The Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber's March 2021 Nonprofit Newsletter
The Nonprofit Committee brings you a newsletter once a month that focuses specifically on the issues confronting nonprofit organizations including an educational article and an article highlighting a Hudson Valley Gateway Chamber member nonprofit.
Planning Virtual Event Communications

by Lynn Amos

Prior to March 2020 this article would have looked considerably different. I applaud how quickly and efficiently nonprofits have embraced the Virtual Event format and how well organized most of these events have been! Though the timing of event communications has not changed, the technology surrounding these events has made it much easier for people to give. And give is what Americans have been doing in the last year. 60% reported giving more in 2020 than in prior years and 30% reported supporting or participating in a virtual event.*
Start communicating early. Begin announcing your event by e-mail, on your website, and by social media around 8 weeks before the event. An older audience (Baby Boomers and the Silent Generation) may still respond better to a printed invitation, but be sure to offer a way to register and give online.

Increase the frequency of e-mails as the event nears but not so much as to be annoying. With each e-mail include more or different information. People react to different things. Keep your branding consistent but swap out photos and graphics. Use typography – headlines or bolded text – to call attention to important information. Leverage your social media weekly, being sure to drive traffic to the event page on your website where visitors can learn more about your organization, register for the event, and donate.

Once someone has registered, an automated e-mail should go out immediately and include:
  • A thank you for registering
  • A detailed explanation of the timing and logistics of attending the event
  • If applicable, instructions for texting a donation now or during the event
  • A link to the event page on your website that has more details about the event and specific stories about how you have helped beneficiaries
  • A request (with links) to share your event on their own social media channels
  • Contact information for anyone who has questions

As the event nears, registrants will receive different updates than those who have not registered. You might inform registrants about ticket sale milestones (and ask for more sharing), silent auction items, or describe VIP access and ask for an upgrade. At this time, you can also include the full program with names of speakers and/or performers.

On the day of the event, perhaps and hour or two prior to starting time, e-mail a link to the event and repeat the logistics about attending and donating with contact information for anyone who may have trouble connecting.

And of course, follow up after the event with written thank you notes or calls to major donors, individual e-mail thank-yous to all other donors. Post donor names on your website and social media, thanking them again.

Take your various audiences into account when choosing text and graphics. You will have to craft messages that appeal to your top tier supporters (annual, monthly, etc.) vs. those who give occasionally vs. those who are not familiar with your organization.

Ann Green, in her nonprofit blog, suggests:
“Don’t use vague, impersonal language and jargon your donors won’t understand. Instead of saying we’re helping at-risk youth, say something like – With your support, our tutoring program can help more students graduate from high school on time. It’s been challenging this past year as many schools switched to remote learning.”

In addition to the date, time and logistics of the event be sure to include a testimonial or account about someone you have helped. Storytelling is the most powerful tool for creating engagement. We all know that a photo is worth a thousand words – photos and graphics in your event communications are a must. And video is even more powerful. Video is 30% more likely to be shared than any other kind of content.* So think about your audience. What would interest them? A behind-the-scenes story? A story of a beneficiary’s transformation because of your services? Music, voice and motion capture the viewer’s imagination. 

Similar to the prediction that corporations will continue to have many employees work from home post-pandemic, virtual events are here to stay on one level or another. Even when we are able to gather together in person once more, the ease of registration, giving and attendance that a Virtual Event affords are powerful reasons to select that format. Timely and pertinent communication with potential attendees and registrants during the time leading up to the event will assure meeting your fund-raising goals.
*Classy, Inc., Why America Gives 2020: How the COVID-19 Pandemic and Social Justice Movement Have Changed Giving, 2020.
Lynn Amos is a member of the Chamber’s Nonprofit Committee and is President & Creative Director of Fyne Lyne Ventures. Read more about her services at:
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specific topic, please contact
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Featured Organization:

by Lucille Geraci-Miranda

Founded in 1989, CHHOP (Caring for the Hungry and Homeless of Peekskill), believes that every person is entitled to safe and affordable housing and healthy, nutritious food. They work to alleviate hunger and homelessness in Peekskill and its surrounding area. Their services include Fred’s Pantry, The Turning Point Program, Jan Peek House Shelter, Health Care for Homeless Veterans and RISE.
NY State Senator Peter Harckham Holds Food Drive for Fred's Pantry

Fred’s Pantry was opened in response to the demand created by the great recession. CHHOP opened Fred’s Pantry to serve the community healthy, nutritious food. Until the Covid-19 pandemic, Fred’s operated as a choice food pantry which enabled clients to choose the food that is right for them and their families.

The Turning Point Program addresses the complex needs of individuals who have been chronically homeless. To address those needs, CHHOP started a permanent supportive housing program for chronically homeless adults with disabilities. Clients live in their own apartment and receive supportive case management services that enable them to live productive lives while maintaining permanent housing.

Jan Peek House Shelter is a Westchester County Department of Social Services-funded 24-hour, 365-days a year shelter for single adult men and women. They provide supportive case management services for clients to develop an independent living plan that focuses on obtaining housing and supportive services such as medical, behavioral, employment and educational. Jan Peek Drop-In services provides shelter, food and limited supportive services for homeless adult men and women, particularly during inclement weather. In 2019 they added robust case management services to assist their drop-in clients with accessing the housing and support services they need.

Health Care for Homeless Veterans was developed to assist the growing epidemic of homelessness among our nations’ veterans. To address the issue, CHHOP started this 90-180-day transitional housing program for VA eligible veterans. Working closely with the VA, they provide supportive case management services and linkage to VA medical and support services. 

RISE (Rehousing in Supportive Environments) is a collaborative program focused on helping survivors of domestic violence and their families move forward from the trauma, isolation, and financial instability arising out of domestic violence. CHHOP partners with My Sisters' Place and Lifting Up Westchester to provide housing, case management, domestic violence counseling and support and specialized employment services.

With a board of 10 and a staff of 30, CHHOP has been doing outstanding work for over 30 years. But, like many nonprofits, the organization has had to face challenges and cope with the pandemic.

“The greatest challenge has been what nonprofits, businesses and households everywhere have had to face: The need to institute instantaneous change in how we operate,” said Executive Director, Cynthia Knox.  “For CHHOP, that meant immediately instituting rigorous Covid-19 and social distancing protocols at Jan Peek House to protect clients and staff.  There is no congregating in common areas of Jan Peek House, no congregate meals and staff are physically separated. We have limited the number of clients who can stay with us to ensure that we can maintain social distancing. We also had to make sure that staff had the tools to work remotely.”

At Fred’s Pantry, they had to pivot overnight from a weekly “choice” food pantry serving less than a hundred hungry people a week to a twice weekly “bag and go” pantry serving over 1,200 hungry people a week. They also operate two housing programs. Staff members who work with clients in those programs had to creatively address how they could safely stay connected to their clients to provide them with needed support and services.  

Fortunately for CHHOP, early in the pandemic, the Westchester Community Foundation assisted them with a technology grant to ensure that staff could work remotely. CHHOP was able to purchase laptops, scanners and a software license for its finance department that enabled them to continue to operate efficiently even when staff was offsite.   

When asked if they have any advice for other nonprofits based on their experience, Knox said: “Don’t be afraid to make necessary change. We live in unprecedented times that demand creativity and accountability. We may not always get it ‘right’ but we won’t know what can be until we try.”
Lucille Geraci-Miranda, M.P.A. is President and Founder of Geranda Projects – Management Consulting for Nonprofits. Read more about her services at:
To request that your nonprofit be featured in this newsletter, please contact Lynn Amos at
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The Chamber’s Nonprofit Committee provides meaningful opportunities for nonprofit staff, managers and board members to come together to collaborate, and embrace the importance of growth and sustainability. The Committee serves as a resource for ongoing professional development and as a forum for sharing best practices.

Committee Chairperson
Lucille Geraci-Miranda
Geranda Projects

Committee Members
Lynn Amos, Fyne Lyne Ventures
Ivy Fairchild, Landmark Consultants
Chereese Jervis-Hill, Events To Remember
Tim Warn, Civic Member
Justin Wingenroth, The Dance Conservatory