Business and charity

How could the six-people rule affect my charity?


It’s been a tough year, particularly for the charity sector.

While many charities have been on the frontlines of the pandemic, providing goods and services to those most vulnerable, they’ve also had to face funding and donation gaps as government grants dried up, fundraising events were cancelled and individual donors became less financially stable under lockdown conditions.

But unfortunately the COVID-crisis appears to be far from over with the announcement of a new ‘Rule of Six’ that came into effect in the UK from Monday 14th September, making it illegal for groups of more than 6 people to meet and socialise - indoors or outdoors - in England.

Sounds simple enough, but how exactly will this affect charitable fundraising?

What’s allowed under the six-people rule?

Note: This information was true and accurate at the time it was written. Please note that rules may differ across England, Scotland and Wales.

Basically, if you’re seeing friends and family you do not live with you can now only meet in socially-distanced groups of 6 or less, putting a spanner in the works for any charities that have gradually been re-organising cancelled or delayed fundraising events.

You can read the full government guidance here.

Luckily, the revised government rules also state that “there are exceptions where groups can be larger than 6 people,” with ‘the provision of voluntary or charitable services’ being listed as an exception.

But what does this actually mean?

Honestly, the guidance around the ‘Rule of 6’ is a little vague, and the Chartered Institute of Fundraising has been working with the Fundraising Regulator to get clarification on what this change could mean for charities.

Keep an eye on Daniel Fluskey’s (Institute of Fundraising) Twitter feed for updates.

David Kluskey tweet.png

What can you do to close your charity’s funding gap under the six-people rule?

Despite a growing pressure to provide services during lockdown, charities have also faced a perfect storm of ineligibility for government grants alongside a decline in donations as individuals face economic hardship in light of the pandemic.

Couple this with having to cancel or postpone fundraising events, it’s hardly a surprise that the sector expect a £10.1 billion funding gap over the next 6 months, despite almost three quarters of charities (72%) expecting an increase in demand for their services over the same period.

Clearly fundraising is more important than ever, and it’s going to be essential to find new, innovative ways of fundraising while adhering to government guidelines.

Here are some simple ways to retain and grow your charity’s income under social distancing rules.

1. Go digital

Maximising your digital channels can be a cheap, easy way to both engage new donors as well as growing general visibility for your charity – which is why it’s surprising that 17% of charities* don’t have a donation facility available on their website! Offering an online payments system can be an efficient alternative to standing orders, as well as making it easier to retain donors in the future.

*The Status of UK Fundraising, 2018 Benchmark report (Blackbaud)

2. Think outside the box

With such restrictive rules in place, it’s never been more important to think outside the box when it comes to fundraising. You could set up “isolation challenges” that people can get involved in from the comfort of their own home, or ask people to donate however much they’ve saved on their morning cup of coffee or pint down the pub during lockdown!

3. Explore employee donation options

When individual donors are few and far between, it might be time to turn to your employees for support through schemes such as ‘Payroll Giving’. This is a scheme that you can set up for your employees that provides them with a sustainable, tax effective way to donate to the charities they care about.

4. Reach out to existing donors

If you’re struggling to reach new donors, why not get in touch with previous or ongoing donors for support? Reaching out with valuable advice, news and support will not only provide a great service and promote your charity’s activities, but could even result in greater retention and an increase in repeat donations.

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