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Charities step up fundraising efforts as COVID-19 hits donations

On 22 May, the UK government announced £22 million in cash grants to health and care charities as part of a £750m package to support the charity sector during the COVID-19 pandemic.      

Charities hope the funding will help keep them afloat during the pandemic. Demand for services has risen but income has dropped due to cancelled fundraisers and reduced donations since the lockdown began on 23 March.

This is especially true for groups whose work may not directly support the COVID-19 effort. By the end of March, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) estimated the sector could stand to lose £4bn within 12 weeks. 

London-based charity Teenage Cancer Trust provides specialised nursing care to cancer patients aged 13-24. The organisation doesn’t know whether it will qualify to receive the recently announced government support. Director of funding Liz Tait said she expects the group will lose half its income during the pandemic. 

“Cancer doesn’t stop for anything,” said Tait. “Our primary focus remains making sure young people with cancer receive the best treatment, care, and support – especially as the coronavirus means they are facing more isolation and uncertainty than ever before.” 

With all major fundraising events cancelled or postponed for the year, the charity has launched an emergency appeal for £5m in order to maintain their frontline services. 

Friends for Life (FFL), a small charity in Bedford that provides emotional support to elderly residents in care homes, relies heavily on grants to maintain their operations. Fundraising director Kathryn Hughes worries benefactors may redirect their resources to charities more directly involved in the response to COVID-19.  

Accordingly, Hughes says the charity needs to adjust its fundraising tactics in this new landscape. FFL launches their first text-to-give campaign this month and took part in the popular #TwoPointSixChallenge in May. 

Created by the organisers of the London Marathon – which was to have taken place on 26 April  – the initiative encouraged charities to take on challenges involving the numbers two and six. FFL saw volunteers bake 26 cupcakes, walk 26,000 steps in a day, and jump 262 times on a trampoline. 

“I mean [the pandemic] definitely challenges people to think outside the box and step away from their usual patterns of doing things,” says Hughes. “It brings opportunities for creativity, and that’s a good thing.” 

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