Widening your reach during a pandemic: a balancing act

Widening your reach during a pandemic: a balancing act

9th February 2021

By Qariem Radix

Less funding, more demand: that’s been the state of play for many charities since the advent of the Covid-19 crisis.

So, how can your organisation continue to meet its charitable objectives while its finances drop? How can the third sector reach its fundraising goals and support increased numbers of vulnerable people?

Charities during Covid-19

The charity landscape is changing with each new wave of the pandemic.

Research from November 2020 by Pro Bono Economics showed that 63% of charities reported higher levels of demand compared with the previous year, with 15% saying the rise was more than 25%. Three-quarters expected demand to remain high over the coming year.

At the same time, 83% of charities forecast a drop in income over the next twelve months compared to pre-Covid expectations, with 69% predicting that it would take more than a year to return to their pre-crisis income levels.

In many ways, this situation is nothing new: it’s merely exacerbated existing problems that charities have been handling with admirable creativity and resilience for years.

Helpline demand

So, how does this play out on the ground? Sometimes, in cuts to services just when people need them most.

LGBTQ+ homelessness charity akt had to temporarily pause its helpline and hire more caseworkers after calls surged and breached capacity. The number of people seeking help in April 2020 was 108% up from April 2019, while referrals in June 2020 rose by 190%.

The rise was driven in part by young, closeted gay people in lockdown with their families, unable to visit understanding friends or supportive groups.

A balancing act

According to the Pro Bono Economics report, 19% of charities said the rise in demand from their services came from existing clients, 11% said it was from new clients, while 39% said it was from both. 

That means that caseworkers are continually faced with a balancing act. Do they try to widen their services to new people in need, to the potential detriment of long-standing clients? Do they provide an in-depth service to existing groups, and close services to new clients? Or, do they try to reach both, at the risk of spreading support too thinly?

At Connect Assist, we can help charities who are facing this dilemma.

Investing in tech is one solution. There are several digital packages that Connect Assist uses in its work with charities.

One is the Oracle Digital Assistant (ODA). This is an AI-powered online chatbot that can be programmed to handle many routine queries from people seeking signposting or advice.

Meanwhile, Oracle Intelligent Advisor can power excellent advisor tools and calculators, helping users understand what support is available for them and taking the strain off your caseworkers.

Outsourced contact centre services

Outsourcing helplines is another solution to support a charity.

At Connect Assist, we run helplines on behalf of many charities and other non-profits. Our trained advisors can answer your callers’ queries, offer them emotional support or counselling, or signpost them to further services.

outsourced contact centres

With the burden of answering calls lifted, your caseworkers can progress their cases successfully, providing targeted, in-depth support for some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Contact Connect Assist today

Of course, the vaccine roll-out is now offering us all great hope – but there’s a way to go before we’re in the clear. And charities will be vital to society’s recovery.

As the Pro Bono Economics report says: “There are also increasing concerns about the social scars the UK is accumulating, from mental health and isolation to domestic abuse and fraud. Charitable and voluntary organisations are a key component of the balm the country requires to soothe that social scarring over the months and years ahead.”

At Connect Assist, we’d love to help your charity in your essential work in the months ahead. Contact us today.


If you need our help in developing more effective, meaningful connections with customers, get in touch today.