Fundraising and coronavirus – update #1

Like everyone else, we at ChangeStar have been adjusting to the big changes in our personal and working lives brought about by the coronavirus crisis. We’ve also been trying to find the most effective ways to play a useful role during the crisis to people and organisations who might need our help.

This post is the first in a series – probably monthly – to try to take stock of the situation for anyone involved in the world of fundraising, politics and social change, and offer some assistance and ideas.

These ideas and types of assistance will change as the situation develops, but please get in touch with us at if there is anything we can help you with that we have not set out in these posts. We’d really like to help if we can.

The short term – readjustment
In the last couple of weeks, charities and non-profits have felt the devastating impact of coronavirus in different ways – for some, it is on their services, for others it’s on their fundraising activities and sources of income, and for many it’s a combination of these and other impacts.

The immediate reaction of many after assessing these impacts has been to launch emergency appeals, asking for financial support to help bridge the significant income gaps that have been left, and help them continue or increase the resourcing of their services during the crisis.

This short-term response of informing supporters and the public of the impact of coronavirus on your charity and its beneficiaries is of course sensible, as is reviewing your communications for the coming weeks and months to ensure they are appropriate in the current climate.

An emergency appeal is appropriate if it is authentic and if your charity can genuinely show that its work and its beneficiaries will be significantly affected by the crisis. Make it genuine – don’t just make it an exercise in bandwagon jumping. And if you are going to send an emergency appeal – get it out as soon as possible. Time is of the essence.

The medium term – prioritisation
It is difficult to see a great deal further than the short term in the coronavirus crisis, as our lives and work, and those of our supporters and beneficiaries, are so strongly affected by the ever-developing nature of the situation.

We would suggest a couple of things though:

  • Get your team together on a regular basis – weekly or even daily – to evaluate where the crisis seems to be heading and how this impacts on your work and your supporters’ lives and feelings. Adjust your communications and strategies day by day in the light of this. Don’t stay wedded to an idea or activity just because you’ve nearly got it completed.
  • Keep on fundraising – one thing you do need to do though is keep fundraising and keep asking. People’s priorities may be changing over time, but you have to continue fundraising or you won’t raise more funds! So, stay strong and try to keep committed to your fundraising activities as much as you possibly can.
  • Prioritise your activities – look again at your yearplan of fundraising activity. If you’ve just sent an emergency cash appeal, what should come next? In many cases, the request for a one-off gift might be followed most logically by a request for ongoing monthly support (or increased monthly support for existing DD contacts), to help the organisation build up its resilience and ability to continue its work as the coronavirus progresses and once it has (hopefully) subsided. This is an issue that will have a long-term impact on charities and their beneficiaries so the DD conversion/upgrade argument of ‘building the long-term foundations’ would work well here.
  • Keep your supporters informed – your supporters will be unsure and concerned about the impact of coronavirus on your work and its impact on your beneficiaries. Keep them informed and keep telling them how you’re helping, even in these difficult times. Show the innovative ways you are still helping beneficiaries, how you’re adapting to the changing demands, that you’re (hopefully) still going – and therefore that you still need funds. Other areas of society have temporarily shut down, but it would be good to remind supporters you haven’t!

Offer of help to review your work during coronavirus
We have advertised this offer on social media already and will do it again now – if you would find it useful to have a chat about where you’re at with your fundraising (or any other work) and how to adjust and take it forward during this exceptional period, including the role of any emergency appeals, we’d be very happy to do this with you at no cost and with no obligation to use our services.

We have helped a number of organisations to do this in recent weeks, and wanted to make our input available to you if you needed it.

If you think this might be of help, please do email me to set up a time to speak or give me a call when it suits you on 01273 964018.

Next blog post coming soon
We hope this initial article has been of use – please let us know if there are any questions you would like us to consider in the next one. We’ll be back with some further reflections and ideas soon.

With best wishes and strength to you, your teams and your families.

Richard and the team at ChangeStar