Charity Pulse - blog

We’re pleased to share the first of a new annual research programme we are undertaking – Charity Pulse

Over the course of the pandemic, it’s been great to see the interest in our Donor Pulse findings, which look at donor trends and behaviours on a quarterly basis. We’re glad Donor Pulse has proved to be a valuable piece of research for the sector and now we hope this new annual study, based on the insights of decision makers in UK charities, can do exactly the same.

The inaugural Charity Pulse examines how the pandemic has varied in its impact on small, medium and large charities, the prospects and challenges charities see for fundraising in 2022, and how far along charities are on their digital journeys. 

This blog details some of the key findings. 

The Covid impact on charities

Even with increasing demand on their services, and limited fundraising routes, an impressive 61% of charities either maintained or increased income during the last 18 months. 26% of charities stated that they had lower income than usual, and a further 12% described it as very volatile. So while the pandemic has highlighted the key role charities play in society, some have fared better than others.

Large charities had the most stability through the pandemic, with 69% declaring similar or rising levels of income. It is the medium and smaller charities that have found things more challenging, with 45% and 44% respectively reporting lower or very volatile income in the past year. An important reminder that while some charities have benefited from increased public support during the pandemic, that hasn’t been the case across the board. 

Covid has affected charities in more ways than just income, with half of charities declaring that they found their teams working from home disruptive at first. This was new to everyone, but it clearly impacted fundraising operations for charities, making a difficult job even harder. 

Although initially difficult, working from home is now a more comfortable position for charities. In the next six months, charities expect the split between working from the office and working from home to be around 67% to 33%. This more flexible approach to working may be one of the contributors to strong staff morale, with 84% ranking it as either good or excellent.

Great expectations

Charities of all sizes are feeling optimistic about 2022, with four out of five (79%) stating they are either very or fairly optimistic about the year ahead. Income growth is seen coming from all areas and after a difficult two years, the sector as a whole thinks it has turned the corner.

60% of charities surveyed say they are starting to see supporters re-engage with fundraising events and see this as an important reason to be looking forward to 2022. Fundraising events and activities are seen as the fastest growing source of income with 56% of charities predicting a rise in this area. This is not without its challenges in driving participation, but the sector is building flexibility into its offerings with virtual and hybrid events. 

57% of charities are seeing more support from younger demographics. This rise in support from younger donors is likely due to a shift in how people give, and  this acceleration of digital fundraising is seen as an opportunity by 61% of charities. While this was once seen as a nice to have, it is now a must have, and investment in the area is critical for future success. Virtual events will continue to play a significant role as 64% state they are planning them for this year. A further 42% are running hybrid events, with 33% focusing on mass physical events.

“Charities have had to work incredibly hard during the last 20 months to try and bridge the gap in their income and have continually had to pivot fundraising to ensure it is both safe and viable for their supporters. This has been a uniquely challenging time.

In spite of this, the sector’s natural optimism has shone through and morale has remained high. I’ve also been struck by how the sector is taking the few positives the pandemic has brought and is building those into future fundraising – for example the accelerated development of virtual events and digital transformation. With these foundations in place, there is a great opportunity for the sector, as supporters now have more choice around how to engage with and fundraise for their favourite charities.”

Chester Mojay-Sinclare, CEO & Founder, Enthuse

Tech for good

The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in the sector, but only 12% of charities would consider themselves ‘advanced’ – meaning they have an integrated approach to digital fundraising and events, with personalised journeys and established digital platforms.

The largest group (40%) consider themselves to be ‘building’ – these charities have a digital fundraising strategy, a digital lead and are building some capability in-house. Nearly half (48%) have virtually no in-house capabilities, and consider themselves to be either ‘ad hoc’ or ‘starting out’. Those in the ad hoc category use digital tools on a campaign by campaign basis such as consumer giving platforms. Charities that are starting out (13%) are just beginning to learn how to use digital technology in fundraising.

When asked about any concerns relating to digital strategy, data privacy and compliance came out on top, with 62% seeing it as an issue. 60% of charities also cited the behaviour of platform owners as a concern – this was related to worries about platform owners collecting supporters’ data and re-contacting them. 57% also flagged developing skills in-house to run digital campaigns as an apprehension. Data security and data leaks came in lower at 45%.

To download a full copy of the report, please click here. Or, if you’d like to speak to one of our friendly Enthusiasts, you can do so here.