If you run a charity, you’ll know how tough things have been since the pandemic hit.
In a chain reaction, suppression of fundraising by lockdowns, social distancing and general fear has meant that many causes most in need have suffered from reduced support.
One survey commissioned by the COVID-19 Support Fund found that 1.6 million people cancelled direct debits to charities, while it estimated 2.2m would cut back on their donations post-pandemic.
Despite all that, many charities have shown remarkable resilience over the last two years. And while it can be risky to talk of green shoots of recovery too soon, it is to be hoped that some of the challenges charities face in 2022 will be around seizing new opportunities, rather than firefighting.
Here is our look at what’s on the horizon.
Embracing physical-event fundraising again
In the second half of 2021, physical events made a comeback.
Although it looks like there will be an ongoing battle between vaccine efficacy and variant mutations, you probably sense that lockdowns will now be the last resort in a rising repertoire of defences against COVID-19.
So, if physical-event fundraising is important to your efforts, careful planning should be invested into how you can put on successful events while managing the risks of spreading COVID-19, cancellation or curtailment at short notice, and staff or participants failing to engage.
Digital: the new frontier
If you try to find positives from the pandemic, you might pick up on the way in which so much of society, including charities, flipped to digital solutions at short notice.
Charity Commission research found 49% of charities reported that staff/volunteers had learnt to make better use of digital technology.
From Zoom meetings to virtual events and growth in digital donations, much online innovation for charities seems like it will be here to stay.
Getting the balance right between digital and real-world will help make operational efficiency savings while opening up new ways to raise funds.
And as for fundraising, there are now more channels than you can shake a stick at. Old-fashioned media like email, Facebook and Twitter should be supplemented with various live-streaming options and channels like TikTok.
We’ve even seen charities doing clever things with Artificial Intelligence: like innovative use of chatbots, natural language processing to engage through Amazon Alexa, Google Nest, and more. Could hiring a digital marketing manager or engaging with a digital agency be a solution?
Understanding new regulation
As ever, there is regulatory change to get to grips with in 2022. In their business plan for 2021/22, the Charity Commission is prioritising a step-change in their robust approach to regulation. While this is to be welcomed, it may be a wake-up call to some to get their houses in order.
Furthermore, if your charity falls within the scope of public procurement rules or supplies the public sector, be aware that procurement threshold values are changing on 1 January 2022.
At face value, they are increasing. But, in a significant change, they will now be inclusive of VAT. This means that when VAT is applicable, more procurement will be affected. It will need a change in approach from your procurement teams.
Watch out for internal disputes
The Charity Commission notes that both volume and intensity of disputes within charities – often among trustees – has increased. While unpleasant in themselves, they can lead to wider governance issues.
If (or even before) this occurs, some HR input may be helpful to ensure that best practices are followed and your culture is positive.
Whether you wish to ensure your books are in order, budget for new staff or projects, or just have a question about some of the issues you face, please do not hesitate to get in touch. We’re happy to help.