Macmillan expects to lose almost £100m this year, its fundraising director says

Claire Rowney tells Third Sector's online Fundraising Conference that the coronavirus pandemic will have a significant impact

Claire Rowney
Claire Rowney

Macmillan Cancer Support expects to lose almost £100m in voluntary income this financial year as a result of the coronavirus crisis, its head of fundraising has said.

Speaking at Third Sector’s virtual Fundraising Conference last week, Claire Rowney said the crisis had been “a very big shock” to the charity and had significantly affected the amount it received in donations.

She said the charity would have expected to bring in about £235m from voluntary donations in its financial year to 31 December 2020, but now expected the figure to be about £140m.

“The challenges are real,” she said, adding that because the charity receives no statutory funding and relies largely on its voluntary income the predicted drop would have a “really significant impact on the charity overall”.

In 2018, the most recent year for which accounts are available, voluntary income accounted for 90 per cent of Macmillan’s £236m income, at £213m, with trading making up an additional 8 per cent.

The charity has already furloughed 600 of its 2,000 or so staff as it attempts to come to terms with the effects of the outbreak. 

Rowney said the charity had decided early in the pandemic, when it became clear that donations would be hit, not to go out and ask for money immediately.

Instead, she said, the charity had chosen to focus on building relevance with supporters to ensure they understood the work the charity was doing to support people with cancer throughout the crisis.

She said the charity had worked to produce versions of its physical events and to look at which of its fundraising products would still be effective under lockdown conditions.

It had also tried to strike a balance between recruiting new supporters and doubling down on ensuring that existing supporters understood the importance of their contributions to the charity during the crisis.

Rowney added that the charity was now looking to 2021 as an opportunity for recovery.

“I should say that a lot of my time now is focused on how we can make 2021 as big as possible,” she said.

“We’ve identified the products we think can make a difference this year, but next year is now about making it as big as possible and establishing how we can reinvest.”

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