St Alfege, Greenwich
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Avoid hasty decisions and think holistically, across fundraising, marketing and communications. Develop a charity-wide response.
Look after your staff and volunteers. All decisions must have this as the primary consideration.
Keep funders informed and if you need to change/delay your plans for their grant, check it with them first. You’re likely to find them sympathetic and they’ll be pleased that you are being proactive.
Fundraising events or collections are likely to be impacted by social distancing advice. For cancelled activities, be clear and proactive. Are you postponing or cancelling? For ticketed events, will you be returning ticket payments? If those coming are supporters, could you ask them to consider converting it into a donation? If so, then Gift Aid will apply. You may also find that some may give an extra donation on top. They will be sympathetic to your difficulties.
Keep communicating with supporters. They are your supporters and part of the team trying to get the charity through this difficult time. So many will respond to a sensitively worded appeal. If your charity is responding to meet new needs of those affected by coronavirus, then how best can you share this with supporters?
Share images or good news. If you really feel that with so much economic pressure, it isn’t appropriate to seek funds from individuals, there is an opportunity, in these uncertain times, to share images or good news about your organisation and its work with people who share your values.
Be pragmatic: some donors may shift their support in the short term to help projects they wouldn’t normally fund. In the longer term the amount of funding available from trusts and foundations is likely to be less, with the economic impact on investments.
Use the next few months for detailed planning. So often busy charities feel they don’t have time to reflect and plan. Income will be down, so readjust your forecasts and look for ways of minimising risk in the short term, and for new opportunities, medium and long term.
Be creative: you may not be able to meet in person, but you could arrange video calls to keep your project alive (but make sure you test the technology first).
Resist advice to ‘shelve’ projects entirely, wherever possible. You may need to move things onto the ‘slow burner’ but once a project or campaign gets pulled completely, it rarely gets off the ground again.
Readjust your focus: if your project has to go ahead, focus on laying the foundations for fundraising, including preparing your case for support and strategic development. Trust research and bid writing can also be done from home.