So it’s goodbye to Brussels, but what are the implications for fundraising? Impacts on charities will vary, depending on how they raise their money. However, if the Remain campaign’s predictions are accurate, they will be dramatic and far reaching.
What we know for certain is that EU funding (such as ESF, ERDF and various research funds) will disappear. The timescales for this are still unclear, although it is likely that existing commitments will be honoured in the short term. Brexit campaigners have pledged to protect some EU payments until 2020, but as they are not in government, in practice the jury is still out on this.
More clear is the impact on individual giving, which is likely to be severe, due to the potential falls in Sterling and the stock market, which will affect pensions, investments and – crucially – how donors feel, as sentiment is key. There may well be a loss of consumer confidence, as in the last recession, so if your charity relies heavily on cash appeals and discretionary donations, you may well be hit hard. Probably less affected will be those charities with a stronger base of committed givers. They are likely to keep giving unless their jobs disappear or their pensions are badly hit.
If the Remain prediction of a fall in house prices comes true (and obviously we will not know for some time), this will also have a knock-on effect on legacy values, so your forecasting needs to err on the side of caution.
For charities that rely significantly on corporate partnerships, the question is whether these are companies that may decide to downsize or relocate to the EU as a result of Brexit. In most cases, the impact will not be immediate, so any existing partnerships will not be directly affected in the short term. However, it is likely to impact on future corporate relationships, so longer term budgeting needs to be conservative.
Actions to take
So what should you do now on Brexit day one? The key action is to review your fundraising strategy and identify the likely impact on each income stream in the short, medium and longer terms. We are in unchartered territory, so you should probably consider a range of scenarios, from no impact to severe.
On the brighter side, it looks like we will not have to face the new EU general data protection regulations, although it looks like this will be offset by increased home-grown regulation of fundraising.
Another bonus may be that the media will be so fixated on the fallout from Brexit that we may avoid further tabloid attacks on fundraising. Let’s hope so, because we are all going to need to take something positive from this.
Welcome to the new era!