As the UK holds its collective breath to see what happens next in the Brexit drama, the charity sector, along with every other UK industry, has (to borrow an overused yet apposite phrase)to ‘keep calm and carry on’.
Instead of buying yourself a cheesy mug or throw cushion, here’s some usable advice: Let all your stakeholders know how this might affect your work
1. Supporters: Tell your supporters what you are worried about and how you are planning for it.
They will be worried about the impact on themselves and aware of some of the national ramifications; put your beneficiaries into this picture so that they think about them when they are making decisions in the coming months.
Telling them about your planning shows that you are taking a business approach. Ask your closest donors and volunteers to play a role in this planning.
2. Leadership team: The senior people within your organisation will be planning for the impact on your mission and finances. You should be working closely with them to set out plans to shore up your fundraising activity, and securing their commitment not to shrink fundraising; the impact of stalled fundraising on your future income will be felt well beyond the impact of a downturn.
3. Fundraising team: Retain staff: uncertainty leads to staff churn, which is one of the greatest risks to successful fundraising, both because of the loss of relationships, information and continuity AND because leadership so often reacts to threat by freezing recruitment.
Doing your level best to keep them:
Invest in your staff; send them to workshops, classes and seminars. Training enables and accelerates innovation, which is even more essential during difficult times
Get them on board with tackling the challenge: if your team see themselves as part of the solution to tackling this external threat, they will be far more invested.
Explain what they can expect: if opportunities for promotion are going to be limited for some time, talk to them about a plan to get them ready and to keep them informed of developments.
4. Prospective supporters: It may seem counter-intuitive, but with the government drawing further and further back from commissioning some of the most vital work in our sector and no end in sight, those who have means might feel even more inclined to hold up parts of the social safety net.
Take this opportunity to cast your net wider; approach new individuals and funding organisations about how to make sure that we don’t fail a whole generation because of our turbulent times.
In brief: be pre-emptive, proactive and open about the current threat to your work with stakeholders and prospective stakeholders.
I'd love to hear what you've been doing to tackle the risk to your work; share your experiences and tips below. If you want a private discussion about how to do this in your organisation, contact me for a chat.