How can charities thrive in the new normal?
News - Fundraising
The UK charity sector is facing the biggest challenge of its nine-century history. The 167,000 charitable organisations that run in the UK have been hit with a triple threat of reduced income, rising costs, and growing demand.
Small charities, which make up 97% of the sector, have been hit the hardest. Research undertaken by the Small Charities Coalition (SCC) has shown that 80% have altered or dropped services already, with 1/10 expecting to make redundancies. However, there are reasons to be optimistic. Growing inter-charity co-operation and the emergence of new fundraising technologies have provided the opportunity for charities to thrive in the ‘new normal’.
The pandemic has accelerated the UK’s movement towards a cashless society.
What is the root of the problem?
Covid-19 has exacerbated the problems already facing the charity sector. The pandemic has accelerated the UK’s movement towards a cashless society, leaving charities who were already over-reliant on cash-giving with a whole in their funding. Consequently, nearly half of UK charities have sought some form of emergency grant to get them through the crisis.
Demand has also spiked during the pandemic, with 1/3 of UK charities reporting an increased need for their services. This is not helped by the fact that volunteers in the charity sector are predominantly aged 65-71 and are, therefore, in the ‘at risk’ category. Government guidelines state that in-person fundraising can go ahead with PPE and social distancing, but charities need to explore new mediums for engaging their audiences.
How can charities overcome these challenges?
The government have established a £750 million scheme to support small and medium sized charities. Their advice is for charities to prioritise looking after the beneficiaries which they were invented to help. This encourages focus in a time when the health crisis could overwhelm and distract voluntary organisations from their specialised areas.
However, the immense changes created by the pandemic demand a renewed strategy from the charity sector. Luckily, this has already been forthcoming with one-in-five charities seeing the pandemic as an opportunity to modernise and 80% having undertaken a strategic review in the last 12 months.
Co-operation between charities has become more important with the need to provide quick and purposeful action during the pandemic. Turning these collaborations into purposeful mergers could revolutionise the capacity of charities to deliver. This is not a wholly abstract notion, with 1/5 of UK charities actively considering a merger to improve delivery.
Here at TapSimple we think that contactless fundraising is a great solution. The pandemic has brought the cashless society closer than ever and new ways of thinking about fundraising can help charities thrive in the new normal. We have seen that contactless and chip & pin devices are more effective than the donation bucket; and virtual events platforms are providing charities with the opportunity to interact with audiences in a new, safe, and engaging way. For charities going forward, contactless fundraising is an exciting solution to the cashless society and should be at the heart of any strategic review.
The bottom line:
The immense pressure levelled at the UK charity sector has provided the impetus for a reassessment of strategy. Where charities cannot survive in their current form, a willingness to adapt could be their saving grace. Moving forward, a dual strategy of increased co-operation and a willingness to embrace new technologies is key to the sector’s ability to thrive in the new normal.