3 Apr 2020

Charities expect to suffer losses in Covid-19 disruptions

7:46 am on 3 April 2020

Charities are feeling the financial pinch from the ongoing disruptions of the Covid-19 lockdown.

Donation jar.

(File image). Photo: 123RF

The Pub Charity gives out tens of millions of dollars in community grants each year - but its business model has come to a complete stop.

It has no revenue because bars and clubs are not operating and there is no money going through gaming machines.

Its chief executive, Martin Cheer, said everyone was missing out.

"We are basically prioritising keeping some resources in tact for an anticipated return - the main problem with planning, from my perspective and our board's perspective, is we just don't know when the tap is going to get turned back on again," he said.

Cancer Society chief executive Lucy Elwood said the disruption was significant - they rely on the generosity of New Zealanders and big business to keep going.

They predict losses of up to 60 percent in this financial quarter alone, Elwood said.

"We will work really hard to obviously continue to operate and so we'll work with traditional sponsors, such as our major sponsor ANZ, and look for new and innovative ways to fundraise," she said.

The Stroke Foundation is another that counts on donations - around 80 percent or $4 million - of its annual income comes from the public.

Its chief executive, Mark Vivian, said it was going to have to dip into reserves.

"We're confident we'll still be providing a good service in six months' time at least - but of course we really do need the revenue in the meantime so we don't keep draining our reserves," he said.

He said in the meantime it was going to find other ways to make money.

"One of which is obviously to put greater emphasis on social media and our email communications," he said.

Over at aid agency UNICEF, its executive director, Vivien Maidaborn, said it had pulled street and door-to-door fundraising.

But the job losses and the downturn in the economy meant they were also losing people who had previously supported them.

"Definitely over 20 people a day who are cancelling their regular giving, or putting it on hold for the meantime, so we expect that our income will be down 30 percent," she said.

It would result in less money going overseas, Maidaborn said.

"There's a lot to be worried about there because, of course, we are very connected to the Pacific - Covid-19 is catastrophic in some countries in the Pacific where they don't have health systems like ours," she said.

Meanwhile, the Heart Foundation, which supports more than 180,000 New Zealanders with heart disease, said its significant lottery fundraising programme had been affected.

It said it could not communicate with donors and supporters by mail and was now trying to figure a way around that.

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