The cost of living crisis is upon us!  But what steps should small charities be taking?

Here are some ideas:

  1. Costs
  • When did you last put domestic cleaning, vehicle servicing/maintenance, stationary supply or utilities out to tender? Now is the time to find out whether you are getting the best value for money.
  • How much is your Executive Team paid? The Charity Commission has been investigating One Young World and asking why it has paid its founder and CEO £427,994 (20% of its total income) in the 18 months to June 2021; and why her daughter – also a senior executive in the charity – was paid £170,000 during the same period. If you have highly paid executives, are they justifying their salaries ? And are those salaries so high as to put off donors who really want to fund your work for your beneficiaries?
  1. Fundraising priorities
  • Fundraising, as has often been pointed out, is primarily about creating relationships. Part of the relationship with a funder is not just to thank them for their support, but to invite them to your charity, entertain them and show them the activities and equipment supported by their grants. Such visits cost time and money, so many Trustee Boards shy away from them, especially in an economic downturn. But economic downturns create a challenging fundraising situation where nurturing of donors is more, not less, important. This is not an area to cut costs/activity.
  • In a cost of living crisis, more charities want more grants – but grant givers frequently have less to give, owing to reduced income from their investments. So, far from “bunkering down”, small charities need to be exploring new areas of fundraising and perhaps even taking on new staff and/or volunteers to carry out research and access new opportunities.
  • Don’t forget that your individual donors are suffering from the cost of living crisis too ! Now is the time to ensure they are happy, for example:
  1. Ask them to a “thank-you” event
  2. Find out how the cost of living crisis is affecting them. This will inform your next move – is this the right time to ask for a further donation?
  3. Suggest ways of increasing their giving which won’t cost them more now, eg. checking that gift aid is being claimed on their donations; or suggesting the possibility of a legacy in their Will.

The cost of living crisis won’t be with us forever. But as long as it lasts, we should regard it as a challenge to improve our fundraising, reduce our costs and make sure that our charity is honed and ready for the good times ahead, whenever they arrive !