Macmillan braced for £100m ‘shock’ from coronavirus

macmillan2Macmillan Cancer Support is facing a £100m black hole in its finances this year as the coronavirus wreaks havoc with its fundraising strategy at a time when its services are being stretched to the limit.

The charity, which has already furloughed 600 of its 2,000 staff, was forecast to raise about £235m from voluntary donations in its financial year to December 31 2020. However, the figure is now expected to be about £140m due to the fact that the charity receives no statutory funding, with 90% coming from donations.

Speaking at Third Sector’s virtual Fundraising Conference, executive director of fundraising, marketing and communications Claire Rowney said the crisis had been “a very big shock” to the charity but it had decided early in the pandemic, not to go out and ask for money immediately.

Macmillan’s two main fundraising events, The World’s Biggest Coffee Morning, which takes place in September, and the Night In, which is held in May, are both banned due to current social distancing rules as they require friends and families to hold events in their homes.

Rowney said the charity was working to produce virtual versions of its physical events and to look at which of its fundraising products would still be effective under lockdown conditions.

Macmillan had also tried to strike a balance between recruiting new supporters and doubling down on ensuring that existing supporters understood the importance of their contributions to the charity during the crisis, she said.

However, last month it launched an emergency appeal, enlisting celebrity supporters including Fearne Cotton, Johnny Vegas, and Naomie Harris, to raise awareness, although it would not comment on whether it had set a fundraising target.

Macmillan has seen a huge increase in demand over recent weeks.  At one point in March, calls to the Macmillan Support Line about Covid-19 rose by 1,600%; the number of calls that specifically mention the coronavirus currently stands at around 750 a week.

The charity works with a number of agencies on its fundraising activity, including MRM McCann, which launched an animated campaign highlighting the emotional hardship of a cancer diagnosis, and Wax/OnA, which ran the #SaveOurSupport digital ad campaign at the tail end of last year designed to highlight the threat to the future of cancer care in the UK.

Advertising is run by Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO, which scooped the account last year from VVCP; media is handled by Zenith.

Rowney added: “A lot of my time now is focused on how we can make 2021 as big as possible. We’ve identified the products we think can make a difference this year, but next year is now about making it as big as possible and establishing how we can reinvest.”

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