Halloween is fast approaching, and charities face a number of increasingly frightening operational threats this year
Attacks from cyber criminals, competition for funding and the search for donors can be challenging in any year. But in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has stepped up the level of threat considerably.
With more home working, the risks around cyber security are greater. With lockdowns continuing across the UK, face-to-face fundraising becomes increasingly difficult.
Leadership also faces a challenging time as the battle against racism and prejudice within charity’s own ranks steps up.
All of these things taken together can add up to a very scary Halloween for charities. But it doesn’t have to be. There are digital solutions in place that can help to mitigate these risks and keep your organisation running safely and sustainably.
Here we outline some of the key threats facing charities this Halloween and the digital solutions that can help them for many years to come. We’ve broken them down by topic area.
Charity Fraud Awareness Week earlier this month revealed the scale of the threat from criminals that charities face – a threat that has escalated during the pandemic.
During the promotional push, the Charity Commission revealed that charities have reported being victims of criminals 645 times since March. This amounts to £3.6m in losses in total by charities. With fraud traditionally underreported, the regulator warns that incidences of crime may be even higher.
An increase in online activities, including staff working remotely, has been a factor in the heightened threat from cyber criminals.
There is a raft of digital solutions available to help fend off the threat of crime, especially among homeworkers.
We’ve put together a few resources to help you keep secure when working from home.
Public giving figures released in September proved scary reading among charities. The analysis by think tank nfpSynergy found that over the summer, just 54% of the public gave to good causes. This is a 15 percent drop from January and “the lowest level of giving we have ever recorded” said a statement from the think tank.
Charity shop closures, curbs on street collections and cancellations of in-person events have impacted on charities’ ability to fundraise this year.
The fall in public donations to charities could be around £1bn, estimates online fundraising platform Omaze. And according to Blackbaud Europe’s Status of UK Fundraising 2020 Benchmark Report, 27% of charity professionals say their income has fallen.
Digital is key to solving this problem. Fundraising platforms such as JustGiving, Virgin Money Giving and Givey can encourage their supporters to ask for donations and take part in their own virtual sponsorship events. The most notable of these was the pivoting of the London Marathon to a virtual fundraiser this year due to COVID-19 restrictions.
But there are so many more digital solutions to help charities seek out donations this year. Effective customer relationship management (CRM) systems, such as Salesforce.org’s Nonprofit Cloud as well as Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Customer Service, are key to this. Using digital tools to nurture relationships with supporters and fend off income losses can be as effective as garlic is at repelling vampires at Halloween.
Event management has been thrown into chaos this year, through social distancing guidelines making mass events difficult to impossible. But this has not stopped events taking place successfully online. We have already mentioned the success in pivoting mass participation fundraisers, such as marathons, online. The same solutions have been found for conferences that have been cancelled this year.
Through these virtual conferences, charity leaders can still learn about best practice and take part in discussions, often from their own home as they adjust to remote working.
Charity Digital has been among charity sector organisations championing online conferencing and webinars. This has included a Charity Digital webinar staged earlier this month on How to run effective webinars. Another has been our #BeMoreDigital Fundraising Day, an extension of last year’s Digital Fundraising Day. This year’s virtual event aimed to help charities navigate fundraising challenges.
Governance issues can be challenging for charities to manoeuvre, especially when threats to ethical practice come from within their own organisation.
Chief among these threats has been racism, which the charity sector has increasingly looked to address, especially in a year when Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
Among charitable organisations to carry out reviews to address racism in their organisation are the National Council for Voluntary Organisations and Christian Aid.
Morning all. @ncvo colleagues and I are talking today about the work we've started doing on equity, diversity & inclusion at @NCVO.— Karl Wilding (@karlwilding) August 5, 2020
We’re not doing this because we’ve got this right, or because we're a good model. We’re sharing because we hope others might learn from us. Thread.
There are a number of digital solutions to help charities tackle racism. This includes online resources made available by the campaign group CharitySoWhite. This month the group launched two surveys to gather a clearer insight into the voluntary sector and how it can be more equitable and anti-racist.
Removing unconscious biases in recruitment is also an area digital can help. For example, Comic Relief uses the digital platform Applied to carry out measures such as anonymising candidate names.