On 3rd March 2020, at our head offices in London, I made a statement which, in hindsight, wouldn’t be described as being ‘of a particularly fine vintage’: ‘don’t worry, guys – two weeks and this’ll all have blown over.’
While confident I wasn’t the only one to underestimate the impact Covid was set to have on every facet of our lives, the flippancy with which I dismissed it still irks me. Since then, I’ve tried to keep my mouth shut. I’m not a doctor, a virologist nor an epidemiologist (although I am a zoologist, if that counts? It definitely doesn’t…), so I figured I’d best leave the predictions to the experts. After all, you wouldn’t catch Chris Whitty offering advice on how to conduct a successful pledge moment, would you?
However now, as restrictions finally lift here in the UK and the prospect of an Autumn/Winter event season becomes tantalisingly real, I find myself in an interesting position. Each day, I speak to anywhere between 30-50 non-profits, all of whom are desperate to figure out a) what everyone else is doing and b) what they should do.
Whilst the former is relatively easy to answer (50% are ploughing on with planning and booking in-person events; 50% are sitting tight), attempting to tackle the latter would feel a little walking into a trap which I’d just watched being set in front of my very eyes.
Still, I guess it wouldn’t be a particularly interesting blog if I didn’t go out on a limb, so here goes…
If there’s one premonition which has been proven hard to argue with – to the extent that it’s almost become a cliché – it’s that Covid isn’t going anywhere. They were saying it in July 2020, they’re saying today and there’s little to suggest they won’t still be saying it in July 2022.
It’s becoming – if it hasn’t already become – endemic and will, as far we can see, continue to circulate the population – surging and receding – for years to come. However, what’s also true to state is that vaccines have made an enormous difference to how it affects us. At time of writing, here in the UK the number of patients in hospital with Covid is 80% lower than when we saw a similar number of daily infections during the winter wave, with deaths 94% lower.
So, I guess, the multimillion-dollar question facing us now is, ‘is this as good as it gets?’. If we accept that Covid’s here to stay, that it will continue to circulate but that vaccines have – in the large part – neutralised its threat, then what now?
Do we wait until March 2022, or November even, in the hope that the situation’s changed, only to find that – predictably – it hasn’t, or do we adapt now, accept a degree of shift in guest demographics and crack on with making up for lost time and reaping the rewards of the $260billion (!) which donors have accumulated throughout the months of lockdown.
The camp is split, that much is certain, but only time will tell whether fortune favours the brave.
John is a familiar face in the charity and event fundraising world, having worked at Givergy for over six years as part of the business development team. Now a fully trained and experienced fundraising host, his focus is on helping charities raise as much money as possible through both in-person and virtual events.
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