Fundraising for families in lockdown

Every charity in the UK is experiencing financial challenges as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and Children 1st is no exception. It is estimated that charities across the UK, combined, are facing a £4 billion shortfall and that as many as 100,000 charities could close.

At this difficult time, we are continuing to be there for children and families across Scotland. Demand for our existing services has never been higher and we are responding to new, previously unimaginable, needs while our income is uncertain.

As Director of Fundraising I’ve been continually assessing the impact of coronavirus on our ability to generate income for the charity. Huge amounts of our planned fundraising activities have had to be postponed or cancelled which is creating a significant shortfall in the donations that we rely on. This shortfall in income has been incredibly worrying for me. However, I have been thrilled and delighted by the efforts of our supporters and staff to close that gap in income.

What have we been doing?

On the 23rd March, the day that lockdown was announced, I worked with the team to launch an urgent appeal for funds. After discussion with colleagues working directly with children, we decided the appeal should ask for support to provide games, activities and essential items for families. We had only decided that we needed to offer this support to families on Thursday 19th March, so it was amazing that within three days we pulled the appeal together and by the following Monday afternoon support was going out to families.

But we couldn’t rely on appeals like this – we had to make sure that we found ways to deliver some of our planned fundraising activities in this new and challenging context. At times like this you need to find the courage to try some new things.

Last week we should have been together in Edinburgh for the annual Dragons Glen celebration and launch event but that wasn’t possible. Rather than simply cancel, we came up with the idea of a big night in instead, so we opted to hold our first virtual event. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if this would work. Switching to a virtual event required all of our invited speakers to film themselves at home, these videos then had to be collated, we had to figure out how to make the technology work and guests had to be encouraged to ‘attend’. At 6pm on Wednesday 22nd April, we held our first Children 1st fundraising Facebook Watch party which hundreds of people joined us for!

The 2.6 challenge has been a personal highlight of mine and is a perfect example of what can be achieved when relationships and creativity come together. This national campaign was launched on the 16th April to #SaveOurCharities. Over the following week our team worked hard to find ways Children 1st could become involved and to promote the challenge. Children 1st supporters and staff organised all manor of personal fundraising activities - some cycled, others ran and children drew pictures. British Olympian and Silver Medallist, Keri-anne Payne, made the #26OlympiansChallenge happen. Keri-anne and her friends created the ultimate Olympian home workout to raise funds for Children 1st and other charities.

As I reflect back on the past six weeks of lockdown, I realise the ability to move quickly and be nimble and courageous has been key. Relationships have never been more important, and if anything our fundraising team are working more closely with the services we run for children and families than ever before. We are united in our determination to ensure that Children 1st is able to be there for every family and every child. And as we emerge from this devastating pandemic your support has never been needed more.

How can you help?

These are tough and scary times for everyone. Children 1st is determined to be there for families but we need your support. If you can, there are 3 ways you can help:

  1. Donate online (link to https://www.children1st.org.uk/donate/)
  2. Fundraise by taking on your own fundraising challenge 
  3. Encourage others to help. If the company you work for is supporting charities just now do get in touch.

I’d like to finish by thanking everyone who has helped us support children and families at this difficult time. Thanks to your support Children 1st is here to help today and with your continued support we’ll be able to help children recover from the loss and trauma caused by this terrible coronavirus.