GLENDALE, CA — In the wake of COVID-19, YWCA Glendale, a 95 year old nonprofit providing safe shelter, supportive services and empowerment programming for women and children successfully transformed its 23rd Annual Legacy Luncheon into a new virtual event format, exceeding its original financial and supporter engagement goals. The event featured welcoming remarks from Congressman Adam Schiff that were followed by a series of curated conversations with 2020 Luncheon Heart & Excellence Honorees, facilitated by YWCA Glendale Chief Executive Officer, Tara Peterson.
The YWCA Glendale acted quickly in early March to postpone their April in person luncheon and awards ceremony for 250 attendees to June 11th. When the evolving health and safety guidelines indicated an in person gathering would not be possible, the executive team made the decision to keep the date, but shift the entire format to create a virtual opportunity for supporters to more deeply learn from the Luncheon honorees beyond the parameters of an acceptance speech. Through the course of the event’s transformation, the country grappled with the inequities laid bare by COVID-19, skyrocketing unemployment and nationwide protests demanding an end to police brutality and systemic racism. The YWCA Glendale’s event content and format evolved with these changes and conversation topics and driving questions were shaped to address the current moment.
On June 11th, the YWCA Glendale’s executive team produced a high quality, branded event, streamed to a private link for 180 attendees, that featured four core conversations: Community Building, Lessons Learned from Community Engagement and Philanthropy, Leadership and Innovation, and Social Justice and Social Change. Attendees also received a digital program book with honoree spotlights, an embedded tribute video, sponsor tribute ads and an invitation to participate in an online auction. Through inspiring and thoughtful conversations, attendees learned about new programs to advance housing solutions for our homeless neighbors during COVID-19, replicable models for low waste green school campuses, art interventions for healing and building community, prioritizing emotional recovery and mental health in health and racism pandemics, using technology to create tools for economic recovery and employment growth, leading with the heart when stepping into service and community investment work, and community and campus organizing to raise awareness of sexual violence, human trafficking and genocide and the policy work to ensure that these atrocities never happen again.
YWCA Glendale worked closely with its sponsors, ticket holders, and honorees to successfully retain financial investments and speaker commitments in the pivot to a virtual event. The executive team expanded its skill sets by training in new technology to build out a branded, elevated look and feel for the event that visually set it apart from zoom workshops and webinars rolled out during the pandemic. Through high touch communications, new technology capabilities and a mindfulness for the evolving public discourse throughout the event production process, YWCA Glendale exceeded its original financial targets, creating an experience for attendees that was responsive to the current moment, provided the connection and learning opportunities that the community had been longing for, and offered the nonprofit field with a powerful case study on how to successfully shift fundraising event formats during COVID-19.