Coronavirus: Avoid making 'rushed or hasty decisions', IoF warns charities

The Institute of Fundraising has published guidance for the fundraising community in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, warning charities not to make 'rushed or hasty decisions'.

The umbrella body said the most important thing is 'people's health and wellbeing' and that fundraisers are 'prepared and informed, should, the virus spread further so that you can keep your supporters, staff and volunteers safe'.

But it also urged charities to ensure decision-making isn't 'rushed or hasty' and is documented properly, with the involvement of the trustee board where appropriate.

"We appreciate that it is a difficult time for many of our members, who are having to think through contingency plans, keep up with latest guidance, and also work with partners and volunteers," the IoF said.

"You might be asked to revise business plans, work with finance teams on cashflow, and looking to see how you can best mitigate any future problems.

"As much as possible, try to avoid rushed or hasty decisions and adopt a full-team approach – it’s good practice to document decision-making and make sure that trustees are involved where appropriate."

It added that in all cases, fundraisers must ensure they are familiar with the Fundraising Regulator's Code of Fundraising Practice, 'so that any decisions are in line with the regulatory standards'.

Fundraising events

The guidance states charities will need to make a 'case by case decision' regarding fundraising events, taking into account 'all the relevant circumstances' as to whether to cancel or postpone.

"Make sure you are up-to-date with the latest official advice on public gatherings and from the NHS and government," it said.

The IoF said all events in Scotland, with more than 500 people in attendance, should be cancelled.

Other events will need to be reviewed and charities must 'put in place contingencies, and provide appropriate information and communications to participants/volunteers/attendees', it added.

"According to the Charity Commission, if you do need to cancel a fundraising event, it may need to be reported depending on the impact," the guidance read.

"For example, if it might result in significant loss of expected funds and/or insolvency issues for your charity, or if coronavirus results in insolvency issues for some other reason.

For charities planning future overseas challenge events, the IoF said guidance from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office on travel should be referred to.

Public fundraising

Both the IoF and the Fundraising Regulator have urged charities to 'reflect seriously' on whether to continue public fundraising in light of the government's advice on social distancing.

This includes face-to-face, door-to-door and private site fundraising, due to the increased health risk to the population, as well as to fundraisers and volunteers.

"A through risk assessment should be carried out, and any decision to continue public fundraising should be documented and made at the most senior level," the IoF said.

The full guidance and more information relating to both charity events and events run by the IoF can be found here.

Resources for further guidance

For further information on any issues relating to the pandemic, the IoF has referred charities to the following places:

- GOV.UK: COVID-19 latest information and advice
- Scottish Government advice
- NCVO guidance for the charity sector
- SCVO guidance
- ACAS: Information for employers
- Fundraising Regulator events guidance
- Charity Finance Group guidance
- Bates Wells guidance on how insurance and contracts

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