The latest article in our series on hybrid working explores how charities can continue workplace fundraising with a workforce split between work and home
Charity activity in the workplace is vital for fundraising in the UK. Corporate support is worth more than £420 million to the charity sector, according to the Directory of Social Change.
Since the emergence of skills-based volunteering schemes, donations to charity in cash terms have been on the decline, but it remains an important revenue stream for charities looking to advance their cause. Perhaps even more so after volunteering activity was disrupted during the pandemic.
In fact, COVID-19 put both avenues of support into jeopardy when offices closed last year. The Donor Pulse Report: Summer 2021, from donation platform Enthuse, revealed that 58% of the UK workforce were displaced from their normal place of work amid lockdown in 2020.
Even now, as restrictions ease in the UK, a third of workers still do not have a sense of when they will return. It is a mixed bag in terms of how often they will do so, too, with exactly half expecting to return to the office three days a week or less or have a flexible arrangement.
This means that workplace fundraising needs to adapt, in order for both parties to feel the benefits. Businesses benefit from a more engaged workforce and improved reputation. More than half of British adults said they were more likely to buy a brand or service if the company donates to charitable causes.
Charities, meanwhile, receive long-term support and funds to continue delivering their services.
It’s a win-win situation, one that both parties wish to see continue amid other changes in workplace practices. As workplaces shift to a hybrid model – with teams mixed between working from home and the office – charities need to find a way to include everyone in fundraising activities, no matter where they work from.
It needs to be as easy as possible, for as many people as possible, to join in.
There are many considerations to take into account – there will be a lot less people in the office every day, and with staggered working days, they won’t always be the same faces. It will be harder to coordinate campaigns and appeals that run or launch on a particular day, and less face-to-face contact means there will be much less opportunity for cash donations.
But where there is a will, there is a way. The pandemic has demonstrated just how agile the charity sector can be.
Many organisations have already held virtual events in place of those attended in-person. It is now a case of taking the lessons learned from 2020, and applying them to the hybrid model of 2021.
Here we outline some of the ways charities can encourage fundraising in a hybrid environment.
Workplace fundraising activities can be anything from a live event or an ongoing challenge for employees, such as step-counts for Cancer Research UK or a walking challenge for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust..
Heeding the lessons we’ve learned during the pandemic, it is possible for both types of activities to cater to a hybrid audience. Live events can be broadcast over video conferencing technology such as Zoom or Skype, or streamed through social media with services like Facebook and Instagram Live.
Similarly, challenge activities can be easily co-ordinated remotely. Branded fundraising hubs and microsites can be created through platforms like Enthuse, so that employees can register and monitor their fundraising progress as they go.
Ultimately, the most important consideration for hybrid fundraising is making sure everyone feels part of the activity.
This leads to greater engagement and, consequently, more funds raised.
Implementing live Q&As, digital polls, or live streaming are all excellent ways to encourage interaction for live events, while social media hashtags, dedicated sites or apps, or even a humble WhatsApp group can go a long way to building that sense of community around an activity as participants watch funds grow.
The pandemic has delivered plenty of inspiration for hybrid fundraising as charities move forwards. London Marathon’s 2020 Virtual Marathon allowed more runners from different locations to raise money for their chosen charity, providing them with an official app to clock their miles on a course of their choice on the day of the marathon.
Edinburgh Dogs and Cats Home also recently held a bevvy of hybrid events, from its virtual 5k – Jog with Gobi – to its annual In the Dog House event, in which business leaders from across Edinburgh are locked in kennels until they reach their fundraising target.
In 2020, the event was fully virtual, with participants able to join in from their home (still locked in, though, lest they forfeit the chance to win the ‘Top Dog’ trophy at the end of the day). Participants checked in using the #InTheDogHouse2020 hashtag and given a virtual welcome pack to remind them of the rules. The event was rounded off with celebratory drinks over Zoom.
The Donor Pulse Report found that health challenges were most popular among employees under the age of 40, followed by bake sales, abstinence challenges and pub sports. Lunch-and-learns also proved popular, with employees taking part in lunchtime sessions to learn new things about charities or their cause.
Bake sales and volunteering days are among the harder fundraising activities to make hybrid, but dress up days, challenges, and lunch-and-learns can be adapted easily with the help of videoconferencing.
Other hybrid fundraising ideas include gaming tournaments, which can easily be streamed and attended live, and crafternoon sessions, where employees take part in hobby classes such as knitting and painting. Quizzes, as we all found out firsthand last year, also lend themselves to hybrid fundraising, able to cater to both remote and in-person audiences.
Whatever the activity, the most important thing for workplace fundraising has always been creating a sense of community. If more people want to get involved – and now are able to do so, thanks to hybrid capabilities – the better the fundraising results will be.
The pandemic may have limited the number of people in the office at any one time, but with a few adjustments and greater inclusivity, there is no reason it should limit fundraising. The more is still very much the merrier.
Click above to discover more about donation trends in the UK via the Donor Pulse Report: Summer 2021