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P-102 Empowering fundraisers to respond to the fundraising gap caused by the pandemic
  1. Ann-Marie Kelly and
  2. Cheri Strudwick
  1. Heart of Kent Hospice, Maidstone, UK


When restrictions were enforced in March 2020, Heart of Kent Hospice feared the writing was on the wall – we faced very real risk of closure. Although we had grown our reserves, we had three months to find a solution and fill a projected £800,000 gap in funding generated through the closure of shops and cancelled fundraising events. We aimed to:

  • Be transparent about the challenges we were facing with colleagues.

  • Be honest about the scale of the challenge with our supporters.

  • Retain donor relationships and recruit additional support.

  • Look after the emotional wellbeing of our colleagues as they transitioned to home working.

  • Fill the financial gap that had been created to secure the future of the hospice.

Clear guidance was provided on the potential scale of the challenge to the fundraising and communications team and we re-forecast organisational expenditure assuming reaching a worst case scenario and meeting the needs of an increasing caseload of patients.

The fundraising and communications team were trusted to be creative and:

  • Respond to the eagerness of the local community to want to help us.

  • Try new ideas for income generation – we had nothing to lose!

  • Seek alternative ways to engage with our local community who were experiencing sudden loss; we launched a schools bereavement project and guidance for companies.

  • Look after each other.

Our urgent fundraising appeal raised £1.2 million including a grant of £500,000 to support our recovery post pandemic. Our worst and best case fundraising targets were exceeded.

As a consequence, we have invested in fundraising resource this year to encourage donors to continue supporting us during the rest of the pandemic and into recovery. Heart of Kent Hospice did not furlough any of the fundraising and communications team; instead, we used agility and creativity to survive and strengthen our potential to recover fundraising.

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