Fundraising and Communications in a COVID-19 World … The global pandemic has made for challenging times for charities and fundraising organisations. With many events cancelled and faced with a global recession, many are having to make complex decisions about their fundraising activity, future income generation and the work they do. Following on from the IMRF Fundraising and Communication Skill Share held in Gothenburg in September 2019, we’ve asked members to share what kind of impact the Coronavirus has had on their activities and what they think the long-term implications might be. Christian Stipeldey, Head of Press & Public Relations Department, DGzRS Germany went into lockdown on 17 March 2020. As a result, we cancelled all our fundraising events for an unspecified period, depending on the situation. That meant no open-ship events, no visitors onboard our rescue units, no press or media onboard (because many of our crews live onboard day and night), no guided tours of our headquarters (the MRCC, shipyard, ‘sea rescue cinema’). These are all the ways that we seek to ‘tell our story’ in normal times. As a result, our public relations department has had to develop new ways to actively engage with our supporters, and to inspire people to join #TeamSeenotretter, thereby converting them to regular supporters. So, what did we come up with? First of all, we developed some ideas to fight coronavirus boredom at home: - new colouring pictures for children to download from our special website “Lüttje Seenotretter” (little sea rescuers); - a new screen background for parents’ smartphones, tablets and PC screens, downloadable from our media library; - new virtual tours on board our rescue units on our website, see www.seenotretter.de/rundgang; - and brand-new video content, see www.youtube.com/dieseenotretter, especially made for those who cannot visit us; - new YouTube playlists “Seenotretter-Classics” (pearls from our film archive, see www.seeotretter.de/classics); - and “Seenotretter-Knotenkunde” (videos demonstrating how to make different nautical knots, see: https://www.seenotretter.de/aktuelles/neuigkeiten/ansicht/news/knotenkunde-mit-den-seenotrettern/). It’s only been a short time but we’ve noticed huge results on our social media accounts: since February we have gained about 12,000 new Facebook followers (www.facebook.com/seenotretter) and about 10,000 new Instagram Followers (www.instagram.com/seenotretter) – much more followers than we gained in the whole of 2019. Each year, the last Sunday of July is “Tag der Seenotretter” (the Day of the Sea Rescuers) which is the most important day of the year for friends, fans and supporters of DGzRS. We organise open-ship events at most of our rescue stations around the German coastline which attract more than 1,000 supporters at each location. It is an essential way to engage with people and to build our supporter base as we are exclusively financed by donations. In 2020, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rescuers Day was put on hold, but instead of cancelling the event, we decided to move it all online. We asked all our rescue crews to shoot little videos showcasing their daily work. This has given us lots of great footage for the special day. On 26 July, people could examine our ships, station equipment, and meet our crewmen much closer than usual, they could also visit more than one station in a day - just a click away - without having to travel. We also created a special campaign t-shirt which supporters could buy and ran a competition to win ten short sea trips with a rescue unit - once government guidelines permit, as the prize. Just click here to see the page and all about the event. Niklas Jendeby, Kommunikationsledare, SSRS The strange thing for us in these challenging times is that so far, we have done better in the fundraising field compared to last year. This is largely due to the fact that a fair share of our income (ca 40%) comes from membership fees, and the total number of members has increased this year. As many Swedes have stayed at home this summer (compared to other countries, a large percentage of our population travels abroad in the summertime) there has been a significant increase in the number of boats and yachts sold – as people ‘staycation’ instead. The second-hand market in particular has gone up hugely. And with many newcomers to the boating world, there has been a lot of focus on safety and a slight worry in the media the people’s inexperience on the water will cause a lot of trouble. Which in turn has benefited us. We are still very cautious though, as our other big income flow; donations and legacies, might be lower than last year as this is in some ways is connected to the stock market. We might see a dip there for the full year, but so far, we are still on target in this respect. Kaido Taberland, Estonian Volunteer Rescue Association So far, the Estonian Volunteer Rescue Association is doing well. So far, COVID has not had a dramatic impact on our operations and we are hoping that this will continue and the virus will pass as soon as possible. We have had some good news on the fundraising front and have secured funding for two projects which will benefit our SAR teams. The first one is called: Project Safe and Clean Baltic Sea, it started on 1 January 2020 and is totally financed by the Coca Cola Foundation. The second project is funded by the Interreg Central Baltic programme. Project INTROSERV’s objective is to build up the Estonian TROSS (FIN TROSSI, SWE TROSSEN), which is our sea rescue organisation and resource, it’s fully integrated with other Scandinavian countries and started on 1 April 2020.