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Fundraising during a crisis: what can you do?

Just as we started to successfully navigate the impact of Covid 19, we watch with horror the shocking events surrounding the invasion of Ukraine, and our hearts go out to all those affected by it. Undoubtedly, the impact of this unfolding humanitarian crisis will be widely felt across society, including by many charities, for years to come.

Thankfully the public has already responded with immense generosity, with more than £100m raised in much needed funds in just the first four days of the appeal – the equivalent of more than £1m an hour since the appeal was launched, the Disasters Emergency Committee reported. 

Meanwhile the economic repercussions of this crisis are emerging, exposing our vulnerabilities as a result of pre-existing trade links, reliance on Russian energy and the dependence on food supplies – and causing all of us to re-assess our household expenditure.

So what does this mean for the charity sector? Unsurprisingly we’ve had a number of calls and emails from clients asking whether we are experiencing supporters and donors tightening their belts. Without a doubt, the emergency in Ukraine and the economic consequences will have some impression on charitable donations.

But we also know that the only way to respond to an economic crisis is to recognise that fundraising requires both continuing investment and ongoing care.

So whatever you do, if you’re mid-telemarketing campaign right now, do not stop. Because what we’re finding is that people still genuinely want to support those causes that are important to them. Perhaps it might not be at the same level of support, or perhaps not even as regularly, but what we are experiencing is continuing levels of empathy among supporter groups.

And the recent Comic Relief Red Nose Day is an incredible example of this, raising nearly £43 million last Friday night. These are challenging times, but people continue to be generous and responsive during a crisis.

So now is a great time to remind your supporters of the need for your services during tough times and what it is you’re doing behind the scenes to ensure everything keeps going as usual. Let your community know how much their continued support means to you. Focus on strengthening your case for giving in the future.

And of course the unique thing about telephone fundraising is that because it takes place in a live environment, it’s completely flexible. This is something you don’t get with any other media: you can’t change the copy on your DM piece once it’s landed. You’re unlikely to edit your expensive radio or TV ad. But with TM, we can be 100% responsive to the situation we’re operating in. So we can adapt our responses and adjust our asks if the feedback demands it. We can review results and pause campaigns, we can target alternative supporter segments – we can do whatever it takes to make the campaign work harder.

If you’d like to chat about your campaigns or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re here and ready to help.

About the author: Ben Suffell

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