Last month I wrote about the challenges facing charities during the coronavirus crisis, in particular the small charities that form the majority of Minerva’s clients.
Harold Wilson once said, “A week is a long time in politics” – to which we might now add “A month is a long time in a virus epidemic”.
One of the clear messages coming through, not only from charities in the UK but also in other parts of the Commonwealth and in foreign countries, is that too many charities are relying on too few different fundraising sources.
Recently I read a report by the Director of Fundraising of an American charity, bemoaning the fact that he had lost 25% of his charity’s $1 million annual income, owing to the fact that he had had to cancel an annual fundraising event because of the coronavirus epidemic. Whilst we may admire the fact that he could raise such a sum in the course of one event, his decision to have so many of his financial eggs in one basket is highly questionable.
In the UK, small charities have benefited during the epidemic from emergency funding grants which have paid for items of equipment specifically needed as a result of the crisis, and for costs which have to be met despite cuts in income. As yet, funders are largely declining to replace lost income – an area which is likely to have long-term consequences for many small charities relying for a substantial part of their income on fees for services or on the letting of property for community activities.
The message is clear: many charities have been caught on the hop by the coronavirus epidemic, and post-crisis fundraising re-assessment will be needed. The requirement to spread the fundraising effort – across trusts, individual donors, corporates, events, community fundraising – is nothing new, but is so often overlooked.
Rather than look back over missed opportunities, we should use the crisis as a chance to improve our fundraising scope and strategy so that we are better prepared for the next crisis – whatever that may be.