A charitable pandemic

With Save the Children launching their largest fundraising appeal in their 100-year history, it has become apparent that charities have been hit hard over the pandemic period.

Save the Children head of public affairs Kimberley Gardiner says there has been a direct impact on the charity sector.

“As the economic effects of the pandemic have taken hold, donations – not surprisingly – have decreased,” she says.

“We have been forced to close our 84 op shops in the interests of the safety of our staff, volunteers and customers, a measure which denies us significant funding for our work with children.”

Ms Gardiner says these stores often raise around $12 million a year, money they will have to raise elsewhere.

As expected, according to CareFlight media co-ordinator Duyen Nguyen, other charities are also experiencing significant donation losses due to the pandemic.

 “We’ve had a $2 million short fall in fundraising right now,” she says.

“We’ve had a dramatic increase in people cancelling their donations. 

“I used to manage… two to three [cancellation] requests a day. Now that has skyrocketed to 20 to 30.”

QUT Business School Australian Centre for Philanthropy and Non-profit Studies Director Associate Professor Wendy Scaife says as donations may be decreasing, the call to fulfil community needs is on the rise.

“Charities are very much more in demand and of course the double-edged part of the sword is that both their volunteering and their donations, in kind and monetary, are also affected in times like this,” she says.

The Smith Family WA office manager Pamela Elsmore highlighted this drastic increase.

“We did have an influx of calls for help when COVID came,” she says.

“There are a lot of people struggling. There was definitely an increase in people needing help.

“Where you would normally say, ‘Ring the Salvos they will be able to help you’ people have said ‘I’ve already rung them and they can’t help’ because they are already trying to deal with all this other stuff and don’t have all of the other resources available to them.”

Pamela Elsmore from the Smith Family.

Due to these pressures and added restrictions, Professor Scaife says many charities have had to alter the way they normally run.

“The social distancing is also impacting whether or not people can attend those programs.”

Diabetes WA communications and marketing director Claire Jordan-Peters says they have had to cancel or change multiple charity events due to this.

“The biggest thing is we run face-to-face workshops to help people to learn how to manage their own diabetes,” she says.

“We actually launched a brand new service which is our webinars, that that means that people with diabetes can book in … and they can effectively have a face-to-face conversation without being face-to-face.”

Despite significant setbacks to charities across Australia, Professor Scaife is adamant that they will bounce back.

“Charities are pretty resourceful and resilient people who are very used to doing lots with little, but at the moment it’s lots with micro,” she says.

The last Charities Report findings published in 2019. Photo: Nicole Lyttle.

Categories: COVID-19

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