The NHS Charities Together coronavirus appeal to support frontline NHS staff has so far raised over £50m - less than a month after it launched.
NHS Charities Together, an umbrella body for NHS charities, launched an urgent fundraising appeal in March and is aiming to raise £100m.
The body plans to distribute funds to its members and help projects connected to new field hospitals and has already distributed some grants to charities.
So far the appeal has raised over £55m with support from business, philanthropists, the media and the general public.
This includes £15m from 99-year old former army captain Tom Moore, who completed 100 laps of his garden and has been hailed as an inspiration for his attitude during the crisis. He is now continuing to walk for as long as people donate.
Money is being distributed via NHS Charities Together’s member network, which currently accounts for nearly 70% of NHS charities. The body said new members are joining every day.
Where is the money going?
NHS Charities Together is offering its members weekly grants of up to £5,000 to help members distribute well-being packs to NHS staff, cover the costs of travel and other things to help NHS workers caring for Covid-19 patients.
Later it plans to offer post pandemic grants to NHS charity members that will provide respite and support to staff recovering from the crisis.
Most NHS trusts have a connected charity, which raises money from the local community to pay for things that they NHS does not.
NHS Charities Together was known as the Association for NHS Charites until the end of last year.
Last week £5m was distributed to 160 charities and a further £10m is expected to be distributed next week.
To manage the volume of work the charity has expanded its capacity.
Ellie Orton, chief executive of NHS Charities Together, told Civil Society News: “We immediately brought in extra resource. We partnered with our headline sponsors CCLA to help setup and manage the appeal account and the granting process.
“We also brought in new finance personnel and have a very experienced treasurer who is able to give considerable time and support. We have also had a team of fundraising/grant administrators and support staff furloughed from a member charity that are now volunteering full-time for us. In addition we brought in an honorary communications director, as well as support agencies in media/communications and fundraising – all who have significant experience.
“Our board and wider membership are also able to give good support to the charity – the trustees and myself are in daily communication and meeting (virtually) at least once a week as a full board to ensure the effective governance of the appeal and grants.”
Reaching out to new members
Around 30 new members have joined since the appeal started.
NHS Charities Together had around 140 members at the start of the crisis and there are estimated to be 250 NHS charities in the UK.
This means that about 40% of NHS charities could not access the money that has been donated to the appeal.
Orton said: “We are very keen that this is a national appeal, and therefore we are on boarding new members daily. Currently this stands at 170.
She added: “We are working with national NHS bodies, and other national NHS support organisations to contact non-members to invite them to become members. We have also conferred with the Charity Commission regarding this.”
Membership is between £1,000 and £5,000 per year depending on size of organisation. Those joining part of the way through the year pay a reduced fee according to when they join.
The campaign has benefited from lots of high-profile support. Premiership footballers have said that they will be supporting the campaign and the virtual Grand National raised £2.6m towards the campaign.
Proceeds of a re-release of We’ll Meet Again by Dame Vera Lyn and Katherine Jenkins are being donated to the appeal.
It has also received financial support from a number of companies, including Aviva and XTX Markets.
NHS Charities Together has benefited from sponsored challenges and virtual mass-participation events that engage the public.
People have been encouraged to show their support for NHS and other keyworkers at 8pm on Thursdays and people have been urged to also text a donation to support the appeal.