Donors Have More to Give: Giving statistics over COVID-19

December 21, 2020
3 minutes

Throughout 2020, some of the (many) questions on fundraisers’ minds have been these: How will the pandemic impact giving? Will donors choose to give less so that they can shore up their finances, given the uncertainty? Or will donors give more because they see the effects of the pandemic?

In talking with fundraisers throughout 2020, an assumption that I heard a lot is that because of the pandemic, donors are feeling less generous; therefore, it would be inappropriate for nonprofits to make the same ask that they did in 2019.

For many organizations, assumptions end up being treated as facts. ...which is why it’s imperative for nonprofits and fundraising programs to challenge themselves to test assumptions and truly investigate what evidence leads to embracing assumptions.

And speaking of evidence, according to new survey findings from The Nonprofit Alliance and RKD Group, 77% of donors gave the same or more in 2020 than in 2019. Additionally, 80% of survey respondents indicated that they plan to give the same as or more in December 2020 compared to December 2019, and 20% plan to reduce their giving.  

A few other findings from the survey that are interesting to note include:

  • 65% of donors who plan to give more in December 2020 had their personal health impacted “somewhat” or “a lot” by COVID-19.
  • 74% of donors who plan to give more in December 2020 had their family’s or a friend’s health impacted “somewhat” or “a lot” by COVID-19.
  • 88% of donors who plan to give less in December 2020 had their personal financial situation impacted “somewhat” or “a lot” by COVID-19.
  • 71% of donors who plan to give less in December 2020 had their employment status impacted “somewhat” or “a lot” by COVID-19.

If your nonprofit felt apprehensive about asking during a crisis, I want to encourage you to put at least one ask out to your donor community. And ideally, more than one ask—because as we know, the magic of fundraising happens in the follow-up. Using segmentation and personalization of gift arrays, you can ask for an amount that feels appropriate given past donor giving behavior.

While stated preferences and actual behavior can vary in surveys, I’m optimistic that this means good news for year-end fundraising campaigns. In fact, in the digital campaigns I ran in 2020, I saw giving rates consistent with past years and anecdotally heard from donors that they feel this is an especially important year to give. Combining strong messaging with a relevant ask could be your ticket to a great year-end campaign.

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