The Center recently hosted our 43rd Annual Celebration. Many aspects of our preparations for the event went incredibly well – we had great numbers for registration, we landed an excellent speaker and the celebration packets for our guests containing our cookbook, the Nonprofit Agenda and other goodies arrived in time for the day of the event. It felt like everything was going to go swimmingly – until the virtual platform crashed in the middle of the event. Cue an awkward, sad trombone sound. Luckily, the Center team handled everything with grace and transparency. And, because our mission is to support and advance our member nonprofits’ ability to perform and achieve their mission, we thought we’d share what we did to work it out. This way, if your organization ever needs to solve for how to make an event happen when things are going haywire, you can keep these tips in mind to guide you through it.

  • Stay calm. The Center team noticed some AV issues prior to the event even starting. Instead of spiraling and panicking, a note was immediately sent to all Center staff members informing them that we were working to address the technical difficulties. In addition, when the event did start, the members of our team went around to different tables and let people know we were delayed in a calm & collected manner. We stayed at the virtual tables beyond that to network and carry on the event because, as they say, the show must go on.

  • Have humor. Jokes can make people feel at ease when they sense something is off. During the rather large delay, the Center’s leaders were able to infuse some levity into a tricky situation by making some jokes. Our COO, Taylor, suggested that our guests pretend that they were waiting for a delayed metro train while they were waiting to get into the event. Anyone that knows what that’s like could apply their patience and sense of compassion.

  • Pivot, don’t cancel. When outdoor weddings experience inclement weather, if there’s a tent or a serviceable form of shelter, people use it! And guests remember the wedding with an affection reserved for moments where people have made the best out of a tricky situation. All of our guests had arrived and we wanted to continue the celebration. When it became apparent the virtual platform had all together crashed we made the decision to switch everyone over to a platform that’s been relied on since the beginning of the pandemic – Zoom. A silver lining of the whole situation was getting to see the pages and pages of engaged faces as they re-joined us. This event was about celebrating the resiliency of the nonprofit sector, and our guests continued to embody this quality as they endured the transition with flexibility and understanding.

  • Get creative. To accommodate the virtual platform we switched to, we had to find different ways to go about things. Normally, we would’ve gotten a composed screenshot of our competition winners all together to post on our site and use in communications materials that go out after the event. Instead, our Communications Associate, Ellie, got individual shots of the winners and photoshopped them together in a composition that utilized Center colors, creating a potentially superior looking end product.

In the end, we had a successful and unique 43rd Annual Celebration. You can check out the highlights here for all the juicy details. 

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