COVID-19 Events Fundraising

Dealing with Event Cancellation during COVID-19

And other ways to improve your fundraising during this time.

In the first Konect Webinar presented in partnership with Una Buro and Phil, Simplyk’s co-founder François de Kerret discusses ways to deal with event cancellation due to COVID-19 along with some good fundraising tactics for the pandemic. These tips are based off expertise from nonprofits using Simplyk’s services. Watch the video or read more below.

Simplyk’s co-founder François de Kerret on dealing with event cancellation and more.

Adjusting your event to COVID-19

What events will be affected?

Organizing charity events doesn’t come without its challenges. However, COVID-19 is a challenge that no organization was able to prepare for. At this point, we know that all events from spring to fall have or may be affected by the pandemic. No matter what you do to adapt your strategy, you need to reach out to your community and keep communication open. Let them know how you will be proceeding for upcoming events. Will they be cancelled, delayed, or is it to be determined? Let them know as soon as possible and respond to any concerns they have.

What will your strategy be?

When looking at what to do about your events, there are three routes you can take:

Postponing the event
  • Postponing your event is a good option if the event is applicable to any time of year, meaning it doesn’t depend on the weather, other events you want to host or any other variable factors.
Keeping the event the same

Especially if your event is a few months away, you can maintain the date until you have a better idea of what the situation will be on that date. Here are a few tips if you choose to keep the date the same:

  • Set a deadline to decide if the event will happen. This way it is clear for you and the rest of your organization that a decision will be made on this day. It will allow you to keep preparing and also give expectations to everyone who depends on the event.
  • Communicate with your attendees. Let them know how you are going about the process, what you are planning and how they can adjust.
  • Give them the option to be refunded. Participants may not want to attend for various reasons, so you need to be accommodating to cancellations. Be sure to communicate clearly that you are accepting cancellations if you choose to do so.

Our tip: Whether you maintain the event or post-pone it, you can replace the registration with free pre-registration. Right now people don’t want to pay when they don’t know if the event will happen. It will give your participants flexibility, but also keep the date marked in their calendar.

online cancellation during COVID-19 Simplyk
Fondation La Fontaine added a pre-registration option for their upcoming event.
Cancelling the event Due to Covid-19

If you must cancel the event due to COVID-19, there are different options you can choose from to deal with ticket sales:

  • Convert the tickets to donations. For example, if cancelling a gala with tickets priced at $200, suggest your guests convert the payment to a donation and provide a tax receipt on the full value.
  • Propose credit for a future event. This way you maintain the funding and guests can look forward to a free entrance to your future event.
  • Cancel the event and refund the payment.

You may be wondering which option is best for your charity. Find out by reaching out to those who were supposed to attend your event. Call a few key participants to see what they think is best and what they prefer.

In general, 50 % of donors will ask for a refund, especially corporate donors. The bright side is the other half will want to convert their ticket into a donation!

Other strategies for your charity during the pandemic

There is still a lot of great work you can be doing right now, even if your operations have slowed down. You can start implementing creative ways to fundraise virtually or begin planning for the future! Here are some ways you can plan long term.

Contact your donors

Before you start on your new plan, you’ll want to do some research on what you should be doing during this time. Specifically, you want to know how your donors are expecting to interact with your organization right now. To find out, reach out directly to 10-20 of your largest donors. Really take the time to know how they are feeling and reacting to the situation. Your strategy will depend on them, so you need to know before you start planning new fundraising activities. For example, you might find out that your donors have more availability and are eager to participate with your charity online. This will let you know that you can focus on online events.

Start thinking longterm

Your activities may have ground to a halt because you just can’t do your usual programming. This could be the time to do that long term planning you’ve always wanted to do, but never get around to. Look 6 months to 5 years into the future. Where do you want your organization to be? How many lives do you want to have touched? Once you get a good sense of your long term goals. You can develop steps to slowly achieving them. You may want to adjust:

  • Your communications strategy. You might want to focus more time there or start using a new technology that will help improve it.
  • Your data use. Are you analyzing donor behaviour? Or what is really making your events successful? Take the time to see how you can use your data to get better results.
  • Your donation form. Is it the best it could be? Look for improvements you can make such as:
    • embedding to your website
    • adding clear and precise explanations of why donors should give (using examples with pictures and numbers!)
    • having a call-to-action
    • thanking the donor

This will prepare you for the next few years, so when things start going again you have that organized, and can focus on getting back up and running.

Our tip: This may also be a great time to work with consulting companies. Look out for some that have more time and are offering discounts for nonprofit organizations.

At Simplyk, we are constantly in discussion with organizations about the different ways they are adjusting to the pandemic. If you need advice on how your organization can adapt or if you have some great insight, feel free to contact us at .
Check out our Other posts related to COVID-19:

Events Fundraising

9 Steps for Hosting your Next Charity Event

Hosting a charity event is a great way to celebrate your organization. With 56% of donors worldwide attending events regularly, not only do events raise awareness about your cause, but they are super effective to raise money. It’s also an opportunity to bring your donors, board members and volunteers together while inviting others to join your community!

Follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to throwing your best event yet.

1) Establish the event goal

“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” —Zig Ziglar

To start, you need to set a goal for the amount of money you want to raise. Base it on what your organization is trying to accomplish in the future and how much you will need for your projects. Your goal should not only be about creating revenue. Your event is a great opportunity to build stronger relationships with everyone who contributes to your organization and to raise more awareness about your mission.

Think of it as a party celebrating all you have accomplished and what you are looking to do in the future. Write out your goals and employ them throughout the process of organizing the event. For instance, use them to emphasize the importance of your event when marketing it. An example of this could be:

Help us reach our goal of raising $100 000, so that we can double the number of meals we provide in 2020.

2) Make a budget

Once you’ve decided on a goal, outline how you are going to spend money to make it happen. To do so, you’ll need to set a budget and stick to it. To help you set the budget, identify what might limit your spending. It could be the amount of man power you have to organize the event, the venue you choose or the amount of people you estimate will attend.

Our tip: set your budget about 30% higher than what you think you will pay, because unexpected costs may come up!

The costs should include:

  • Venue
  • Catering
  • Vendors
  • Entertainment
  • Marketing
  • Decorations

Our tip: You can cut costs by using fundraising activities as your entertainment. Get creative with ideas that will have attendees entertained, and giving at the same time! For example, instead of hiring a band, you could have a live auction.

By using Simplyk’s ticketing, 100% of what attendees pay goes directly to your organization, we don’t take a cut or charge a fee. You’ll save on ticketing and transaction fees by using our platform.

Right now, it is difficult to know the future of in-person events due to the pandemic. That’s why it’s great to plan your event online. Learn more here about how to plan a virtual event!

3) Find sponsors

Boost interest for your charity event with sponsors. They can donate money or merchandise to help make your event a success! Who to reach out to for sponsorships:

  • Local businesses
  • Those with ties to the organization
  • Supporters of your cause
  • Companies offering something interesting for the event

Our tip: Always make sure to research that the company you choose to approach aligns with your values and mission. Your partnership should be purposeful, meaning you both strongly support each other’s mission and want to work together to further it. For example, if an organization works on research to end juvenile diabetes, they could look to partner with healthy food retailers.

What’s in it for them?

Companies will want a return on their investment, so craft a sales email explaining that supporting your organization is not only about getting visibility, but contributing to a cause that touches the community. Engaging in social responsibility is important to companies’ customers, creating good culture and attracting future employees. This is especially true for millennials as 81% expect the companies they support to have good social practices within their community (Forbes). The value your organization can bring is abundant and you need to demonstrate this! Outline it in your sales email by explaining how you can partner to:

  • Create volunteer opportunities for employees
  • Develop or add to their corporate social responsibility portfolio
  • Build sponsorships
  • Attract consumers
  • Attract top job candidates
  • Create networking opportunities

Create sponsorship packages

You should set up sponsorship packages, depending on what you need for the event. They should list what you are offering in exchange for the sponsorship gift. If you need cash sponsorships, create a package outline offering perks like: the sponsor’s logo on all event advertising, VIP tickets to the event, one piece of their marketing distributed to each guest. Set a price for each package. The more advertising and perks it contains, the larger the sponsorship amount must be.

Sponsorships don’t need to be made uniquely through monetary contributions. Similar packages can be made for in-kind sponsorships, meaning contributions in services or merchandise. These types of sponsorships can be especially helpful because they allow you to save on expenses. They can be:

  • Entertainment
  • Printing and distribution for advertising the event
  • Complimentary or discounted stays at hotels near the event
  • Electronic equipment for during the event
  • Catering

Identify items or services you’ll need to spend on. Then, select the companies you could get them from as sponsors to decrease your costs.

4) Choose your target audience and a theme

Before you choose what your event will be, you need to decide who you want to target as guests. Use your goal and budget for the event to guide you. 

What was your goal for the event? Decide who you need in order to reach your goal. This is the group you want to have at your event. In 2017, Canadians 65 and older represented 42%  of the country’s total donations, and also had the highest total donation amount per year (Statistics Canada). In the case that you are aiming to raise a lot of money, this may be the group that you want to target. If you have a different type of goal, for example attracting younger supporters in a new area, your audience might be young professionals in that area. 

If you have a lot of supporters, you can choose to target a different segment of them for each event you host. For example, you can host a golf tournament for your donors that are 50+ and a bar crawl for student donors. 

Make sure your target matches up with your budget. Using your current donation data, estimate the average donation you will receive from your target audience. Multiply it by the number of guests you plan on having. The total needs to match all of your expenses plus the amount you want to raise. If it comes out to more, that’s even better.

Now that you have your target, you can choose your theme. Use the intended guests to decide on the theme. Send them a survey about the type of event they would be interested in, or call the most important donors directly. Compile the ideas and make a decision with your staff, including your board.

5) Choose a date and venue

Once you have chosen your theme, you are going to need a venue and a date. What you should consider when choosing the venue:

  • Size and layout
  • Cost
  • Accessibility (for parking and public transport)
  • Amenities (lighting, sound, wifi, etc)
  • Licensing (alcohol, sales, lotteries)

Once you have found the venue that responds to all these needs, you can choose a date. It will depend on the availability of the venue, so part of the decision will be made for you. Make sure the date works for your guests. Don’t make it a weeknight, around holidays and other major events.

6) Set up your ticketing

Choose an online ticketing platform that fits your needs. With Simplyk, ticketing is simple and easy for you and your donor. Simplyk is completely free, which is great because we recommend you use a ticketing software that allows you to cut your costs. You should also choose a platform that has an automated communication system with guests, which Simplyk has too. This should include automatic tax receipts, scannable tickets and reminders so that you don’t have to spend time managing that.

Ticketing - Simplyk
Easily customize your ticketing needs with Simplyk.

7) Marketing your event

Marketing your event is crucial, because you want to get the word out to donors and possible attendees. Put in place a marketing strategy by focusing on:

  • Branding your event
  • Creating a social media campaign
  • Local advertising
  • Emailing

Create a brand around your event. Give it a catchy name, create a logo and incorporate your theme. Use a particular colour palette, font and a few images that represent it well.

charity event
Toronto Dance Community’s marketing for their event.

In 2018, 43% of people participated in charitable events because they heard about it on social media (Nonprofit Source). Use the material you created in branding to make social media posts and event posters. Be sure to post on all social media platforms, by scheduling frequent posts leading up to the date. Create material suited for instagram, facebook and more so that guests can share with their followers and you can leverage your community to get the word out!

Approach local businesses to display your posters. Although online advertising is great, your audience might respond more to learning about your event while out at their local coffee shop, library, restaurant and more.
Email remains one of the best communication tools you have with your donors. Create great campaigns for your events on email applications like MailChimp. Schedule initial emails explaining your event and showing off your branding along with follow ups, reminders and post event updates. It is also helpful to use a CRM to track how your emails are being received, the responses and more. Simplyk’s ticketing service integrates easily with any emailing application and CRM and will help make your email campaigns even easier!

8) Prepare for challenges

Things will go wrong at some point during your planning or even at the event. Expect a few bumps in the road so that you can prepare. When you find yourself in these situations, make sure to stick with what you know how to do to resolve the issue. Taking a risk may not be the best option. Be sure to clearly communicate with your donors if anything does come up.

Here are some things you should look out for:

  • Low ticket sales or overspending on budget
  • Being understaffed 
  • Lacking time

Handling budget issues

Low ticket sales and going over budget may be some of your biggest fears for the event. You’ll have to prevent this by planning well early on. Be extremely modest when spending, especially early in the planning process. Avoid making any changes to the event that will be costly. Make sure to drive ticket sales early on. You can create an ‘early bird’ special ticket price, giving those who buy early a discounted rate. It will need to be significantly lower than the regular ticket amount to incentivize your guests to make the decision right away, but not too low that it won’t create enough revenue for your mission. You can also reach out to those who have attended your events in the past, inviting them directly.

Make sure to really target your 100 most devoted supporters. When tickets go on sale, send them each a personal message or even better, give them a call. Use messaging like:

We are really looking forward to seeing you at the event.

We need your support to make this a hit!

Once tickets begin to sell, more and more people will want to attend through word of mouth. In your budget, underestimate the amount donors will give. If you end up receiving more than expected, it will be a nice surprise.   

Dealing with lack of staff

You don’t want to end up missing staff the day of the event. To prevent this, make sure you talk to all actors you are working with and know exactly what they need. For example, speak to those in charge of monitoring entrance. Have them tell you in detail what needs to be done and establish exactly how many people need to be working if the maximum amount of attendees show up. Make sure you do the same with all other groups involved, whether it’s the caterer, entertainment, security, setup crew and more. Have people on call, just in case.

Going off schedule

Whether it’s in the lead up or during the event, time is important! You don’t want to run out when organizing your event. You also don’t want to go off-schedule during it. Again, you need to prepare for this beforehand. Write out a detailed timeline months before the event, describing when you will take care of each of the steps listed above. Share this with everyone involved in organizing. Do the same to make a schedule for the event and make sure it is respected. A few minutes late after each part of the event can lead to it running way over time!

9) Follow-up after the event

Once the event is over you can finally take a breath. Congrats! Your work is almost done. Be sure to follow-up and send thank you’s to everyone who contributed to making it a success. This means all your attendees, volunteers, sponsors and staff. Attach pictures and a brief recap of how it went. Post on social media and include all the fun activities, reactions and pictures. And of course, don’t forget to celebrate how much was raised and how it will go to furthering your mission.

Looking for an amazing platform for your ticketing and registration needs? Simplyk offers free ticketing for your events, including features like customizable tickets, automated tax receipts, e-tickets, guest management and more. Learn about it by visiting
Donations Fundraising

Charitable Lottery Regulations in Ontario

Ontario has its own criteria for hosting a legal lottery as a charitable organization. At Simplyk, we strive to make your work simpler. We’ve broken down Ontario’s regulations for you and explained some of the trickier parts. If you are looking to raise money through a lottery, raffle 50/50 draw or other game, you will need to follow the regulations imposed by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO). Here’s what’s important to consider when looking at the charitable lottery regulations in Ontario.

*We try to keep this information up to date, but we recommend you consult the AGCO guidelines when you begin organizing your lottery. Find the list of regulations and requirements on their website.

Request a License

You should request a license if your games are:

  • Bingo events with total prizes over $5,500
  • Raffle lotteries with prizes over $50,000
  • Electronic raffles
    • A raffle is ‘electronic’ when there is use of computers to sell tickets, draw winners and distribute the prizes.
  • Lotteries held with other games, or at fairs and exhibitions
  • Other criteria include raffles, 50/50 draws and more

Smaller prized lotteries only require a municipal license. Yet, if the raffle is electronic, you must be licensed through AGCO, no matter the total value of the prizes.

Lottery License Fees

Raffle licensing fees are a maximum of 3% of the total value of the prizes. They must be paid to the AGCO when submitting the application.


Send your application a minimum of 45 days before the beginning of ticket sales if you are a first time applicant. You can send it 30 days in advance if you have applied before.


Pre-requisites for consideration:

  • Organizations must have been in existence for at least one year.
  • The organization must have a place of business in Ontario and its purpose must serve the province of Ontario.

You are eligible for a license if you are considered charitable by law. You must also respond to a minimum of one of the following elements:

  • the relief of poverty;
  • the advancement of education;
  • the advancement of religion;
  • other charitable purposes beneficial to the community.

Important aspects for charitable lottery regulations in Ontario

  • Follow the licensing policy manual to be in accordance with the AGCO’s lottery.
  • The AGCO suggests gaming suppliers to assist organizations in setting up the draw and selling their tickets. However, other online platforms, like Simplyk, may be better suited for your needs, because it’s completely free and easy to use.
  • The seller and buyer of the raffle tickets must both be physically located in Ontario during the sale. You can state this in the rules of your lottery.
  • The organization must have at least two members responsible for the lottery. They are responsible for preparing all documentation for the license and representing the organization to the AGCO.
  • You must create a list of rules that are consistent with the terms and conditions for a raffle. It needs to be approved by AGCO and available to participants of the draw.
  • The lottery license number must be on all advertisements for the raffle.

Forms to register for a lottery license

Complete the forms provided by the AGCO to apply for a license. You will also need to attach documents with general information about the organization: patents, budget, financial status and sample ticket.

Use this template to create your own:

ticket - charitable lottery regulations
ticket 2 - charitable lottery regulations

You must provide a detailed description of the project for which the proceeds of the lottery will be benefitting, along with its budget.

The application must demonstrate that the total value of the prizes is equal to or greater than 20% of the gross proceeds from the sale of all tickets.

You must provide a financial guarantee if the total value of the prizes is above $10,000. It could be a letter of credit.

What to submit after receiving lottery license

When receiving your license, there are several documents you need to submit about the outcome of the lottery. They must include a verified financial statement with the details of the lottery. You can find the list of documents in the AGCO raffle license terms and conditions. The different documents have varying dates of submission.

At Simplyk, we can help you host a lottery for your charity using our free ticketing service and many other features. Feel free to send us any questions you may have at !