Scotland’s community response to lockdown

Lesley Duncan – Senior Analyst @ Wood for Trees

When the UK went into lockdown back in March, the fear amongst charities was palpable. Face-to-face fundraising stopped, and events expected to raise millions were either postponed or cancelled altogether.

Since then, people everywhere have been showing their support in a wide variety of ways. Looking at my own community on the outskirts of Edinburgh I have been blown away with the community spirit over the last few months and I’d like to share some of those examples here.

Straight away Facebook groups were set up for people to offer and ask for help, street volunteers were assigned to every street so everyone would have someone they could contact if they were self-isolating and needed anything, and a local food bank was set up to deliver food and care packages to those in need.

After a crowdfunding campaign allowed him to purchase four 3D printers, a local man made and distributed 5000 face-masks, free of charge to health professionals. Once Covid-19 is behind us, the printers will be donated to the local high school. £2,500 was raised for the NHS-Lothian Covid appeal by a local photographer taking doorstep portraits. Cake and TLC boxes have been gifted to pregnant women and new mums who haven’t been able to get out and meet new people like they normally would. Two young brothers have set up a free Little Library for people to donate and share books while schools and libraries remain closed.

One local mum raised over £2,000 for Muscular Dystrophy UK by running a marathon in laps on her driveway, and I’ve personally used my sewing skills to make and sell some face masks to raise money for MND Scotland. 

My personal favourite from the last four months is Margaret Payne; the Scottish equivalent of Captain Sir Tom Moore. At 90 years old she has climbed the equivalent of Suilven, 2398 feet, on her stairs at home, near where I am from in the Highlands, raising over £358,000 for NHS Highlands, Highland Hospice and the RNLI.

These stories are not unique to my community but are happening all over the county. And if this is anything to go by, the spirit of giving is alive and well out there. People don’t want to see charities struggle, they want to help them survive and to continue to help people in need.

Without a doubt the number of supporters that charities are able to recruit, and their income will be affected. And with the latest news predicting a potentially worse second wave of Covid-19 in the winter we know that things are not going to return to “normal” any time soon. Charities will have to be brave and inventive to think of new and different ways of recruiting new supporters. It will be more vital than ever to keep talking to and thanking existing supporters (even to those who aren’t able to give at the moment because of their financial situation).  Analytical techniques such as predictive modelling can help charities identify promising supporters within their own databases that they might not normally approach while tools like the WfT Insight Hub Reporting suite can help fundraisers keep track of the health of their database anytime, at the touch of a button. Using data and insight can ensure the make the most of these opportunities and engage with their potential supporters in the most effective ways.

I am hopeful that charities up and down the country will be able to harness all the goodwill that we’ve seen in communities and that they’ll be able to recruit and build strong relationships with new and current supporters, helping to see them through the difficult times ahead.