The impact of coronavirus means that public appeals and fundraising are now being undertaken for causes well beyond traditional charity or not-for-profit community groups. This is both a challenge and a healthy sign for charity fundraisers.
The rapid and all-encompassing affect of the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown means not only that all charities are affected at the same time, but so too are many others.
Charities are appealing for funds, in many cases, simply to survive and continue providing their services. But they are appealing alongside other groups, including:
- individuals needing financial support
- families fundraising in memory of a loved way who has died as a result of the virus
- families fundraising to pay the funeral of a loved one
- commercial businesses that don’t qualify for the government’s financial aid or that can’t survive until that support arrives
This situation has never arisen before in the UK in most fundraisers’ experience. For multiple charities having to launch emergency appeals at the same time for the same reason is unusual enough, but to launch those alongside families, individuals and businesses fundraising for themselves is simply unheard of in the UK.
These additional appeals might make it harder for traditional charities to fundraise: how can you choose between a charity and a compelling urgent appeal by a local business that you have bought from for years?
There are so many industries and sectors that are in need. For example, as well as arts charities like the Royal Albert Hall and The Old Vic facing urgent financial support:
Old Vic theatre is in 'seriously perilous' position, warns Matthew Warchus: https://t.co/k0yBHZq7Tu
— Howard Lake (@howardlake) May 13, 2020
supporters of the arts might be equally attracted to other organisations, venues and events in the live music and festival sector, which includes for-profit organisations:
UK live music and festival sector at risk of collapse due to coronavirus https://t.co/yKqBUFh6oW
— Guardian culture (@guardianculture) May 13, 2020
In practice this wide range of appeals might well help charities, by bringing home just how essential it is to give, and why everyone has lots of different ways in which they can respond during this crisis. There is no upper limit, even now, amid a global crisis, on how much people will give to causes that matter to them and that they want to help.
Here are some examples of these other fundraising appeals.
Appeals for for-profit businesses
Plenty of businesses are falling through the gap in government support, including two million small limited companies and their directors.
These and others are turning to public appeals for support.
— Derek Humphries (@derekhumphries) April 20, 2020
Appeals for individuals
This has included NHS staff and other keyworkers:
Coronavirus: More than £100k raised for Mary Agyapong's family https://t.co/G5tgOAeyl9
— BBC News England (@BBCEngland) April 16, 2020
This is so terribly sad. RIP Anusuyahttps://t.co/gBr6bVYJj3
— Sian Elvin (@SianElvin) April 17, 2020
For-profits outshine charities at inspiring the public to give
A related development is the ability of some companies to produce better, more inspiring messages to the public than many charities are achieving.
It’s not just a case of having a bigger budget. This development has been coming for a quite a while: one can often watch an inspiring social issue TV advert and assume that it is produced by a charity, only to find that it is a supermarket or financial services company.
Charities are facing competition in giving people a way to do good and to give in response to the pandemic.
Nature abhors a vacuum. With the reduction in charities offering the chance to give in the fight against Coronavirus, commercial organisations have taken their place. https://t.co/JDyeqpeavf
— Mark Phillips (@Markyphillips) May 3, 2020
Fundraising consultant John Thompson raised this likelihood last month, and has done so before:
It was an observation. But now is not the time to be quiet. In fact, charities should always shout about what they do. My concern is companies looking to gain social purpose points by positioning as cause experts, and providers of solutions – charity partners implement the good.
— Johnny Five (@JTCHANGINGBIZ) April 16, 2020
And he followed that with another possible example apparently under discussion by insurance companies:
— Johnny Five (@JTCHANGINGBIZ) May 3, 2020
Catching the spirit of the times appropriately is hard, but some for-profits are doing it well. Can you work out which brand has created this uplifting ad?
— Luke Addis (@mrlkdds) May 12, 2020
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