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The voice of Scotland’s vibrant voluntary sector

Published by Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations

TFN is published by the Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations, Mansfield Traquair Centre, 15 Mansfield Place, Edinburgh, EH3 6BB. The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) is a Scottish Charitable Incorporated Organisation. Registration number SC003558.

It’s up to us to show how crucial we are

This opinion piece is about 4 years old

Lauren Semple details the issues that Covid-19 presents for charities like hers #NeverMoreNeeded

Covid-19 has had and will continue to have an impact on charities all over the country. Charities are facing their biggest challenge; providing services through this global pandemic; staff coping with the personal challenges while trying to deliver their charity's aims where the only guarantee is that the way they will work in future will be different. The lasting impact still unknown but is the only certainty. It will not just blow over.

Seeing the nation’s efforts in raising unbelievable sums of money for charities is uplifting for everyone. It is widely known that in times of crisis, people look out for each other and particularly when times are hard, dig deep to support causes close to our hearts. Those who give regularly will give even more during hard times. The fact that one individual can raise over £32 million in such a short space of time demonstrates just how much the public want to make a difference.

Furthermore, stories such as these are also a reminder to us as fundraiser that there is disposable income available and people want to share it.

How can there be a downside to a charity support package?

The government’s announcement of a £750 million charity support package to help UK charities is an incredible gesture but could be misleading for the general public.

Most people will have been blown away at the announcement. It is an incomprehensible number to the vast majority of us. However, it is less than 19% of an expected £4 billion shortfall and leaves a massive hole that charities will struggle to fill. This hasn't been widely reported, making it an even bigger challenge for charities. There’s a risk that the public will believe charities are safe as a result of this announcement. This could be hugely detrimental; on them as an organisation but significantly impacting.

What does it mean for Scotland?

Of that £750 million, only £30 million is available to Scottish charities. Every charity has been impacted by Covid-19 in some way and with more than 45,000 voluntary sector organisations in Scotland, there just isn’t enough support to go around.

Priority is understandably given to those providing front line services. It is therefore inevitable that non frontline service charities such as OneKind won’t receive additional support.
For those who will receive funding, they will have to wait longer as local authorities and grant providers wade through the massive influx of applications and prioritise who needs it most.
Some frontline service providing organisations won’t receive any funding at all.

We know the immediate impact on OneKind's income is at least £10,000 from challenge and public events but will be much more than that. OneKind needs to raise £300,000 each year and events are a vital source of our income. What know are the implications of the virus will continue for some time, so we must remain agile and adaptable to be prepared going forward. Other events including public demos, lush days and vegan festivals where we speak with the public and engage new supporters are unlikely to take place for the foreseeable future and are major aspects of our work. They help us increase petition signatures, engage the public and raise much needed funds. We can’t yet measure the full impact on losing these events.

Lauren Semple
Lauren Semple

Covid-19 has forced us, like many others to rethink how we can maintain our current work and communicate with our supporters without compromising on delivering high impact animal welfare campaigns.

That’s why it has been important for us to keep working throughout so that we can react and respond now to the immediate impact but also plan for the way forward. The whole team have continued to work from home and have been keeping up with new information, identifying new potential animal welfare issues and adapting current campaigns.

It was really important for us to continue communicating with supporters but sensitively and with appropriate messaging. Our spring appeal was completely re-written as a Covid-19 update on our situation and a “checking in” letter with the option to donate. We were totally honest with supporters about our circumstances and felt that was really important.

We are grateful to have such passionate and committed supporters. However, we know that many other small charities like OneKind, who won’t receive government support, are in a much more challenging situation. It’s up to us to ensure the public know just how crucial they are, show them that we care for them and they can make a difference so charities can keep delivering vital services for beneficiaries.

Lauren Semple is a fundraiser at OneKind, which aims to end cruelty against animals in Scotland