How can our charities bounce back?

The corona-coaster hasn’t been a fun ride for any of us, and we suddenly find ourselves in July. For many of us, the whole year seems to have been a blur.

Almost every sector has been affected in some way. We’ve heard a lot about the collapse of retailers and restaurants and a swift change of direction for many others.

One sector we perhaps hear less about is the charity sector. Possibly because charities operate in such wide-ranging areas in our communities.

But charities have been hit incredibly hard. People have had less money to give and fundraising events have been cancelled or dramatically scaled back.

Yet, in many cases, it has been those charities which have supported our communities through the COVID-19 crisis.

Large national charities have a huge presence, levels of awareness are high and marketing budgets are large. I’m sure we can all name several national charities who have been able to continue with their high-profile advertising campaigns, swiftly updating them in reaction to the changing situation.

They are undoubtedly doing amazing work.

But what about those that are regionally or locally based? The ones providing food parcels to hungry families, or breast-feeding support to new mums, or money advice to those in debt, or help for elderly people unable to leave their homes?

Those charities have helped many people survive the last few months but are now struggling to survive themselves.

For small charities relying on donations and grants to continue providing their service, their financial situation is always uncertain. But for many, the crisis has had a bigger impact than they’ve experienced before.

So what can we do about it?

We can choose to support them of course, whether that’s financially, by volunteering our time or helping to raise awareness.

But what will have a greater, more lasting impact, will be charities telling their stories to the Government. Highlighting the impact that the pandemic has had on them, and the often vital services that may disappear without support.

Charities need to do that now and do it consistently. Those small organisations may not have a big voice when they stand alone. But standing together to campaign for additional funding and support could really have an impact.

We need funding and financial support to be targeted in a way that lets the regions decide how they can best support charitable organisations.

This week there were some big announcements from the Government, pledging support to people out of work, the hospitality sector and home buyers. They are looking to get the economy moving again after the lockdown.

Now is the time for charities to make their voice heard. And the louder we can all shout in support of them the better.

Anna Ross