It is said that “Necessity is the Mother of Invention,” and that is how our virtual Grant Awards Night and Annual Meeting came about.
On March 15th, the CDC issued guidance to postpone or cancel events of more than 50 people, which prompted us to reconsider our plans for our May 7th event at Berry Creek Country Club. I convened a video conference with the Committee Chairs to brainstorm alternatives. As you know, Grant Awards Night is the culmination of our year’s work. At this event, we distribute our donations, as grants, to local nonprofits. And with the impact of COVID-19, it was never more important to fund their projects.
Within a week, the Board approved moving our event to June 4th, with the hope that with this extra time, we could still meet in person. We also formulated a “Plan B,” which was to conduct our meeting via YouTube, if necessary. By the end of April, Berry Creek Country Club announced that they were canceling all events. We now had no choice but to launch “Plan B” and go virtual.
All SoS committees came together to make this happen. Membership confirmed e-Ballot requirements, Technology created easy to use e-Ballots and set up links to YouTube, and Grants contacted the finalists to provide guidelines for creating 4-minute videos about their projects. Communications notified the press of our plans, and Compliance created procedures for signing contracts and distributing checks to grant recipients. Our Nominations Chair collected photos of our new Board of Directors as a way to introduce them during the Annual Meeting portion of the event. And on May 20th, Ginny Senchak, Karron Wilson, Lexi Elliott, and I met Rob Hipp in his studio to videotape our first ever virtual Grant Awards Night / Annual Meeting.
Our event went live at 5 pm on June 4th! SoS members had four days to watch the presentations on YouTube and submit their ballots. The results were tallied and announced on June 12th. In total 430 votes were cast and 61% of our members voted. Feedback from members has been incredibly positive, so we are considering whether to integrate this format into future Grant Award nights to extend our reach to members who might not be able to attend in person.
It took a lot of teamwork to make this event happen. And as I look back, I realize what an honor it was to work with an amazing group of resourceful women who volunteered their skills and knowledge to pull it off successfully. Today, $210,000 of our collective donations have been distributed and are at work in our Georgetown community. Once again, Seeds of Strength women have come together to make a difference!