Christmas, the season of goodwill, tends to be a high point for charitable donations. According to the Charities Aid Foundation ‘UK Giving Report 2022’, December was the peak month for both 2020 and 2021 in terms of the proportion of people, who either gave to charity or sponsored someone for fundraising.
December is also a good time to reflect on the past year’s activities and set new goals. As is the case when conducting a SWOT analysis, it’s important to consider trends and events outside the organisation. For charities, the 2022 Giving Report provides some useful information about the changes in giving behaviour in the UK.
The Report focuses on the period 2019 to early 2022. Total UK donations reduced from £11.3 billion in 2020 to £10.7 billion in 2021, a decline of just over 5%. But, after taking inflation into account, the drop in real terms was considerably bigger. The average monthly donation per person was only slightly lower, down from £54 to £52, but fewer people donated.
The overall trend has continued into 2022. This is despite the Ukraine crisis, which triggered record-breaking online donations in March. In effect, the Ukraine donations probably mask an even greater decline in charitable giving.
Of course, we’ve seen some major shocks to the financial system since 2019. Covid arrived in early 2020 followed soon after by increases in the cost of living. Household budgets are under strain and, according to the authorities, the economy is in recession.
In February to April 2022, more than a quarter of people had friends or family who were struggling to pay their bills. One in eight said they were considering cutting back on charitable donations. By April, one in 25 people had already cancelled a regular donation, and one in 12 said they had chosen not to make a one-off donation.
Facing this drop in income as well as higher running costs, many charities have concerns about meeting their running costs. There is a temptation to reduce or cut any spending that is not perceived as ‘necessary’. However, the answer cannot be to decrease fundraising activity. Donations are the lifeblood of charitable organisations.
Yet the 2022 Report reported a drop of about 10% in the proportion of people who were asked to donate. There has been a decrease in direct mail, but an even greater drop in face-to-face fundraising: street, door-to-door, and one-off events.
At the same time, the trend for online requests, such as email, is on the up. Also, direct debits and standing orders are now the most common method of donating. Buying goods is the second most popular method. Cash giving has declined.
Charities do need to make best use of the opportunity for online fundraising. Your website is vital. It is now the hub of fundraising operations for most third-sector organisations. However, it’s probably the case that one of the factors driving digital marketing to the fore – while leaving physical mail in its wake – is cost.
When a charity is looking to make savings, cutting back on fundraising appeals sent by mail is a tempting solution. However, the 2022 Report found that older people are more likely to donate. Though many of the older generation will use computers, some will not. Also, other research points out that most people still trust a physical document more than an email or a web page.
It’s now more vital than ever that charities achieve the best return on their marketing spend. At Ginger & Tall, we have wide experience helping many of our charity customers and will be happy to talk through ideas with you to ensure you are getting the best value from your design, website and print.