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Charities told to ‘reflect seriously’ on any public fundraising

19 Mar 2020 News

Charities should “reflect seriously” on whether to continue their public fundraising activities during the coronavirus crisis, the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) and the Fundraising Regulator have said.

The two bodies published a joint statement yesterday, urging charities to think carefully before carrying on with their face-to-face, door-to-door and private site fundraising.

The IoF estimates this will have a significant financial impact on the sector, with charities standing to lose hundreds of millions of pounds. 

A spokesperson for the IoF said: “Based on the IoF’s data on year-on-year sign ups, if no further face-to-face fundraising happens in 2020-2021, we predict there would be a loss of 800,000 supporters who would have signed up to charitable causes through door-to-door, street and private site fundraising. This could lead to hundreds of millions of pounds in lost income for charities over the next few years.”

The IoF has called for the government to support both charities and fundraising agencies, warning that 3,000 jobs could be at risk if agencies collapse.

Charities advised to carry out a ‘thorough risk assessment’

The Fundraising Regulator and IoF’s statement says: “Following the government’s advice on social distancing, the IoF and Fundraising Regulator advise all charities to reflect seriously on whether to continue public fundraising (face to face, door to door and private site) due to the increased health risk to the population at large, as well as to fundraisers and volunteers. A thorough risk assessment should be carried out, and any decision to continue public fundraising should be documented and made at the most senior level.

“We give this advice in the context of the government’s guidance, as well as following concerns raised to both the IoF and Fundraising Regulator by members of the public, and with a view to the maintaining the reputation of charities and charitable fundraising as a whole.”

The regulator has also updated its advice document, recommending that charities brief their public fundraising teams on what to do if they have to cease their activities with short notice, and that they make sure they follow all the regulations if they increase their direct marketing activities.

The document also says: “As is often the case, there may not always be a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ decision. We therefore encourage fundraising organisations to weigh up the benefits and risks of their ongoing fundraising activities and exercise judgement when deciding what is in the best interests of their beneficiaries, staff, volunteers and the public.”

Sector survey

The IoF, NCVO and the Charity Finance Group have also launched a survey to try to gauge what financial impact coronavirus could have on charities. 

They say: “We, as charity sector infrastructure bodies, have been working together to influence and shape government policy on future support for the sector, and we need this kind of evidence to best inform decisions.”

The survey is aimed predominantly at fundraising and finance directors, and the deadline to fill it in is 23 March.

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