How public fundraisers are adapting to reduced social distancing measures

06 October 2021
Data, Research and Analysis
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Following the recent ‘COVID-19, taking the pulse of public fundraising’ surveys, Chartered Institute’s Policy and Information Officer Charlotte Sherman looks in this blog at how charities are approaching COVID safety measures.

With social distancing restrictions lifted or relaxed across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, charities and agencies have needed to decide which COVID safety measures to keep. As part of our ‘COVID-19, taking the pulse of public fundraising’ surveys, we asked our members how they are approaching COVID safety measures, as well as how restarting activities is progressing.

We hope that the results provide a snapshot of the status of public fundraising as we enter into the final stages of the pandemic and start discussions on how it will continue to adapt in 2022. 

Has public fundraising activity increased?

Activity has accelerated compared to our last survey in May, when most respondents confirmed they had restarted, but at lower levels than pre-pandemic. Now, charities and agencies are reporting more (and in some cases significantly more) door-to-door and private site activity. Street fundraising activity remains slightly lower, which mirrors previous surveys. This could be explained by the challenges they are facing, with many reporting recruitment, and subsequently how much fundraising they can carry out, increasingly becoming an issue.

Unsurprisingly, the main challenges public fundraisers are facing are the same as 5 months ago – budget, capacity and reputation are still at the forefront of charities and agencies’ minds. Some pointed out that this will not change for a while, especially with the furlough scheme lifting and continued uncertainty.

Which COVID safety measures have public fundraisers stopped using?

The short answer is none. Over 60% of respondents are still maintaining a 2m distance, asking fundraisers to wear facemasks, providing staff with hand sanitizer, not providing members of the public with handouts, or using contactless payments. Some mentioned that a hybrid approach which reflects the wishes of the supporter was effective, whilst others are now encouraging (rather than requiring) fundraisers to use COVID safety measures.

The top three reasons for keeping measures in place show us that donor and fundraiser safety and wellbeing remains a priority. An overwhelming 97% stated ensuring staff and donors are safe is a top priority, 78% thought the public would not feel comfortable being approached by fundraisers without social distancing measures, and the same amount cited reputational risk as a key factor. With this in mind, it is unsurprising that over 70% have not decided when they will lift measures, and some have no plans to do so.

What can we expect to see in 2022?

In our last survey, it was uplifting to hear that the public were pleased seeing fundraisers back in action. This enthusiasm remains strong- sign-ups are steadily increasing and the number of positive comments continues to outstrip the negative. As we move into 2022, over 50% of respondents were confident or very confident they will meet their objectives next year.

Overall, the future is positive. Most have confirmed their investment into street, door-to-door or private site will remain stable, with over 30% have confirming they plan to invest more. Although there are still challenges ahead - many highlighted that it has never been harder to recruit face-to-face fundraisers and are concerned with rising costs- its clear that charities and agencies have the tools and knowledge to meaningfully engage with the public.

Charlotte Sherman
Charlotte Sherman
Information and Policy Officer at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising
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