I’ve been involved with fundraising and the Not For Profit Sector for nearly 19 years. 2020 certainly won’t be a year in my career I will forget and if asked to summarise it in one word – tumultuous covers it.

Like most charities we have a fundraising strategy, plan for the year, efficiently predict income flow, then tweak and update across the year…. But in 2020 many charities across the UK had fundraising events and plans cancelled almost overnight due to lockdown and mostly with no possibility of making up shortfalls elsewhere.

Our team at Cherry Trees has had to have a very outward looking view, watching the world as it changes each day and in turn create fundraising opportunities people might respond to that are timely and in step with how people live. I am always on the lookout, seeing what people are interested in and how we can convert that to help raise money for our cause. Some charities have been able to do this more than others, it’s very much an individual situation per charity. Some have unfortunately had to close, other have had to cut services.

With an environment of feeling like everything was thrown out the window, charities and their fundraisers have had to draw upon different professional skills, not to mention deep reserves of self-resilience. There has been a lot of risk to navigate and a very new world order has emerged in terms of how we fundraise. Taking things head on, turning on sixpences, mitigating the damage wherever possible to find new ways to do things. Emergency funding pots have sprung up with money available to apply for thanks to generous grants and trusts, whilst virtual and digital fundraising blossomed. Some charities have had to draw on financial reserves to plug funding gaps, but sadly not all of them are in a position to do this.

"The response from supporters still in a position to give additional help, has been whole hearted and with great generosity. The response for Cherry Trees was immediate and from the heart, in so very many ways over the past few months and we know many charities would have gone through similar experiences too with their own supporters."

I’m incredibly proud of my frontline Cherry Trees colleagues who have cared for some of the most vulnerable families’ right through the pandemic. We knew that we would do absolutely all in our power to make sure we could stay open if at all possible, to support them. And we have done – incredible work went on behind the scenes at all levels across the charity, to make it happen.

Christmas is a peak for charities and we know people will want to help by donating. But once over, the prospect of the New Year and beyond feels a little daunting. When I look ahead (abstract, moveable and an uncertain word in itself!), the future of fundraising, donations and how and where our income will come from feels less clear now. The sector overall is preparing for perhaps 10% of charities going under and we anticipate the continued need to draw on all our professional skills, connections, planning and creativity to make fundraising for our vital respite services 2021 happen.

The whole nation, the whole world is facing the same upheaval and uncertainty. This newly altered way of looking at time, planning our lives and even dreaming of the future affects everyone – at work, at home and in our own private moments. But actually, although I know there will be more ups and downs to come I feel rather positive on this point. This year has shown the very best of people and how they can collaborate and support each other – that’s uplifting.

Someone at Cherry Trees recently used an old expression and its truth and timeliness really hit home to me: “Everything will be okay in the end. If it's not okay, it's not the end’.

There’s always a new way and together we will come through. Stay safe everyone.

Image credit: Jon Webb

Happy times at Cherry Trees thanks to the world stepping forwards to help support us.