How can you fundraise during a pandemic?

By  Andrew Broughton

August 10, 2020

As the PR Officer and Treasurer for my local hospital radio station, it's been an interesting few weeks! Is this just a "temporary" blip or will we see some of these changes become the “norm”?
Certainly there will be a lot of changes, both short-term and long-term for charities. For many of us we've seen the way we work change virtually overnight, our fundraising events have been wiped out, our committee meetings have become virtual and - in our case - we have been unable to access our studios.
As a hospital radio station it's always been logical for our studios to be located on the hospital premises. But when the NHS are, quite rightly, reducing footfall at hospitals,we've ended up not being able to access our studios, wiping out our live request shows for the hospital. We've slowly started broadcasting shows that we've recorded as only a handful of us have the equipment to record shows at home.
Our big fundraising events last year were a Blues night and a 90s night - both of which are unable to happen all the time that pubs and entertainment venues remain closed. So we're having to re-think how we are going to raise money this year. But that's not such a bad thing. A few years ago we held a "song marathon weekend" when we asked listeners to donate money while we played songs over the weekend - a simple to organise event that did us well and would work even with social distancing in place. Other radio stations have launched on-air appeals and I saw one station had quickly secured over £20k by mid-April to stay on air. So keeping it simple can also be effective.
Moving committee meetings to virtual ones seems to be working fine and saves us all having to be in one place at the same time. We've already agreed that we will run a virtual training session prior to our return to our studios. If this proves a success, we could consider virtual training sessions for the future too, which would save on the expense of paying for venues. Clearly that won’t be a solution for everything; I'm not too sure that delivering a first aid course online will be as straightforward!
We've always collaborated and worked with other charities. We regularly mention on air the work and events of other charities and add these to our website and social media as part of our community information (adverts that are free of charge to them). And we've benefitted from funding for our air conditioning units from other charities. Within the hospital, we are one of many charities with the same goal of providing a better environment for patients. Ours is around providing music and entertainment whereas other charities focus on different areas, such as the friends of the hospital providing equipment or toiletries to patients.
Sometimes it's easy to do the same thing over and over again because that's what we're used to. Perhaps many of us will end up having the COVID-19 pandemic as a catalyst for change, giving us the opportunity to review what we do and come up with new ideas for the future.

To summarise, what should you do if you are looking to fundraise? 

Here are my top tips:

Keep it simple (and safe)
Find other charities and groups that you can collaborate with
Explore the various Covid-19 grants that are available
Join the CIPR Not for Profit group’s next Q&A webinar about fundraising comms 

While the grants will be a good short-term option, collaborating with other charities and groups will potentially bring long-term benefits.

The CIPR NfP webinar on fundraising comms will take place on 26 August 2020. This will be a fantastic opportunity to hear some great advice and ask your questions and it will contribute to your CPD points too. Follow @CIPRnfp on Twitter to be notified about the event.


Andrew Broughton is a member of the CIPR Not-For-Profit Committee, Senior Media Relations Manager at Highways England and PR Officer and Treasurer for the Ashford Hospital Broadcasting Service, the hospital radio service for the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, Kent.