23 Apr 2020
Taking a minute is something we’ve all done more of recently. As life as we know it has changed we’ve had to stop and think about what to do, how to cope, our family and friends, what, when, where and how to help, ……
Many of us have turned our attention to others less fortunate or vulnerable in our communities, wanting to reach out in response to the crisis. We hear daily about the amazing response from volunteers, community groups, neighbours, leaders and key essential workers.
More of us are giving financially, either in response to the increasing number of appeals from charities or driven by our passion and desire to help where we can, grateful for what we have and for those that are on the front line responding to this horrible virus and the effect it is having on our lives.
Over the last month I’ve met and seen and heard of teenagers who have never enjoyed running, run 5k’s in support of people affected by coronavirus, business consultants working with charities to triage advice calls for people struggling to cope, civil servants distributing food to those in need in the community and philanthropists changing the focus of their grant aid and all of this has been in response to a desire to do something, good will and help where need is most.
As someone who advises on philanthropy and giving to charity, I can’t remember a time in my career when there has been such an outpouring of support and community spirit in response to need. Or a time when need at such scale has been greater and which is why I would encourage everyone and anyone with a motivation to support a local charity or community to do so … But, take a moment to ask yourself three simple questions. What or whom do I want to support? Does this cause or charity need my support? and How will my donation be used?
Many donations to charity will of course require more research and due diligence. But, taking a minute to answer these three simple questions can often avoid potential disappointment down the line in relation to why, how and where funding is used. They may also help to avoid disconnected expectations between donors and benefiting causes or giving where there is no obvious need and instead, lead to a great experience and one where everyone benefits. This is the least we should expect when people who care connect with causes that matter.
Take the current issue of PPE and essential equipment needed by our health sector as an example. There is huge need for it, we all want it, and we want to ensure we have it in NI. But as with many complex problems, money is not always the only issue – and in the case of PPE it’s about supply and demand and quality standards and we must ask ourselves if raising or donating money for PPE is the best way to support health care during this crisis.
Giving to the right cause in the right way and at the right time can be difficult and complex, particularly in times of crises. At the Foundation, we know that there is a great need for support in NI right now. Over the last three weeks we’ve given away more than half a million pounds to more than 250 groups, all working to help their community. We’ve seen what generosity can do and we’re here to support you. Whether you are a charity in need of funding or a donor who is looking for the right cause or way to support. If you want to support your community, do it…..just take a moment to ask yourself three questions and don’t hesitate to get in touch if we can help.
Siofra Healy, Director of Philanthropy, Community Foundation Northern Ireland
Guidance on setting up a fundraising appeal from the Funding Regulator can be found here.