Coronavirus Contingencies: Staying Engaged With Your Members
The impact of COVID-19 has been deep and broad globally. Challenging times often call for creative solutions as we collectively work for safe, healthy contingencies and responses.
Social distancing doesn’t have to mean a communications shutdown; keeping the conversations going is, in fact, encouraged. These recommendations are a good place to start as you evaluate and react to the impact of Coronavirus on your Local Group.
Meetings and Conferences
In-person meetings are discouraged, but if your ExComm must meet to conduct Local Group business, consider web-conferencing and other online tools. Besides Facebook Live, here are eight free web-conferencing options.
Organizations are adjusting events for attendee safety, or to limit exposure and spread of COVID-19, or for liability concerns — often for all of the above. For Mensa’s events (Regional Gatherings, test sessions, public meet-ups, game nights), the first critical decision, of course, is whether to hold/postpone or cancel the event. Local/state government websites, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, offer good guidance for that decision. But then new decisions follow.
Policy and procedure
If your event is canceled, answer what — if any — changes are needed for your refund/cancellation policy? Likewise, vendor/speaker contracts should be reviewed for cancellation clauses and fees. Besides cancellation clauses/fees, there are questions on hotel contracts:
- Are there incremental due dates for payments? Plus, the closer to the event, the more you may pay to cancel.
- Is there a clause related to postponing? Many current contracts exclude penalties if you reschedule within the year.
- Is there an attrition clause for sleeping rooms? This dictates how many rooms must be reserved in the block without being charged for the balance — a significant financial consideration if an event continues but incurs cancellations.
Attendee experience for events that continue
For Hospitality, will changes reduce risks (especially on food service) or will the hotel implement changes? For Registration, should volunteers wear gloves to handle badges/materials and can hand sanitizer be available? For Games rooms, how will players mutually handle games safely? Given current information, if you believe attendees will have a poor experience, should you consider canceling, postponing, or holding a virtual event? (Check free meeting software, includes Google Hangout, Slack, and Skype, and the virtual recommendations below.)
With decisions made, you’re ready to communicate. How and what you communicate is vitally important. Get the details to your attendees and potential attendees in concise, need-to-know language, then be available for questions. Don’t forget to update your calendars locally and nationally.
Your RVC is a good resource, as is Local Group Services Manager Becky Folger.
Contact Your RVC With Governance Questions
Local Group leaders with governance questions or issues regarding upcoming meetings or elections should contact their Regional Vice Chair. As the chief executive for Local Groups in their region, RVCs have authority to grant exemptions or appoint officers, should the need arise.
This is a perfect time to ramp up your Mensa Connect community! Poll your members. Ask about something positive they’ve discovered during this crisis. Your book club could hold a virtual discussion or wine SIG could evaluate selections online. Start posting and gauge the response.
Create Your Own Local Group Virtual Events
For example, how about a long-distance movie night, watch party, or game night:
- Netflix Party is a Google Chrome extension to watch Netflix offerings with friends online. It synchronizes video playback and adds group chat to accompany your favorite shows.
- Facebook’s Watch Party allows you to watch any public videos on Facebook in real time with a group of your friends. Watch parties may be created from a news feed or timeline, in a group, on a Page, or from any video you’re watching. Keep in mind that you’ll need to be an admin or editor to start a watch party on a Page.
- Your game night can go virtual, too, with online platforms that allow for multiple players. (And don’t forget the free games hosted on our website.)
Mensa Cares! and Community Service
Have some time on your hands? Did your community service project get canceled or postponed? Your community service doesn’t have to be in person, so check out these virtual community service ideas from Volunteer Match, Operation Warm, Live Generously, and Feeding America.
Share Your Own Creative Solutions
We hope you find the resources above helpful, but if your Local Group has discovered a creative way to connect during the pandemic, we want to hear about it! We’re looking to harness the power of our community and croud-source solutions to assist groups any way we can. 50,000 heads are better than one, after all.