As England goes into another lockdown, Andy Harris from Shelter says that the fundraising world was shifting long before the pandemic hit and explains what they’ve been doing to keep spirits high.
People buy from people they like, trust and admire we’ve heard it time and time again. Fundraising is a contact sport. Fundraisers are typically the life and soul of the party. We believe we can change the world. And when down we pick each other up. As fundraisers we cope with rejection on a daily basis, despite this rejection we never give up.
In mid-March we were told to stay at home and at this point the fundraising world changed. In truth it had started shifting before that. Many of us have lost people we love and seen family, loved ones, friends, colleagues and our community suffer as a result of Covid-19. And thousands of fundraisers have lost their job too. Charities hold communities together, provide vital support to millions, empower people to speak up when their rights are threatened, and drive forward positive change. And yet so many charities are fighting for their very survival which is really frightening but as fundraisers we must never give up.
At Shelter we are fighting social injustice in towns and cities up and down the country. Millions of people are depending on us. A few weeks ago, I swapped roles with the Services Director and spent the week meeting people who use our services and colleagues who deliver them. They are all depending on fundraising to nail it. Charities, including Shelter, play a unique role in harnessing community spirit and collective goodwill so failure really isn’t an option and more than ever we need to knock it out of the park, we must never give up.
Like many I’ve been working from home for months and the thought of not hanging out properly with my awesome, fun loving, and infectious fundraising chums makes me sad. But I will never give up. At Shelter we’ve not given up. We are fighters…
We have kept the Disney hands high. We are fundraisers because we inspire people to donate money to change the world, our impact, skills and passion is precious but like all superpowers we need to use it wisely and carefully. That doesn’t mean we plough on regardless we just need to be swan like gliding effortlessly along the water whilst paddling like mad underneath.
We have slowed down to go faster. At Shelter we’ve arranged our income generating products into four categories; let go, go big or go home, test and grow. It is unarguable the world has changed and so should fundraising we’ve sadly not got time for precious cow shaped products.
We have trusted each other to get the job done. It is a marathon not a sprint. I still hear of charities who insist that employees are logged on and ready to start work at 9am. Some even check. Seriously what is wrong with starting 30 minutes later and making it up at the end of the day. We aren’t working at home we are living at work. I trust my colleagues to get the job done and they’ve not let me down. Wellbeing has always been important but now it is critical.
We have got personal. We have been meeting regularly as a whole team on zoom and I will never forget the joy of seeing so many smiling cheerful faces looking back at me. In an instant I felt less alone. I’ve shared more about myself than ever before and I know more about my colleagues too. We’ve seen inside each other’s homes, been introduced to loved ones, kids and plenty of pets too. At Shelter we’ve hosted tons of online opportunities to enable supporters to see the impact their donations are having and thanked thousands of them too. And a few weeks ago, we hosted our inaugural week of fundraising action which included a daily webinar for colleagues to dip in and out of.
We have reasons to be cheerful. Despite what is happening in the world we do have plenty to be cheerful about. At Shelter we’ve been sharing reasons to be cheerful, we even have a yammer page dedicated to it. We share them amongst ourselves and we also share them with our supporters. And guess what it is hands down one of the best things we’ve done.
Never give up. The world needs us more than ever before.