Save the Children UK has lost an estimated £16m so far because of the coronavirus crisis, with that figure expected to grow.
Jon Curry, the chief information officer at Save the Children UK, told an online audience at Civil Society Media's Charity Finance Week that the losses principally came from trading income and cancelled fundraising events during the pandemic.
He also told the event that the crisis meant the way the charity worked “has been changed for good”.
Curry said: “At Save [the Children] UK, lockdown has cost us around £16m. it is likely to be a little more when we see the impact of lockdown two.
“Principally that loss of income has come from the closure of our shop network and the cancellation of fundraising events and especially challenger fundraising events.
“And as a consequence, we have had to take a number of actions to cut our costs. We have frozen pay, we virtually stopped all recruitment, we cancelled all of the discretionary spend that we felt we were able to.
“We have dealt with the impact as staff adjusted to the remote working conditions and, like many of us, have had to juggle work and caring responsibilities.”
He added: “For many charities it has been significantly worse. So while we have had to freeze pay and use the furlough scheme, we haven’t had to make any staff redundant, for example.”
Rising online sales
Curry also told the event that Save the Children UK had changed the way it worked online to try and recover some of these losses, and “moved to increase our e-commerce presence” as its high street shops closed for many months.
He said: “A good example of digital and partnership working and innovation, all coming together, would be in e-commerce.
“With our shops shut, our retail team focused on e-commerce instead and our year-on-year sales have increased by 116% on the back of very little marketing spend.”
He also said that the charity was encouraging its shop volunteers to help with selling on virtual platforms.
Christmas giving to fall
Curry warned that fundraising income over Christmas is likely to be lower than in previous years.
He said: “Social distancing measures are still in place, and many families face financial pressure and will have more immediate and personal concerns.
“We expect to see that charitable giving may drop at Christmas this year, and some of our corporate partners have their own priorities which may impede their ability to participate.”
The charity partially reopened its offices to a small number of staff when the first lockdown lifted in the summer, Curry said, but has no plan for employees to return to their desks until June 2021 at the earliest.
He said: “The way that we work has been changed for good.”