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The impact of COVID-19 on individual giving

Individual Giving continues to perform

Raising vital funds during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a tough challenge for UK fundraisers with many of the core fundraising channels restricted or completely unavailable such as events, private site, door to door and street fundraising and retail. That’s not to say the UK public have not been generous. Woods Valldata have seen individual giving cash campaigns continue to outperform results from the previous year and direct debit cancellations for regular giving fundraising fall.

On 26th February, Woods Valldata released their 4th and final report into The Impact of COVID-19 on Individual Giving. Over the last 12 months we have tracked how COVID-19 has affected giving on a like-for-like basis compared to last year.

The full year effect is that warm cash campaigns have experienced a 15% uplift in response and 9% uplift in average gift compared to last year. And the direct debit cancellation rate for regular giving is down 52%.
These reports have been accompanied by webinars inviting leading UK fundraisers to share their COVID-19 individual giving fundraising stories with the rest of the fundraising community.

Throughout there have been common threads to their stories.

Integration

Whether they are internal siloes between fundraising and marketing, or external integration between fundraising suppliers or bringing stakeholders with you on the journey – working together has proven to deliver results:

“Marketing and fundraising have done a lot of work in how we can collaborate more effectively. In response to this [lockdown], we’ve really come together to cohesively bring together everything both directorates are doing in response to COVID and to make sure they complement each other and they all fit through the key themes of our brand.” Jo Stone, Battersea (May 2020 Webinar)

“Integration of all channels, direct marketing, communications in the media, fundraising, major donor fundraising, digital… that means every fundraising communication we produce has to work for every kind of donor – which means a very tight coherent fit between these different channels.” James Kliffen, MSF (February 2021 Webinar)

Agility and bravery

Perhaps this could also be called innovation. It’s to do with fundraisers making giant leaps in 2020, trying out new things and adapting plans for individual giving to accommodate the changing circumstances:

“We really needed to act fast in terms of our service delivery. This gave us an opportunity in fundraising that we hadn’t had before… we needed a plan and for this plan we needed: courage (in a situation with no data and no insights), agility (the ability to change direction), speed (react quickly and make decisions quickly) and stakeholder engagement.” Gina Almond, Blind Veterans UK (May 2020 Webinar)

“There were a number of challenges that we faced with the Poppy Appeal in 2020, we developed a programme board and all got together around the virtual tablet to discuss how we would manage this appeal. All together we came up with a large range of initiatives to try and get it to as good a place as it could be.” Guy Upward, Royal British Legion (December 2020 Webinar)

“Hold your nerve… instead of pulling our major appeal at the start of lockdown we decided to adapt. We did pause it to include a covering note from the Chief Exec recognising the situation, but other than that the mailing went ahead as planned. And it’s done really well and hit its target.” Ella Pierce, Sightsavers (May 2020 Webinar)

Relevance

More than ever, we have had to understand our audiences and what they want or need from us as well as what we need from them:

“Our ‘What’ document enabled us to maintain consistency [in messaging] whilst responding to what people were worried about in their own lives. It meant we were working from one document whether we were talking to our people, our staff or our supporters” Jayne George, RNLI (August 2020 Webinar)

Image from RNLI presentation on the impact of COVID 19 on individual giving regards fundraising
The RNLI ‘What’ document in support of fundraising messaging

“We were really keen to make sure that the appeals we put out in response to coronavirus were absolutely relevant to the actual work we were undertaking as an organisation… we wanted to treat our donors as partners, as trusted allies in helping us meet the increased demand rather than pulling the emergency klaxon.” Alex McDowell, RNIB (December 2020 Webinar)

Preparedness

How can you prepare for the unknown and what we can do to strengthen our ability to manage similar circumstances:

“We need to be mindful and responsive to what’s happening out there: job losses are going up, household income is going to dip, and be able to respond to our donors appropriately – and that’s why emergency appeals have done well because they feel relevant and real – we need to carry that through in months ahead. It’s likely there will be an impact on giving but if we can keep those relationships with those that are warmest to us then the impact we will see, hopefully, can be mitigated.” Daniel Fluskey, Chartered Institute of Fundraising (August 2020 Webinar)

“We have a lot of stakeholders that we need to bring with us, and we know that when we launch an emergency appeal bringing our stakeholders with us does equal bigger and better results for our appeals.” Simon Beresford, DEC (February 2020 Webinar)

To find out more about how COVID-19 has impacted individual giving, you can read the reports and watch the webinars on demand via this link. And if you’d like to find out more about how Woods Valldata can support your fundraising activities, please contact us .

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