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COVID-19 Lockdown Reflection – Fundraising for The Voluntary Sector

Posted by Nicholas Ogden

On 23 March 2020 the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson gave a televised address that brought in widespread lockdown measures. Four months on from that, the UK has now found itself in a position where some are returning to work, organisations are exploring flexible working measures more than ever before, and the fundraising and voluntary sector had an urgent surge in demand.

Here is a brief reflection of how the fundraising landscape has changed, and the effects of the pandemic on future giving.

History has shown that in times of crisis people often pull together to become their best selves, this was reflected by the March 2020 recruitment for NHS Volunteers to help COVID-19 being suspended as more than three times the expected number of people signed up. These responses were impressive and Ruth May, Chief Nursing Officer for England was “absolutely bowled over” by this.

During Lockdown 

Lockdown and self-isolation have enabled people to think about vulnerable people and causes in their communities. Hopefully, in turn this awareness and spirit will continue post COVID-19 to benefit the voluntary sector.

Captain Sir Thomas Moore took donations in the run up to his 100th Birthday, in aid of the NHS Charities Together Covid-19 Urgent Appeal. His efforts were a beacon of hope despite everyone’s hardships. With a target of raising £500,000, he had phenomenally raised almost £38million with over 1.5million donations, breaking records on JustGiving, the global online platform for charitable giving.

However, research from Charity Aid Foundation found that although sentiment to give was high, 12% of Charities did not have the digital technology in place to collect funds online. As cash remains the most common way to give to charity (53%), many not-for-profit organisations who already had digital donation platforms in place, found a spike during the March and April months of 2020 found a spike in digital donations, whilst some reported a drop in donations due to lack of technical resources.

Revolut  has revealed figures highlighting a swell in charitable giving among UK consumers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The average amount given through Revolut Donations increased across all age groups during lockdown, by an average of 59%. Those in older age brackets gave significantly more than they did prior to lockdown, with the biggest rise seen in the 50+ age group, where donation amounts soared by 147%. Those aged 41-45 increased their average donation amount by 91% and those between 46-50 by 75%.

But it wasn’t just older consumers who gave more to charity during lockdown, Gen Z increased donation amounts by an average of 13%, those aged 26-30 by 8% and those aged 31-35 by 23%.

Post-Pandemic 

Post COVID-19 we should all continue to support vulnerable people and causes in our communities. Charities will learn a lot from this period to catalyse their efforts going forward.

With 18% or charities reporting that they see the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity to modernise into newer technical resources, many are now accelerating their plans to shift their fundraising towards online efforts

Without doubt, this lockdown has hit many financially, but research from Opinium tells us that many charitable supporters encouragingly will be providing the same level or more support going forward once lockdown is lifted and life starts to return to normality. Of those that are donating more than usual currently, 12% say they will donate more money to charity when they start to return to normality, while three in four (76%) will continue donating at the same level that they are currently. Similarly, of those that are donating more than usual, one in five (20%) say they will do this more when things return to normal, while 70% will continue to donate at their current level.

Kate Whiffen, Senior Research Manager at Opinium Research commented:

Charities are currently going through some challenging times due to Covid-19... Knowing how charities can adapt and move forward in these times is key. We have heard some very positive stories from the public as to what makes them support more now and what would do in the future, but it’s the challenge of communicating and educating the long term impact Covid-19 will have on the charity sector and learning from new initiatives that have been successful that would work in the future.

Charities will need to think of innovative ways of Marketing to support their fundraising efforts, with many events being cancelled, and cash donations becoming less regular,  smaller charities have had a stronger recovery than the larger charities, which have been more greatly affected due to those wider event cancellations.

Jo Barnett, Executive Director at Virgin Money Giving said: "Many charities have been impacted hard with reduced income during COVID-19...We’ve seen some fantastic ways people have been raising money for charity during lockdown, and there are lots of ways people are able to fundraise as we emerge from lockdown when the traditional routes are still not open to them. From virtual pub quizzes, running 5k in your back garden or taking part in a virtual 50k bike ride, we encourage people to continue to do what they can do to raise money to support the charities close to their hearts."

To conclude, this period has been a pressing but eye-opening time for many organisations and people alike. NFP teams are exploring alternatives to raise funds, social media has seen a surge in charitable cause posts. Now more than ever, those who were not already regularly donating are now supporting causes closer to home and those affected by the pandemic. Who knows what else is to come in the second half of this year? However, let’s continue to pull our efforts together to help the most vulnerable in the hardest times.

If you are looking for ideas or like to share your thoughts on this, please give Nicholas Ogden a call on 020 7269 6338 or email me nicholas.ogden@pro-recruitment.co.uk

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