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Are you in a post covid-19 mindset yet?

A lot of us have plans for what we’d like to be doing personally in a world post-social distancing. Friends, family, hugs, pubs all feature for me! But have you started to think about your charity’s income and fundraising plans post-COVID?

Speaking to a number of charity CEOs and fundraising leads, we’ve been discussing 2021. Some are actually doing okay for income right now. Other are struggling with cashflow and have been in crisis mode. In both camps though they are concerned by some looming gaps in income in 12 months. Many UK charities need to diversify their income, or grow their existing income streams, and they need to do this urgently.

If you haven’t considered starting a major donor fundraising programme, or focusing on growing your existing one, below are 4 reasons to consider it:

Corona virus COVID-19
  1. If you’re not talking to your wealthiest, well-connected supporters, other charities will be. You may not know who these high-net-worth individuals are yet. They may be giving to your charity at a relatively low level right now. However, your charity will already have connections to some potential major donors. Coronavirus creates a huge opportunity to start a more personal conversation with them and build relationships for a future larger gift.
  1. ROI for an established major donor programme can be 9:1. It may take you 2 years to get to this level of return, but you should be able to break even or return 2:1 in the first year. Major gifts can be transformational for your cause.
  1. Although it’s tricky to compare the economic impact of COVID-19 to the Global Financial Crash, in 2008 major donor income held up, with some donors increasing giving (‘Tomorrow’s Philanthropist’, Barclays Wealth, July 2009) Thank you to Graham Darnell for this insight.
  1. This may be in part because giving from the wealthiest is often elastic.  Yes, some of the richest in society will be affected financially by the pandemic, depending on their businesses and investments. Yet research by Beth Breeze, Director, Centre for Philanthropy at the University of Kent, shows that one of the main reasons high-net-worth individuals give is because they are asked. They will often add new charities to their portfolio of giving (rather than have a ‘one in, one out’ policy and a fixed giving budget).

Every charity’s income mix is different, and economists are grappling with what the impacts of COVID-19 will be. However charity CEO and fundraising leads are right to be thinking ahead:

  • There is a predicted £4b income shortfall for UK charities (NCVO), yet only £750m promised by the government. This is just for the initial few months of the coronavirus crisis. The impact on giving and income raised will continue.
  • Giving from the general public has been incredible, most noticeably with Captain Tom Moore’s 100th birthday walk raising over £30m! Yet public giving follows the economy. The Centre for Economics & Business Research predict that households disposable income will fall on average by 17%. That means millions of the general public will have significantly less money to give directly to causes, to sponsor friends’ challenges, to attend community fundraising events, or to give to their company’s charity of the year.
  • Although there has been an outburst of emergency funding pots, these are mainly centred on charities who are delivering direct COVID-19 response. Will trust and foundation opportunities shrink in the next 12-18 months as investments fall with a tumbling stock market?

So if you’re in that place where you’re starting to think of a post-Covid world, make sure high-net -worth individuals and major donor fundraising is part of that world for your charity.

As one charity said to me recently:

“This pandemic proves why we absolutely need a major donor programme.  These are the people we would have gone to and engaged right at the beginning of this crisis.”

Six weeks into us developing their major donor programme, and they’ve secured over £30k of gifts.

What charity can afford not to focus on this as an income stream?

Louise Morris is the Founder of Summit Fundraising. She is a major donor fundraising specialist and has worked with over 100 charities helping them raise large gifts.

This was posted on 30 April 2020.

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