Fundraising in a pandemic
These are tough times for charities, with many loosing income from some of their tried and trusted methods as events and activities are cancelled, shops closed and trying to communicate with companies and individuals who are distracted by the crisis trying to keep their own heads above water. There are a number of things that charities should be thinking about to maintain income in turbulent times?
1. Review your strategy
Firstly, it is important to review your plans for this year and adjust targets and budgets accordingly. Be realistic. Cut costs where you can and try to maintain incomes streams that are not directly impacted. Is there anything new that you can be doing now that will start to raise some income now but become a stronger stream for the coming years.
2. Talk to your Donors
Try to communicate with your donors and funders about the impact on your charity and on your beneficiaries. They are all aware of the emergency and some will be happy to help if presented with a clear and compelling ask.
3. Identify crisis funds
Some sources of income, such as corporates as well as trusts and foundations, have opened special funds and may be open to a request for extra help, especially if your charity can show that it or its beneficiaries have been especially affected by the crisis. Ensure you state your case and try to use facts and figures to evidence what you are doing and why – how your help has changed, the costs of providing services in a different way, new beneficiaries, etc. . There will be many such appeals, so keep to the facts and, where you can, try to quantify the need. Often, your current and past supporters offer your best chance of success when looking for support in the crisis. Therefore, check your records and phone or email them now to update them on what you are doing, how you are operating and see what help from them may be possible.
4. Look out for government support
A range of emergency funding and support has been announced – find out what you can apply for now and also in the future. Also ensure your organisations is making the most of all the business grants and loans available too.
5. Consider an emergency appeal
If your charity or beneficiaries will be hard hit, consider making an emergency appeal. This could be used with all your income streams, such as individual donors, companies, trusts etc. Use a range of channels to communicate it and do it sooner rather than later. There will be many such appeals going out and donors may become immune to these after a time. Focus on who your beneficiaries are and if these have changed e.g. for some it’s the front-line staff who are delivering services who may be the focus of the appeal and your comms.
6. Don’t forget the medium and long term too
In a crisis, it is easy to lose perspective. While the current situation may well go on for some months, the danger is that medium-term or long-term impact could be neglected. So don’t spend all your time, energy and capacity worrying about the short term. You still need to maintain other income streams, such as developing major gifts, applying to the National Lottery, promoting gifts in wills, etc. Use this time wisely to plan for the medium and longer term.
7. Maintain fundraising capacity
Avoid, where at all possible, fundraising staff being furloughed. It’s essential for people to be keeping in touch with donors, supporters and funders, providing updated information about what you are doing and encouraging them to support you. Another key risk to fundraising activity is if staff go off sick or whole teams are impacted by illness or are diverted to other activities. If this is the case, how will you maintain your fundraising? Can you bring in volunteers or will you need some interim support to keep things moving? The biggest risk is that activities grind to a halt, which will impact on your income down the line. Investing in additional capacity when you need to avoids a drop in income and helps ensure your sustainability.
8. Take Advice
If you need advice or support about fundraising in the crisis or to set up a new way of working/adapt an existing one, develop a new income stream or develop a new donor programme, please get in touch on 07803 170283 or email on firstname.lastname@example.org to arrange a free chat about what you can and should be doing to protect and develop your income.