Generating Donations In The New Normal of Post-COVID

A lot has changed about the economy, politics, the world and how people engagement and donate to causes they care about.

Chelsea Robarge

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The post-COVID-19 world is significantly different than the one that we left behind when we all quarantined and binge-watched TV shows and baked sourdough bread. If you are a nonprofit or charitable organization, the world of communicating with stakeholders and generating donations will never look the same. There is a new generation of donors, and their behaviors are very different than their parents and what we all knew about how donors donate to causes they are about.

We took a look at a survey of over 1,200 donors conducted by one of our leading data partners. Despite the challenges faced by various industries, the majority of donors (51%) have not changed the amount they donate, and 28% even indicated an increase in donations compared to pre-pandemic times.

The means of donor interaction and contribution have changed, with heightened competition for attention and donations among various causes. Donors now expect personalized, seamless experiences similar to those provided by their favorite brands. This research explores behaviors, preferences, and sentiments of donors, considering factors such as age, gender, income, and political affiliations.

Key findings include:

1. Monthly Contributions: Young donors, in particular, favor monthly contributions, with 36% of donors setting up recurring donations. Among respondents aged 18-29, 48% reported monthly recurring donations.

2. Donor Engagement: Younger donors show high engagement with charities, participating in activities such as telling friends and family about causes (60%), volunteering (50%), attending functions (36%), and serving on charity boards (20%).

3. Donation Channels: Donation channel preferences vary by age, with 45% of donors aged 60+ submitting donations via mail. Email is the most preferred communication channel (48%), followed by direct mail (21%), social media (17%), text messaging (8%), and phone calls (2%).

4. Cross-Channel Communication: A synchronized cross-channel communication strategy is deemed vital, as donors often prefer one channel for communication and another for donations.

5. Legacy Planning: Younger donors express interest in leaving a legacy, with 21% of respondents aged 18-29 already making plans for planned giving in their wills.

6. Giving Habits during the Pandemic: Despite the pandemic, a majority (51%) of donors maintained their donation amounts. Interestingly, only 7% changed the nonprofits they support due to COVID-19.

In short, it is critically important that nonprofits understand donor preferences, particularly among younger demographics, and that nonprofits focus on encouraging monthly enrollments as they lead to greater donor lifecycle value.