Here’s how you can help charities cope with Covid-19 – Lianne Lodge

You might be surprised by what you can offer, says Lianne Lodge
Lianne Lodge is Partner and Head of Charities, Gillespie Macandrew.Lianne Lodge is Partner and Head of Charities, Gillespie Macandrew.
Lianne Lodge is Partner and Head of Charities, Gillespie Macandrew.

The effects of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown have been felt far and wide and the charity sector has been particularly vulnerable. With the reduction in fundraising opportunities, the previous appetite for gala dinners, marathons and other fundraising activities has all but been extinguished. The future does not look easy.

Uncertainty remains the biggest challenge for the sector. How will fundraising change? When can charities begin to deliver services again? How should organisations deal with staff in the meantime? And crucially, what will the new normal look like?

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A recent survey by OSCR, the Office of the Scottish Charity Regulator, found 95 per cent of charities have had to take action to counter the effect of Covid-19 on their organisation. 78 per cent have had to cancel or postpone planned work or events due to lockdown and one in five said they felt there might be a critical threat to their organisation within the next 12 months. That said, the charity sector in Scotland is resilient and often responds positively in a crisis. What can you do to help?

– Serve on a board: do you have skills that might be useful to a charity? If so consider applying for a position on a board of a charity. Serving as a charity trustee can be very rewarding and charities require a variety of guidance from marketing and HR to finance, logistics and project management. Interestingly, I’m aware of a number of people who, having used the lockdown period to ‘take stock’, are now interested in giving something back.

– Volunteer: you could volunteer in a shop or to deliver food parcels, or utilise your skills to help with a specific project.

– Give effectively: this may be as simple as ticking the Gift Aid box (assuming you are a UK tax payer and pay sufficient tax), but for larger gifts or legacies, consider if you want to restrict them to a particular cause or are content for them to be used by the charity as they see fit. If you have gifted previously with restrictions, consider contacting the charity with a view to relaxing these to help it through this difficult period. If you intend to gift regularly to a charity, consider telling them as it may be useful in cash-flow projections.

– Support in non-financial ways: charities often rely on public awareness to help their cause, financially and otherwise. Follow and engage with charities you are interested in on social media; it can really help raise their profile.

– Partnership working: some of the most effective, meaningful projects occur when charities work together or with businesses to deliver a sustainable project. If you have an idea, get in touch.

It would be naïve to think the charity sector in Scotland is somehow protected from Covid-19 and its effects, but it is equally naïve to think that it will simply sit back and surrender. My experience of those involved in charities is that they are committed and passionate about the causes they support. As a nation we can engage with and support this, and take this time to reflect on how we can build a stronger, more resilient sector together for the benefit of all.

If you are interested in helping a charity, get in touch with them directly to see what help they need and how this might align with what you can offer – you might be surprised.

Lianne Lodge is Partner and Head of Charities, Gillespie Macandrew.

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