As no doubt is the case for you all, much of my working life and brain capacity appears to be taken up at the moment with thoughts about Covid-19. I wanted to share some thoughts, update you on what’s happening here at CFG (and for many infrastructure and service providing charities) and let you know that we need your support now more than ever to ensure the sector comes out of this crisis as unscathed as possible.
Over the last few years the word ‘crisis’ has been used many times. The financial crash. Brexit. The Austerity agenda. Safeguarding and fundraising media scandals. Before now the cap didn’t seem to entirely fit the experience. The times were challenging and seriously undermined the ability of some charities to continue to deliver. But it never felt like a crisis for the entire sector. Until now.
I cannot overplay the seriousness of the current situation for us all. I don’t say that with any sense of panic or hysteria. Alongside the potentially devastating effects of Covid-19 on the individuals and families sadly negatively impacted by the virus is a very real financial devastation looming for many in the sector. I am hearing from people across the sector daily about their loss of income, capacity and resource squeezes (either due to fewer staff and volunteers or increased demand) and real fear about managing the wellbeing of their teams, their beneficiaries and their organisations. Not only are large events being cancelled or postponed but smaller events and meetings are falling victim too.
At CFG we have already suffered the postponement of our IT Conference. Like many of our members, our main income generating event for the financial year (our Annual Conference) is in serious doubt, our training and member meetings are being cancelled as hosts’ own corporate policies bite and we’ve even received enquiries about events occurring at the end of the calendar year. All at a time that we are looking to put to bed one financial year and commence activity for the next with a tiny team running flat out. This is serious news. As an organisation who relies on events, training and networking to survive we are worried.
So what are we doing about it?
Never let a good crisis go to waste my dad used to say. And we’re not. The CFG team is hard at work finding digital ways to deliver the best learning experience possible as an alternative to our face to face events. With plans to offer further value and experiences when we are able to go about our business unfettered, we hope, later in the year. The lessons from delivering out IT conference virtually to delegates will enable us to provide an alternative conference experience in May, in the likely event of us being unable to hold our flagship event as usual in the QEII Centre.
We are working tirelessly to find ways in which we can deliver value to our generous corporate hosts to ensure that they are able to continue to financially support our endeavours. We’re also coordinating with our colleagues across the sector to lobby for practical adjustments and financial support for charities so that you too can get through this crisis and come out the other side sustainably.
So we’re trying as much as is possible to provide business as usual. We’re keeping close to the government advice and monitoring it daily to ensure that our staff, members and beneficiaries are in the best possible place. We’re not cancelling any of our activities unless forced to do so, and where we can we will be offering digital alternatives to stop the gap.
My plea to you all; stand with us at this difficult time. I recognise that you are all suffering too. It’s vital that we retain your support if CFG is to remain the leading voice on matters of charity finance. Let’s try and spread the load. Hold off pulling away from CFG events or cancelling your bookings if you can. We will find ways to provide value to you in a different way if our original plans cannot be delivered, so perhaps don’t book your travel until closer to the time in case we are able to deliver digitally. Share your experiences with each other and with us. We are pooling the information that is coming in and using it to feed into our asks of government and our regulator, so keep that information coming in.
Let’s stick together and together we will come out stronger. This may be a huge black cloud, but all clouds can have silver linings
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