Coronavirus: 'Reflect seriously' on public fundraising, charities told

But Institute of Fundraising figures show that ceasing face-to-face fundraising activity could have major repercussions on charitable income

Charities should “reflect seriously” on whether to continue public fundraising during the coronavirus outbreak, the Institute of Fundraising and the Fundraising Regulator have warned, as the IoF raised the possibility that charities will lose hundreds of millions of pounds of income.

In a joint briefing published today, the membership body and the regulator said charities should carry out a thorough assessment of the risks to the public, fundraisers and volunteers posed by continuing to raise funds, and should consider pausing it if necessary.

At the same time, IoF data suggests that if fundraising were to stop completely for the next financial year, there could be a severe fall in the number of donors and charitable income, as well as job losses.

An IoF spokeswoman told Third Sector: “Based on the IoF’s data on year-on-year sign ups, if no further face-to-face fundraising happens in 2020/2021, we predict there would be a loss of 800,000 supporters who would have signed up to charitable causes through door-to-door, street and private-site fundraising.

“This could lead to hundreds of millions of pounds in lost income for charities over the next few years.”

She added that, if face-to-face fundraising agencies were to go under, as many as 3,000 jobs could be at risk.

The statement issued by the Fundraising Regulator and the IoF today followed on from government guidance on social distancing measures to reduce contact between people and stem the spread of the disease.

The statement said: “The IoF and Fundraising Regulator advise all charities to reflect seriously on whether to continue public fundraising (face-to-face, door-to-door and private-site) due to the increased health risk to the population at large, as well as to fundraisers and volunteers.

“A thorough risk assessment should be carried out, and any decision to continue public fundraising should be documented and made at the most senior level.”

It said concerns had been raised about the issue by IoF and regulator members, as well as by members of the public, and the guidance was issued with a view to maintaining the reputation of charities and charitable fundraising.

“The Fundraising Regulator and the IoF passionately believe in the generosity of the British public and know that public fundraising will have a large role to play in the future of charitable giving across the UK,” the statement said.

“We will do all we can to make sure the sector is supported to recommence this hugely important work in the future.”

Both organisations said they were already taking steps to support any charities and fundraisers affected.

The IoF said it was calling on government to provide a safety net, including financial support for charities and fundraising agencies, had created a virtual forum for agencies to discuss how best to work together and was providing additional guidance.

The regulator said it would be publishing practical advice over the coming days and weeks to ensure the sector is supported as the situation developed, and urged charities to get in touch if they needed further guidance.

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