COVID-19 – advice to members
With CoVid-19 wreaking havoc across the globe, charities need to deal with the new reality presented by the crisis. Obviously, the situation affects each member charity differently, and all advice can only be very general. Work patterns will inevitably suffer disruption, and access to work stations will be limited.
The trustees and management of each charity will need to give thought to how their organisation can weather this massive disruption.
Although all of Interlink’s events and meetings have been postponed, please be reassured that our staff are continuing to work and can be contacted through the usual email and phone channels. The closure of schools means that some people will be unable to work or will work fewer hours. Interlink’s office remains open for now, but with fewer people onsite.
With an eye to positive forward movement, Interlink would like to reiterate some sensible advice and offer some food for thought.
Continuing your services
Yesterday, the anticipated advice about closure of schools and childcare settings arrived. Friday will be the last day when schools will be open until further notice. The same advice applies to other universal provision such as youth services. Rabbonim are reviewing advice about shuls and other community facilities and events on a daily basis.
In the coming days you will need take decisions to adapt your provision in response to new Government and PHE guidance, or your own particular circumstances. You therefore need to risk-assess your services and activities daily.
General advice in respect of activities:
Obviously, different types of organisation will have vastly different requirements. Organisations should follow the advice provided for their specific sector. We reiterate some of the common themes:
- Take and follow advice specific to your sector.
- Reassure users about the measures you are taking and acknowledge their anxieties
- If you still have provision open, ask users not to attend if they feel unwell.
- Advise users of any changes in service delivery.
- Where applicable, all staff, volunteers and users should be encouraged to wash their hands often with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if handwashing facilities are not available. This is particularly important:
- after taking public transport
- before leaving home
- on arrival
- after using the toilet
- after breaks in activities
- before food preparation
- before eating any food, including snacks
- before leaving the charity’s venue
- Everyone should also be encouraged to cover coughs or sneezes with a tissue, then throw the tissue in a bin. See Catch it, Bin it, Kill it
- Anyone who feels unwell with a new persistent cough or fever should stay at home. Those individuals who have symptoms should self isolate for 7 days. If they are well but someone else in the household has symptoms then they should self isolate for 14 days (14 days covers the incubation through to recovery period)
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with people who are unwell
- Venues/Buildings should be clean; disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces
- Face masks are not recommended to protect from infection, as there is no evidence of the benefit from their use outside healthcare environments.
Charities and Funding: Points to Consider
- The current pandemic is likely to significantly affect charities’ activities, particularly the ability to deliver anticipated outputs to schedule. With quarantine widening, hands-on support may become limited to impossible, and fundraising events out of the question. Costs might rise, and the effect on the economy can significantly change the way people give, reducing disposable income.
- Philanthropists capable of giving significant sums may, if they have not taken a financial hit, be eager to help organisations with a proven track record who are responding to the situation or struggling because of it. Many people will want to do something to help, but not know how. Nimble charities would be well-advised to reach out offering supporters channels to help or donate.
- Effective communication is crucial, as well as responsible and proactive. Tell your supporters how the pandemic affects your charity, what you are doing about it, and what the charity needs now. This applies to all sorts of funders, from the large foundation to the service commissioner to the individual donor. If you cancel a fundraising event, your apology and thank you message should include the above information as well.
- The Charity Commission has indicated that they will be responsive to the emergency situation. If a charity is due to submit an annual return in the near future, but think they may not meet the deadline due to the current circumstances, they can ask the regulator for a filing extension.
- The London Funders Network has issued a statement of support for charities in the current situation, highlighting four main points. This has been signed by about 90 funders, agreeing to :
- Accommodate organisations who are forced to adapt activities, maintaining grant payments the while. They request that the grantee be in touch.
- Be flexible about reporting dates, to be re-arranged by mutual agreement.
- Be flexible with the use of the funds and their re-distribution between budget headings, e.g. covering sickness, or different service delivery, to make sure services continue
- Listen to the grantee charity, with the timing of the conversation to be initiated by the charity.
Other funders have issued similar statements. It would seem that most funders will try to be accommodating to grantees while trying to maintain their usual activities. Obviously, the crisis may negatively affect some funders due to decreased funds available or the ongoing instability.
- Remember- as you continue to seek funding for ongoing or increased work, collect and use evidence of the need, urgency, and impact of your work. In a competitive environment, presenting a strong case is essential.
There are very useful resources available from the Institute of Fundraising and the Fundraising Regulator, and from the sites attached below:
NCVO support page
Government support for businesses
Template appeal letter from the Blue Frog Direct marketing agency
Business continuity advice for charities
We wish all of our members continued strength to achieve, endurance, and further success.