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Part one: how to run an end of financial year appeal in the middle of a global pandemic

As the planning for the last fundraising push of the financial year is well underway, a global pandemic such as the current COVID-19 crisis will undoubtedly disrupt timelines and plans.

We’ve been asked many times whether charities should still run an appeal at this time. Overseeing potentially significant operational changes combined with an unstable economic climate makes it logical to assume now is not the right time for an appeal.

Our answer is always the same.

YES. Yes, your end of financial year appeal should go ahead. Your donors still care more than ever. While many may not be able to donate, many can and charities must give themselves every opportunity to maximise all fundraising opportunities just at any other time.

That said, it’s currently not just business as usual.

Follow our guide on how to run a tax appeal during a global pandemic to get the most out of your upcoming campaign.

Don’t assume people won’t give

With a likely disruption to operations and an unstable economy, it seems logical to assume that the current appeal won’t be as successful as previous years. There has never been a more important time for people to donate than right now and it’s important that you write your appeal based on this information.

The urgency needs to be just as prominent as ever. Of course, many donors are dealing with unexpected financial hardship which may change their priorities, but many aren’t. Those who can give may even be more generous than usual.

Continue to include strong asks in your appeal and highlight your plight just as passionately as you normally would.

Don’t focus solely on the pandemic

Unless your charity directly raises funds that will help this immediate issue, it’s wise to continue with your original campaign as planned. Your supporters are loyal to your cause and your mission and goals mustn’t stray too far away from their relationship with you purely based on the pandemic.

But don’t ignore the issue either

COVID-19 is currently a global issue impacting everyone in the world in some form or another. In light of this, it must be addressed with your audience. It only needs to be added as a ‘PS’ or including appropriate such as a reference to social distancing, but it is relevant so don’t ignore it completely.

Review budget

Your budgets may have changed since the initial planning at the start of the financial year. In some cases, you may also need to source new quotes for elements such as supplies and printing if local businesses have had to close down. It’s wise to review the plan with a fine-tooth comb and implement a contingency plan where necessary.

If the cost of writing and printing a direct mail appeal is no longer viable, you can still run a strong appeal by making some low-cost alternatives. Instead of printing, use an email database or online methods such as your website and social media.

Make it appropriate

If you’ve already created the crux of your appeal, you must make it appropriate before it’s sent. This may mean removing any photos that don’t support social distancing or removing references to holding hands or travelling. This doesn’t have to change the whole basis of the appeal, but those tweaks should be made.

Review giving options

If postage is your main source of receiving donations, with current postal delays, make it known that the preference has now changed to online giving and for this reason. While donations will turn up at some point, the postal service is currently unreliable which may delay cheques being received.

Be respectful

You must carry on your appeal wherever possible. Bear in mind though, that you’re likely to be talking to people who have been directly impacted by the crisis. Acknowledge that this is an uncertain time for many people and that you’re aware they may have been impacted in some form or another. Nobody will blame you for fundraising during this time, but you do need to be sensitive to those reading the appeal and any potential situation they may be in.

To support charities through this period of uncertainty, SupporterHub has increased its FREE trial to help charities better prepare for the future from a technological perspective. To find out more, contact us today.