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Stephen Cotterill: Fundraisers should shift in line with the public's donation habits

08 Dec 2021 Voices

CAF UK Giving Report 2021 shows changes in donor habits, for better and for worse.

The Charities Aid Foundation published its annual UK Giving Report for 2021 at the end of last month and for those that haven’t read it, the topline figures are a little worrying. According to the survey, which looks at data from around 1,000 people each month, 1.6 million fewer people gave to charity in 2020 than the previous year, the fifth fall in a row.

However, just below the headlines, there are encouraging trends that fundraisers should take heart in. Firstly, those who did give were donating larger amounts. The average gift was £53.52 via donations or sponsorship, compared with £45.69 in 2019, and overall donations were up from £10.6bn to £11.3bn.

CAF also recorded the highest proportion of people opting in to Gift Aid, with 55% of donors using the service, where the government effectively adds an extra 25% to the donations of UK taxpayers.

CAF suggests this is partly because of the increase in online giving. The report says: “The pandemic initially drove increasing numbers of donors online. With many charity websites encouraging donors to ‘Gift Aid it’ as part of their online donation, the pandemic may have indirectly had the effect of widening the use of the scheme.” So those charities not urging donors to add Gift Aid are undoubtedly missing a trick.

Another notable trend prevalent in all walks of life is that cashless is king. In 2019, around half of donors made a donation via cash, but in 2020 this fell to just 38%. CAF said cash giving “all but disappeared” during lockdowns. In January 2021, just 7% of donations were cash, compared with 30-40% in a typical year.

The report also found that donation platforms were more popular than a charity’s own website, with 61% of donors who gave via a website or app in 2020 tending to do so through a third-party website such as JustGiving or Virgin Money Giving. This is in line with previous years. Around 17% gave via social media.

Although it is difficult to gauge how much certainty fundraisers can glean from public trends during these unusual times, there are some habits that may remain sticky after the pandemic; shifts in online and cashless giving being two that seem most probable. The job now is to track these and make the best use of those channels. The economic outlook will likely remain bleak for some time to come, so it is essential fundraisers refocus efforts in line with these public giving preferences.

@stevejcotterill is the editor of Fundraising Magazine

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