The list of economic casualties from the COVID-19 pandemic is growing daily, with beleaguered town centres still struggling to attract footfall and high street brands closing, the UK is bracing for unemployment levels and a recession not seen for generations. And whilst the UK has an unparalleled charity sector to support people with a range of financial, practical and emotional aid, many charities are now facing huge projected losses, putting additional pressure on those who turn to them for support.
Research from the Institute of Fundraising into the impact of the pandemic on charities shows respondents are expecting a 24% reduction in total income for the year, equating to a more than £12billion loss in total, significantly more than the £750million pledged by the Government to support charities in April.
Charities are facing a perfect storm due to the impact of lockdown, with many struggling to recoup losses from charity shops having to close, fundraising events being postponed and individual donations taking a hit as fears of unemployment looms, paired with unprecedented levels of requests for support.
MacMillan Cancer Support talked recently about how the organisation was able to be agile and tap into lockdown trends and adapt its approach to supporters to continue to fundraise, but still expects to lose around £95m in donations this year.
As Government regulations continue to change, and despite shops being able to reopen, low footfall and rules around social distancing mean charities need to look at new ways of securing income to ensure they can continue to offer the support service users need, and protect their long-term interests to avoid another freefall as the pandemic continues – with local lockdowns and rising cases indicating this will last into 2021.
As experts in the above article point out, charities need to start thinking like businesses and utilising their assets to maximise revenue streams. Are organisations maximising their digital channels to engage with new audiences, instead of relying on their existing support network, and if working from home becomes a new normal, can workspaces and offices be used for alternative means? How are charities communicating with their stakeholders and supporters? At the beginning of this year, many of us didn’t know how to use Zoom or Microsoft Teams, and now it’s the easiest and most cost-effective way to engage with an audience, if you have the right tools. Taking a step back and looking at what you can offer could generate some truly valuable insight.
Our client The Kirkwood approached us earlier in the year to look at how we could support them in diversifying their income streams. Our team, with experience in the charity and health sector, and in conjunction with our specialist digital division, worked closely with the Hospice’s stakeholders to identify innovative new ways of securing fundraising.