With the focus on equity, diversity, and inclusion these days, it’s important for organizations to ensure that their events are accessible to their entire community.
While you may already feel as though your team does their best to host a fundraising event where everyone feels welcome, there’s a difference between bringing everyone to the table and making them feel as though they belong there.
Sponsors and attendees will look for various cues to determine whether they feel included at a fundraising event. It’s important to create an inclusive fundraising event that is accessible to all.
Choose the date of your fundraiser with all holidays and schedules in mind
Whether you’re planning an in-person event, virtual event, or a hybrid fundraising event, you’ll want to be sure you thoroughly check your calendar to ensure that you’re not scheduling anything over religious or important holidays for all cultures. While you may not be able to accommodate everyone, being aware of the potential conflicts is important, particularly if your community is home to many cultures.
Beyond holidays, think about how you might be able to include working families better.
- Picking a weekend versus a weeknight.
- Thinking about what might be the easiest time for them to get a babysitter or family member to help if they need childcare to participate.
- Consulting the parents on your team to determine what might be the best choice for working parents to be part of the fundraiser
Get familair with the ADA requirements
Take some time to review the ADA rules and recommendations, so that your event is fully accessible to people with disabilities. For in-person events at a popular venue, most of the ADA requirements should already be covered, but it’s important for your organization to consider going above and beyond.
- Ensure accessible seating is available in every space in your event – have those seats clearly marked.
- Reach out to your supporters to see if there are people who are Deaf/deaf/hard of hearing and bring in an ASL interpreter.
- Train your staff about communication strategies for people with disabilities.
These accommodations can go a long way in creating an inclusive event.
Add virtual components to your event
These days, many organizations are adding a virtual fundraising event to their in-person events, or hosting hybrid fundraising events to ensure that as many potential attendees feel welcome and can participate.
So many types of fundraising, from online silent auctions that can be shared well beyond your own small community, to Livestream video, live social media participation, or a live Zoom party room, for people who may be homebound or cannot join due to their busy schedules, virtual components help to make your event more accessible to many more people.
Even simply recording parts of your event to be shared across social media and your website, with the ability for viewers and donors to enter giveaways and make online donations can be an easy way to make your event more inclusive.
Economic diversity and inclusion: Sliding scale pricing
Oftentimes, ticket pricing for fundraising events can be out of reach for potential guests who might be experiencing economic hardship. By offering a sliding scale based on need level, or even a number of free tickets, you ensure that your organization is being inclusive of those potential attendees who might want to support your work, but cannot necessarily afford a ticket.
If you’re unable to offer free or discounted tickets, consider offering a separate, but related experience, whether it’s virtual or otherwise, that includes potential participants who are committed to your cause but are not in the current position to help financially donate to your fundraising goal.
Ask your community what would make them feel included
Here’s a simple way for event organizers to ensure that your community members feel included at your next event: Just ask them. You can do an online survey, ask the question on social media, or even pop a Google questionnaire link right into your invitation. (This would also help you build a donor base record – Anyone who takes the time to answer a survey is a potential donor or volunteer.)
Taking the suggestions directly from your community can help ensure that you’re choosing the right inclusive approaches to your event.
You can also consider sending a post-event survey to see what strategies worked, and what needs more attention for your next event to ensure your approach to diversity and inclusion reflects reality.
Keep in mind that every event you host, whether in-person, hybrid or online fundraising, is a learning experience for your organization. Some fundraising efforts go better than others. But if your fundraising team has the intention of creating an inclusive fundraising event, then your hard work will definitely pay off in the long run.