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Jul 09, 2020 | International Payments

COVID-19 and NGOs: Raising donations in difficult times

Individuals who may typically donate to non-profits are experiencing economic uncertainty while there is also an increased demand on the sector.

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented challenge and NGOs are being confronted with lower levels of donations and increasing demand for their services.
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented challenge and NGOs are being confronted with lower levels of donations and increasing demand for their services.

We work with many NGOs around the world to help them send money where it is needed most, and over time we have built a deeper understanding of our NGO clients’ needs with incoming and outgoing payments. Using this knowledge, we have outlined some helpful tips that could be useful to charities looking for ways to help raise donations during difficult times.

Since early 2020, COVID-19 has disrupted everyday life across the world. Not only are schools and non-essential businesses temporarily shut in several countries, it is also unclear as to when these closures will end. From an economic perspective, businesses are struggling, and reports of unemployment are reaching record levels in the UK. This unprecedented situation has had a dual impact on charitable organisations: individuals who may typically donate to NGOs are experiencing economic uncertainty while there is also an increased demand on the sector.

Understandably, not-for-profits are feeling pressure from this new reality, as a number of large groups are requesting government assistance to maintain their operations during these challenging times. They are working to handle the increased demand with shrinking financial contributions as individuals are the largest givers to charities, over corporations and foundations.

For some, the scenario is reminiscent of the 2008 Financial Crisis where NGOs saw significant drops in incoming funds for about two years, after which donations rose, albeit well below pre-crisis levels. This situation is perhaps more challenging due to the many unknown factors regarding the COVID-19 timeline and the fact that 2018 already saw a decrease in donations. Combined, this means that charities could see a particularly tricky year.

How do these important organisations manage under such strain? The following tips may help NGOs during the coronavirus closures:

  • Some are holding virtual events in place of previously scheduled outdoor runs and fundraisers, which are common in the spring.
  • Activating social channels is a low-cost and far-reaching way to communicate with large groups of people.
  • Branch out to new communities in order to attract new groups of donors.
  • Take measures to ensure your finances are clear.
  • Though individuals may not be able to donate money, consider gathering virtual volunteers to help manage the increase in work. Often previously generous donors are willing to give their time and talents if they cannot spare cash.
  • Refine your communications and strategy to reflect this new challenging period and ensure sensitivity to the difficult situation many are facing.
  • It’s vital to continue positive relationships with donors. If givers ask to suspend their financial gifts, ensure they are met with understanding and continue to receive activity updates, so they are still part of the community. This may also prompt them to re-join your donor list in the future.

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented challenge and NGOs are being confronted with lower levels of donations and increasing demand for their services. There are numerous steps that groups can take to try and maintain their funding as the global health situation evolves. As uncertainty continues, not-for-profits are more important than ever.

Western Union Business Solutions is a trusted partner for international payments and foreign exchange. Speak to an NGO specialist today to find out how we can help your organisation make considerable cost and time savings, and make your funding go further.

Contact an NGO Specialist now