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The second edition of the annual Charity Pulse report is here! 

Over 200 leaders at UK charities gave their views on how organisations fared in 2022, reasons for fundraising optimism and potential challenges in 2023, as well as insight into how good causes are embracing technology. 

So let’s take a look at the key findings from their feedback.

How did fundraising income perform in 2022?

Nearly two thirds (64%) of charities managed to maintain or build on their fundraising income in 2022 despite cost of living pressures. However, this is tempered by the fact that 29% said their income has decreased since 2021. 

When looking at 2022 charity income by size, small charities fared the best with 70% saying their income stayed the same or rose. This was followed by larger charities at 64%. The research reveals that it was medium sized charities who faced the greatest challenges with nearly two in five (38%) seeing either volatile or lower fundraising. However, this is a better picture than last year when this figure was 45% for medium sized charities. 

Figure 1. How charity income fared in 2022 (by charity size)

Looking ahead to fundraising streams in 2023, the area the sector feels most confident about is fundraising events and activities of all sizes, with 53% expecting this to grow and just 12% forecasting a drop in income. Mass physical events are firmly back on the agenda with 55% of charities planning to get involved in premium events like the TCS London Marathon or Great North Run and 47% stating they are organising their own mass events.

When looking across these two categories, a total of 81% of the charities surveyed said they were planning to be involved in mass physical events. This figure stood at 33% this time last year, showing a huge shift since the pandemic.

How do charities feel about fundraising in 2023? 

Charities of all sizes are cautiously optimistic about 2023, with 72% stating they are either very or fairly optimistic about the year ahead. What’s more, 59% said that supporters seem keen to take part in events post Covid. Good causes also believe there will be more opportunities to make use of digital channels in 2023 (55%) and that younger generations are feeling more positive towards charities (51%). 

Figure 2. Reasons for optimism in 2023

On the other side of the coin, the cost of living is seen as the biggest obstacle to success, with concerns that supporters have less to donate. Nearly half (47%) said this was a significant challenge for charities this year. This was followed by fundraisers being reluctant to ask for donations in the current financial climate (37%) and persuading volunteers to help with fundraising and events (33%). 

The Charity Pulse report also looks at the most important methods charities can utilise to help event participants raise money. Coming out on top was providing information on how the donations will be used, with half (49%) of respondents saying this was very important. Other helpful tools to help maximise fundraising included: providing ideas for fundraising (48%), taking part in a big name event, such as The TCS London Marathon or Great North Run (39%) and using the official event apps to secure more donations on the day (39%).

“Despite the challenging backdrop, it’s encouraging to see that the sector is cautiously optimistic about the year ahead. Participation in mass events seems to be key to this. Charities are recognising the appetite for great experiences post Covid and are looking to make the most of it.”

“It’s clear from the research that the clever use of technology wll be vital at a time where resources are stretched and engaging supporters is paramount. It’s important that the third sector embraces innovation by tapping into the potential of tech like AI and improving user journeys with the use of end-to-end integrated solutions.”

Chester Mojay-Sinclare, CEO & Founder, Enthuse

Which tech solutions are charities using? 

Charities are shifting away from in-house and unbranded donation and fundraising sites, with two in five (39%) using charity branded third party platforms. This is an increase of six percentage points from this time last year. The preference for in-house solutions dropped from 33% to 29% year on year as did third party platforms, which fell from 26% to 24%. 

Nearly two thirds (64%) of charities say they are concerned about how third parties collect and use supporter data. This scored higher than data privacy and data compliance at 59%, and is seen as a far greater issue than a data breach (47%).

While VR, augmented reality and the metaverse claim a lot of headlines, there is still only tentative interest from the sector at this stage. Currently 6% say they are using this and a further 5% are trailing it. For context, 3% of charities say they are using Crypto for donations and 11% are trialling it. So VR and related technologies still have a way to go on their adoption journey. That said, the use of AI to help personalise donor journeys does seem like one to watch, with 69% of charities looking at this. 

Figure 3. Adoption of new technology for digital fundraising

Charities are making the most of social media, with the use of TikTok on the rise. 34% of charities say they are already using it and a further 22% say they are trialling it. Podcasts are also becoming a staple with just under a third (30%) using them for digital fundraising, and a further 26% trialling them.

Want to find out more about what charity professionals expect in 2023?

Download your free copy of Charity Pulse to find out.