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How one fundraising team has responded to the disruption caused by Covid 19

Adam Stacey, Associate Director at Charisma has been talking to Paul Morgan, Director of Fundraising and Communication at Naomi House & Jacksplace hospices, to find out how his team have responded to the disruption to their fundraising plans due to Covid 19.

​Undeniably the fundraising landscape has changed due to Covid 19, with events and community activities cancelled or postponed indefinitely, Fundraising teams have had to respond quickly and innovatively to maintain their income streams.

Having temporarily suspended their respite services for children and young adults, Naomi House & Jacksplace Hospices offered care to patients from Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and reopened Jacksplace, their state-of-the-art, young adults' hospice, to take in adult patients from local hospitals to free up NHS frontline beds for Coronavirus patients.

These adult patients have now been discharged and the service in Naomi House will reopen imminently for emergency funded respite care demonstrating the ongoing adaption of their services to do what they can to help both the children, and the needs of the wider community, during the pandemic.

You’ve had to respond with innovative and effective fundraising methods in such a short space of time – can you tell us a little about the successes, and challenges along the way?

“Adjusting the fundraising operationally was as challenging logistically as it was in terms of terms of realising the expanding scale of what lockdown would mean for everyone. Like many, our plans for the year were well underway. We were keen to keep options open but have seen some of our activities just aren’t feasible in the current climate. We are fortunate that we had already established a strong digital presence and were well underway with activities to develop digital giving channels before COVID-19.

Key to the success has been the flexibility of the team and their willingness to initially expand existing activities to increase the fundraising options open to us. Fundamentally it has been about trusting the team to develop options that would capitalise on those channels.”

One of the first successes that we have continued throughout the period has been our evening music sessions. Each weekday evening at 8pm performers have streamed their music live via Facebook. We hope this might cumulatively raise close to £10,000 for the charity by the end of May. We have also tried to do things that reflect lockdown/social distancing so encouraged people to camp in their back garden or use their campervan on their drive and donate the equivalent of their pitch fees to help our children and families. The Great Garden Getaway takes place on Saturday 22nd May.

Naomi House has always had a fantastic reputation for the respite and end of life care and the support you offer to the children and their families. The current change of use for Naomi House & Jacksplace means that your message will have changed. What has been the most effective way for you to engage with your existing supporters over the last few weeks and how do you plan to maintain the momentum, to ensure a sustainable future when we return to ‘normal’- whenever that may be?

“Unlike other organisations that might have more of one type of support such as corporate or Major Donor, celebrity or Trusts and Foundations, Naomi House & Jacksplace are very much a community organisation. Early in the pandemic, our medics advised that it was not safe for our children and young people to gather in the hospices for respite care. Respite care is very much at the heart of the ongoing support that we provide for our children and families. It was a big deal for everyone concerned. Offering 6 of the freed-up beds in Jacksplace to the local hospitals to use for asymptomatic adult patients was something we could do to help free up beds for COVID-19 patients and thereby help with the wider efforts to combat COVID-19.

Once this was in place we had to communicate the change to key stakeholders, Patrons and Vice Patrons and the wider community. We tried to personalise our approach; key supporters, funders and individuals received personal messages, others were emailed and more still may have heard via social media and the TV coverage we secured. It was critically important to us to share what we were doing with everyone and then continue the updates as our service offer develops.”

In what ways have you motivated your key stakeholders/trustees/existing supporters/volunteers to assist your fundraising efforts?

“Relevant, timely and appropriate communication is critical. Our trustees have been fabulously engaged during the period. They have challenged as is right for the role but have also given lots of additional time to help support the organisation as we find a way through the period. I’d like to thank them together with our other key stakeholders for rallying to support our cause during this period.”

Congratulations, you’ve hit your London Marathon target with changes to your fundraising approach and ask, that’s fantastic. What will you do now to maximise the support from these new ventures and do you see these becoming a sustainable income stream in the future long after lockdown?

“The only certainty is that there is still much uncertainty. Many people will want to engage with these new activities which we will continue to support, but we have a broad base of support for our reliable favourites such as the Clarendon Way Walk, our runs and challenges which we will definitely carry on with, as and when we are able.”

It’s great that the there have also been organised national fundraising opportunities. The 2.6 challenge was an additional new event that we promoted across all our networks in the hope that people in the community might choose to support Naomi House & Jacksplace. What’s great about the event is how innovative and creative people are being about their participation in the challenge. The event also prompted supporters to think about how else they can support our work so we now have people undertaking the Everest stair challenge amongst other challenges.

How can you diversify from traditional event-based fundraising if a ban on mass gatherings remains long into the year?

“We continue to review and assess our options, testing new ideas whilst reminding people that our support remains in place for those that we are here to help. There is no doubt the face of fundraising is changing and not just in the world of events.”

In what way can you maintain the support from your corporate partners whilst their own employees may be furloughed or working from home

“Incredibly we have launched a few new corporate partnerships with local businesses during this period. Clearly expectations of what they might raise (and how they might raise that money will have to change). However, the experience so far suggests that if people are committed to your cause they will continue to help in whatever way they can. People have been helping source PPE for our care teams, they have raised money to fund our services and supported our virtual challenges as virtual teams or as individuals and family groups. We have had people supporting our online evening gigs as well as sharing our messages via their networks. The collective good will is inspiring and has really shone out across the region throughout the period.”

I know it is early days to make predictions, but how do you think the last few weeks will affect the fundraising landscape of the future?

“This is the same question some of the Trustees are asking and the truth is that I’m uncertain. My general observations are that event, corporate and community fundraising are going to be very different in the coming months. Some predictions for the wider economy may mean that there will be less money for the sector. For those with charity shops, there is a concern that the High St will look very different for the next 18months and how that will impact our volunteers and shops remains to be seen.

Hopefully, the sector will do what it does best; adapt, grow and continue to demonstrate how the collective good will can positively impact the needs of our respective causes and beneficiaries.”

Our thanks go to Paul Morgan for taking time to share with us. For more information about Naomi House & Jackplace Hospices visit www.naomihouse.org.uk.​