Statement About the Coronavirus

March 11

From an email NTEN CEO Amy Sample Ward sent attendees:

It’s been a busy day. I’ve been talking with community members, sponsors, and board members. Multiple times throughout the day, the full staff sat together to center our values and this community in some hard decisions.

The consensus on proceeding with 20NTC has shifted today in light of the World Health Organization declaring the coronavirus a pandemic. Organizations that hadn’t implemented a travel ban have now announced one. Given this development, it feels the responsible action to take is to cancel 20NTC.

We will issue refunds on individual registrations per our refund policy. No action is needed if you would like a refund. Many of you have very generously offered to waive part or even all of your registration as a way to support NTEN in the wake of this substantial financial hit — the NTC is 62% of NTEN’s annual budget. To be clear, providing registration refunds means that we have a significant financial hole to fill to pay for the conference contracts that we owe by not putting on the event. If you would like to donate your registration fee, please let us know by March 30 by completing this form. All donation receipts for tax-deductible donations and cancellations will be sent by April 30.

If you are a sponsor, exhibitor, speaker, or volunteer, we will follow up with information specific to you in the next few days.

Before I close, I want to acknowledge that some of NTEN’s most committed partners have made incredibly generous commitments to help us navigate this challenging financial time. Our deep gratitude to Microsoft, Google for Nonprofits, and EveryAction — their support means so much to this community!

Thank you for your understanding and support of the NTEN community.

March 10

From an email NTEN CEO Amy Sample Ward sent attendees:

The coronavirus continues to dominate the news, so I want to give you an update on NTEN’s decision to proceed with 20NTC.

We’ve said that we’re monitoring the situation, but I’d like to be a little clearer on what that means. Like you, we’re watching the news and listening to guidelines from the CDC.

We’re also speaking daily, sometimes a few times a day, with the Baltimore Convention Center, Visit Baltimore, and the five official hotels. Their recommendation is to proceed with the conference.

But most of all, we’re listening to the community. Some attendees have shared understandable concerns on social media and in the community forum. But we’ve also received many private emails from attendees and exhibitors encouraging us not to cancel. There have been individual cancellations, but we’re not seeing a dramatic increase compared with past years. Additionally, people continue to register for the conference even though it’s at a higher last-minute rate.

If you’re concerned about receiving the full NTC experience, there are 2,000 people registered, over 150 sessions, and 125 exhibitors have confirmed their booths. Attendees continue to suggest Birds of a Feather tables and post restaurants for the Dine Arounds. Excitement is tempered by the news, but there is still tremendous excitement.

It’s the impossibility of capturing that excitement that led us to no longer offer an online component. We’ve never been able to capture the NTC experience in a way that viewers or we were delighted with. I know there’s a renewed interest in a virtual option for this year, but it’s not something we can successfully offer.

While the news changes quickly, NTEN’s values don’t. I measure our decision to proceed against how well we’re honoring those values. Likewise, I understand you have to make the decision you feel is right for both your health and your values.

As always, thank you for being part of the NTEN community.

March 3

From an email NTEN CEO Amy Sample Ward sent attendees:

I recorded a video last week stating that the conference is proceeding. In the days since I made that video, there haven’t been any developments that have me reconsidering that decision.

While there are endless news stories, the CDC guidelines have been consistent since the beginning. I realize that the situation today may be different next month or even tomorrow. But we’re making decisions informed by the information we have and following the primary recommendation from the CDC: do not panic.

I’m aware other conferences have canceled. But generally, those are larger and include many more international attendees. And while some companies are pausing employee trips, domestic air travel has not been restricted.

We’re coordinating with the Baltimore Convention Center to provide hand sanitizing stations and tissues throughout the conference area. And everyone is encouraged to step up their handwashing technique.

Ultimately, attending is a personal decision you have to make. If you decide not to attend, your registration can be transferred for free to anyone, and we can help facilitate that.

Furthermore, we’ve extended the date to request a refund to March 17. Typically the deadline is a month out from the conference. But we recognize that these are unique circumstances, and some attendees have reasons that prevent them from traveling and participating. So we’re offering attendees the flexibility to make their decision to attend based on the latest information.

Finally, while we have received questions about the coronavirus and a few cancellations, most attendees, exhibitors, and sponsors are still planning to attend. Each year, there are cancellations, and this year is no exception. But we’re not seeing cancelations out of line with what we’ve seen in past years. The message is clear. Everyone is excited to be in Baltimore, and we’ll do our best to provide an exciting and healthy NTC for you.

If you have any questions, please feel free to email us and we’ll be happy to help you.

February 28