Giving back to worthy causes and charities has always been a key pillar and passion for us at Talking Tables. This year we know a lot of people have found themselves in touch circumstances due to the global pandemic and we wanted to ensure we carry on regularly giving back where we can. We have adapted our office events to ensure the full team can still get involved monthly in all elements of our charity campaigns, and hope to make them even better once we are all back together again. This week TT's Clare spoke with her friend Jan who is highly involved in charities and has seen the differences that they have experienced this year as funds have universally become tighter.
Clare: So before we get into our Talking Topic would you like to tell me about your connection to charity?
Jan: Well I volunteered for many charities over the years, and at the beginning of the 2000’s I was talking to someone I know who had just set up a trust. But he didn’t know how best to go about donating this money, so I said I’d do it. However I quickly realised it’s a lot more difficult than I thought to give away money thoughtfully. I have now been working for that trust for nearly 17 years, making grants. It’s the most amazing job because if you’re giving away money everyone is nice to you and takes your calls!
Clare: And also to be in a position to support them is wonderful!
Jan: And you meet some amazing people who have such vision, determination and tenacity, and real passion for they believe is a good thing to do.
- As someone highly involved in charities and charity giving through a trust, how would you say Covid has impacted their ability to raise funds?
Jan: It’s hugely affecting charities, in their fundraising and other areas as well. A lot of charities do their fundraising through events, and of course all events were immediately cancelled, from the big events like marathons but also smaller ones too like tea days and golf events. All those things that are the bread and butter for charities were suddenly cancelled. Even one organised dinner can raised £20-30 which can make such a substantial difference.
The corporate fundraising has also been affected. A lot of corporates have a relationship with a charity and they’ll do volunteering days and so on which have dried up due to Covid, so corporates are giving less. Of course the corporate world has been massively affected as well so there isn’t so much spare money available.
On the positive side there were some emergency funds set up by a lot of organisations which helped hugely. The other thing is that a lot of charities make money through activities. So for example if they organise an after school club they are charging the schools for this, so with these not happening they are not getting that money, and not all costs stop. Furlough has helped to some extent but it hasn’t covered all the costs – the offices and rent for instance.
Clare: I’m also aware of charity initiatives such as food banks where a lot of the volunteers are currently unable to help due to shielding.
Jan: Yes the volunteers have also been affected, as have things like helplines for domestic abuse where the demand has now gone through the roof. Magic Breakfast are now giving out 35% more breakfasts than this time last year. Anything to do with mental health has also seen a huge rise in demand for support.
- We have given relatively small amounts to different charities in 2020, is this still useful?
Jan: Even small amounts of £20 0r £40 are so important, for various reasons. Small amounts make up to big amounts and the other big thing is that when we give to charities like that it’s called unrestricted funding, which means the charity can spend it in the way they want spend it. A lot of Government money and money from other organisations comes with a lot of strings attached, as they are only allowed to use it for certain projects. So for the things they really need to do they are desperate for this unrestricted money. So those small donations are the life blood for many charities.
Clare: It’s really reassuring that it makes a difference and if people like us keep giving the £200-300 during the year to the different organisations it’s making a difference.
Jan: And equally if the charity has to drive the fundraising it takes up their time so if we can just do some of our own without that it’s fabulous!
- As you know, we supported Magic Breakfast this year, and you helped me identify this charity, why did you feel it was a great choice for Talking tables in the early days of lockdown?
Jan: I remember at the time you were thinking about helping young people and I’d been reading about Magic Breakfast, which is also a charity involved in feeding children, and food poverty is something that is increasing unfortunately. The charity really knows what it’s doing and is very focused on improving and being well connected to it’s beneficiaries. They’ve been able to pivot well during this time, for instance they are now delivering food parcels to home and not just schools, which is a sign of a good charity.
When charities only get a certain amount of money they still have to pay certain outgoings, like rent. So they then have to cut money on food. So something like Magic Breakfast can be hugely appreciated. We were also discussing how many people have been living off 80% of wages due to furloughing. 80% of a minimum wage is a big difference compared to 80% of the wage a lot of us are earning. So for families living on the minimum wage buying food has become much more of a strain. So to be in the right area and provide this help I thought Magic Breakfast was a great option for you.
Clare: Yes we certainly found them easy and professional to work with so it was a lovely choice.
- What role, do the big charity giving days, like Macmillan or Children In Need play? I assume they are a force for good!
Jan: Yes not only do they raise money but they also reaise awareness and get a lot of volunteers who learn a lot. So it’s not all about the money. They’re also good fun!
Clare: They are, and you can’t help but think about that charity while you participate. You think about what they do and while they’re doing it so it raises their profile.
Jan: Juts making us stop and think about them and learn more is brilliant. For example a children’s hospice you may think that’s where children go to die but actually there is so much more to it, it’s where they go to have a life, and get specialist help. It actually helps people live their lives!
Clare: Yes – and with the event set us such as the tea parties it is a wholesome way you can get together in a way that also means you are supporting a good cause.
- We have found that matching the money to relate to a staff member or staff team’s efforts works well. Do you have any experience of this?
Jan: A lot of schemes have set up to match charities which have been incredibly successful. There is also an initialive that has been set up called the Big Give where a company can put a certain amount of money up and charities can seek them out and there’s a psychology behind thinking your generosity is being matched, we all love it. I think there’s been quite a lot of research done on that. It also moves us away from giving because you just feel sorry for someone – it makes it more positive.
Clare: Yes for us we have felt that we would like to give but without putting the pressure on individuals. It’s a nice combination to do that as a team and a business. Again the psychology of it is that it feels nice to give, no matter the amount. And being able to do it from your own home is very powerful as it is immediate, and I imagine charities are finding that successful.