Fundraising during challenging times

Helen Oparinde, Development Officer in VAL’s Sector Support team, considers how fundraising might be approached in these unprecedented times.

Funding is a critical topic for all charities but during a national crisis there is increased pressure on existing funding sources, especially for charities that rely on trading. At the same, there are potential new options opening up as the government and other bodies offer alternative funding opportunities for those organisations that might be struggling.

The principle of fundraising is that trustees should agree, set, and monitor your charity’s overall approach to fundraising. The Charity Commission guidance on trustee duties and charity funding states that your fundraising plan should take account of risks, your charity’s values, its relationship with donors and the wider public, as well as its income needs and expectations.

Now is the time to review your fundraising plans

The charity commission has included some guidance on holding trustee meetings online or by telephone in its Coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance for the charity sector.

If your organisation already has a fundraising plan, then we recommend that you review it.

If your service is closed, have you discussed it with your funders/commissioners and ascertained what income will still be received or can be carried forward? Especially as lockdown has occurred during local authorities year end – 31 March.

Using that information you can revise your fundraising plans and activities to consider how you might need to raise income for such things as running costs. A number of funders are providing funding for this type of scenario.

Sign up for VAL’s sector support newsletter so that you can be kept informed of those opportunities. VAL can provide advice on which to apply to and carry out a read and review.

Revise existing plans to adapt and continue delivering services

If you are continuing to deliver a service, look again at the costs involved to adapt to lockdown procedures and the revised service you want to provide. Chat to your existing funders and commissioners about your plans. Some like the Heritage Lottery Fund have specific grant programmes to support their existing or previous grant holders.

If you need to apply for some extra funds to deliver the revised service, first check that you are operating within your charitable objectives. If not, look at how you can revise them. The Charity Commission has written some guidance on whether you can help with Coronavirus efforts.

If you haven’t got a fundraising plan, now is a good time as ever to consider implementing one.

The Institute of Fundraising has some useful tips.

Get a boost from digital marketing

If you rely on fundraising events and donations for your income, but now aren’t able to get out and about to meet potential donors, then you may want to look at digital marketing. VAL has been in touch with Rory Mason of Ground Up Digital Media Ltd, a social enterprise digital agency. Presently, they are offering free health checks. They have a video on Facebook to explain the free service.

Stay informed

Finally from a forward planning perspective, keep up to date with the government’s lockdown decisions and adjust your fund raising plan accordingly. On 16 April Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, advised the daily Number 10 briefing that the lockdown restrictions in the UK will continue for “at least” another three weeks.

Get support from VAL

If you are a charity or community group and you need additional support to deliver services during the pandemic, VAL is here to help.

We can offer advice on issues that affect charities, from fundraising to proper governance and managing volunteers.

You get can in touch via:
0116 257 5050

Helen Oparinde

Helen Oparinde is a Development Officer for VAL as part of the Voluntary Sector Support team. Helen is an expert in charity governance and provides face-to-face and telephone advice to local charities and community groups. You can contact Helen at