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When COVID-19 hit our shores, Australian charities and businesses alike were forced to deal with insurmountable change and uncertainty.

Throughout forced closures and months of remote work, non-profits did a terrific job of adapting. And fast. They embraced the digital world with open arms, and turned face-to-face events into virtual fundraisers – some within the space of a few short weeks.

This pandemic has changed the face of fundraising for good. And although the shift to digital has been churning for the past 10 years, Covid has sped up the process and pushed us all online a little faster than we anticipated.

In 2020, 13% of total fundraising came from online giving – the highest percentage ever and one that marks an important milestone. As Ashley Thompson, Managing Director of Blackbaud Institute, says:

“The events of 2020 paved the way for substantial disruption to the status quo. That has never been more apparent than in online giving, where it represented more than 1/8 of all giving in 2020 – an impressive four-point increase year over year.”

“Organisations would be keen to build on the momentum by ensuring a continued focus on digital progress.”

So what exactly has changed? Let’s take a closer look at the trends from 2021 that are now here to stay.

 

1. Virtual events

Virtual fundraising was essential during Covid, with many non-profits saying it went better than expected.

The biggest bonus is that supporters can attend your event from anywhere. They have flexibility and fun without the hassles of an in-person event. For non-profits, virtual events allow you to:

  • Connect with an entirely new, younger audience;
  • Create a unique experience that is shareable and therefore has longevity;
  • Reach more donors due to the lower entry barrier (less time off, no flights, no hotel bookings, ease and comfort from connecting at home);
  • Reduce major event costs such as venue and catering.

 

2. Mobile optimisation

In a fast-paced and on-the-go culture, the age of mobile giving is in full swing:
  • An estimated 28% of all online donations in 2020 were made on mobile, up from 9% in 2014;
  • 25% of donors complete their gift on a smartphone;
  • Over half of all web traffic comes from mobile devices;
  • Over half of all mobile users will leave a page that takes more than three seconds to load.

What does this mean for non-profits?

Having mobile-friendly websites, emails and donation forms that all seamlessly work together to maximise the supporter’s giving experience is absolutely key. It’s about meeting your donors where they feel most comfortable. And by streamlining these mediums, having a solid online presence and enabling donors to make a donation in under a minute, you’ll have a greater chance of bridging that gap between apathy and action.

 

3. New technology

Social media

The great thing about social media is you can speak directly to your donors, on their turf, in their language. Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Linkedin and Twitter, as well as emerging platforms like TikTok, Twitch and Clubhouse, can open authentic two-way conversations with the right people.

These social communities aid in a sense of belonging and instant access, and allow non-profits to reach donors beyond normal geographical borders. Think videos, live-streaming events, Q&As in real-time, links to read more and donate, and easy-to-share content.

 

Artificial intelligence 

Ever land on a website and a box pops up asking if you need help? It’s an easy way to ask a question and get an immediate response. These AI-based chatbots are a great way to help with customer support during and beyond business hours.

 

No-touch donations

Contactless payments became the norm during Covid, with some businesses flat refusing to take cash. Apple and Google payment options at your fundraising events will help boost giving.

 

Peer-to-peer fundraising

Giving Tuesday is a global campaign on December 1, largely driven by social media, that raises funds for non-profits through peer-to-peer fundraising. Last year, more than $700 million was raised throughout 60 countries.

Although Australia has been a little slower to adopt Giving Tuesday, Covid has forced many charities to hunt out more online-friendly campaigns. In 2020, over 1000 Australian non-profits took part with millions of dollars raised, thousands of hours spent volunteering and a social media blitz using #GivingTuesdayAUS that saw coverage across national TV, radio and print.

 

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is fast becoming a trusted platform for both everyday people and charities to create their own campaigns in a fast, secure and easy way.

Simply set up a charity page and fundraisers can create their own project page to raise money for your cause. It’s a simple solution to maximise your fundraising outcomes. Sites like Give Now are mobile-friendly, have multiple ways to donate and give donors the confidence to become a hero for a cause they really care about.

 

4. Regular givers

This pandemic has been deeply disturbing for charities – training, fundraising and in-person services have been brought to a halt, forcing us online. And yet, the need for services that support vulnerable communities has sky-rocketed. The key message here is: don’t change your strategy. Now is the time to lean in and nurture your donors, especially your regular givers.

If you’re finding it tough to secure those first gifts, look to the channels where donors are most active – peer-to-peer fundraising and crowdfunding, for example. These can act as easy conversions to regular givers.

Remember, the value of a regular giver goes well beyond their monthly commitment. The State of Modern Philanthropy 2019 report found that one-time donors who converted into regular donors were a lot more likely to make another one-time gift on top of their regular gift.

 

5. Email marketing

Every year it’s the same: something, somewhere, is going to replace email. The ‘next big thing’ is just around the corner and soon email will be relegated to the history pages of what used to work.

Except, that ‘next big thing’ never comes. And email remains as relevant and important as ever.

So what’s different for 2022? Personalisation and segmentation. Gone are the days of pushing ‘send’ to your entire database. To do so could actually be detrimental. If you’re keen to find out exactly what emails you should be sending, and what content they should be filled with, you can find out more here.

 

6. Donor journey

Given everything we’ve been through these past two years, and the fact that donors are no longer giving to as many charities anymore, it’s more important than ever for charities to build trusting and lasting relationships with their donors.

This means investing in donor retention and development and using both digital and offline methods to engage, retain and increase lifetime value. Want to learn more? Have a gander at our blogs about nurturing a healthy donor pipeline and donor retention.

 

The (virtual) verdict? 

Covid-19 has forever altered the way we fundraise with a significant rise in mobile giving apps, live-streaming, artificial intelligence, no-touch donations, crowdfunding, social platforms, online events and the very real need to continue building authentic relationships with your donors.

These trends are here to stay. So get to know them, learn their strengths and weaknesses and don’t be afraid to keep trying new things. You’ve got this!