Protecting The Vegan Society’s future by taking action now: why we are pausing some of our work
The Covid-19 pandemic is having an enormous effect on how we all live our lives as well as on businesses and charities, including The Vegan Society.
Since the lockdown in the UK, the society’s Senior Management Team and trustees have been carefully monitoring the impact of Covid-19 on the society's work and its income. As a result, it has been decided that it is now necessary to pause some of our work and place some staff on the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) to secure the society’s future.
We understand that this will raise a lot of questions for our members and supporters and those seeking the support of the society which we will attempt to answer here.
Why is The Vegan Society taking this action?
Covid-19 is causing a financial strain on charities worldwide. At The Vegan Society much of our income is generated by licensing the Vegan Trademark to businesses to confirm that their products our suitable for vegans. Over recent weeks we have seen a drop in our income as businesses have felt the impact of the pandemic. As with most charities our most expensive expenditure is our skilled and committed staff and the support offered by the Job Retention Scheme means that we hope that we will be able to protect jobs and the work that we have planned to promote veganism. We have also taken the decision to freeze all but the most essential of recruitment.
We value greatly the work that we do and the staff that we employ, and this is not a decision that has been taken lightly. We are working hard to mitigate the effects of the furloughed roles as much as possible. We know that by acting now, we can protect The Vegan Society and ensure that our vital work to protect animals, the planet and human health can continue long into the future.
What work will be paused?
Some campaign launches have been postponed
While much of the day to day work of the society will continue, due to staff being placed on the JRS the launch of some campaigns work has been postponed. Some work on these campaigns will continue and all of the work undertaken so far is still relevant and will be made good use of in the near future. Existing campaigns will still be promoted and supported wherever possible.
Only urgent policy and research work will continue
Owing to reduced staff numbers only urgent or time sensitive policy work such as responding to committees or inquiries will be progressed.
Volunteering has been paused
Covid-19 has had a great impact on our volunteering programme with volunteers unable to attend the office or attend vegan events on our behalf. The society’s staff is working from home wherever possible in accordance with government advice and we have been unable to send out leaflets and these requests largely dried up because of Covid-19. Our Community Network activities have had to be paused owning to social distancing. The staff managing volunteering and the Community Network will be furloughed and we will not be recruiting or inducting new volunteers.
At the same time as making these decisions, we have also looked at savings that have been made because of activities that have been cancelled following the guidance on responding to Covid-19 such as travel restrictions and social distancing. We have also looked at savings that can be made on expenditure in this financial year.
What impact will these decisions have on the mission and objectives of the society?
We are working hard to minimise any negative impact of these decisions on the society. Our plans include postponing work for 2-6 months rather than cancelling completely areas of work that had been planned.
Why are we reducing our activities rather than using our reserves?
In common with all charities we have a reserves policy which allows us to manage financial instability and short-term reductions or loss of income. Our reserves policy requires us to have enough investment income and managed cash to cover several months’ work. Our reserves are intended to be use as a temporary, short-term measure to allow us to keep the organization going. However, it is not sustainable to keep the society running solely on our reserves as it is a finite amount. We have had to make the decision to reduce our expenditure and furlough staff to make sure that we don’t deplete our reserves and to ensure that the society still has the ability to make a difference once the pandemic is over.
What is The Vegan Society doing to promote veganism and to support vegans during the Covid-19 pandemic?
Much of the society’s existing work will continue. We will be promoting new campaigns such as Live Vegan for Less which was created in response to Covid-19 and the hardships many people are facing. We will also continue to promote and support other campaigns that are currently running. We will continue to support people wanting to become vegan through our Plate Up for the Planet 7-day challenge, our 30-day Vegan Pledge and our VeGuide app. We will continue to offer support to the many hundreds of people who contact us each week with their enquiries including those seeking specialist advice such as our nutritional and vegan rights advice from our dietitian and Vegan Rights service.
What can I do to help?
We know that many of our supporters will be going through difficult times themselves now and we appreciate your support now more than ever. We have been encouraged by the supporters getting in touch to send their good wishes and by every member that has chosen to renew their membership at this difficult time. We have been moved by the increase in Life Membership from supporters who have chosen to help the society by joining or renewing as a Life Member to give a large sum at this challenging time. If you are in the position of being able to offer additional support at this time here are a few ways that would help:
- Join the society – membership starts from just £2 a month and concessions for low income are available.
- Give a Gift Membership.
- Encourage friends and family to support the society by sharing a link to encourage them to join or donate.
- Buy Vegan Society supplement VEG 1 which supports our work or other merchandise from our online shop.
- Follow and share our social media posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
- Sign up for our free supporter e-newsletter.
- Contact companies that do not use the Vegan Trademark on their vegan products and politely encourage them to register their products with the society (the profit from these licence fees supports our work).