Jane Galloway analyses the impact of the current pandemic on community fundraising.
Covid 19 changed our way of living almost overnight, and it has certainly affected absolutely everything to do with fundraising. It is hard to miss the headline news about the drop in charity income, with the government releasing new funds in response, grant makers relaxing their application processes, and the Charity Commission producing extensive guidance on how charities can survive.
We may well see several charities disappear completely, unable to adapt and survive with insufficient reserves to sustain them through this crisis. On the Fundraising.co.uk web site Jorge Hernando states, “I predict that in most countries Covid-19 will financially wipe out between 25-30% of non-profit organisations”.
Whilst the cloud that Covid19 brought has felt quite dark on occasions, there have been some silver linings. We have seen a massive public response in terms of donations and volunteering, with the NHS seeing some 750,000 applications from people wanting to volunteer their services and many retired personnel returning to help.
With the massive swell in community spirit and many people finding their social conscience, it will be interesting to see if this new camaraderie and neighbourly help will continue, boosting the longer term pool of volunteers. With the lockdown and people unable to travel, will we also see an increase in satisfaction with aspects such as where you live, or a feeling of belonging, in the next published Community life survey?
With the older generation embracing new communications technology, such as Facetime, WhatsApp, Zoom and House party etc, driven in part possibly by a desire to see their family and friends, this will provide an opportunity for community fundraisers to engage with these people on a more informed basis. As Joe Saxton indicated in his NFP Synergy blog this generation may even end up with more disposable income. Although money may well be diverted to help out family and friends in need, our motivators for wanting to help out in this global crises have been intensified and we have once again seen much evidence of that great British spirit that my late father often spoke about.
Charities have always historically relied on volunteers, particularly in relation to all aspects of community fundraising and they are very much ‘the life blood of a community fundraising programme’ especially for smaller organisations. It will be interesting to see if that figure of ‘38% of adults engage in volunteering at least once a year’ grows over this coming year and hopefully is sustained, at a level that will help some of the smaller charities survive.
We may even see an increase in DIY fundraisers, (sometime called In Aid of Fundraisers) these are people who independently raise funds for good causes, often without the charity knowing anything about it, until the money is received. Many people are organising weekly virtual fundraising events, such as Karaoke nights on House party, Music quizzes on Zoom and even in our street, we have a weekly operatic performance by a young musical theatre student, (social distanced of course) who is raising funds for the NHS.
Whilst in house ‘on behalf’ of fundraisers, (these are the people who have registered with the charities volunteer programme) may not be able to help out at the events charities had planned, many of these events are taking on a more virtual presence, which means anyone, anywhere can take part, increasing the reach considerably, with the added benefit of keeping costs very low indeed.
A lovely example is the Christian Aid week, an annual house to house collection, which for the first time in 60 years hasn’t take place, instead they have created ‘sofa fundraising’ with online quizzes, ecards and virtual collections, utilising their band of regular volunteers to help spread the word.
Many people will have more time on their hands, especially if they have been furloughed, even working at home has the advantage of cutting down on travelling time. Having said that, moving our Charity and Arts Development degree at the University of Chichester, online for our 30+ students has been quite challenging, this has given us the opportunity (another silver lining) to move towards being able to offer the degree as a remote learning opportunity.
Maybe the days of mass participation events are over, but this new fundraising landscape may mean more volunteers will be able to help, with more cost effective fundraising methods that will have a far greater reach than ever before.
 Community Fundraising, Rider, S DSC, 2019
 Community Life Survey 2017-2018 Statistical bulletin
 Community Fundraising 2nd Edition, Rider, S. Galloway, J. Chapter 9. DSC 2019
This article was originally on the University of Chichester website.
Jane Galloway is senior lecturer at the University of Chichester, teaching on the world’s first Charity and Arts Development degree.
Jane is also a freelance fundraiser and trainer in the Charity Sector, who along with other practitioners, wrote a chapter in the recently published Community Fundraising 2nd edition.