What happens when record-setting rains coincide with your outdoor event?
This past weekend KC Plaza Rotary Club was one of several local organizations to grapple with this challenge. So, how did they handle it?
KC Games for Good is the club’s major event of the year and the primary fundraiser to support beneficiary organizations. Leading up to this year’s event, the volunteer organizers felt they had finally reached a tipping point with new ceilings set in virtually every category:
· more non-profit organizations than ever were committed to exhibit
· more teams than ever were committed to compete
· more financial support than ever had already been committed
Games for Good is an outdoor event, held the first Saturday of October on the south lawn of the National WWI Museum & Memorial. Each of the four years prior saw the beautiful fall weather Kansas City is known for.
Over the past few weeks, as organizers watched weather forecasts, it was apparent 2018 might be an exception…
About 10 days prior, the chair polled committee members to see how they wanted to proceed. There was ready consensus: rescheduling is not an option (due to weather, holidays, other commitments, etc.) so this would be a “Go/No Go” decision.
While no-one wanted to cancel everyone agreed we should be ready should that need to be done.
The committee is organized by functional areas of responsibility:
· competitions (recruit teams, organize and set up games, etc.)
· exhibitors (recruit non-profits to exhibit and provide support)
· sponsorship (solicit donations)
· logistics (site plan, infrastructure, etc.)
· volunteers (primarily club members)
The first step was to ask the coordinator of each area to begin building a list of everyone who would need to be reached if plans did need to change.
On Wednesday the week prior, an initial message went out to each of these individuals from their primary contact on the committee, alerting them to potential weather difficulty and promising to keep them informed. On Friday morning, when the decision was made to cancel, the communication plan was again put into play.
Working with Attendees, Vendors & Exhibitors
Teams were offered the chance to receive a full refund of their registration fee or carry it forward to next year’s event. More than half responded immediately and 90% of those wanted to carry the registration forward.
Sponsors were offered those two options as well as the chance to donate funds already contributed to help cover expenses incurred and provide some distribution to primary beneficiaries. Almost immediately nearly 40% of funds were donated and about as much more has been rolled forward to next year’s event.
Because of the initial notice, when many vendor orders were cancelled (latrines, dumpsters, tents, inflatables, etc.), the organizations were able to do so with no charge.
Companies that couldn’t do that have offered to apply some or all of the cancellation charge to the 2019 event.
Primary outreach for the event was through the event Facebook page along with promotional support from KC Parent. As soon as the decision was made, posts went up to notify followers. In addition, a cancellation banner was added to the event web site.
Participants at every level appreciated the situation, and really appreciated the efforts to keep them involved and informed. Organizers are hoping this is the first step to making 2019 the most successful Games for Good yet.
Bob Merrigan, Founder of M&C, serves on the volunteer leadership committee for KC Games for Good and is an active member of the KC Plaza Rotary Club.