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Charities rising to the digital challenge due to Coronavirus

Charities up and down the country have been looking to digital fundraising as a means of raising both project and core funding during these uncertain and unprecedented times. With events cancelled and volunteers staying at home, many charities are facing a black hole in fundraising. Now is the time to accelerate digital fundraising to bring in additional funds whilst also engaging with your supporters.

National Funding Scheme, a charity set up to provide online, contactless and SMS payment service through their DONATE platform has seen a marked increase in activity. At the same time, a significant number of charities have reported cancelled events.

With donations through DONATE up by 30x charities such as the Intensive Care Society has turned to celebrities including Dame Helen Mirren and Jodie Comer (Killing Eve) and Christopher Eccleston to support their cause. Other charities such as The Big Issue North, local foodbanks, churches and hundreds of other local and national charities have joined DONATE.

Supporting the Intensive Care Society, Dame Helen Mirren said “In return for this pic of me literally first thing in the morning, please donate to the intensive care support. Thanks so much.”

Film and TV actor Christopher said: “Over the next few months, 11 percent of us diagnosed with Covid-19 are going to need intensive care. We are going to need the people who work in these units.

“Anything you donate will contribute to the physical and mental wellbeing of intensive health care professionals who are saving our lives. These people are knowingly putting their own lives at risk to save our lives and the lives of people we love.”

Bronte Shiltz from The Big Issue North says:

“Coronavirus has had an enormous impact on our vendors. The average Big Issue North vendor earns just £60 per week and many have no other source of income. As selling Big Issue North is a formally recognised form of self-employment, they don’t receive paid sick leave. This means that the impact of even one week of poor sales could be almost impossible to bear, and if the pandemic continues for an extended period of time, many could face destitution.

“To make matters worse, many of our vendors are particularly vulnerable to the virus. Each year, we see the average age of our vendors increase. While our oldest vendor fifteen years ago was 65, our 2019 vendor audit recorded five vendors aged between 61 and 65, one vendor between 66 and 70 and one vendor between 76 and 80. Furthermore, one in five of our vendors have a long-term illness or disability, and among them, 22% have asthma or COPD and 13% have diabetes – conditions with associated mortality rates of 6.3% and 7.3% respectively.

“Particularly worryingly, a third of our vendors are currently homeless – including half of our vendors over the age of 60. This means that they are unable to self-isolate safely and cannot protect themselves from potentially fatal infection. Furthermore, while only a small percentage of our vendors currently sleep on the streets, many rely on friends and family to keep a roof over their head, and if those friends or relatives are themselves at high risk from the virus, they may find that this accommodation is no longer an option for them in the weeks to come, leading them to rely on their income to secure alternative accommodation.

“These issues are exacerbated by the fact that as the virus spreads, an increasing number of foodbanks and soup kitchens have been forced to close their doors. While, over the past ten years, foodbanks have become a lifeline for millions in the UK, they are particularly vital to our vendors. A third of the people who sell Big Issue North have relied on a foodbank or soup kitchen at some point in order to survive.

“We have now established a hardship fund, which we plan to use to house homeless vendors and to cover the cost of rent, bills and shopping for vendors who are unable to work, or to earn their usual level of income. We have been doing this primarily through DONATE, which has been doing really well. We are particularly reliant on text and online donations at this time, as much of our income from members of the public typically comes from donation forms printed in the magazine, but as the magazine is likely to become primarily digital in the coming weeks (sold at £2 per issue with £1 going to the hardship fund at, we are also facing the possibility of losing this income stream.”

The National Funding Scheme is urging charities who are suffering similar problems due to Coronavirus to use an online and SMS payment platform such as DONATE. Charities should be set-up within 24 hours allowing for immediate fundraising by text and web.

From March 1st National Funding Scheme removed its dormancy fee in response to the COVID-19 emergency.