I recently read an article in the New York Times about people around the country stringing up lights or spreading Christmas cheer… starting as early as March this year. As the article states, “Christmas can’t come soon enough.” It certainly has been a LOOOOONG year, and the holidays will be a welcome break from the onslaught of events this year.
As we move from the hot summer days to the fall, many organizations have recently wrapped up their summer programs and are shifting focus to the holidays –during this process, organizations are also rethinking how things should be done. Social distancing and other COVID precautions are still in effect, so how are organizations re-imagining their events? Below are a few examples of what we’ve heard from organizations.
For organizations that typically run holiday adopt-a-family programs (where the nonprofit collects wishlists for donors), plans appear to be moving forward largely intact with some modifications:
- One organization with a very large adopt-a-family program has decided to run their program like they do every year, but they are lengthening the time for donor drop-offs and gift pickups. They are also requiring scheduled times and will not allow unscheduled drop-ins. In doing so, they plan to reduce the crowds and minimize the risk of virus exposure from one person to the next.
- Some adopt-a-family programs are moving away from item requests to gift card requests only. The gift cards can be mailed directly to the nonprofit, minimizing the need for staffing in-person drop-off locations. Here is one example of a gift card adopt-a-family program.
- Lastly, we have seen an uptick in interest from organizations looking to streamline their programs. With staff working remotely and volunteers not able to collaborate as closely, nonprofits are looking to maximize the effectiveness of their staff. At Roonga, we have received a number of inquiries and increased interest regarding our online adopt-a-family platform.
Toy Drives and Holiday Events
Many organizations run large toy drives and then distribute the toys to children at holiday parties or “shopping” events. Similar to summer school supply collections and distributions, nonprofits are seeking ways to reduce in-person interactions and/or enable them safely. Below are some of the changes organizations are making:
- Online donation drives provide donors with the ability to purchase items online, and for the items to be delivered directly to the nonprofit with minimal contact. As a result, many organizations are pursuing online options for holiday collections and deciding to minimize or eliminate offline dropoff locations.
- Some organizations have taken the extra step of removing physical gifts and are allowing only gift cards for the holidays. This eliminates the need for donors to shop and thereby reduces their risk, and it also allows the family flexibility to decide what they would like for themselves.
- Parties and events are being converted into curbside or scheduled pickups to minimize exposure. In many areas, gatherings are still not permitted anyway, so parties would not even be viable. The efficient curbside pickups still allow nonprofits to provide gifts, with perhaps entertainment or other festivities curbside when families and individuals drive up for their items.
Although the coronavirus pandemic has required some necessary changes and adaptations, organizations realize the importance of providing a strong holiday program, particularly this year. The need is expected to be greater this year than in previous years, so with more clients being served, and the sustained stress of the year, everyone is looking forward to ending the year on a positive note.