The lockdown changed the activities of the charity sector, affected the work process and communication with the public — meetings in the office were replaced by video meetings, communication with the audience was moved online as much as possible, and most offline activities were postponed indefinitely.
The survey produced by Socioinform research company at the request of Zagoriy Foundation sheds light on the transition of charitable foundations and organizations online. Below, we have summarized their experience of communicating about their foundations in times of crisis.
Due to self-isolation, everyone started spending more time online. The amount of content has increased as the organizations, brands, bloggers, and everyone who stays home because of the lockdown have become more active. Indeed, the use of online platforms is now not just desirable but necessary, as the competition for attention is extremely high.
Charitable organizations and foundations are no exception. Updating websites with new content, developing pages in social networks and new formats of interaction with the audience — all of these have become one of key priorities for them.
Positive aspects of transition online
Among the positive changes caused by the crisis, representatives of charitable foundations mentioned the increased territorial and quantitative coverage of the audience through online format.
“Our animators were among the first to move to Facebook and ZOOM, created groups and platforms there. While we used to cover 20–30 children offline, now we have 800 subscribers in one group. We are actively covering children in the grey area,” says a representative of one of the Eastern Ukrainian charities.
The crisis has made charitable organizations to become more active online, looking for new tools to work and disseminate information.
Negative aspects of transition online
Those organizations that have not previously used online formats have faced the challenge of mastering new technologies. A representative of a charity from Western Ukraine shares her new experience, “We had to transfer education online. And we need to understand how to move the support we extend to people online. It’s a visibility challenge.”
“The crisis is a growth area. We have gained additional competencies, a new growth point,” says a representative of one of Kyiv-based charitable foundations. And it became clear over time. Innovations allow optimizing processes, mastering new technologies, expanding the audience through transition online.
Presence in the media
The cooperation of charity sector with the media in the new realities turned out to depend on the size of the organization and the directions of its activities.
Cooperation of large charitable foundations
Large charitable foundations with an annual turnover of over UAH 10 million mostly do not notice significant changes in relations with the media, because before the crisis, they managed to arrange systematic cooperation with them. “It [cooperation] was quite good even already the crisis,” says a representative of a charitable foundation from Southern Ukraine.
“Cooperation with the media has not changed much. It may have become a little less intensive, because the focus has shifted to COVID-19,” said a representative of a Kyiv-based charitable foundation that cares for children with cancer.
Cooperation of medium-sized charitable foundations
On the contrary, medium-sized charities with an annual turnover of UAH 1 to 10 million report an increase in media attention to the charity sector.
“Indeed, they stepped up. They are interested in whether we continue operations, what problems we face, how we overcome them,” a respondent from Western Ukraine confirms. Her colleague from Kyiv sums up, “Media started writing about our work more often. Because the topic is interesting.”
Cooperation of small charitable foundations
Small charities with a turnover below UAH 1 million per year are much less likely to cooperate with the media.
“We do not have well-established systemic cooperation,” says a representative of a Kyiv-based charity. Those who still have constant contact with journalists note an increased attention to their foundations as soon as they address COVID-19-related issued and decreased attention to those that major in other areas.
“I and my colleagues are less likely to be invited to speak on media,” says a representative of a charity that focuses on combating violence.
We see that those who had established relations with the media continue working in the same mode. But all the respondents noted that the journalists shifted their attention mainly to coronavirus. So, if the organizations implement COVID-19-related projects, it can help them to better report their activities to general public.
Marketing trends have been showcasing for a while that it is critical to run your business online, because it reaches large audiences and allows for communicating without restrictions in space and time.
Not all charities actively presented themselves online before the lockdown: in some cases, they updated their pages in social networks sporadically and unprofessionally. But during the lockdown, it became impossible to ignore that online presence is critical, so almost everyone focused on digitalization. The lockdown was the impetus for the transition to the Internet.
Active communication through social networks and the media increases the likelihood for the charities to gain public support. However, these are only the respondents from large charitable foundations who mentioned this dimension of organization’s efficiency.
· To sum up, during the lockdown, the charity sector moves online, establishes work processes and communication via the Internet;
· It was not easy for everyone, because some organizations do not have enough knowledge and competence. But there are also positive aspects: for some, online communication has increased the audience reach;
Cooperation with the media around the coronavirus has increased, but ongoing problems not related to COVID-19 are mostly left aside.