As the UK went into lockdown to reduce the spread of Covid-19, charities across the UK faced huge challenges. One of the biggest was the hit funding took, as all fundraising activities and events had to be cancelled.
Simon on the Streets was no different. Everything we’d planned for the year had to be scratched. Which meant all our vital funding that kept us running was hit hard.
So, how did we adapt to the challenge of fundraising in lockdown? What are we proud of, and how did we embrace the virtual world? And how can you get involved in fundraising for Simon on the Streets?
How Covid-19 impacted our fundraising
At the beginning of the first lockdown, the Institute of Fundraising reported that they expected charities to lose 48% of their public fundraising during the crisis. This was incredibly worrying, as fundraising is vital for charities to survive. It provides unrestricted income that covers core running costs.
We faced the devastating reality that all our fundraising events for the year would likely be cancelled. But, the demand for our services increased. We also faced additional costs as we modified our services to be as Covid-secure as possible. We knew we had to adapt to survive.
How we adapted
Thankfully, our team pulled together to transform our fundraising for 2020. We moved online and thought “virtual” for the first time, as did our supporters. We made it through 2020. Here’s how we did it.
Our 5 for 5 Virtual Networking Events
Our 5 for 5 corporate partnership scheme allows businesses to commit to donating £500 per year for 5 years to our work. This commitment provides a sustainable source of income to ensure we can keep supporting the homeless. But, it also offers benefits to our corporate partners, one of which is our networking events.
Networking events are a core part of the 5 for 5 scheme, but when the pandemic hit, face to face events were put on hold. We decided to take our networking online for the first time. Our online-networking events are open to our corporate partners and other businesses and charities in West Yorkshire. We're proud to welcome guest speakers at each event, who are specialists in the Yorkshire business world, and share their knowledge with attendees.
Our 5 for 5 virtual networking events have been a huge success and we have seen attendance go up since moving the events online. If you’d like to take part in our monthly networking events, simply get in touch.
Our Innovative Fundraisers
Three lockdowns didn't dampen the generous spirits of our local community. We were blown away by the amazing ways our supporters fundraised throughout the pandemic.
Our supporters rose to the challenge of taking on socially distanced fundraising activities. We were so impressed with Matt Ellis, who completed 9 gruelling park runs in just one day to raise over £1,000 for our work. We also saw innovate online fundraising from Joe Dimuantes and his friends who completed a 24 hour Gaming Marathon fundraiser which raised over £1,300. Local communities also found new ways to fundraise online, like Meanwood Radio and Wharf Chambers, who held a livestream DJ event to raise proceeds for Simon on the Streets.
We also had amazing support from our West Yorkshire businesses, who really pushed innovative fundraising to the next level. We loved Big Jugs ceramics online charity raffle which gave supporters the chance to win one of her amazing ceramics. Pizza Loco impressed us with their special "Simon Pizza", donating £5 from every Simon pizza sold to our work. And who can forget Leeds-based Awesome Merchandise's winter campaign? Designed by Leeds Artist Drew Millward, the Keep Leeds Warm merchandise provided support to the homeless during the cold winter months.
The Little Sleep In
With fundraising events cancelled, we had a problem. Our challenge was to create a fundraising event that people could take part in from home.
Over the years, our annual sleepout events, where people come together to spend a night under the stars, have raised tens of thousands of pounds to ensure we can support rough sleepers in Leeds, Bradford and Kirklees. We decided that if we couldn’t sleep out together, we could sleep in together instead!
On 1st May 2020, almost 100 West Yorkshire families and residents slept anywhere but their own beds for the night. Participants pitched tents in their garden or created dens in their living room. The Little Sleep In gave families, couples, children and individuals the chance to sleep in together virtually.
The event was great fun and a huge success. Everyone loved sharing their sleeping arrangements for the night on our social media channels and the next day we found out that we raised over £10,000 to support the homeless. The event was even highly commended at the Institute of Fundraising Yorkshire Awards.
2021 is an uncertain year for Simon on the Streets and the homeless and vulnerable people we support. We know that demand for our services is going to increase. But, with fundraising events still on hold until at least summer, we must still turn to innovative ways to raise vital funds.
You can help support our work by signing up to take part in our second Little Sleep In. On 7th May, we’re asking you to pitch your tents in your garden, or build a den in your living room. You just need to be in your own home, somewhere other than your own bed.
All you need to do is request a fundraising pack, set up your Just Giving fundraising page and get to sleep!