Why do people give? The coronavirus special with Giles Pegram

Thank you once again to Mark Phillips for letting us reproduce this excellent podcast. This edition features an important and timely conversation about the impact of coronavirus on fundraisers.

Written by
Mark Phillips
March 27, 2020

This is unprecedented territory for fundraisers. Few of us will have experienced anything like this.

To help people gets their immediate response into place – before planning commences for the medium to long-term – I thought it would be useful to record a conversation with Giles Pegram. Giles featured in episode one of Why Do People Give? and with 30 years experience of fundraising as Appeals Director at the NSPCC, he is as good a resource as any.

Things are changing on a daily basis. What we need to do today will not be the same as yesterday and circumstances a month down the road may well require a radically different approach. But we are addressing the situation as of lunchtime on the 18th March.

As you’ll hear, we recommend moving the fundraising focus away from ‘activities’ to concentrating on answering our donor’s needs.

At Bluefrog we have already started research into donor attitudes to giving at this time. Luckily we had one of our private studies underway and have moved the focus onto the impact of coronavirus as the situation has developed.

Early feedback is that people are obviously confused. We are all getting our heads around a new way of living. The interviews from yesterday evening seemed different from those that were undertaken at the beginning of the week.

But donors were firm about what they valued. They want their community to come together, they value mutual support and they are concerned about the vulnerable. This will drive giving.

In unsettling times, giving offers people a way of taking back control. It is empowering. We must never forget that.

In terms of practical advice, we discuss what to do if you have cancelled events, how you should approach putting together emergency appeals and how, at times of crisis, donors always tend to give more. We recognise that fundraising must be undertaken with the utmost respect and consideration, but this is not the time to stop inspiring donors or stop asking.

There is a real concern for those who do not have food, shelter, health and finances. And donors expect us to be there for the causes who need us.

The resources we discuss such as the free template appeal letters can be found on Monday’s post, which can be accessed here.

Coronavirus has reset the fundraising clock. It’s almost like year zero. We all need to start again, applying the basics in the most appropriate way for our cause. I hope this podcast helps you do just that.

Note: this podcast first appeared on Mark’s blog here. We are grateful as ever to him for sharing it with SOFII.

This article is part of our series on fundraising in a time of crisis, a response to the covid-19 outbreak. For the full list of contents in the series, click here.

About the author: Mark Phillips

Mark Phillips

Mark Phillips started fundraising for ActionAid UK in the late 1980s and later became head of fundraising at YMCA England. He set up Bluefrog in 1997 with one simple goal – to be the agency he would have wanted to employ. His approach to fundraising is based on understanding and answering donor needs. Mark shares his ideas and findings through his blog, queerideas.co.uk.

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