Tips For How to Execute Appreciation & Award Events Safely This Fall

Photo by Kristin Zabos, 2019 Syngenta Canada Appreciation Event

In our second of a three post blog series, we’re talking about how to execute appreciation events safely in the upcoming months. 

Especially after the year and a half we’ve had, volunteers, staff and donors deserve all the appreciation in the world. Whether it’s virtual, in-person or hybrid, events are here to stay, so it’s a matter of deciding which format suits you and your audience (and your comfort levels) best.

We’ve put together ideas for how to execute appreciation and award events for all three scenarios:

Virtual event ideas:

  • Virtual events can be more than having people log into Zoom. Create a more engaging experience by putting together delivery boxes and sending them to attendees’ homes beforehand. These boxes can include things like: 
    • Craft kits for adults and/or kids,
    • Food (appetizers, charcuterie-in-a-box, etc.),
    • Cocktail kits, and
    • Costume pieces, props or decor that fits the theme of the event as a way to get attendees in the spirit.
    • Stream entertainment virtually, like magic shows, live music, performances, or movies. Please be aware of any licensing needs that you may be required to arrange.
    • At some point during the event, bring up the feed of everyone who’s at the event. This is especially important if the event has a program that takes up the ‘presentation screen.’ Seeing everyone together on screen is a way to implement that ‘connection’ piece that would otherwise be easy to miss.

Hybrid event ideas:

Take ideas from our virtual event suggestions and layer in some of these additional suggestions: 

  • Host small viewing parties at different locations that stream up into the larger virtual event (every location can see the live feed of the other locations). This is a great way to host award parties or host friendly competitions for staff. Check out our Virtual Event Resource for virtual platform ideas. 
    • These can be hosted at different office locations or a few brew-pubs or tasting rooms around the city.
    • If you’re live-streaming entertainment, cap the number of people who can attend the live event.
    • At award presentation events, you can invite the recipients and/or finalists to the live event and encourage them to prepare a little acceptance speech. If it’s strictly a virtual event, ask finalists to record an acceptance video or have them on stand-by to accept their event in real-time.

In-person event ideas:

  • Avoid buffet-style food service. Instead, consider food trucks or catering packages that are individually served or wrapped.
  • Host at an outdoor space. Outdoor spaces typically lend to more physical space where people can spread out. Set up picnic tables, blankets or other seating stations throughout the space to prevent people from conglomerating in one area.
  • If you’re planning to use an indoor venue, double check that their space requirements fit your needs. Even though provincial guidelines are ‘back to normal,’ some venues have opted to keep their spaces functioning at a reduced capacity.
  • Have sanitization stations set up throughout the event:
    • Create little sanitization swag bags that attendees get when they arrive at the event.
    • Keep sanitization equipment alongside lawn games so that participants can clean in between use.
  • Send pre-event communications and display day-of signage explaining safety procedures. Be as transparent as possible and include what the protocols are at the venue, what safety procedures you have in place as the organizer and what you expect attendees to do (like wear a mask, for example). It’s easier for attendees to prepare for the event if they know what you expect. Never assume that they know. More communication is better than not enough communication.
  • Communicate regularly with all of your vendors to make sure you’re all on the same page with each others’ safety protocols. Just as importantly, make sure that your final safety protocols are communicated to all vendors so that they are aware prior to your event and all practicing the same procedures.
  • For events that will be more crowded, have suggested traffic flow markers in place for guests to follow.

Get more ideas for planning events this fall from our Seasonal Event Guide – Summer/Fall Edition. You can also check out our blog post about executing fundraising events.

– Your Tycoon, Laryssa XO