At Good Sports, we hosted our very first virtual gala. While our annual Boston Legends Gala is held at the beginning of May to celebrate our supporters and our successes from the past year, we knew in the wake of COVID-19 things had to change. And while it was disappointing to have to cancel the in-person event, we know the health of those we support and those who support us is always of the upmost importance.
But, what does it take to run a virtual gala? We wish we had all the answers, but we certainly can give some insight! The first thing we recommend is to talk to other nonprofits because we’re all in this together. While that phrase has been thrown around a lot, it is truly the essence of moving forward. Those of us who had connections at other nonprofits reached out. People were more than happy to relay what they were doing and what they had learned.
As you begin to piece together what your virtual program will look like, you should also make time for your sponsors. We were incredibly lucky and honored to see our sponsors rally behind us. It gave more depth to already many positive relationships that will transcend COVID-19 and its impact on society.
Our sponsors Franklin Sports and Bain Capital Community Partnership stood by us from the very beginning. As did Willkie & Farr Gallagher LLP, Deloitte, Alera Group, Kwik Goal, BV Investment Partners, Right Networks, Marsh & McLennan Agency, The Celtics, and Ernst & Young. Jackrabbit Design, another sponsor, also helped redo our invitations to announce the virtual adaptation, as well as made Zoom backgrounds for our speakers.
And then it came time for the program itself. How many people were going to speak, and what exactly would we talk about? How long could we keep people’s attention and what platforms would host the gala? Having the right subjects would make the difference, so we knew our virtual gala was to cover not only our successes in 2019, but how we were going to trailblaze in 2020.
Even with COVID-19 changing our world day by day, it is our responsibility as a nonprofit to still be a resource for those we have long been serving. And this gala was a testament to that to idea.
The takeaway for us was to remind our supporters that the youth programs we donate to are hurting more than ever before. With sports on pause, Good Sports wanted to echo the importance of investing in bringing play back as soon as possible. By ensuring we have the necessary athletic gear for youth sports’ return, we are securing a future for many kids in need.
In the end, we used Facebook and YouTube Premiere to have our 20-minute pre-recorded program hosted in a live atmosphere. We utilized a Text-2-Give feature for those watching and had representatives from our board and youth program leaders featured within the program. Of course, our national spokesperson Jesse Palmer joined in with a cameo. Even our staff jumped in to say hi and we promoted a Spotify Playlist we had created as a team. After all, everyone was at home on a Friday night – so why not have some living room dancing?
Our team is so grateful to those who appeared on our program, from speakers to sponsors. And of course we’re thankful to those who watched, donated, and left us comments of well wishes. Good Sports is still moving forward and we hope you are, too.
We also want to thank Trevor McKinnon who created and edited our video program.