Coronavirus: Advice for supporter services
THINK are sharing with us guidance on how to approach fundraising activities against the backdrop of the current coronavirus outbreak. In this article, Beccy Murrell gives advice for supporter services – which she describes as arguably the infrastructural backbone of fundraising.
The remit of supporter services extends throughout all that is essential to keeping the wheels of fundraising turning: frontline supporter and public response handling, income processing, acknowledgements, data inputting, pack and material fulfilment, to name but a few.
Whilst the primary consideration will always be the health and wellbeing of supporters, staff and beneficiaries, how can supporter services teams best mitigate the impact of coronavirus? Here is some advice:
- Ensure your emergency and disaster recovery plans are regularly reviewed and updated, to support operational contingency across a range of potential scenarios. Be aware that some financial and administrative procedures and policies may need to be updated to reflect changing circumstances and new ways of working.
- List and prioritise all supporter services tasks and train up multiple staff to undertake all of the core activities. If staff numbers are reduced in response to the virus and the need to self-isolate, business critical tasks can be prioritised and delivered by staff who are present. Priority should be given to tasks which relate to income processing and cashflow as this will become increasingly critical, so direct debit processing, Gift Aid claims etc should all be seen as business critical tasks.
- Adopt a flexible approach to working as staff may have additional responsibilities outside of work due to the virus, such as caring for children and vulnerable relatives. Implement a home working rota to reduce pressure on the office environment which will help to limit the spread of the virus in offices and on commuter journeys.
- An excellent tip from WWF-UK is the introduction of ‘battle boxes’ containing useful items for staff working from home, such as a spare phone, list of contact details, card payment machines etc, and to enable the secure transport of post and other fundraising/administrative collateral between the office and workers’ homes.
- Utilise digital solutions where possible, such as directing donation payments to websites, supplying digital fundraising packs and fundraising materials and enabling tele/video conferencing for staff who are working away from the office. This could include weekly video conference catch ups and even quizzes or other social morale boosting interactions on platforms such as Zoom or Skype.
- Stay in regular contact with third-party suppliers so that you are aware of their work capacity and any pending issues with regards the fulfilment of their contractual obligations.
- Develop, regularly review and circulate a comprehensive list of frequently-asked questions for both staff and supporters, covering a range of topics such as the organisation’s response to coronavirus and how the virus is impacting on the organisation and its beneficiaries.
- Keep all communication channels open to stay in regular contact with staff and supporters alike. It is important to manage expectations around service-delivery through clear and open communication. Look at solutions for call diverting to enable staff to take calls at home. Put a message on your website home page to keep supporters informed about potential delays to processing. Supporter services teams should be prepared to send communications out of working hours, in the evening and weekends and so it is worth assigning some team members to be responsible for emergency out of hours communications who have secure access to supporter data, can send emails and update social media channels.
- Where appropriate, offer your supporters other ways to support your charity. This could be via some form of virtual rather than face-to-face fundraising and online rather than physical campaigning and volunteering.
As we all do our best to navigate this unprecedented period of uncertainty, we must do our upmost to mitigate risk and to keep our teams, supporters and beneficiaries as healthy and supported as possible. Throughout this week and into next, we are sharing our thoughts on how best to mitigate the impact on other areas of fundraising including events, corporate partnerships, individual giving, community fundraising and leadership. We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Beccy Murrell is a Senior Consultant at THINK Consulting Solutions
See this page for all the latest information for fundraisers about the coronavirus outbreak from the Institute of Fundraising. It will be kept updated.