Keep calm and carry on (fundraising)

We are all saddened by the devastation the bushfires have wrought across Australia. At FIA, we’re thinking about the lives and homes lost, the poignant loss of livestock and wildlife, and dreadful impacts on the environment. The emergency response teams have done a remarkable job in difficult circumstances.

My team and I are proud of the fantastic work conducted by so many of our members on the ground as they work to get food, shelter, clothing and trauma counselling to where it’s needed. We also appreciate the planning of long-term assistance to help those impacted get back on their feet. There are too many of you to name, but thank you all for your efforts. It’s inspiring.

We remain in awe of the community spirit that has shone through over the last few months. The extraordinary outpouring of generosity displayed by Australians and people overseas has been heartening and will go a long way towards rebuilding people’s lives and communities.

It’s at this time that we have to think about our fundraising efforts. Do we or don’t we? For charities working in the bushfire crisis, do you keep asking? And for those charities not involved, how do you show respect and still maintain your particular program and service delivery in such challenging times?

Our advice is to carry on with your fundraising efforts. Many people plan their giving and allocate to their favourite cause (and in many cases multiple causes) from their set budget. But when a disaster occurs, they don’t tend to stop supporting the charities they care about; they give extra for the need when it’s compelling.

We have seen this before in the Queensland floods of 2011, the bushfires of 2009 and the Boxing Day Tsunami that rocked Southeast Asia in 2004. So, if you are in medical research, working in community development or humanitarian work overseas or other causes that fall outside the current bushfire crisis, remember your community’s need isn’t going away anytime soon.

Benchmarking studies demonstrate after disasters like the Tsunami; people continued to give to their favourite causes while donating to the disaster relief. The charities that lost out were ones that didn’t send an appeal. At least, if you do a call to action, donors will see it and could respond to you affirmatively. Of course, some will decide to prioritise the bushfires, but that’s their decision to make.

Just remember it’s vital to follow the FIA Code around transparent, ethical best practice, respect your donor’s preference on contacts and asks, and be especially mindful of those in vulnerable circumstances.

We are currently conducting consumer research with More Strategic to examine how Australians are feeling about giving now and if there are issues around donor fatigue. We will keep you informed of the findings.

Keep communicating in relevant and sensitive ways. We all have a variety of essential causes we serve – let the donors decide what those priorities should be for them. You can still work to get your beneficiaries the help they require, be mindful of your donors’ preferences, safeguard your reputation and make the ask.

If you have any specific questions, the team and I are available to help, so please get in touch.

Katherine Raskob
Chief Executive Officer