Update from Chief Executive, Lesslie Young


Our Chief Executive, Lesslie Young looks at the disappointing response from the Institute of Fundraising to the COVID19 crisis when Epilepsy Scotland needed them most.

As we continue to adapt to our current situation, as individuals and as a nation, we also continue to face challenges, some longstanding, some new and complex.

There is no doubt the impact of COVID19 will be long-lasting. It remains unclear exactly what that impact will be.

What is clear to me, is Epilepsy Scotland is evolving and adapting in response to this crisis and will continue to do so. It is true there is opportunity in challenge.

Although difficult at times, I have asked my team to view the current situation and all its challenges as a learning opportunity.

By doing so it becomes a positive experience. We have learned a lot about our existing services, how we have adapted them successfully and will build on what we have learned to expand them, make them more accessible and broaden our reach.

How we are funded is changing already and it will continue to change. We need to be able to plan for those inevitable changes.

I have commented on how proud I am of all my colleagues, those working from home who continue to give their all for those affected by epilepsy and those on furlough.

I’ve updated you on our service provision and how impressed I am by the hard work and dedication from those colleagues who deliver our services to those who need us.

I am equally proud of our fundraising team. Their planning and hard work has been hit hard by the postponement of events of all sorts.

They have had to adapt and improvise to continue to raise funds in the most challenging of times.


Institute of Fundraising

Our fundraising team have always prided themselves on being guided by the standards set by and involved with the Institute of Fundraising, the national governing membership body for fundraisers.

Throughout the year, the team attend training events, networking events and an annual conference. Some members of the team even volunteer with the Institute and we have proudly been shortlisted and won awards from the Institute of Fundraising over the years.

So, we are especially disappointed with their response to the COVID19 crisis.

I receive updates each week, even daily, from various organisations notifying me of available funding, offering practical tips or free webinars on maximising donations or engaging donors virtually while the communication from the Institute of Fundraising has been slow and often out-of-date.


More guidance for fundraisers needed

Like much of Epilepsy Scotland’s work, a lot is being done behind the scenes with the Institute of Fundraising.

They are involved in lobbying government to support charities in response to COVID19, they have been involved in this weeks’ Big Night In fundraiser, which will benefit select charities, as well as the nationwide 2.6 challenge.

However, it is only now, five weeks into lockdown, the Institute is looking to prepare more guidance for Fundraisers. It is only now they are asking members if they need general or specific guidance.

It is only now they are holding a steering group to ask what else the Institute of Fundraising can do. Five weeks into lockdown, when a lot of damage has already been done.

In these difficult and uncertain times, our fundraising teams are working hard to ensure funds are raised to cover our existing services as they operate now.

The recovery stage after lockdown will be just as challenging for them, if not more so.

In times of great uncertainty, we look to our leaders for guidance, support and information. Good leaders, whether an individual or a governing body are judged on how they react in challenging times not in the good times.

We feel the Institute of Fundraising have not risen to that challenge. As a result, we, many others and they, may well pay a heavy price.


What Epilepsy Scotland is calling for

I’m calling for the Institute of Fundraising to step up and lead the sector by offering practical support to the many fundraising staff who will naturally be nervous about redundancies, to do more for them as individuals but to do much more for the charities and the people they represent.

The Institute must provide guidance on how to maximise funds raised in the current situation and keep this guidance up to date as the crisis evolves and regulations change.

They need to be an active player and support us now, during the recovery phase and beyond.

Our fundraising team has responded well. I am enormously grateful to our generous donors as well as the forward-thinking funders who continue to support us during these challenging times. We have adapted our services but not reduced them.

We continue to be there for people affected by epilepsy. We need to ensure we are in a financially stable position to be able to continue what we do now, bounce back and continue to support those living with epilepsy in the future.

Some of this will be made much easier with support and guidance from the governing body, the Institute of Fundraising, leading from the front.

We are grateful to everyone who has donated or shared our appeals, thank you.

Please continue to support us, get involved in our virtual challenges, the 2.6 challenge, simply donate if you can, share our appeal and help us to be there for those who need us most, now and in the future.