People fundraising in the UK before Covid-19
People fundraising in the UK before Covid-19

Adapting your public fundraising for the Covid-19 crisis

As countries went into lockdown to abide by social distancing rules and reduce the spread of Covid-19, charities had to cancel their activities and fundraising programmes.

Many of us are working from home, staff have been furloughed and programmes have had to be adapted. But the biggest disruption has been to raising funds from the public.

Charities hit hard as public donations drop

Traditional fundraising events, such as marathons or coffee mornings, are no longer allowed because of social distancing and charity shops have closed. Charities will lose 48% of their public fundraising because of the crisis, according to the Institute of Fundraising.

Our latest survey found that 50 out of 116 organisations won’t survive longer than six months without additional funding. Public fundraising gives charities unrestricted income that enables them to cover their core running costs, which they may not be able to fully recover through restricted grants.

Oxfam raises around £9million per month from their charity shops and, as a result of this huge drop in income, has had to furlough 30% of its staff. Given that international development organisations earn 31% of their income from public fundraising, this loss of funds will have a major repercussions on the sector and our ability to respond to the crisis.

Subscribe to our newsletter

Our weekly email newsletter, Network News, is an indispensable weekly digest of the latest updates on funding, jobs, resources, news and learning opportunities in the international development sector.

Get Network News

Last month, the UK government announced a £750million fund to support charities, but organisations that work internationally aren’t able to access this funding. So NGOs have to innovate in their public fundraising if they want to survive. Here are some ideas and examples for your organisation.

Don’t cancel your campaign, adapt it

Social distancing has not stopped the British public’s generosity. There are so many examples of people running marathons in their gardens or climbing mountains by going up and down their stairs.

The 2.6 Challenge was launched last month as a way for the public to support and raise money for charities during these difficult times, replacing activities like marathons. People set up their own fundraising page for their challenge and share it on social media to raise money for their chosen charities, encouraging others do the same. The challenge can be anything as long as it has the number 26 in it. Examples include a balcony marathon challenge by three generations of a family, baking cupcakes, Zoom musicals, holding a plank for 2.6 minutes and a dog fetching a ball 26 times.

Design a fundraising challenge around homelife

Charities are taking advantage of services that have closed, such as hairdressers. Plan International UK has asked their supporters to join them for the home hairstyle challenge, where parents get a haircut from their children and ask friends to sponsor them or donate the cost they would normally spend on a haircut to the NGO. Macmillan has also ramped up its Brave the Shave campaign.

Run for Heroes tapped into the running trend with #Run5Donate5Challenge5, where the public are encouraged to raise money for the NHS by running five kilometres, donating £5 and then nominating five friends to do the same. This quickly snowballed and has now raised over £5million.

Take advantage of celebrities staying at home

With music tours and filming cancelled for the foreseeable future, celebrities have been forced into lockdown, are keen to find ways to give back and want to stay relevant. Comic Relief and Children in Need raised over £70million through their Big Night In, where a host of celebrities appeared on the BBC last month. Global Citizen held One World Together, a concert with Lady Gaga and other singers, that raised $127million for the World Health Organisation.

Save the Children paired up with celebrities for its #savewithstories campaign, where celebrities read out children’s stories on the organisation’s Instagram. Celebrities so far include the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Kate Winslet and Jude Law.

Don’t give up

It’s going to be a bumpy few years for charities. Demand for their services is going to increase while they are going to be under intense financial pressure. But don’t give up. The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the UK public’s goodwill and strength, with people such as Captain Tom Moore raising incredible amounts of money for the charities they support.

Civil society organisations have shown their worth by stepping in when governments haven’t been able to. The public recognises this by continuing to raise money for the important causes these organisation work on.