Christian Aid Week has raised £2m so far in 2020, which amounts to about a quarter of last year’s fundraising total.
The initiative normally features hundreds of fundraising events in the UK and across the world, but this year it was held online because of the lockdown.
A range of digital fundraisers took place between 10 and 16 May, including daily quizzes hosted on the charity’s Facebook page. Supporters could also send “digital envelopes” with personalised messages to friends and family, in place of the usual red donation envelopes.
In 2019, about 57,000 people took part and raised £8m.
The charity is also running a coronavirus emergency appeal, which has raised £1.1m so far.
Total ‘exceeded expectations’
A spokesperson for Christian Aid said that donations still coming in, and that the £2m figure “has exceeded our expectations given that most normal Christian Aid Week activity wasn’t possible because of the lockdown”.
“We’ve been particularly pleased with the success of the digital e-Envelope and virtual events like quizzes.”
Supporters sent about 5,000 digital envelopes during the week, the charity said in an update on its website.
About £530,000 of a target of £1m was raised through the charity’s official JustGiving page.
Top fundraisers included 11-year-old David Bell, who raised more than £1,200 in a challenge to stay silent for 12 hours, and 92-year old Ron Morris, who raised £1,800 by walking 40km.
Crisis accelerated digital innovation
When the online event launched in May, Chris Morris, digital lead at Christian Aid, said: “Before the coronavirus crisis arrived in the UK, we had already been working on the digital transformation of this much-loved fundraising week.
“While the crisis is devastating for so many – including the communities in which Christian Aid works – it has accelerated our thinking in digital innovation and pushed us to engage new supporters and younger audiences in new ways.”
Sophie Brightwell, community and events manager for Christian Aid Week, said: “I’m so grateful to our supporters for rising to the challenge of fundraising in new and creative ways. Every £1 given is vital and helps transform lives around the world – and it’s needed now more than ever.”
Christian Aid Week’s fundraising total had been slowly declining before the pandemic, from £11.3m in 2015 to £8.6m in 2018.
Like most charities, Christian Aid’s income has been severely impacted by the lockdown. In April, the charity said it anticipates a drop in unrestricted income of £6m in the current financial year. It has also furloughed 20% of its staff and moved the rest to a four-day working week at 80% of salary.
The charity is also going through a restructuring process. In 2019 it announced plans to close its regional offices in England and to cut programmes in 12 countries, putting up to 200 staff at risk.
The fundraising total of Christian Aid's separate coronavirus appeal was updated at the charity's request.