Round-up: Giving and fundraising insight

To help fundraisers plan their responses and pivot their strategies based on the best understanding of everything that's going on, we’ve brought together key pieces of insight that have been published over the last couple of weeks about how giving is responding to the coronavirus crisis.

YouGov COVID-19 research-  4th August

Research from YouGov finds that one in five Britons have donated to charity in the last three months. Other key findings show that:

  • Donors were more likely to give as a one-off than as part of a regular subscription or through a recurring direct debit (51% versus 43%). 
  • The average polled donor was likely to be older with just under half (48%) aged 55 or above. 
  • Women were also over represented as donors compared with men (54% versus 46%). 
  • 11% of donors who gave donations as part of a structured plan, also gave ad-hoc donations. 
  • The most supported cause was healthcare and medicine charities (30% of donors), followed by animal charities (27%) and children and youth charities (20%). 


RaceNation survey- Mass charity events survey- 31st July 

The race organising app RaceNation polled 2600 event organisers, charities and participants to find out more about the impact of coronavirus on mass participation events. The key finding include:

  • 82% of charities had lost donations as a result of the pandemic. 
  • 54% of event organisers had losses of 50% or more.
  • 81% of event participants would be happy to race again within three months of the lockdown being lifted. 
  • Just over half (51%) said they would be prepared to race again straight away. 
  • 90% said they would be prepared to race again within a year.
  • 59% of charities reported that they would carry out more events in the future to address loss of income due to fewer donations during the pandemic. 


Legacy Foresight - Legacy update -15th June

Legacy Foresight have revised their projections for legacy income over the next five years with the impact expected to be less severe than previously predicted. The key findings include:

  • Legacy income is expected to decrease by 4% and 23% this year (with previous predictions suggesting a drop of between 8% and 27%).
  • Legacy income is expected to grow by between 9% and 13% over the five year period up to 2024.
  • Over the next five years UK charities are expected to recieve 1.2% to 1.6% more bequests than they otherwise would have done if the Covid-19 pandemic had not occured. 



Have released a report titled 'How do charities adapt to the impact of COVID-19':

  • Half (49%) of UK adults have not supported a charity during the last month while the country has been under lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
  • Those that are donating are more likely to be providing one off or occasional donations (23% of UK adults) rather than setting up regular donations (10%). Meanwhile, 12% have donated to a fundraiser and 11% have donated goods.
  • Of those that have supported a charity in the past month, 37% have donated to specific Coronavirus emergency funds. Half (51%) have donated to causes they have donated to before, which are not related to Coronavirus, while over a quarter (28%) have donated to a cause they have never previously given money to, but which is unrelated to the current pandemic.
  • Animals (18%), specific diseases (18%), poverty (16%) local services (16%) and homelessness (14%) now make up the top five causes. Before coronavirus the top five was: specific diseases, animals, children, emergency search, and mental health.
  • 33% of those that have supported a charity have mentioned that they are donating more money than they usually do, while a fifth (22%) are promoting charities more than they usually do online or offline.
  • Of those that are donating more than usual currently, 12% say they will donate more money to charity when they things start to return to normality, while 76% will continue donating at the same level that they are currently.
  • 40% said they either love or like buying a charity item (i.e. a shirt) as a way to raise money. Doing individual runs or bike rides rather than large organised runs are also popular (39% love or like this), as are online pub quizzes (30%) and online fundraisers on behalf of someone that has passed away (26%).


About Loyalty

About Loyalty have an ongoing Covid-19 Sentiment Tracker based on a sample of nearly 1500 charity donors, covering sentiment towards coronavirus and the way the government, local councils, charities, media and brands are dealing with it.

  • In the first week of research 30% of people said they would stop or reduce support for an existing charity if they thought it was not directly helping those affected by COVID-19. This figure fell to 17% in the second week of research.
  • Homeless and armed forces charities saw the highest growth in importance in the second week of research, with the elderly and health charities still registering as the most important (and increasing).
  • 56% do not intend to make any changes to the charities they support.
  • Older supporters are less likely to change their support as a result of coronavirus. Younger supporters are more likely than older to donate to a new charity as a result of coronavirus.
  • More than half of those under 35 said they would reduce or stop supporting an existing charity if it wasn’t directly helping people affected by the virus.
  • All age groups cited elderly and health as the highest in terms of importance as compared with before the virus – increasing with age.
  • 1 in 3 people (33%) believe that coronavirus is the hardest challenge they have ever had to face


CAF UK Giving Coronavirus Briefing

CAF are publishing their research as they conduct it, based on one-question surveys with charities (pulse surveys) to measure the mood as things evolve and their regular surveys which now ask the general public questions around charitable giving and coronavirus. Key findings:

  • 34% of people said they had donated to charity in April – up significantly from March (30%).
  • Animal charities have seen the number of people making donations in the prior four weeks fall to just 23% of donors in April, down from 31% in March, while donors supporting children’s charities has declined to 18% in April, well below the long term average of 26%.
  • People aged 45 to 54 are the most concerned about their income in the next six months and are the most likely to say they will donate less than usual because of the crisis.
  • 38% of people reported that they had less disposable income as a result of the crisis, whilst 12% had seen their disposable income rise.
  • In early April, 14% said they are likely to donate to charity less than they usually do over the next six months in the wake of the outbreak, whilst 22% said they would likely donate more than usual. In the third week of April, that number increased to 26%, and the number who said they would give less dropped to 11%.
  • Charities which support the NHS garner the most support with four in ten (40%) people saying they are likely to donate to one in the next three months because of the crisis. Both local and national charities have seen an increase since March, from 34% to 41% and from 23% to 28% respectively. 
  • 7% said they had already given to the NHS and national charities, with 6% saying they had given to local charities.
  • Willingness to help in the community has increased amongst the UK population – from 29% of people saying they did not intend to volunteer in any way to just 17%.
  • 56% of people agree that the Government should provide financial support to charities if their income is affected by the coronavirus outbreak.


An analysis of CAF's research during the coronavirus pandemic and the likely effects of the crisis on charitable donations can be found here


NFP Synergy are publishing waves of research with a nationally representative sample of 1,000 members of the public in a dashboard, with the first wave beginning 20 March:

  • The proportion of people considering financial contributions to charities helping national Covid-19 causes rose from 8% on 20 March to 14% on 17 April. 
  • The proportion of respondents thinking about donating to causes unrelated to the pandemic also increased, from 7% to 10%, and the proportion of people willing to participate in fundraising events doubled, from 3 to 6%. 
  • 54% of the public think that charities are responding well to the crisis (up from 36% in the first round of research)
  • When we asked people to name a charity that is responding to the coronavirus outbreak, 7% mentioned the NHS, despite it of course not being a charity. This was up from just 2% in our first wave of research showing the degree to which fundraising for and on behalf of the NHS has grown in the public mind since then.
  • The increased visibility of charities is reflected in the decline in the proportion of the public unable to name a charity responding to the outbreak, from 66% to 54%. This has particularly been driven by growing mentions of the British Red Cross and Shelter.
  • 49% of the public expect their income to decrease in the next few months.
  • 21% of the public are now reporting having given to a charity responding to the outbreak – up from 8%. 57% would be willing to consider doing so.
  • 68% of respondents say they believe that charities should continue fundraising during the pandemic (up from 57% in the first round of research).



  • The proportion of people considering financial contributions to charities helping national Covid-19 causes rose from 8% on 20 March to 14% on 17 April. 
  • The proportion of respondents thinking about donating to causes unrelated to the pandemic also increased, from 7% to 10%, and the proportion of people willing to participate in fundraising events doubled, from 3 to 6%. 
  • 43% intend to spend less than they did previously and 60% say they've reduced non-essential expenditure.
  • Age UK's ad awareness scores rose from 6.7 on 22 March (just before lockdown) to 9.4 nearly a month later (20 April) and buzz rose from 6.6. to 9.4 over the same period. 
  • St John’s Ambulance also saw an uptick in certain scores (likely associated with media coverage of efforts to supply volunteers to the new Nightingale Hospital and other trauma centres) between 22 March and 20 April, buzz improved from 5.5 to 12.2, and consideration increased from 25.0 to 30.3.
  • Shelter's ad awareness increased from 3.6 to 13.8 and buzz increased from 3.8 to 10.0.



Bluefrog have conducted a qualitative study on how donors attitudes to giving have been influenced by coronavirus. This consists of in-depth conversations with a much smaller number of charity donors to explore in detail how they are feeling at the moment and the role charities have in their life. Key findings:

  • Trust is an issue, with people really valuing authenticity. This is not the time to be changing your brand.
  • Younger donors feel invincible, middle-aged donors are taken aback and are concerned about children and parents, older (70+) donors place this crisis into context of previous disasters and emergencies. All see charities as part of the solution and understand that there is an increased need to give.
  • People want to take some control over the position we are in. They would like to volunteer AND give to relevant causes.
  • Relevance means work is predominantly UK based. It is focused on causes such as health, helping the elderly, homeless people and children in poor or dysfunctional households.
  • Charities must talk about their work in terms of coronavirus. They must acknowledge what we are all going through, but show how they are mitigating the impact of the virus. This gives the donor a sense of agency.
  • Some people are frightened about the impact on their finances. But others are spending much less on themselves and can afford to give much more.
  • The sense of wanting to support charities is just starting to grow. People were in denial for a while, now they can see that the work of charities could be essential to help us get through this. They will still support their current charities but will give more to charities or associated organisations (such as the NHS) who are actively working to reduce the impact of coronavirus. We expect to see an upswing in philanthropy in the coming months.
  • There is a greater sense of desire for communities to come together to defeat the virus.
  • People tend to use the term coronavirus rather than Covid-19.


The second round of research found:

  • Donors still see very few requests from charities. Citizen fundraisers like Colonel Tom Moore, have filled the vacuum
  • Direct debits (monthly gifts) remain under threat as the automated nature of payments are a concern for donors who feel financially insecure.
  • Payment holidays are welcomed by those people considering cancellations, but they need to be longer than just a few months.
  • People are now feeling more in control of the lives as they have created new ways to live, work and support charities in response to the pandemic.
  • This has threatened loyalty to charities that are seen as irrelevant or not in need of funds (as they haven’t asked for help).
  • However, charities that have little relevance to tackling Coronavirus will still receive support from donors that value them.
  • International development charities are increasingly seen as both important and relevant. However, there is a problem engaging some donors who feel that Coronavirus in very poor countries will be overwhelming.
  • The news cycle remains a driver and predictor of relevance. We identify two groups of NHS donors and show what they want their donations to achieve.
  • With people and companies under financial threat, charities are not seen to be a special case. Only some causes can comfortably focus on the threat of closure as an appeal subject. Other charities should avoid it.


Charity Comms: Impact of Covid-19 on Charity Communications

Media Trust and CharityComms partnered to survey the sector about the main communications challenges charities are facing at this time:

  • Only 2% (6 respondents) said they aren’t worried about comms challenges at this time demonstrating an overwhelming need for support.
  • The top four communication challenges charities are facing as a result of coronavirus are supporting users who would normally have access to face to face services (61%), producing digital content like vlogs and infographics (53%), moving services online (41%), and digital fundraising (40%).
  • The comms channels charities are using the most during this period of isolation and remote working are Emails (86%), Facebook* (84.5%), Website (81.7%) and Twitter (75.5%).
  • More than half (119 respondents) intend to use all four of these channels combined to connect with stakeholders.


Telephone fundraising

  • Telephone fundraising agency Purity reports that hourly contact rates are up 12% across the board: “Results are fluctuating but all are experiencing stable response rates or uplift, with many smaller charities experiencing robust uplifts – for example, a wildlife charity is up 30% and a small charity focusing on FGM is running at 182% of target. For larger charities running high volume campaigns, response rates are positively stable with early signs of these also uplifting, with one of the largest experiencing a monthly uplift of 13% in March compared to February."
  • Ethicall reports similar findings. Overall it has seen an average increase of 20% in money raised, with some campaigns from charities on the frontline performing especially well.


Supporter interactions and telephone fundraising-NTT

NTT has produced research and analysis into how supporters are responding to telephone fundraising during lockdown. Encouragingly, the evidence suggests the public continue to be committed to good causes and the telephone remains a valuable tool for fundraising and engagement:

  • Donor acquisition remained consistent during the twenty week period consisting of the 10 weeks before and after lockdown was imposed.
  • Among existing supporters, both donor conversion rates and the value of donations  increased during the lockdown period. 
  • Supporters who were asked to reinstate their gift during the period of lockdown were happy to do so at a higher rate than in previous campaigns before the crisis. 



Direct debits

Rapidata has released tracking data for charitable regular giving:

  • UK charities have seen a large increase in cancellations of regular Direct Debit donations, from 2.16% in February to 3.09% in March as the coronavirus took hold - the biggest swing from February to March ever recorded.
  • The cancellation rate for March 2020 was 41% higher than March 2019 (2.19%).
  • At 3.09% it remains significantly lower than the highest ever rate for the same month, recorded during the 2008/9 recession at 4.33%.
  • Additionally, the number of new donors for the month of March was 24.11% lower than the same month last year, accelerating during the last two weeks of the month at 58.17% lower than the same period in 2019.
  • The volume of new sign-ups to give to charity in April was 54% lower than in the same month in 2019. The cancellation rate in April fell to a more normal 2.04%.


Legacy fundraising

Legacy Foresight has updated their legacy market forecast:

  • In March, they predicted legacy income could drop by up to 9% compared to the year before as a result of the crisis. It is now projecting a more significant decrease, between 8% and 27%.
  • It found that between 5% and 10% of bequests that would have been notified in 2020 could be delayed.
  • It also expects average gift value to decrease by between 2% and 4%, because they are driven by economic factors such as house prices, share prices and GDP growth rates.
  • The death rate might also become more volatile over the next year as a result of coronavirus, and illness and restrictions could mean that the administrative process through which charities claim bequests might be slowed down.
  • In the long term, it still forecasts an increase over the 2019-2024 period, projecting a rise from around £3.2bn in 2019 to £3.7bn-£3.8bn in 2024. However, this is up to 5% less than its original forecasts.



Have produced Giving From a Distance: Covid-19 Insight Report:

  • Falling media costs and high response rates offer a unique fundraising opportunity.
  • 20% increase in active Facebook users
  • Up to 66% discounts on premium TV spots (coupled with significant rise in daytime viewers)
  • 3x rise in response to DRTV ads vs BAU (international development charity)
  • Up to 30% increase in radio listeners of selected stations


Based on their insight they recommend:

  • Act fast, take your cue for your tone of voice from your audiences and be ready to adapt.
  • Supporters still want to hear from us, but being relevant is essential. Find the ask or offer that unites your work with your audience.
  • Small moments in everyday life are gaining a new emotional resonance. Be part of them.
  • Reshape your media mix to fit available channels and make the most of short term opportunities.
  • Embrace innovation whilst the waters are stormy. Seek products and services you can offer that address new needs in a new world.
  • Actions speak louder than words. Be useful, and that will do more for your brand than any advertising.


Woods Valldata

Woods Valldata have released a report detailing the impact of Covid-19 on charitable giving. The key findings include:

  • There has been a 25% increase in actual versus predicted responses to cash campaigns. 
  • Emergency appeals are outperforming forecasted expectations by 40%. 
  • Credit card payments are up 28%.
  • Online payments are up 286% compared to 2019.
  • Regular Giving cancellations saw a spike in Feb and March but are now stabilising.


Fastmap and Freestyle Marketing-Legacy Research

Over a 1000 people aged 30 or over were asked how appropriate it is for charities to ask for gifts and carry out legacy marketing. The research shows:

  • Far more people believed it was strongly appropriate (42%) than strongly inappropriate (13%) for charities to promote gifts in wills.
  • Almost 1 in 5 (19%) gave the most positive strongly appropriate possible. 
  • 57% of regular donors believed that it was strongly appropriate for charities to carry out legacy fundraising with just 7% believing that it was strongly inappropriate. 
  • Among those who said they were intending, considering or had already pledged to give a gift, 58% believed it was strongly appropriate for charities to promote and ask for gifts in wills, with just 6% believing that it was strongly inappropriate. 


nfpSynergy giving research -May 

Research from nfpSynergy find that the number of people giving to charity is at its lowest point in a decade. Looking at the answers from 1000 people surveyed in May they find:

  • Just 60% of people say they gave to charity in the last three months compared with 69% in January.
  • Whilst the number of donors has fallen, the average amount given is at an all-time high of £67.70 (a 19% increase on the average amount recorded in January)
  • 38% of respondents said they would definitely or probably cut back on their charitable donations in the next twelve months. 
  • 30% of charity donors gave directly via a charity's website, an all-time high.