The Great LEEP Get Together.... Just kidding!

Every year, LEEP sends a group (or two) to the Minnesota State Fair... the Great Minnesota Get Together... the eat-everything-on-a-stick-and-get-lost-in-a-crowd-of-thousands-of-people-while-walking-through-heat-rain-and-humidity  most anticipated Special Event of the summer.  Now, instead of your typical family or group of friends, add in 10 individuals with disabilities and an 18 foot passenger van and you are cruisin' LEEP style! We love our jobs at LEEP, and love it when our activities fit the recreational needs of our participants. What could be bad about working in recreation? Things are always coming up roses here and running smoothly!... Just kidding.

This year at the State Fair, hundreds of loyal fans were disappointed to hear pop sensation Meghan Trainor would be cancelling her concert in the grandstand. Upon learning about her vocal hemorrhage, she released this statement to her fans...

Fans commented with sorrow, hurt, well wishes, and anger. After reading through some of the comments, I began to feel pity for the songstress.  I started to Google cancelled concerts in 2015, and was amazed at all of the entertainers putting their reputation on the line to save their talents for another day. Artists including Miranda Lambert, Sam Smith, Adele, Supertramp, Van Halen, Nickleback, Little Big Town, and Bjork have all had to cancel shows due to health related issues... and the lack of empathy from fans and ticket purchasers was shocking! Not.

I got to thinking about the humility and PR it must take for celebrities to dissappoint their mainstream of revenue and sustainability. This would be like us in nonprofits looking at our donors and saying, "Whoops! We got sick and didn't plan the annual donor appreciation night. Here's your sponsorship back, catch you next year!" ... Or something to that effect.

Then it really got me thinking... this happens to programmers All. The. Time! Anyone who has ever planned an event and unexpectedly had to cancel will tell you how awful it feels to be the bearer of bad news, and ultimate fun-sucker.  Not many are empathetic towards the event planners and programmers of the nonprofit world... even when they are probably the most excited for the program.

Do you remember being a kid and having your parents tell you, "We aren't mad... we are just really disappointed in you."? This is how programmers feel every time a program is cancelled or have to explain why an activity just won't work out. Now, there are laundry lists full of reasons for having to cancel an activity (weather, low registration, transportation issues, lack of funding, etc.) which may look like excuses, but I assure you... we are just as bummed as our event-goers.

The LEEP Top 5 Questions for Cancelled Programs

5. "Well... now what are we supposed to do?"

You could come help us call everyone and apologize for mother nature for dumping 6 inches of beautiful Minnesota snow on us!  Or maybe call the Timberwolves and see if they will refund $350 in handicap accessible seating?... that should go over well.

4. "I want my money back, how can I get it?"

We will be happy to re-fund you if our program is cancelled due to unforseen circumstances. Please be patient with us, as we are a small staffed office. We care about your finances (we know what it is like to be streched for cash... believe us!). How about crediting it towards another event you are interested in?

3. "Why do my favorite activities always get cancelled?"

This one is our least favorite question. We are so sorry your favorite activites have been cancelled sequentially. If it is low registration numbers, call your friends and get others on board! In order to provide staffing and supplies for activities, we need to make sure the program is helping others and serving our mission to help others socialize and recreate.

2. "What are we supposed to do about our staff? We had to plan for extra just for this event!"

Hey we get it! LEEP has staff who we call and cancel their shifts on them all too often. It sucks to tell college students who are just trying to break even each month that their only shift of the week just got the boot because our van is now in the shop, furnace is down, or other nonprofit-y problem. Look on the bright side... more free time!

1. "Will you offer this event again?"

Man... this is a tough one. After all the planning of coordinating transportation, buying tickets, scheduling staff and volunteers, buying supplies, and making dinner reservations it is hard to answer in the moment of a cancellation. LEEP tries so hard to keep favorite events accessible, and our members happy. Usually, we are so game for bringing back an event that was cancelled, but most of the time it is out of our hands. Definitely keep telling us you are interested, and we promise to think of our participants first when planning future programs.

 

So you see, programming is a lot like cancelling a big concert with packed stands, cheering fans, and thousands of dollars in ticket purchases to refund. OK... I know I am comparing apples to oranges here. By no means am I saying that a rainstorm and vocal hemmorhage are equal in severity when it comes to cancelling plans on our participants. Bottom line: cancelling plans is not fun for anyone, so before our lips are movin'  let's all take advice from Miss Trainor and have a little empathy for one another.