By all accounts, 2020 was a dumpster fire of a year. We had no idea what was in store when the year began in January. A global pandemic. Many industries—including our own—devastated. Jobs lost. Celebrations—weddings, graduations, travel—indefinitely postponed.
Here are the things we hope to leave behind in our wake as we head into a brighter future.
- Event cancellations.
- Starting all our emails with “In these uncertain times…”
- Awkward waves and eye waggles instead of smiles, hugs or high fives.
But amidst all of the losses, a few bright spots have emerged. So, before we decide to throw the whole year away and head into 2021 with a clean slate, let’s look closer at which of 2020’s lessons and blessings we should take with us into the new year.
- Slow down and simplify. Someone pushed the pause button on all our lives in March. We didn’t ask for it, but suddenly we had time to bake bread, garden, and play board games with our kids. We didn’t have to rush from activity to activity, our schedules packed, or try to squeeze in self-care between business trips. When we can go back to a busy lifestyle in 2021, ask yourself, “Do I want to? Do I need to?” Which complexities of your life did you have to give up in 2020 that you ended up not even missing?
- Connect with your faraway friends. All socialization moving into a virtual space meant that our faraway friends are now just as easy to connect with as our next-door neighbors. This year, I’ve seen colleagues and friends who live across the country way more than I ever did before. Sporadic email communication turned into regular video calls, and a warmth and closeness grew from that new level of face-to-face interaction. We don’t have to give that up.
- There is a benefit to virtualizing your events. If someone can’t come to your event because of distance, invite them to participate virtually. While we will be glad when we can have a 200-guest event in person again, rather than 200 Zoom squares on a screen, we don’t have to completely banish the virtual element from our lives or our events. How can we weave the live and virtual together, to make all our events more inclusive and accessible?
- Reinvent. Necessity is the mother of invention. And this year’s necessity has made all kinds of organizations reinvent their business model. Rather than stamping out another replay of last year’s event, we all went back to the drawing board. Instead of a standard 5K, how about setting up five 5K courses and letting your participants pick, choose-your-own-adventure style? Let’s keep on revitalizing and reinventing, and we’ll breathe new life into peer-to-peer fundraising events.
- Working from home is the new normal. We at Event 360 realized this many years ago, as almost all of our teammates work from home offices. So, we’re excited to see many other organizations discover that their employees can be just as productive, if not more so (plus happier!) working from home. Does anyone miss commuting? I didn’t think so.
- Connecting with your constituents is a year-round undertaking. When we can’t count on an annual in-person get-together to energize our base of support, many non-profits pivoted to a collection of smaller, more personal, more regular interactions. Let’s keep on checking in with our participations biweekly or monthly, instead of depending on the big annual event to keep them engaged.
- Beef up your safety plan. Don’t let it take another global pandemic to add strong safety measures to your standard operating procedures. Thorough hygiene protocols and back-up safety plans should be a given, from now on.
- Never take “normal” for granted. Think of all the little things you missed this year—sitting in a coffee shop, smiling at your neighbors, hugging your parents, working side-by-side with your colleagues to put up banners or mark an event route. The next time you get to do one of those things, take a moment to appreciate it. Really appreciate it.
So, as we take a deep breath, put 2020 in the rearview mirror and move forward into 2021, don’t leave behind the lessons you learned along the way. Amidst the crises and the challenges, there were some good things. Let’s hold on to them.
A graduate of Northwestern University and the University of Southern California, Joann Buckley Collins has been writing and implementing communication strategies for nonprofits for more than 20 years. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two sons, and a mischievous cat. You can find Joann on LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram.