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Now not the time to cut fundraising spend, says Red Cross fundraising lead

30 Apr 2020 News

Organisations should avoid being “conservative” on fundraising at this time and think about the long-term picture, British Red Cross’ Paul Amadi has said.

Amadi, who is chief supporter officer and responsible for the organisation’s fundraising, was speaking as part of a panel discussion on emergency fundraising at the Resource Alliance’s Fundraising Online 2020 conference.

He also said that many people are in a position of wanting to offer support, and that the challenge for fundraisers is to give them the best opportunity to do so.

Planning for the ‘new normal’

Amadi said: “There is always a temptation to hunker down, to be really conservative and to cut spend. One of the challenges for all of us, one that I'm asking my team to consider, is thinking about in what shape we want to emerge from this.

“Do we want to emerge stronger, with a sense of being a big contender with a bigger market share? We certainly want to emerge with deeper relationships with our existing supporters, and potentially in a position to reach out to a whole new cohort.

“I think if we can look over the horizon, as well as addressing what's in front of us, we're likely to make better, longer-term decisions.”

He added that teams need to start planning for what the new normal will look like.

He said: “The best advice that I would give is: understand that we're not going to return to the status quo, for a host of demographic, economic and cultural reasons. So it's about trying to create a sense of what a new normal looks like and building towards that. It’s about trying to plan for what the world you want to live in will be like.”

Fundraisers can empower people at a time of crisis

Amadi was in conversation with fundraising consultant and ex Red Cross fundraising lead Mark Astarita, and Samantha Stuckle, from French organisation Secours Catholique-Caritas.

The panellists agreed that at this time people are feeling “disempowered”, and that fundraisers can help by offering them opportunities to give.

Amadi said: “One of the defining characteristics of the coronavirus pandemic is the fact that it has mobilised communities, that people really have felt motivated to support and help, whether financially or by giving their time. 

“British Red Cross has received quotes from people saying they have been feeling overwhelmed and disempowered, but able to respond to that by giving. 

“I think that the challenge for us is how we capitalise on that. How do we enable and facilitate that process? We're doing some absolutely amazing stuff and people hopefully want to be in a position to support it.”

Astarita also advised fundraisers not to stop asking. He said that he felt some organisations have been turning down the volume of their fundraising.

He said: “I think the very best advice I can give everyone out there is to keep on asking. It absolutely needs to be relevant to the moment and authentic, and you need to tell your donors when things are hard.

“Build a conversation with your donors, be respectful of the fact that many of them will be maybe facing difficult situations, ask them how they are, and see the things you can do to help them. Invite them to be part of your family, invite them to come on the same mission that you do every single day. But do not stop asking.”

He said that this also applies to organisations that are not on the frontline, who should be reaching out to existing supporters.

He said: "Every organisation has been affected by the Covid crisis. Your key supporters, wherever they are, remain your supporters. The best thing you can do right now is communicating and engaging with them."

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