Since its founding in 2015, the Association of Women in Events has focused on gender equality and diversity in the events industry. The mission will continue, but the association will not. The organization has announced that it will disband as a traditional 501(c)(3) association and move to an online community model.
The change is a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has drawn meeting and events to a standstill and put millions out of work. A statement announcing the change states that AWE’s traditional association model, funded by membership dues, live events, partnerships, and supplier sponsorships, is “not fair or sustainable in this new normal.”
Effective May 1, AWE will refund membership dues paid after January 1, 2020, prorated through April; release partners and sponsors from their 2020 commitments; eliminate all overhead expenses; dissolve the formal infrastructure; and sunset the legal association.
“Many of our members have been laid off, furloughed, terminated, or have taken a salary reduction,” AWE’s announcement states. “The loss of live event revenues has financially devastated our partners and sponsors. We believe it would be irresponsible for AWE to hold our community to their financial commitments when the current unprecedented circumstances would not permit us to deliver on their expected AWE’s value proposition.”
AWE’s contributions to the meetings industry have included the Events Industry Sexual Harassment Task Force and an annual awards program recognizing trailblazers and influencers focused on gender equality in the meetings industry. The association held its second face-to-face leadership conference, Elevate!, in early March.
The new online community will be online at Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. The group’s next webcast is April 30 at 2 p.m. ET with Dr. Taunya Lowe speaking on “How to Stay in Action, Even in Your PJs.”