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19th November 2020

How face-to-face fundraising has changed (and stayed the same) post lockdown

Published by Corey Harris, Fundraiser Relationship Manager at The Professional Fundraiser on LinkedIn, 5 October 2020

“The world has changed, and I don’t know whether it will ever be the same again”. These are not my words but the words of a fundraiser who has recently returned to fundraising. He worked as a delivery driver during lockdown but is now ready, eager and excited to go back to doing what he does best, raising money for charities.

Those words are a microcosm of what people all over the world are thinking since the inception of COVID-19.

How can I keep safe? Will I need to make any changes to my behaviour? How is my work life going to change?

These are some of the questions TPF’s team members have raised and it’s up to us, as a charity agency to make sure both fundraisers and the general public feel safe and secure. 

What does face to face fundraising look like in a Post COVID 19 world?

The image of a charity stand must show that both charities and fundraising agencies understand people’s concerns and want to keep them, as well as the fundraiser, safe. This means that changes to Points of Sale is imperative. Stylish mats clearly showing 2 metre social distancing, pull up banners showing charities are COVID-19 secure, hand sanitiser stations, sneeze shields and visors are just some of the changes that we’ve made to make donors and fundraisers feel safe.

What is it like out in the field for a fundraiser?

Public behaviours have stayed much the same. There are still people who suddenly take a great interest in shop windows when they see a charity fundraiser from afar - even when at the risk of walking into a post or possibly another person! However, there is still a great enthusiasm from the public for charities and there has been no negative feedback received by fundraisers related to them carrying out their work.

Charities still have the power to engage people, and people still want to stop and donate or talk about how that charity has impacted them, a family member or friend. There have also been technological advances within the industry, partly driven by COVID-19 with the inception of software that allows signing up of donors contactless. This means a customer can keep to social distancing rules and fundraisers still have the capacity to sign people up to give regularly to a charity without the need for the customer to touch any equipment.

There are definite challenges with face to face fundraising during COVID-19; Footfall is slightly down in all venues and there is a dichotomy in public behaviour - some are more cautious to approach a fundraiser given the current climate, whereby others completely forget about the social distancing rules in place and try to interact in a way more associated with the pre COVID-19 era, the good old days!

To address the latter, point above; I have seen conscientious fundraisers politely remind our customers of the COVID-19 rules in place, making use of the variety of POS available to remind them of the new ways of interacting. Additionally, fundraisers have encouraged those customers to continue conversations behind their sneeze shields gently reinforcing the social distancing message and also allaying any fears for those customers who are understandably cautious.

So what?

Peoples behaviours have changed in some circumstances. Footfall is generally lower but the appetite and willingness of people to donate to charities is still there. So not only must a fundraiser be compliant, honest and approachable (nothing changed there), but there is a bigger responsibility for fundraisers to be COVID-19 compliant, to keep themselves safe, keep the public safe and make everybody feel safe, be that through the PPE they wear, by the highly visible signage displayed, or by their own interactions.

Stay safe everyone!

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