Challenge and Change
The shock of COVID 19 meant I couldn’t think of anything useful to say over the past three weeks. This week I hope I have something worth saying. As the administrator of a Charitable Trust, as well as being a Fundraiser, I have been able to view charities reacting to this crisis in real time. The crisis has co-incided with one of our bi-annual grant making dates. Charities on the short list have been sharing how they plan to deliver their service in the current circumstances. I feel really privileged to learn first hand how they are determined to remain effective. I am also encouraged by the incredible speed with which charities are adapting to the challenge and change of the new environment.
The Trust makes grants to organisations that support disadvantaged families. These charities do most of their work face to face, so suddenly none of this is possible! They have had to review the way they operate and adopt new procedures to deliver their services in the most effective way.
These charities tell me that some of the procedures they are now using will become standard practice, post COVID- 19. The innovations will help them to deliver an improved service. I witnessed the same resilience and adaptability after the 2008 financial crisis when cash from Councils dried up. Charities found their funding dramatically curtailed, often at ridiculously short notice. So they had to rise to the challenge and change if they were to survive.
These organisations are dedicated, inventive, imaginative and committed to fulfil their mission. It is inspiring to watch how they have adapted so they can continue to delivering their service. It’s a sector to be proud of and it’s a sector others could learn from.
I have been impressed, as a Grants Administrator, by the swift adoption of new methods of service delivery. It will be interesting in the future to review how these extraordinary times created new ways of working. I agree with the charities that the innovations will allow them to be more effective and therefore benefit more people. The services that charities offer will benefit from these adaptations. New ways of working, using technological innovations, will become standard elements of their service.
In Fundraising the Essentials for Success I focus on the importance of the Case as the basis of your Appeal and have emphasised that importance through these blogs. The Case has to be relevant to the potential funder and relevant to the current environment. As the environment changes the message has to reflect that change. Those who cannot adapt, who cannot find new ways to deliver, will find life difficult. Charities who can inspire funders with a demonstration of their ability to meet the challenge and change will find real opportunity
Irrespective of how well you are adapting, most Fundraisers are feeling anxious about their sources of income. It’s too early to predict the outcomes. At this stage it makes me think of my first blog in this series “Rowing the Atlantic” – “not exactly sure of the challenge…. with no obvious signposts”. That leads me to the blog I seem to refer to frequently, despite the fact it appears to have the least to do with fundraising! “The length of Spain…Barefoot!” is mostly about attitude, resilience and determination. But the underlying message is relevant to all fundraisers. When times are difficult, focus on the next step rather than the impossibly distant finish line. You will get there Step by Step.
Co-incidentally I am reading a fascinating book by Simon Reeve who overcame a troubled background and has made a series of travel programmes for the BBC. Its called Step by Step !