Enthuse Donor Pulse Spring 2021

Attitudes to virtual events and online giving dominate the Donor Pulse Report for Spring

We’re back with the latest edition of our quarterly Donor Pulse Report – our first for 2021. As ever, donor behaviour continues to develop rapidly in response to the pandemic and it’s always fascinating to get a pulse check on the latest giving patterns within the sector.

As I write this, we are still in the midst of a particularly challenging period for the charity sector. That being said, there is cause for steady optimism as the speed of the NHS vaccination programme provides all of us with some light at the end of the tunnel.

With progress comes further questions, and as we look towards the second half of 2021, charities will want to know how supporters feel about physical and virtual events and their preference for making donations.

So without further ado, here are the three main themes from this quarter’s donor research.

Direct donating leads to better brand recall

The move to digital fundraising has been swift over the last year, and the ways people donate seem to have changed for good. 40% of the public have not made any form of cash donation to charity since before the pandemic started. This year of not using cash has had a fundamental impact on how people want to give with only a quarter (26%) of the public wanting to use cash for donations going forward, with the majority (51%) now choosing online as their preferred method.

This has also been reflected in how people have been giving over the last three months, with 40% of the public making donations online. The move online has also seen more people donating directly on charity websites rather than consumer giving platforms. Direct donations have risen from 40% during the initial lockdown to 48% in the last three months.

The increase in donations made directly via a charity’s website correlates with an increased number of donors able to recall the charity’s name after donating, with the 8% rise in direct donations nearly matched by the 7% rise in brand recall over the same period. This is reflected in the overall numbers, with 78% of donors who have given directly to charity being able to remember the name of the organisation as opposed to just 63% on consumer giving platforms.

“It’s reassuring to see signs of stability in the public’s giving habits. The last year has been difficult for everyone, but the generosity and community spirit of the public has been amazing to see, and the continuity of their giving is helping provide the building blocks of recovery for the third sector.”

“This is a recovery the sector needs and deserves – it’s done a phenomenal job at supporting the public through the last 12 months and will play a crucial role as society recovers from the effects of the pandemic.”

Chester Mojay-Sinclare, CEO & Founder, Enthuse

Fun seekers vs play safers

The restrictions on in-person events have been challenging for charities, even though virtual events have helped to bridge the income gap. The government’s roadmap out of lockdown provides the opportunity to restart in-person fundraising events, but participation will be down to how the public feels. There are mixed feelings about events, with supporters split into ‘play safers’ and ‘fun seekers’, mainly driven by age group.

Only 27% of the public feel comfortable taking part in physical events as things stand. There is much less concern about virtual and hybrid events, but a key takeaway here is that even with restrictions relaxed in the months ahead charities will need to reassure participants about being able to take part safely.

The public’s appetite for physical events changes when people think about how far progressed the vaccination programme is. Encouragingly, confidence should start to return now more than half of the adult population is vaccinated with 52% of the public saying they’d consider taking part in mass participation at 50% vaccination levels. Gen Z and millennials lead the way with 73% of both age groups happy to take part. 

The type of event the public is most interested in participating in is something ‘fun’, with 41% ranking this top overall, compared to 30% favouring a ‘challenge’ and just 9% a ‘race’. The preference for ‘fun’ types of events is likely in response to the challenges of lockdown, and people are now much more attracted to enjoyable activities than competitive ones like a race.

Support remains stable

The last 12 months have made planning very tough for charities. Not only has there been ongoing uncertainty on whether or not they’re allowed to run particular events, but also in terms of how the public feels about the situation. 

What we’re seeing now however, is that charities can take confidence and a growing sense of stability from the public’s support towards charitable causes. Three months ago, 69% of those surveyed confirmed they had donated to charity, and that total has stayed exactly the same three months on. This suggests that the support charities are seeing is a sign of continuity and points to the public becoming more used to the ‘new normal’ and maintaining a positive outlook. 

What’s more, positive public sentiment towards the third sector continues, with 35% of people saying they felt more positive towards charities, and the work they do, compared with just 4% saying they felt less positive. This shows that the hard work charities are doing during this pandemic is being noticed and appreciated.

The pandemic means charities have to continue to be flexible with their fundraising plans, but the last three months have shown there are signs of stability taking root in how the public is feeling. Events will be a big consideration for the sector, and achieving a balance of having fun and staying safe will be important. Charities need to continue to be agile and put digital at the heart of their fundraising planning. 

For access to the full research, you can download the Donor Pulse Report here.