal will look very, very different), your event participants are looking to you for information. Mostly everyone is understanding of the fact that we are in uncharted territory and that you may not have all the answers right now. But at the same time, you must be transparent about when you can commit to providing an update with more information. We’ll be going more in depth on this topic in a future blog post.
- Compassion: Here at Event 360, we’ve talked before about our love for Hustle. This platform has given us an opportunity to send out text messages to check in on participants and let them know we’re thinking of them. There was no fundraising ask, no push, no anything. We simply took the time to let our event participants know that our thoughts were with them and their families. We wanted to extend the same love and energy they get while on event to the here and now, while so many of us are feeling isolated. Not only did we see more engagement with this campaign than any other, but we received the loveliest texts in response. Participants were touched we took the time to reach out and felt unbelievably supported.We are all united in a time where there is so much suffering and misfortune going around. Finding ways to authentically show sympathy and concern for your event participants who have been impacted by this (which, again, is all of them!) shows that you care about them as people, not just as event participants. If you don’t use Hustle, consider a call campaign or sending hand-written letters. Small thoughtful touches can make the biggest difference in someone’s life right now.
The reality is that traditional “event coaching” should be put on hold right now. You run the risk of coming across as tone deaf and lacking understanding of the very real ways COVID-19 is impacting lives that makes it hard for participants to fundraise or carry on normally. Instead, think through the different ways you can “coach” during these times. We’ve shared just a few ways in which you can authentically and meaningfully coach your event participants right now. But if you have other suggestions, please leave a comment. We are all in this together and all can learn from the wonderful examples being done throughout our industry.
Molly Fast leads the company’s local operations for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day series and is privileged to work with Event 360’s participant-facing team. For over 15 years, Molly has been fortunate enough to combine her love of fundraising with the ability to make a difference in the work she does focusing on exceeding expectations and delighting participants along the way. When not roaming around Ireland, Molly can be found taking photos, exploring hidden stair cases or talking to strangers in Santa Monica where she lives with her husband. You can find Molly on Twitter, LinkedIn and her favorite social media tool, Instagram.