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2020 driving charities across board to reassess fundraising strategies, survey shows

2020 driving charities across board to reassess fundraising strategies, survey shows

This year has seen charities across the board reassess their fundraising strategies, with the majority feeling they need at least some review, according to a survey from fundraising consultancy Gifted Philanthropy.

Gifted Philanthropy’s 2020 Fundraising Landscape Survey aims to help shape a clearer picture of the emerging fundraising landscape after this year of change. Reporting on 35 responses from charities across a range of causes, the survey was distributed electronically through Gifted Philanthropy’s database, and through social media networks and organisations such as the Association of Fundraising Consultants and the National Churches Trust.

The data has been segmented to illustrate sectoral differences and highlight the experiences of a range of non-profits from large arts organisations and health trusts to smaller charities working in a civic or community setting. It looks at the overall effects of the pandemic, examines strategic learnings and makes cross-sector comparisons to present a narrative around the challenges the sector has faced.

It found that churches and cathedrals have seen the biggest negative impact on income during the pandemic, with this also the only sector not to see an increase in online giving.

67% of the survey’s church and cathedral respondents reported a significant decrease in income with none reporting an increase over the last nine months, and while all other sectors saw online giving increase significantly over this time, again this was not reflected in the results for churches and cathedrals.

Health and welfare charities fared better, with only 14% in the survey reporting a decrease in income, 29% reporting an increase. 57% stated they feared for their income levels, but that special, Covid-related funds from government and private funders meant they were able to continue delivery of services.

Likewise, 67% of arts, culture and heritage sector reported that the rescue packages launched by government and private funders enabled them to continue to operate throughout 2020.

In terms of fundraising targets, education and youth organisations seem to have remained the most stable, according to the survey, with 56% on course to meet their fundraising targets this year. Only 17% of churches and cathedrals however are due to meet budget with the remainder expecting to be below budget by between 1-50% (67%) and 50% or more (16%).

The survey also questioned organisations on their fundraising strategies, and how they felt about them after this year. Health and welfare (71%) and arts, culture and heritage (67%) saw the largest proportion of respondents say they felt they have been too highly reliant on certain income streams and must readdress the balance. Across the board, only very small numbers stated they felt their fundraising strategy had held up well and they were content. The majority felt their strategy either needed a complete overhaul or some review, and 33% of both church and cathedral and arts, culture and heritage charities said they never really had a defined strategy and now must devise one.

The survey states:

“The most striking result from this survey is that it has highlighted the importance of a robust fundraising strategy. If there is one positive impact that the Covid-19 pandemic has had on the Third Sector it is that charities in future will be stronger for having gone through this challenging time. The pandemic has forced charities to look long and hard at their strategies, to take action and make difficult decisions that have often improved their sustainability.”

Commenting on the survey, Amy Stevens, Gifted’s Chief Executive, said:

“We really wanted to understand more about how the pandemic has impacted Third Sector organisations, so that funders, statutory bodies and consultancies can respond with the right kind of support and guidance.

‘We are so grateful to everyone who took the time to respond to the survey, especially when so many charities have significant numbers of staff still on furlough. The findings provide us with a starting point, a position from where we can learn and move forward.”



Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

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