No Elbow Bumps – Nonprofits Going Corona-Virtual
No Elbow Bumps – Nonprofits Going Corona-Virtual

First it was elbow bumps. Next it was no group events of more than 250 people. The Centers of Disease Control has dropped that number to 50 and entire cities are closing down for at least a couple of weeks.

There’s going be a need for a new term of art, instead of viral events, with cancellations from nonprofit conferences to galas to showing up at the office. And, instead of conference season, it will be webinars, as nonprofit leaders try to keep in touch with staff who are staying home and donors.

That’s the case, too, at The NonProfit Times where staff will be working remotely and a free webinar has been scheduled with experts who can discuss office-related wellbeing, fundraising and risk management. You can go here for more information and to sign-up https://register.gotowebinar.com/register/2486388721588655371

One of the largest annual gatherings of fundraising in the world has joined the cancelled list. The Association of Fundraising Professionals won’t be having an in-person event later this month but will go virtual.

“The situation regarding COVID-19, the coronavirus, has changed dramatically. With Maryland Governor Larry Hogan’s announcement today of the executive order prohibiting gatherings and events over 250 people, we have canceled the in-person experience of AFP ICON 2020. However, despite the announcement, we have plans in place and AFP ICON VIRTUAL will continue on schedule,” according to AFP CEO Mike Geiger.

More than 3,000 people were expected at the event in Baltimore, Md.

“We are looking at ways to expand the VIRTUAL experience to make up for the lack of the in-person event, including how to best integrate more education and networking aspects into AFP ICON VIRTUAL,” according to Geiger

If you are registered for AFP ICON 2020 and have not yet transferred or canceled your registration, you have four options: Transfer your registration to AFP ICON VIRTUAL. You can learn more about AFP ICON VIRTUAL at afpicon.com/virtual; Transfer your registration to AFP ICON 2021, April 18-20 in Minneapolis, Minn.; Cancel your registration for a full refund; and, donate part or all of your conference registration fee to the AFP Foundations for Philanthropy. This would be a tax-deductible donation.

“The AFP community is a strong one, and I know we all remain dedicated to our causes. Thank you for your patience, and I commit to you that we’ll continue to look for ways to offer education and training this year that will help you advance your cause,” Geiger said via a statement.

The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak on nonprofits is beginning to be seen more widely, with upcoming conferences and events being canceled. The long tail of that lost revenue and longer-term implications on fundraising remains to be seen, to say nothing of the nonprofits on the front lines providing services and directly fighting the outbreak.

Taking precautions to contain the spread of COVID-19, NTEN cancelled its annual Nonprofit Technology Conference (NTC) later this month. More than 2,000 attendees and 125 vendors were expected to converge in Baltimore, Md., on March 24-26.

“The consensus on proceeding with 20NTC has shifted today in light of the World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus a pandemic,” NTEN CEO Amy Sample Ward said in a video message distributed last night (March 11). “Organizations that hadn’t implemented a travel ban have now announced one. Given this development, it feels the responsible action to take is to cancel 20NTC,” she said.

Refunds will be issued on individual registrations according to the refund policy. Sample Ward said many people already have offered to waive part or all of their registration fees as a way to support the organization. The annual conference makes up 62 percent of NTEN’s annual budget.

“To be clear, providing registration refunds means that we have a significant financial hole to fill to pay for the conference contracts that we owe by not putting the event on,” Sample Ward said.

Other high-profile events cancelled include SXSW in Austin, Texas, the GLAAD Media Award in Los Angeles, the National Association of Broadcasters in Las Vegas, and the Global Strategic Infrastructure Leadership Forum in New York City. Goldenvoice, which organizes the music festivals Coachella and Stagecoach, announced the postponement of both festivals. Among other conferences and events nixed or postponed in the nonprofit world are:

  • The Women’s Philanthropy Institute at Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy cancelled its conference, “Philanthropy Plugged In: Creating Community in a Digital Age,” slated for Chicago, Ill., at the end of this month.
  • The inaugural Nonprofit Leadership Conference at John Carroll University outside Cleveland, originally scheduled for May 1, has been cancelled.
  • The Association of National Advertisers announced the ANA Media Conference, scheduled for March 25-27 at the JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa in Aventura, Fla., has been cancelled.
  • Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Mich., has suspended all in-person classes and events of more than 100 people, through at least March 29. The campus offices, including the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy, are open and operating.
  • The Johnson Center has postponed its March 25 Brown Bag Lunch and Learn event until May 20.
  • All Star Code in New York City postponed until September the All Star Code Spring Celebration.
  • ORT America has cancelled events in Detroit and Atlanta.
  • The North Carolina Technology Association is postponing the Diversity + Inclusion in Tech Summit until June 23.
  • The Forum at the Harvard T.H. School of Public Health postponed its webcast “Homelessness In America: Health, Housing and the Search for Solutions – Live Webcast.

Events and gatherings of more than 250 people have been banned in three counties in Washington State surrounding Seattle to try to contain the outbreak. The California Department of Public Health also has recommended that large gatherings be postponed or canceled.

Turkish Philanthropy Funds (TPF), a New York City-based community foundation for high-impact social investments dedicated to Turkish and Turkish-American communities, postponed its Colors of Turkey gala planned next month at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

The Marlene Meyerson JCC in Manhattan announced that a child who was in a program at the facility on Saturday night has tested positive for Covid-19, along with her mother. While both are asymptomatic and doing well, out of an abundance of caution, the board decided to close the JCC yesterday and today to do a “thorough and deep hospital-grade sanitizing” of the building, Rabbi Joy Levitt, executive director, said in an email to constituents. In another email late yesterday (March 12), Levitt announced both the Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan and JCC Harlem will be closed through March 27 as a precaution.

Museums and arts organizations face unique challenges in the face of the outbreak. The Boston Center for the Arts announced last night that all surfaces are being disinfected before and after performances and events in all of its venues. CDC signage has been added to all restrooms with instructions on proper handwashing and hygiene practices and hand-sanitizer stations installed at each entrance.

Regular business hours and events will proceed as scheduled, unless otherwise stated, but they will continue to monitor the situation closely, with updates posted to its website and social media channels, Co-Executive Directors Emily Foster Day and Kristi Keefe said.

Meanwhile, public performances and screenings on the Lincoln Center campus in midtown Manhattan were suspended as of 5 p.m. on Thursday for the rest of the month.

In a primetime television address last night, President Donald Trump promised economic initiatives to try to lessen the financial blow to companies and industries impacted by the outbreak. Proposals have included a payroll tax cut and a $50-billion commitment for Small Business Administration (SBA) loans.

A coalition of 30 national nonprofits penned a letter to Congress calling for nonprofits to be included in any COVID-19 relief or stimulus package. It stressed that nonprofits be included in any tax or other relief targeted for small businesses as well as support for funds to pay for increased costs and demand for services in response to the pandemic.

“Nonprofits are getting crunched between two colliding forces: dramatically increased demand for their services and likely significant declines in resources – and from what we’re already hearing, it will get much worse before it gets better,” said National Council of Nonprofits President and CEO Tim Delaney. “People will be turning to nonprofits for all manner of assistance but nonprofits will be facing down canceled fundraising events, reduced staffing, fewer volunteers, and reductions in other giving because people will have less to give,” he said.

“Most nonprofits don’t have endowments or even large rainy-day funds to tape. Too often, legislation turns an inadvertent blind eye to nonprofits, not factoring in that they cannot tape certain tax credits or deductions,” he said. “We call on Congress to ensure that the organization that will be on the front lines of the response and recovery be expressly included in any relief or stimulus legislation.”