Oxfam fallout: how to keep raising the money your cause needs during this media storm

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This crisis is going to affect us all; every charity is implicated by association. The following simple steps will help you to keep raising essential funds. 

You are going to get questions, you are going to meet with distrust or even hostility. Get your facts together, get your stories together and accept this as an opportunity to be even better at what we do.

  • Know your safeguarding policy

  • Know your facts about the impact your work makes

  • Be proactive: start a dialogue with your donors; don’t let this fester.

How to have a dialogue with your donors

Firstly, consider your attitude: nobody donates to people who are being defensive. You might feel like our sector is under attack again, but our raison d’être is to change the world for the better; if this makes us even better at doing that, then it is to be welcomed. And that is what your donors want to know.

“Nobody believes more strongly than us that we cannot be a hiding place or vehicle for bad people. Charities attract some of the best people I have ever met and it is clear that they are also targeted by a small number of bad people. Our purpose is to protect the most vulnerable and we accept the challenges that come with that.”

Secondly, contextualise the issue: this is a society-wide challenge. This is a problem affecting every walk of life, every industry. They themselves may sympathise.

“We welcome change and a new attitude to whistleblowers and the development of a culture where vulnerable all people are protected from bullying, harassment and abuse.”

Thirdly, remember your donors and prospective donors are your partners for change. They believe in what you do. They want to see you make a difference.

Reach out to your stakeholders to ask if they want to contribute to strengthen your policy. They may have great contacts and experience from cleaning up their companies in the wake of revelations.

And lastly, focus on some good news: get out there and share your stories of the transformative change they have been a part of. The more first person these stories can be, the better. If it can’t be your beneficiaries because they are too vulnerable, then make it your practitioners. People are always happy to hear good news and feel good about the difference you are making together. 

This is an enormous challenge for our sector and will make a significant dent in public trust. Being proactive now is essential to minimise the impact. Do not think that you are immune!

Ilana Jackman is a fundraising consultant. She works with professional & lay leaders and fundraisers across our sector to give them the skills to optimise their fundraising and make even more of a difference.