Our Chief Executive Lesslie Young looks at fundraising during and beyond COVID-19.
Most people who support Epilepsy Scotland do so because the cause is close to their heart. They know how epilepsy can affect the lives of people close to them.
The same is true for our fundraisers, three of whom have personal experience of epilepsy in their families which allows them to use that experience when describing the impact the condition can have on day to day life.
Whilst email and phone calls help us to stay in touch, our fundraisers know building personal relationships is so important.
That personal connection is key. They are so keen to be back out there meeting and talking to people and working to raise the much needed funds to ensure Epilepsy Scotland continues to provide the essential services for those we support and represent.
Staying safe and cancelling events
Because of the pandemic with its challenges and imposed restrictions, all charities have had to re-structure their fundraising strategy especially because of event cancellations.
Challenges and events represent approximately one third of fundraising income for Epilepsy Scotland.
It was understandable but none the less incredibly disappointing to see the cancellation of large challenges like the Edinburgh Marathon as we know how hard people train to take part in these events.
Equally disappointing was the cancellation of our Ladies Lunch. Not only is it our flagship fundraising event but it is also a particular favourite of mine.
It sees lots of women coming together, having fun, enjoying great company, delicious food and fantastic entertainment as well as raising a great deal of money for Epilepsy Scotland. Who could ask for more?
Across the sector
It was enormously encouraging to see emergency funding released from the government, campaigns like #nevermoreneeded and national fundraising initiatives like the 2.6 challenge boost support for charities.
But as we progress through the pandemic albeit slowly, we know it is our long-term funders and individual committed supporters who will support that slow progression and ensure Epilepsy Scotland continues to provide all its services.
Earlier this year I called on the Institute of Fundraising, the professional membership body for UK fundraising, to provide more support for charities during this time and I’m pleased to see that there is now a suite of resources available on their website.
You are never more needed
We are incredibly grateful to our project funders who remain committed to supporting our services throughout the pandemic; Bank of Scotland Foundation, National Lottery Community Fund, Scottish Children’s Lottery, the Scottish Government and Children in Need to name but a few.
It has been hugely encouraging, not to mention forward thinking, the way some funders have stepped up to the challenges, gone that extra mile to find out what charities need and launched additional funds to help secure services.
Our regular donors and members have been quite amazing. They have remained committed to Epilepsy Scotland throughout.
Their boundless creativity, energy, enthusiasm, and resilience of individuals taking on their own challenges and not letting the pandemic stop them from supporting Epilepsy Scotland has been truly inspiring.
The principle of great leadership being required when challenges appear and difficult situations arise is true and, I think can be applied equally to those undaunted fundraisers of all descriptions, who did not let the pandemic and all it brought with it, deter them.
I thank you all and look forward to continuing those long-standing relationships and developing new ones.
You and what you do has never been needed more.