30 March 2021 | Interview | Ryan Teo

Has COVID-19 shifted the realities of green fundraising?

It’s hard to find willing donors for any cause – let alone a green cause. But COVID-19’s impact has changed how the world views the importance of our environment and green causes. A valued green partner, Begoña Vázquez, joins us from The Nature Conservancy (TNC) in Hong Kong to give us a first-hand account of the challenges and unique impacts COVID-19 has had on fundraising for a green cause.

In your experience, what unique challenges lie with fundraising for a green cause?

Until recently, our main challenge was the public’s sense of urgency. Reality is showing us that taking care of our planet is urgent and that the issue needs to be addressed now. It has also highlighted the urgency across many other causes, in advancing humanity wellbeing now and for the future. In a way, you can say we have more competition; I’d like to think that it has shown us how intertwined all our work is. By taking an ecosystem-wide approach, a cornerstone of biology and conservation should be how non-profit organisations, private corporations and public institutions move forward to be effective in conservation.

Has COVID-19 impacted green fundraising in any way?

Many events over the last 12 to 15 months have shown us a reality that probably few of us could have ever imagined.

From my perspective, it has shown us how vulnerable we are and how important it is for us to act on a global scale and tackle not only the symptoms, but also the root causes. On this front, previously, when an emergency such as a wildfire happened, all the focus was on taking care of those affected and the destruction caused. But now, the conversation related to finding a long-term solution is as important.

In that sense, there are more and different opportunities to fundraise alone and/or in partnership with others.

[COVID-19] has shown us how vulnerable we are and how important it is for us to act on a global scale and tackle the root causes.

How has COVID-19 contributed to TNC’s green fundraising campaign?

The case for supporting an environment cause is much easier. We have moved from focusing on why a prospect needs to support our cause to identifying who the prospect is and how the prospect can support our cause.

That said, we are in an economic recession, so not everyone is able to contribute. But those who can, have become more generous. We should take this opportunity to engage the broader public by pushing environmental causes broadly beyond financial support, with the mindset that when they can, they will contribute financially.

What advice would you give to fellow green causes looking to fundraise?

Recognise that this is a moment of change. I think we all know that we are not alone in this. And even though there is less need to show the urgency of our cause and why it is important, our work continues to be a long-term endeavour with ups and downs along the way.

Our fundraising campaigns need to show how short-terms gains will make our environment better as soon as today and tomorrow, otherwise our supporters will look to other causes that can make them feel more gratified. Causes unable to show immediate impact can be likened to trying to end poverty.

I urge all of us to show how the environmental work is embedded across the board from public health, women and girls’ advancement, food security, water security and sanitation, poverty… Basically, it is at the core or a relevant component of all the UN Sustainable Development Goals to transform our world. My advice is to showcase with emphasis on how it all links and to work with related partners to truly make that transformation happen.

And as mentioned, while we are in an economic recession, which we have experienced before, let’s make an effort to expand support beyond financial contributions. Because the difference this time is that we will all be more effective, now that the broad public sees our cause as urgent too!

[Green] fundraising campaigns need to show how short-terms gains will make our environment better today and tomorrow.

About the interviewee

Begoña Vázquez Santos leads The Nature Conservancy´s (TNC) efforts to philanthropically engage the broad public, in support to create a world where people and nature can thrive.

Interested in learning more about our services and tools? Reach out to us at consulting@sgsupport.com for a quick chat on how we can assist you.

About SG Support

SG Support exists to make fundraising easy for charities. We do that by working with them to acquire new donors, retain existing ones and win back those who have left. We do this through our complete suite of services that range from data-driven strategy and consultancy, all the way down to the operational aspects of payment processing, contact centre and financial reporting.

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