How Furlough Has Impacted Fundraisers

3 minute read

Since the onset of the pandemic, charities across the board have had to furlough staff to keep their financials in check. But even with the extension of the furlough scheme, many third sector organisations are preparing to make tough calls as to whether or not to keep talented employees on the payroll. So what does that mean for fundraisers? 

According to recent figures from Pro Bono Economics, 23% of charities expect to make staff redundant. During furlough, the government continues to pay 80% of an employee’s wages, with employers paying employers’ pension and National Insurance contributions. Charity news platform Civil Society estimated that around 24,000 staff members were on furlough at the UK’s 20 largest charities alone, shining a light on just how tough 2020 has been on the sector.

How Furlough Has Impacted Fundraisers

How fundraising has been affected 

Many charities have reported that the lack of fundraising events has been a real contributing factor to their current situation. Research from DONATE™ shows that half of the charities surveyed predict a loss of income of over 50%, with Third Sector reporting that the crisis could drive one in ten charities to close within a year. Small charities and charitable venues, in particular, have been and continue to be hit hard by the financial impact of the pandemic.

These various situations are leading skilled fundraisers to take their talent elsewhere, and for many, to consider freelancing. Freelancing as a fundraiser presents many opportunities provided you are clear on what you are offering.


Is freelancing right for you? 

Freelancing could be a whole new you; providing you with the choice of what to work on, working on projects you are passionate about and seeing real improvements from your advice and input. To be successful, consider the following tips.



Be clear about your offer

Are you offering specialist skills, such as digital fundraising, social media, legacy fundraising or will you be a generalist. What is your USP (unique selling point)? These are important to pin down before you start applying so that you can better sell your services to potential employers.

Consider spreading your experience across multiple charities to ensure you keep your diary full. This will also help you show smaller charities how valuable digital fundraising can be. Be clear with what you are offering and to whom and in turn, you will be able to demonstrate your value in the results you deliver, whether it is corporate fundraising, legacy fundraising or digital fundraising.

How Furlough Has Impacted Fundraisers

Get up to speed on the latest tools and trends

Whilst freelancing gives you the flexibility to work on your own schedule, make sure you are up to speed on online productivity tools. Look at time management tools (eg Toggl), diary management (eg Calendly); accounting systems (eg Xero) and project management tools such as Jira, Slack and others. You can’t assume the charities you’re working with will have these readily available.

Digital fundraising platforms, such as DONATE™, are a fantastic tool to have in your armoury. According to DONATE™, 83% of charities said that their fundraising strategy had changed and 85% said that the growth in digital fundraising is here to stay.

Understanding how digital fundraising works, what the benefits are and how it can provide real-time statistics to demonstrate ROI will be a huge asset to you. Get to grips with the new technologies available and learn the new language of digital fundraising. There are many resources to help with this, including the DONATE™ blog and The Fundraiser.


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Figure out how you’d like to be paid

Suggest to your freelance clients that a part-commission payment might be a good way to balance costs. This means you are able to increase your hourly rate through commission on the amount you have raised. Typically, this is how salespeople are remunerated, however, in this new world we need to think creatively about the more traditional salary packages.


Build up your network

Networking is key to finding new contacts and building relationships, with spaces like CharityConnect which is a community for charity professionals to share knowledge and ideas to better the sector as a whole. Other community spaces to build lasting working relationships and offer opportunities to advance your career include Guild.

How Furlough Has Impacted Fundraisers

You’re not alone in your new position. A new start will drive creativity and we’ve seen just how fundraisers can cope under the pressure. Take, for example, The Ruth Strauss Foundation and their cricket match that raised £290,000 through advertising their text donation codes during the match and online. There is also The Intensive Care Society which raised £160,000 for frontline intensive care workers through text and web giving appeals backed by high profile stars, including Dame Helen Mirren.

The Covid crisis has caused a huge amount of financial pressure on businesses and, in particular, charities. However there are many tools available to help charities, fundraisers and freelancers get back on their feet, using digital and text fundraising methods, so it makes sense to get ahead of the game and become fluent in the options.

Think this sounds like the right path for you? Find out what charities are looking for freelance fundraisers today.

William Makower

William Makower is the Founder Trustee at the National Funding Scheme DONATE™ which was set up in 2013 to encourage giving via mobile devices to specific causes and campaigns. Currently, thousands of charities use the platform to better their fundraising.

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