How has COVID-19 impacted hospice fundraising?

It has been an incredibly tough 12 months for the hospice and end of life care sector. Since the first lockdown was introduced in March 2020, rising COVID-19 infections and the resulting measures have decimated hospice fundraising.

To find out the true impact of COVID, we spoke to hospices from around the UK to hear their stories and put together a report of our findings.

This article looks at the headlines from the report, charting the difficult challenges hospices have faced, how they have coped, and the options moving forward to help them achieve the funding that they need.


As we know, charitable hospices raise the bulk of their funding through support from their local communities. These include fundraising events, hospice charity shops, lotteries, legacies and investments.

In fact, 90% of the hospices that we spoke to said charity-run events and hospice charity shops were their most successful method of fundraising pre-2020.

Hospice Income Stats

However, as COVID-19 social distancing and shielding measures continue, hospice budgets have been stretched to their limits.

Shop closures and cancellation of indoor and outdoor events over the last year have meant that without more sustainable funding, many hospices fear they are unable to sustain the level of care needed in the longer term.

One hospice manager that we spoke to said:

“A vast proportion of our on income is generated by our 400 shops and also our fundraising events and activities.

Every week that our shops were closed in 2020 cost us £500,000 a week.”

The impact of these closures and cancellations has been devastating for the whole sector, with some hospices losing out on millions of pounds in vital funding.

Not only does this affect their ability to provide quality care services, but continued disruption also makes it difficult for them to plan for the future.

Challenges for future planning

As restrictions begin to ease, many of the hospices we spoke to were hopeful of beginning to run annual or rescheduled events this year.

Nearly 50% were looking to run more than 10 events in 2021 to generate the funding that they need.

However, following the government’s roadmap announcement, it looks like they face plenty more hurdles to overcome. With many restrictions set to stay until June 2021, many events are looking likely to be delayed, held virtually or cancelled.


With charity shops closed and many community events and activities cancelled, hospices have had to get creative in how they fundraise.

For many of us, using digital platforms like Zoom has been a lifeline in being able to communicate with friends and family.

“Our fundraising team had to become extremely creative and pivot towards a mostly virtual and social fundraising strategy”

The majority of respondents said digital fundraising has been their main method of raising money.

From social media campaigns to online quizzes and weekly lotteries, there has been fantastic support from the local communities in participating with these events.

Haven Hospice

Hospices such as Havens Hospices have been very proactive with their online fundraising, with regular bingo games and even providing a list of the different ways supporters can help them virtually!

Local Support

Alongside virtual events, many hospices we spoke to mentioned how much support they have received from their local communities, especially with individuals either making donations or raising money on their behalf.

One care manager commented:

“The most successful way of fundraising for us this year has been from individuals in the communities surrounding our hospices.

They have baked, walked, sold raffle tickets, climbed their stairs, anything and everything you could imagine to try and replace the normal fundraising activity we would have taking place.”

£125m Of Funding

In addition to the fantastic support from hospice supporters, there has also been funding from the government.

As part of the government’s COVID-19 Winter Plan, the Department of Health and Social Care announced in November 2020 an additional £125m in funding for hospices.

This funding allowed hospices to help relieve the pressure on the NHS through the hard winter months. It also enabled many to continue delivering their essential palliative and end of life care for patients, whether at home or in a hospice.

However, for most hospices this sadly is not enough to replace the loss of fundraised income.


The devastating impact of COVID on hospice fundraising couldn’t have arrived at a worse time.

Prior to the pandemic, hospices across the UK were already struggling to raise the necessary funds to meet the increasing need for palliative care services.

According to recent statistics produced by the charity, Sue Ryder, demand is set to increase from 245,000 patients in the coming year to 379,000 by 2030/31. Reasons behind this surge include increased mortality rates and a growing desire by patients to die at home.

With palliative care services facing a significant increase in demand, many hospices including Sue Ryder, believe that the funding crisis poses a real threat to the long term future of the charitable care sector.

£600 million a year

Sue Ryder recently commissioned their own independent research, examining the rise in demand and cost for end of life care services over the next ten years.

In their report, they found that between now and 2030, the cost of hospice provision of palliative care is predicted to be £947 million per year.

Based on the Government’s current funding model of covering 37% of these costs, Sue Ryder have estimated that hospices will be required to raise £597 million each year through fundraising.

Looking at those projected figures, it paints a bleak picture for the sustainability of the hospice sector.

Without a significant increase in Government support, there are fears it will see the end of the independent hospice sector. As a result, it would leave the NHS having to provide end of life care services, at an additional cost of £484 million each year for the government.

That is why Sue Ryder and many other hospices are calling on the Government to commit to an increase in funding, to ensure their patients can continue to receive the expert care that they deserve.

Sue Ryder funding campaign

Despite the Government’s £125m hospice funding pledge at the end of 2020, it is a small drop in the ocean compared to what is actually required.

Without a commitment to significantly increase levels of statutory funding to cover clinical costs for palliative care services, there is a serious risk of services being withdrawn.

So, what is needed to prevent this from happening?

On the back of their report into funding for palliative care services, Sue Ryder launched a campaign in March 2021 asking the Government to commit to covering 70% of the costs of hospice provision.

Instead of the 37% they are currently committed to funding, it would cost the Government an additional £313 million per year, or a total of £663 million per year.

The additional funding the hospice sector is asking for equates to just 0.5% of the total NHS budget, or an additional £500 per death.

With one in five hospices facing closure due to financial difficulties brought by COVID, action is needed sooner rather than later.

Losing these services would have a devastating impact on patients and their families, as they would lose out on the specialist, holistic support that hospices offer.

To learn more and support Sue Ryder’s campaign, download their report:


So far, we have looked at how COVID-19 has affected hospice fundraising in the UK, and the strategies they have put in place to try and cope with the massive shortfall in their income.

Despite plans to ease lockdown restrictions in the coming months, there is still a great deal of uncertainty as to how quickly charity shops and public events will be able to return to normal.

It leaves many hospices concerned about their future.

What can we do to help?

Our report is designed to not only inform you of what the current situation is for hospice fundraising, but to also provide solutions that will help them, and their supporters, to raise money!

Having spoken to many different hospice managers, we have put together a list of tried and tested methods that hospices have used to raise and save funds.

  • Skills, Product and Service Swaps – By swapping skills, products and services, hospices and businesses can get what they need, without having to pay for the services they urgently required.
  • Matched Funding Campaigns – Matched funding is an excellent way of getting support from multiple organisations. It involves asking one or more organisations to pledge an amount of money on the basis that one or more other organisations will also give financial support.
  • Employer-Supported Volunteering Days (ESV) – This involves the employees of an organisation taking paid time off to volunteer during work hours. Employees can choose to use their volunteering time to support a charity or a hospice, or to take up an opportunity provided by their company.

ESV in particular is an area that can really make a difference, as hospices rely heavily on volunteers to carry out fundraising work within the local community.

One hospice manager told us:

“I am concerned about our ability to utilise volunteer support. Many of our volunteers are shielding and therefore our workforce is greatly reduced.”

Corporate voluntary work can help allay those concerns. Having a backup volunteer force enables fundraising activity to continue without hospices having to fret about staff shortages.


As a passionate supporter of hospices and the quality of care that they provide, we wanted to put together a report that truly represented them.

Speaking to managers and fundraising staff across the UK, not only did we listen to their concerns, but we also asked for their input on what we could do to help.

By downloading this free report, you’ll not just get a clear picture of hospice fundraising, you’ll also see our commitments to help hospices achieve the funding they need for 2021!

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