Crisis has hit and surf’s up – how your charity can ride the wave

Understanding consumer behaviour is always at the heart of what we do. Alas, there is no rule book for what we are encountering at the moment. But we can still look to the positives among the many unknowns…

The Coronavirus crisis has sent shockwaves through countless business fields, and the Third Sector is no exception. Door-to-door fundraising is on hold, and an even worse blow for UK charities will be the huge dent in income from cancelled events over the next few months. The loss of the London Marathon alone, with £48.5 million raised by 14,000 runners last year, will leave a sizable hole in funding.

An uncertain time, yes, but there are still opportunities to be had. It’s more vital than ever for charities to dust themselves off, get the team video chats underway, and re-engage supporters. If you’re a fundraiser, how often do you wish you had more time on your hands to steward your donors? It’s just landed in your lap.

With the hours of planning needed for events now freed up, you might have more time to demonstrate the outcomes of your work and tick off a few of those hundred to-do list items. When was your last impact report released? How can you refine and improve your case for support? Is now the moment you’ll finally read some of those fantastic fundraising books that have been on your desk for months? Use the free time to prepare, re-energise and refresh for when the pandemic dies down. It may even be sooner than you think.

We’re living in unprecedented times where your supporters are guaranteed to be at home. For once, people are thirsty for information and anything sent in the post is likely to be read – it’s a great time to provide reassuring advice that you’re still active, to thank them and to tell them more about ways they can continue supporting your cause online. Is there an engaging video link you can include?

You might even want to get a bit more creative and come up with something brand new. Live streams featuring your roster of celebrities? Virtual events perhaps? These have been popping up all over the place, even ‘virtual assemblies’ replacing the real thing in some schools. People want to connect with friends and family now more than ever, so it’s time to think creatively about ways we can help them (and raise vital funds at the same time). It’s been fascinating to see so many brands hit the ground running and launch these sorts of initiatives. We’ll give you ‘digital coffee morning’ and ‘the great virtual quiz’ as a starter for ten.

When it comes to emergency fundraising appeals around the COVID-19 crisis, the best ones we’ve seen have one critical thing in common – for Pete’s sake, make sure you demonstrate why your cause is relevant to the crisis. Nobody wants to be the brand singled out for profiteering off the back of a global catastrophe.

For some inspiration, take a peek at Freedom from Torture’s well-executed ‘Do What We Can’ appeal, which has seen a huge response.

Using a series of stripped back, captioned images online, the charity has kept it simple and relevant, showing why the crisis is harming its beneficiaries more than most people, and keeping the user journey as simple as possible on its website.

Take note if your charity’s cause is just as relevant. If it isn’t, use these lean months to get ahead on the things (like stewardship and impact reports) you normally wish you had extra time for.

As ever, we’re on hand to help – reach out and find out how we can support you to make the most of the months ahead. We’re operating as normal and you can reach us on 07917 113 157 or at hello@onagency.co.uk.

Andrew Derlien, Creative Copywriter

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