Furloughed Fundraisers Chat: A safe space to be

Exhibited by
Claire James
Added
September 17, 2020
Medium of Communication
Fundraiser support group
Target Audience
Furloughed fundraisers
Type of Charity
All
Country of Origin
UK
Date of first appearance
March 2020

SOFII’s view

In times of trouble, fundraisers stick together. And they don’t take difficulties lying down. The onset of the coronavirus crisis meant thousands of UK fundraisers found themselves surplus to their organisations’ requirements. But then an enterprising group of those very fundraisers joined together to form a practical support group. In this piece one of the founding members of the group, Claire James, explains how this wonderful and supportive initiative came about.

Summary / objectives

When the coronavirus pandemic struck in March 2020, it left many fundraisers out of work indefinitely. The Furloughed Fundraisers Chat (FFC) group was set up in the wake of fundraisers being sent away from work by their employers, unsure of when or if they would be able to return. Hundreds of committed fundraisers suddenly found themselves looking to find purpose again whilst their careers were on hold. The original idea was to provide an area to learn, connect and feel part of something again.

As such, the aim of our group was always to offer a safe space to be. We wanted to be a place where you could find fellow furloughed fundraisers, identify volunteering and learning opportunities, and mix with your peers. In addition, the group became a space for charities to find fantastic fundraisers who were eager to do something really useful during their time on furlough.

Creator / originator

Nikki Wrench, Claire James and Louise Bingham.

Special characteristics

Self-help, resilience, support networking, learning, surprising ourselves. A space for furloughed fundraisers to feel connected to fundraising during a global pandemic.

Influence / impact

During what was a new and unsettling crisis, working from home was not the only thing that many fundraisers had to get used to. A large number also got to know the phrase ‘furlough’ for all the wrong reasons. They were furloughed, indefinitely, whilst the UK (and the charity sector) attempted to weather the coronavirus storm.

Of course if you are a fundraiser reading this, then you’ll know that we fundraisers are pretty useless at not doing anything. Well, the three people behind Furloughed Fundraisers Chat are anyway! And that is why we wanted to create a space where we’d be able to use our expertise and skills whilst also sharing this journey into the unknown.

Initially it was about having a way to be together, provide support and feel a sense of worth. But as more fundraisers were furloughed it became clear that the group was going to be bigger than we’d first expected. Despite us feeling sad and uncertain, the charities we’d been forced to leave behind (and others) still needed extra support and they needed it fast. 

A job swap became a role board and from that point on, many of us took up opportunities to help different organisations. This ensured that charities had access to support and skills that they never would have been lucky enough to source before. Selfishly, it also provided something for many of us to do in uncertain times. It certainly kept our brains active and occupied.

Nikki and I already knew each other, but we met Louise through her desire to learn during her time away from fundraising. Not only was this time a chance to do something for others, it was also a great time to gain new skills too. Louise’s offer to do a Makaton session (here’s the video of the end product) was the start of a wonderful friendship and confirmed her place as a member of the FFC admin team. 

As the days turned to weeks and then months, so too came the cuts. The group has in so many ways also become a coronavirus memory book and diary, mapping out all that’s happened so far during this time.

To date more than 2,000 fundraisers – both furloughed and working charity sector professionals have joined the group. We’ve had webinars, talks and are about to start a coffee and chat morning too. Many of the group never knew each other before this pandemic and once all this is over we can’t wait to meet up.

Costs

Free – everyone has volunteered their time and energy.

Results

FFC has created a space for over 2,000 members (always growing). Our group comprises fundraisers (in different situations) and charities, who are all sharing and offering support, expertise, information, jobs and learning through conversations, features and events.

Final notes

SOFII encourages all fundraisers to support each other. 

The evolution of this group will become part of our collective fundraising history because it’s the first time such a large number of fundraisers all became furloughed at the same time. But these fundraisers didn’t passively accept their fate. Instead they joined together and started to take action, facing challenges head on, making changes, and rallying around one another. 

It is a true testament to the collaborative strength of our fundraising community and we are proud to feature this historic group on SOFII. If you know of other ways that fundraisers around the world have come together to make positive change during the coronavirus pandemic, please sign in to comment below or email joe@sofii.org. Thank you. 

Recent figures published by the government suggest that around 164,000 charity workers have been furloughed over recent months. One of the hardest hit areas of the industry has been fundraising.
There are over 2,000 members of the group.