Charities hope to be back collecting on streets after Covid hit

Source: 1News

Charities hope they can be back collecting donations on the streets in the year ahead after two years of Covid-19 lockdowns put big dents in their income.

When Covid restrictions hit, for some it meant the familiar collection buckets fell silent.

Organisations like Amnesty International and the Cancer Society were among those forced to put a stop to crucially important street collections to help keep people safe.

The Cancer Society had to stop taking street donations in Auckland in 2020, and nationwide in 2021.

"It was heartbreaking," chief executive Lucy Elwood told 1News.

"If we go back to mid-August, you know it was only 11 days off Daffodil Day, so we'd already incurred a huge amount of the cost of that street collection."

It also came as demand for the charity's services were on the rise.

"I think for a lot of charities it has been a triple whammy; it's been increased demand, increased cost and decreased opportunities to fundraise," she said.

"Daffodil Day as a street collection has been running for 31 years and this is the first time we've had to cancel nationwide.

"Some of our collectors and supporters have supported us each and every single one of those 31 years."

Cancer Society.

Amnesty International New Zealand also hasn't been immune.

"It's actually really significant for us now we've been out of that space for around 18 months," Zebedee Stone, the organisation's fundraising director, said.

He said it's amounted to "considerable stress" for the human rights organisation.

"It's meant that we've had to really re-look at our fundraising and do things quite differently making sure that we can still engage with the public," Stone said.

"And that's been things online or changing the way in which we get out there through email and mail and other mediums that have been continuing, so it's been a really big stress."

The Cancer Society says losing money was only one ramification of the lockdowns.

Another was losing contact with ardent supporters and the community.

"I think it was really disappointing for lots of our area coordinators and volunteers across the country," Elwood said.

"Covid has really exacerbated some of the inequities in our systems, so for some whānau that are doing it tough, they're doing it really tougher."

Her charity is looking forward to the upcoming Relay For Life as another chance to both raise money and reconnect with the community on the other side of lockdowns.

"Daffodil Day will still form part of our calendar. We desperately hope we can have a street appeal as part of that."

Both charities have been able to find other ways to fundraise.

Stone said, however, that there were fears about what the future would hold and many organisations were taken "close to the red line".

"We've come through this in an OK position but we certainly know that for many, it's been really, really tough and for us as well, it was just a huge stress at that time."