Fundraisers have a duty to ask for donations despite the pandemic, report finds

Fundraisers have a duty to ask for donations on behalf of beneficiaries despite the economic woes caused by the coronavirus pandemic, according to the fundraising think tank Rogare.

A new report published by the think tank, called Advocating for Fundraising During Emergencies, argues that a fundraiser’s main duty to beneficiaries is to ensure the services they rely on and use are funded during the pandemic.

The report, which is a fourth of Rogare’s project to review how coronavirus might affect fundraising, identifies a range of arguments from charities, leaders and donors that claim fundraising is “inappropriate” during the coronavirus pandemic.

It says that some charities are concerned about being criticised for being insensitive by asking for support during the pandemic, particularly if they are not engaged in “front-line response”.

But it rationalises that because fundraisers “have a duty to their beneficiaries – the people they serve – they risk criticism by not fundraising”. 

The report says communications teams have advised fundraisers to stop sending out direct marketing because it might be seen as inappropriate while potential donors are enduring economic hardship, and boards have said legacy fundraising should cease because it might be seen as offensive.

Other criticisms of fundraising outlined in the report include the perception that it’s in poor taste and seems greedy. In response, it argues that “if we stop fundraising now because we are concerned about perception, we risk losing donors now and having to increase our costs later to make up for it".

The report also points out the positive social impact of giving. It says that people are looking for ways to feel connected to each other during the social distancing measures currently in place, so “giving can offer that sense of connection”. 

It adds: “There's been research during the pandemic that shows just this – that people want to carry on supporting the charities they give to and are waiting to be asked.”

The project that led to the report was led out of Canada because it is based on a fundraising narrative Rogare developed for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Canada last year.

To support its claims, the report points to research from CanadaHelp, which reveals that in March there was a 62 per cent year-on-year increase in donors, with a 92 per cent spike in overall donations to various charities. 

“Giving a gift, of whatever size, to charity is a hugely positive and empowering action for a person to take”, the report says.

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