Charities: Where do you want to be this time next year?
As 2020 draws to a close, many charities are surveying the past year and wondering how they survived it.
The answer is undoubtedly: thanks to the vision, hard work and flexible attitudes for which the sector is renowned.
Now, as we near 2021 and with Covid vaccines in sight, it’s time to start applying those same qualities to the coming year. What’s your vision for the future of fundraising? Do you have plans to expand in 2021? And do you have a charity strategic plan in place?
At Connect Assist, we can offer consultancy, digital delivery and contact centre services, helping you to meet the needs of vulnerable people in our post-Covid society.
The challenges of 2020
This past year has been a rocky one for charities. They’ve had to shift staff to remote working and move service provision online, against a backdrop of severe cuts to fundraising.
And yet demand has, in many sectors, risen dramatically, as people have faced isolation, job losses, health issues or even food shortages.
One report from June forecast that charities would lose £6.4bn in revenue over the following six months – while, despite strong fundraising goals and strategies, the extra cost of meeting the rising demand would be £3.7bn. That shortfall would leave one in 10 charities facing bankruptcy, with smaller, local charities especially exposed.
New challenges in 2021
So what will 2021 bring for the sector? What will the outlook be this time next year?
The knock-on effects of the pandemic will be felt for some time. Charities are needed now more than ever: call volumes have rocketed. Yet the cancellation of most fundraising activities has made a huge dent in charities’ incomes in 2020.
Many charities have had to re-examine their strategies, exploring the digital world for perhaps the first time. In 2021, many staff will continue to work remotely, and some services will remain digital-only. Those staff who do return to workplaces need to know that premises are Covid-safe.
But the changes to society will go even deeper than that. So it’s time for charities to regroup and reassess how to achieve their vision and mission.
The changing face of the charity sector
The role of charities was changing even before the crisis. Now, Covid has accelerated the division between top-down charities carrying out government contracts, and more grassroots, community-led organisations.
There’s room for both – so long as they address real needs, and meet people’s expectations of high moral standards and accountability.
As Baroness Tina Stowell says:
“The world today is less prone to see charity just as a set of institutions. It is about translating motives into action and going about the job in the right way while you’re at it. […] Standards in terms of behaviour, efficiency and effectiveness are more important than structures.”
Could you use this time to rethink your charity’s policies and standards?
Are you sure you’re still reaching the people in greatest need? And are you offering them services that truly address their issues, through channels that they can easily access?
Charity digital skills expert Zoe Amar has three key recommendations for charities looking to regroup after the Covid crisis. Her comments focus on digital marketing, but have a far wider application.
Her number one recommendation is to talk to your stakeholders. Whether that’s through informal chats, online surveys or face-to-face interviews, you need to know what your users, donors, partners and others want from you.
Secondly, you should examine and learn from the data. Look at Facebook engagement rates, website analytics, email newsletter open rates – everything you have. This may well require you to boost your staff’s digital skills, or outsource certain services where necessary.
And finally, you should benchmark yourself against other charities. Is there something you can learn from others in the sector – or teach them? We are all stronger when we work together.
Connect Assist: partnering charities
At Connect Assist, we know how hard it can be to navigate the ever-changing charity landscape. We offer a range of services to help.
As a consultancy, we can support your organisation in defining and achieving your objectives, or in addressing particular issues such as setting fundraising goals or call handling.
We have expertise in helping you improve your digital service delivery while retaining the all-important human touch.
Contact us today to discuss how we can help you achieve your goals by this time next year.