Not surprisingly, some charities are trying new approaches to fundraising to plug the income gap. Matt Saunders, founder of Charity Box, a digital consultancy specialising in the charity sector, says: “Some responded quickly and launched emergency appeals, putting resources into comms with supporters to ask for the additional support and stabilise their income. Others were slower off the mark and went for grant funding.”
What seems clear is that the more tech-savvy charities have been better able to weather the storm, moving quickly to facilitate remote working by staff and exploring novel ideas to online fundraising, Saunders explains. Many are looking to diversify their income through a blend of online fundraising challenges, recurring monthly donations and enhancements to their websites and comms to support the move online.
He adds: “We’ve seen charities yield great successes so expect to see 'virtual’ events become a bigger part of online fundraising strategy in the future, as the pandemic has helped prove their value.”
The campaign that called on people to “Run 5, Donate 5, Nominate 5” raised over £30m for Run For Heroes, although some speculate that donors may be coming to the end of their goodwill with these kinds of initiatives.
Although it may have been forced upon them out of necessity, there are signs that the pandemic has helped create a shift in mindset towards digital, data management and the potential of online fundraising and payment systems, says Saunders. “We’ve observed an up-tick in the number of fundraising providers that handle digital payments – anecdotally more people have been asking about text giving and other means of taking donations ‘on the go’.”
East Midlands-based charity St Barnabas Hospice saw income from its charity shops and face-to-face events decimate during lockdown. Veronica McBain, head of marketing and fundraising, says despite widespread fear of digitalisation within the hospice sector, the ability to adapt has been key to survival. She also agrees that the pandemic has forced a lot of charities to bite the digital bullet, possibly ahead of time.
“As an organisation, we have long embraced technology and already had rather a lot of appeals and fundraising events that our supporters could join in with by using online payments and donations,” McBain says. The option to accept both online and frictionless payments will have allowed many to survive, she adds. “The future seems to be arriving faster thanks to this disrupted year and perhaps that’s one of the positives we can take from the overall picture this year.”
A case in point is the crisis appeal the charity launched, which raised around £40,000. The charity has also rolled out a series of virtual challenge events, the most successful of which was ‘On Yer Bike’, which had raised £13,000 on JustGiving by the end of August as well as a significant amount offline.