What’s Love Got to Do with It? A Nonprofit’s Journey Toward LIVE Online Virtual Fundraising Events (Guest Post)

The Coronavirus crushed the Nonprofit and Education live fundraising event industry overnight.  Thousands of organizations across the globe were forced to cancel or postpone their events, in many instances, these events were their largest means of fundraising of the entire year. 

These event shutdowns amplified business closures from venues to auctioneers, caterers, set design, AV, and entertainment companies who have all felt the revenue interruption along with a long list of other vendors. Then sponsors started pulling out of their commitments, guests began requesting ticket price refunds, and COVID-19 became real; driving executive directors, development professionals and event planners to the edge, saddled with fear and doubt over decreasing revenue and in many cases, increased demand.

It’s a Changing World . . . 

Now, several organizations have since rescheduled their events beginning in June 2020 through the rest of the year and into 2021, but those dates are tentative as well, until we find a cure or develop a vaccination. The raw reality is that we just don’t know when it will be safe to fill a ballroom, a stadium or a concert venue.

It’s not just the big fundraising events in New York, Chicago and LA, it’s every live event, in every city. Even small events can spread the disease, like in Massachusetts, where it started in a small town gathering of just 90 guests. At the end of the day, your guests’ safety is your responsibility.

It’s a changing world and change is hard no matter who and where we are. But this virus does not have to stop our fundraising efforts, nor does it have to thwart our communities and connections. We will get through this TOGETHER when we get people back to work!

Share HOPE, Embody LOVE and Create CONNECTION

Hope, love and connection are intrinsic to the important work that nonprofits and schools do every day and since fundraising for humanity simply will not stop, transitioning to a LIVE Online Virtual Fundraising Event is proving to be a viable option.

The LIVE Online Virtual Event gives you a platform to share hope with people who desperately need your leadership in this time of separation and isolation. It’s a forum to cheerlead optimism that we will get back to a new normal soon. More importantly, it provides a safe, authentic and vulnerable framework to share your own stories of love and hope and what you’ve learned in service during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Love, tenderness, friendship and appreciation are values that are getting lost in the chaos of “today” as we know it. This is the moment to demonstrate love for those you serve, your donors and volunteers and your team.

Hope and love establish personal connection, and this is what our communities critically need. As evidenced by virtual happy hours, the boon of ZOOM, broadcast television performances and concerts, late night talk show hosts steaming live from their homes, studios and garages are all helping to solve the loneliness of isolation, if only for an hour.

The real opportunity for nonprofits and schools is to take a leadership role and convert to fear to hope. To resolve doubt and show love to your donors, your team and those you serve, as you create connection and community through LIVE Online Virtual Fundraising Events.


Shelly St John, founder of The Auction Divas® and Shelly St John INSPIRES, has spent her life-time learning how to read an audience and influence the way they react. Today she helps CEO’s, Entrepreneurs, Executive Directors and Development Professionals build their enterprise and attract new donors and clients by delivering powerful presentations, pitches, speeches, TED Talks and video performances, through her programs. Having appeared as a Speaker, Emcee and Auctioneer at over 700 events, Shelly is no stranger to the stage. Whether she’s speaking to a captive audience or raising money in the spotlight, Shelly inspires people to feel with their heart, think with their mind and then take action.