Surviving Covid-19: A comprehensive guide for charities

Over the last year Charity Times has been compiling a series of online guides to help the voluntary sector adjust to the challenges Covid-19 has presented across their organisations.

This has included a look at the top resources and tools covering a raft of areas, from working from home amid the pandemic, to creating engaging marketing content to appeal to donors.

We have now updated our round up of these guides to include further articles and features covering retraining, trustee recruitment as well as supporting the mental health needs of charity leaders.

This update also features advice on targeting key dates in the fundraising calender, including Giving Tuesday later this year.

Retraining and upskilling

The Covid-19 pandemic has transformed the skills needed by charity leaders, staff and volunteers to deliver services, raise income and run an effective voluntary sector organisation.

This has included new skills in managing teams remotely as well as running virtual campaigns and fundraising events.

In February we highlighted the raft of retraining and upskilling resources available to help charity workers and leaders adjust to the health crisis and recovery over the coming months.

This includes resources available from the Centre for Creative Leadership as well as the chance to improve digital skills through the charity CAST.

Support from communications body CharityComms as well as upskilling resources rom the Chartered Institute of Fundraising are also highlighted.

Recruiting and training trustees

Boards are changing amid the pandemic, which has added further weight to the need for charities to appoint trustees that represent wider society and have a broad range of skills.

Earlier this year we highlighted ten resources that can help charities promote equality, diversity and inclusion and boost the skillset of their trustees.

Support and resources from sector body the Association of Chairs is among guidance included. This includes staging online meetings, staff wellbeing as well as working as a team.

Another flagged up is the Charity Digital Code, which is a useful resource to benchmark charities’ digital capabilities. Its resources include a ‘digital checklist for charity trustees’.

Learn from charities already diversifying their boards

Charities looking to diversify and bolster their boards were offered an insight into those in the sector already being innovative in trustee recruitment.

Our feature on trustees to watch in 2021 highlighted how the NSPCC has improved its board representation with the appointment of its first ‘young trustees’.

Meanwhile, a number of organisations such as the NCVO have recruited health experts amid the Covid-19 pandemic to lead and improve their boards.

Supporting the mental health needs of charity leaders

A survey by charity sector insurer Ecclesiastical earlier this year revealed the extent of the strain the health crisis has put in charity leaders and staff.

Almost half of those in the sector see burnout as a significant threat to their operation and two thirds said staff are experiencing increased levels of stress.

Remote working, a dramatic drop in income and finding new ways of raising money and liaising with stakeholders amid the pandemic has taken its toll.

In February we showcased the wide variety of emotional support groups available for charity leaders to support their wellbeing.

This includes the Charity Times Leadership Network for leaders to share ideas and experiences.

In addition, Facebook’s Covid-19 Charity Preparedness Group is proving a valuable resource.

There are a wide variety of other groups on Facebook to help leaders share their experiences. We also offer advice for leaders on setting up their own WhatsApp group to help charity leaders feel less isolated.

Charity leaders’ to-do list

Late last year Charity Times took some time to look ahead to 2021 and some of the priorities for leaders as the world continues to meet the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

This ‘to do list’ looks at issues such as investing in chatbots and artificial intelligence to meet the needs of more beneficiaries remotely.

Investing in remote working tools as well as being anti-racist are also encouraged.

Invest in virtual reality

Digital innovation has been key for charities in surviving the pandemic. Among the most innovative are investing in virtual reality to use technology to support beneficiaries better.

We took a look at five charity projects that are being particularly innovative in their use of virtual reality. This includes the work of the National Autistic Society to create virtual tours to put people at ease when visiting services as well as historic sites.

Support for war veterans ahead of support as well as training charity workers helping some of the UK’s most vulnerable and traumatised children are among other uses of VR.

Preparing for Christmas

Christmas is a key time in charities’ fundraising calendar. However, in 2020 many campaigns were hit hard by the pandemic.

There was an understandable dip in donations but many charities mitigated this by successfully pivoting their campaigns online.

It’s still early in 2021 but the early stages of planning for festive campaigning is already underway.

Will there be social distancing? It is hard to gauge at this stage. But even if in-person fundraising once again becomes commonplace the need to focus on digital fundraising this Christmas is set to remain.

Last Christmas we looked at some particularly innovative campaigning over the festive period. This uncluded a partnership between Homeless Link and TV series Taskmaster as well as how online panto’s are raising money for good causes.

….and Giving Tuesday too

Another key date in the fundraising calendar is Giving Tuesday, which takes place ahead of Christmas each year. Our top 10 list will help charities prepare for the event, maxmise donations and help charities be more innovative in their use of digital.

Advice includes using social media platform for preparation, testing technology and involving supporters and beneficiaries.

Online fundraising platforms

Moving fundraising operations online is a key way charities can help their recovery from the financial fall out of the pandemic, which has seen shops close and in-person events cancelled.

Last year the virtual London Marathon and Captain Tom Moore’s fundraising for NHS Charities Together have shown the success of online fundraising amid the pandemic.

Last year we showcased the top online fundraising platforms for charities.

Platforms covered range from JustGiving, which has 22 million users globally to LocalGiving, which supports small local charities through providing access to matchfunding. Another is GiveWP, which is a fundraising plug-in that can be used by charities using the Wordpress content management system.

Cybercrime resources and tools

Each year Charity Fraud Awareness Week highlights the added challenges charities face keeping their IT systems and data secure amid the rise in homeworking during the pandemic.

Last year we detailed the top resources, tools and software to help charities keep their information and staff safe from cyber criminals.

This includes online risk protection platforms, from providers such as Skurio and Avast as well as resources from the Charity Commission, National Cyber Security Centre and others.

Homeworking tools

Social distancing has seen a rise in charity staff working from home and remotely, with offices either closed or operating with a reduced workforce. For some charities there is the additional financial advantage of closing offices.

With childcare pressures and the need to improve workers’ work life balance this trend looks set to continue long term, after the current health crisis.

Last Auguest we produced a run down of the top 10 homeworking tools for charities covering the range of support available online to help charity leaders help their staff work remotely.

This covers video conferencing tools such as Zoom to workflow and collaboration platforms, such as Microsoft Teams. Specific support for trustees working from home is also covered as are ways to engage and entertain staff, who are missing out on office socialising.

Diversity, equity and inclusion resources

At Charity Times 2020 Charity Times Leadership Conference, it emerged that most charity leaders are ill-prepared to tackle racism in the sector.

This comes as Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, and those with disabilities, are among the hardest hit communities by the pandemic.

Many in the sector are having to take a difficult look at their organisation as they look to ensure they are promoting equity. Christian Aid and NVCO are among charities and charity groups to address racist attitudes within their organisation and take action.

In addition the Charity So White campaign and Show the Salary are working to tackle a lack of diversity in the voluntary sector, especially in recruitment.

To help, Charity Times produced its top 10 diversity, equity and inclusion resources guide for charities in August.

This profiled support from groups such as #CharitySoWhite as well as training around inclusion and help to ensure digital communications and support is inclusive for those with disabilities.

Impact reporting resources

The search for donations from the public and grants from funders is particularly vital amid the pandemic. But before parting with their money they are keen to see evidence from charities that their donations will be well spent and improve people’s lives.

This is where impact reporting resources can help. Charity Times has compiled a top 10 impact reporting resources available to help charities evaluate their work.

This includes online self-assessment tools to measuring success within financial reporting.

Social media management platforms

Charities’ innovative use of social media in their marketing and communications has stepped up a gear amid the Covid-19 pandemic. We have taken a look at the top10 social media management platforms for charities.

These tools offer valuable support to tailor posts according to different audiences and platforms as well as schedule them when content will have the most impact.

This guide takes in platforms that offer detailed analysis of the performance of social media content as well as those that offer charity teams the chance to collaborate on creative, engaging content.

CRM systems

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software is crucial to charities work attracting and retaining donors.

Amid income losses during the Covid-19 pandemic this is especially important as the search for new donors and supporters is more challenging due to social distancing guidelines.

We have focused on the top 10 CRM systems for charities.

This covers issues such as scheduling communication with donors to targeting marketing to meet their needs. This includes open source software as well as more expensive platforms to help maximise and nurture the relationships between charities and donors.

Digital survey tools

The views of donors, supporters, beneficiaries and stakeholders are vital for charities. Gathering opinion helps the sector to improve, pinpoint any weaknesses in organisations and develop new and innovative strategies and services.

We have taken a look at the range of digital survey tools that charities can use to collect this valuable insight into their work.

This top 10 online survey tools to help improve your organisation guide included cost-effective surveys to gather a snapshot of an audience’s view.

It also looked at more expensive options for major surveys and the gathering of detailed data. The use of surveys for quizzes, for staff and beneficiaries amid the Covid-19 pandemic is also covered.

Free data sources

There is a wealth of data available for free to help charities assess communities in greatest need of support during Covid-19.

Free sources of data, from among others the UK Data Service and Office of National Statistics can also provide vital information for charities to help with service delivery and add value to their content.

New Philanthropy Capital’s Covid 19 data for charities and funders is among the top 10 free sources of data for charities we covered earlier this month.

Video content tools

With supporters and donors spending more time online than ever before during the pandemic, engaging video content online and on social media is more important than ever.

Voluntary sector organisations looking to ramp up their use of video are advised to dip into our top 10 video content tools for charities guide, published earlier this month.

This features tools on creating simple but effective animation, as well as professional grade software to create and edit videos. Also covered is advice on how to make live streaming of videos more engaging for viewers.

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