The team at Barrer & Co have been thinking carefully about what to tell our clients and friends in the not-for-profit sector in the face of this new reality of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Every day we are seeing changes to the way people must act, how we live and how we work, causing massive stress and uncertainty. We are all in the same boat. It is important we support each other, and we want you to know that we are here to help.
Whether you need a sounding board or strategic advice on an existing campaign, or you are unsure about what to do in this ever-changing global environment, we are here for you.
We decided to write down the advice we have been giving to clients so far, so that you can reassure yourself and your wider organisation that you are on the right track as you make decisions that will have long-lasting impact on your charity and its ability to provide services now, and into the future.
There has never been a more important moment in time for your organisation than right now. The decisions you make now will ensure your long-term existence and, in many cases, will allow you to develop deeper relationship with your supporters.
Be Like Water
“Be formless, shapeless. Like water. You put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, it becomes the bottle. You put it into a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can flow or it can crash. Be water my friend.” – Bruce Lee
Some of you will know the famous quote by Bruce Lee. His intention here absolutely applies to finding success in fundraising, particularly at times of change or when facing the unknown.
One of our favourite qualities in the fundraising profession is how as humans we are able to adapt to our environment. It is time for charities to pivot, to be willing and flexible enough to act to prevent lasting harm to funding stream income, and perhaps even come out the other end stronger than ever. It is time for charities to rethink their overall fundraising strategy and if nothing else, ensure that stewardship is your number one donor activity right now. This is not the time to stop or pause activity. It is the time to be thoughtful and careful about what actions you take to deliver your duty of care to your clients and family of supporters. Make sure that you have an understanding about who you are talking to when connecting with your supporters right now and try as best you can to understand the current circumstances of each individual, corporate or funder. It is essential that you have some genuine engagement with your supporters in this unbelievable situation.
To us, ‘be like water’ means to adapt to the situation you find yourself in, be flexible instead of rigid in your thinking, and allow yourself to adjust to what is happening around you.
It is essential we adapt to each environment we are in, and the current COVID-19 environment is no different.
Throughout history we know that those who adapt to their environments end up being the greatest survivors.
For most of us, our planning and short- and medium-term goals have been seriously disrupted. How can we continue to deliver our service in the midst of a pandemic and a lockdown response, the likes of which we have never before experienced? Is it even appropriate to ask our supporters for financial support? We have some thoughts and wanted to share these with you in case it helps.
It is important to maintain momentum. In practical terms, here are some things you can do to reduce risk to your organisation:
- Talk to all of your key contributors as soon as possible. Find out how they are impacted and give them space to update you on any big changes in terms of their support to your organisation. Be calm and understanding. This event has affected every single human being on the planet. This applies to Trusts and Foundations, Corporates, Major Donors and high-level regular givers. While some funding may decline other funding will likely increase to meet the needs of those most vulnerable.
- Do not cancel that donor meeting. You should plan to pursue prospect meetings, just shift them to phone or video call if the donor is comfortable to do that.
- Once you can see what the next 12 months look like in regards to any budgeted funding shortages, start looking at the opportunities!
- Where possible, shift your fundraising campaigns to digital. Can your planned activities somehow be replicated online on your social channels or other platforms?
- Redirect budget from activity that is no longer possible towards fundraising efforts you can maintain.
Asking at a Time of Crisis
Your duty of care to your staff, donors and beneficiaries to continue to be able to achieve your charity’s mission is paramount – you must continue to Ask. If you do not, you risk putting your organisation in an untenable financial position as the implications of COVID-19 and the government shutdown become fully evident in the coming months.
Even organisations with deep reserves will feel the pinch in the coming months. It is vital that decisions are made that consider the long-term. Reactive decisions which seek to save money in the here and now by cutting fundraising activity will likely have vastly detrimental effects.
Not asking in fear of offending people or spending money on fundraising at a time of uncertainty is a self-fulfilling prophecy. By not asking, you will never receive those funds. So Carpe Diem – seize the day – you may even find your fundraising more successful as a result.
Many people, even most people, will be financially impacted by the disruption caused by COVID-19. Be prepared for donors to give less, or not at all, as income is reduced. In times of crisis we generally see that donors still do want to give, and it may be an opportunity for your organisation to make a strong case for their support at this critical time for your charity.
Key Message: Do not pull back on fundraising activity
Donor Care & Continuing Communications
Many donors are older adults and they will be potentially be vulnerable. One of the best things you can do as a fundraiser, and a human being, is get on the phone and check on how your supporters are doing. Simply listening and in turn letting them know how your cause is faring is one of the most important things you can do. Be truthful about how your organisation is coping.
Be prepared to talk about their financial situation too, if they are current donors or a prospect for a particular campaign. Be understanding; handled well, your donors will remember and will support in future even if they are restricted now.
Do not hesitate to send emails, post to your social media or update your website. It is vital for your cause that you continue to communicate, and often, about how your services are being affected, how you are responding, and share ways your supporters and donors can consider supporting your cause during this difficult time.
If your organisation is working on the frontline of the COVID-19 response, tell people your stories, share the impact their giving is having on your ability to respond to this event. What difference are you making in the world right now? You donors want to feel like they can do their bit too. The reality is people want to help if they can. Get a grip on what is going on with the people you serve and update your supporter community.
If you are not directly working with vulnerable communities, health, social services, etc. but you are losing revenue, tell that story too, so that you will be here to continue your important mission once the world emerges from this crisis.
Remember, be like water: Flow don’t crash
St Bede’s is a Catholic community located in Redwood. Barrer & Co assisted St Bede’s College with their fundraising campaign to rebuild the College Chapel, which was badly damaged in the earthquakes of 2011 and sadly had to be demolished.
Barrer & Co got involved mid-campaign and shifted the focus to approaching a small group of families and individuals; as part of this we developed a bespoke acknowledgement programme. A revised campaign was launched in May 2019, and we are delighted to have reached the $800,000 fundraising target in four months, and exceeding it by $35,000. We are really humbled by the efforts of the community to return the Chapel to the College, it has been an amazing fundraising campaign to work on.
For the people they support, Hohepa is home. It is where they feel safe to build a vision for their life and are empowered to make it happen. Hohepa nurtures the body, soul and spirit of people with an intellectual disability to enable their dreams and aspirations to come to fruition. Their kaupapa is to ensure every person they support has the opportunity to have a life fully lived.
Everyone deserves to have a place they call home – a secure foundation is one of the most important aspects of achieving personal success. Hohepa is committed to providing people with inspiring and fit-for-purpose housing to ensure they are in an environment that supports and adapts to their unique needs and aspirations over their lifetime.
This is why they have embarked on a journey to build two new homes at Hohepa. These buildings are designed to be light, creative, and thoughtful. They will encourage a sense of ownership and pride for the people we support and in our wider community.
We launched this capital fundraising campaign with Hohepa Canterbury at the end of October. This campaign seeks to raise $2.2 million, and at the launch Hohepa announced an incredible lead gift of $500,000 from the Sutherland Self Help Trust, a funder that had a long and close relationship with them. This fundraising campaign will continue in 2020 and at Barrer & Co we are excited to assist Hohepa raise the funds needed to make this project a reality, as well as raising awareness of this fantastic organisation and the people that they support.
If you’d like to learn more about Hohepa and their new homes project, click the link below.
Ronald McDonald House South Island supports families when their child is in hospital in Christchurch and Invercargill. Their facilities provide more than a place to sleep – they are a place of comfort, compassion and convenience. Ronald McDonald House South Island takes care of the practical things in life so families can focus on their child who is staying in hospital. This helps reduce stresses like paying for a place to sleep near the hospital and organising family meals, while providing a friendly ear to listen on tough days.
Ronald McDonald House South Island is committed to building a three-bedroom Family Room inside Christchurch Hospital. The Family Room will be a welcoming, home-like space for families, just steps away from their children in the hospital. Markedly different than its medical surroundings, the Family Room provides a break from the stress of the hospital environment where they can relax, prepare a meal, have a snack, or stay overnight.
Barrer & Co assisted Ronald McDonald House South Island with the set up of this significant capital fundraising campaign. As part of this work we developed a capital campaign strategy and supported the Ronald McDonald House South Island team with the early stages of strategy implementation.
If you’d like to learn more about Ronald McDonald House South Island and their Family Room project, click the link below.
The New Zealand Spinal Trust is a community who cares deeply about independent living and improving the quality of rehabilitation for Kiwis affected by spinal cord injury or impairment (SCI). This is regardless of whether someone is a new patient in hospital or many years post injury and living in the community. They offer three key services from the Burwood Spinal Unit in Christchurch, and the Auckland Spinal Rehabilitation Unit in Otara. These services are free of charge to anyone in New Zealand who has an SCI.
Barrer & Co developed a fundraising strategy for the New Zealand Spinal Trust March 2019, and we are now assisting them with the recruitment of a National Fundraising Manager. The successful candidate will work predominantly in the major gift, corporate sponsorship, bequest, regular giving, trust and grant and appeal spaces. Applications close 5pm Sunday 15 December. This is a significant new role for the organisation; if you’d like to learn more, click the link below.
Georgia has worked in fundraising, communications and marketing roles across a range of industries, including not-for-profit, local government and school and tertiary institutions such as College House, St Andrew’s College, Selwyn District Council and the Antarctic Heritage Trust.
With a strong background in client liaison and creative project management, Georgia thrives on driving projects forward towards the end goal while maintaining an eye on the finer details. A wide range of skills in marketing, communications, fundraising, event promotion, media relations, website and social media management, editing and proofreading means Georgia is well-placed to guide our clients on their unique path to success, all with a highly professional polish.
Her strategic approach means Georgia is always seeking the most efficient and logical course of action, guided by a highly empathetic outlook and ‘big picture’ thinking. Georgia is experienced in both operational and capital fundraising activities, including capital campaigns, annual appeals, major donor fundraising and moves management.
Life Education is a charity that educates and empowers children to make healthy choices so they can live full and healthy lives. Every year they teach over 250,000 children about their body, friendships, their identity, food and nutrition and helpful and harmful substances.
Barrer & Co developed a fundraising strategy for Life Education Trust Canterbury in 2015, and we are now assisting them with the recruitment of a Fundraising Manager. This role will lead and deliver the organisation’s strategic fundraising, working towards achieving an annual income target and develop sustainable income streams. If you’d like to learn more, click the link below.
The LinC Project Activator 2018 was designed to further support community leaders across Canterbury with a speaker series aimed at inspiring and growing leaders in their communities.
Each of the four Activator events held last year had a different theme and focus, and offered amazing opportunities for discussion, engagement and learning.
These free, public events were open to anyone ready to be inspired, challenged and motivated.
Barrer & Co’s Director, Sarah Barrer, spoke at LinC’s third event, a great session on funding and supporting projects or activities. Sarah shared the importance of building long-term relationships with supporters and funders, and having an approach that builds connections that lead onto ongoing support.