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The Lowdown: Individual Giving Fundraising Trends and Insights 2021

Want the lowdown on what's happened in individual giving fundraising over 2021? Look no further than the peer-survey based insights from UK charities below, and discover how Woods Valldata can support you in the years to come with our fundraising services for charities and not-for-profits...

Here we are at the start of a new year, and the perfect opportunity to look back at individual giving fundraising.

In November 2021, Woods Valldata hosted a webinar looking at trends in individual giving fundraising for charities based on a survey of fundraisers conducted in 2020 and in 2021.

Here's a summary of the survey results!

1. Fundraising objectives

The results across 2020 reveal that fundraising objectives gravitate towards two core areas:

  1. A need to support and care for our donors, as we rely on them for income.
  2. A need to swiftly adopt and engage with new digital ways of fundraising (especially where other channels were no longer available).

In 2021, the focus moves to supporter acquisition and income growth. Perhaps this is because we are looking to the future rather than issues in the immediate present, and have grown in confidence in our new ways of working.

Chart showing the objectives of charity fundraisers in 2020 vs 2021.  Discover fundraising services for charities with Woods Valldata.

2. Fundraising income

Forecast individual giving income is a positive picture for 2021 respondents: 77% are predicting more or the same individual giving income for 2021 vs 2020 (slightly up from 70%, predicting more or the same for 2020 vs 2019), even with ongoing reduced acquisition channels, social distancing and mass participation event challenges.

3. Retention and Stewardship

Just over half of 2021 responders have a retention programme in place: 52% answered yes, whilst 37% still had work to do. We’re seeing a lot of focus in charity articles and reports on stewardship. It’s an area of development, and the shift in fundraising spend supports this.

Chart showing percentage of fundraisers in 2021 whose charity has a retention and stewardship programme in place.  Discover fundraising services for charities with Woods Valldata.

4. Changing channel mix

From the results, we can see a shift in the make-up of fundraising, and subsequently, fundraising services for charities. The results are consistent across both regular giving and one-off gifts.

  • Email, direct mail and social/SEO are the top three answers that our charities picked across both giving types and both years.
  • The rise of digital alongside the more traditional direct contact comes through clearly.
  • F2F sees a slow return across both regular giving and one-off gifts, with a slight reduction in the proportion using F2F for regular giving in 2021.
  • DRTV is also lower in 2021, perhaps in response to the rise of media costs post-2020.

The use of messaging across the channels was a key discussion point that came out in the webinar.

The impact of emergency appeals as a response to Covid-19 meant a step-change for fundraising messages with more honest and authentic messaging using real-life stories with real people and real footage.

5. The future of individual giving

When asked what the next 12-24 months would look like for individual giving fundraising, the survey responders focused very much on the digital and technological arena for the opportunities across both years. Digital innovation and contactless payments represent 60% and upwards of the responders top three opportunities in 2020 and 2021.

The Lowdown future of Fundraising Chart.  Discover fundraising services for charities with Woods Valldata.

The challenge fundraisers are predicting is the economic situation which has been volatile, and uncertain. This is always a challenge for individual giving but has been heightened throughout this COVID-19 period and continues to be perceived as such into 2022.

Looking at the next 5 years fundraisers are looking at:

  • becoming more relevant to younger audiences
  • the shifting trends in society towards mobile and digital
  • activism, tangibility and transparency in dealings with charities
  • focusing on the supporter

Key takeout: Optimism

The key take-out from our survey findings as we looked at the future of fundraising was one of optimism. The move forwards with digital shone through. We also see a focus, again, on acquisition and growth alongside a move to developing personalised and integrated supporter journeys across channels and products, with both new and traditional audiences.

This is something that has been talked about a lot in the past, but has finally seen a real drive forward as a result of Covid-19. A positive to take away from a difficult time.

This drive comes with challenges too of course, and our findings echoed many other reports and trends seen across the charity press. Adopting and driving forward into a more digital age is a challenge both internally and externally.

The future of giving, including where money will come from and how, is a key concern. For charities, understanding data and new audiences is paramount to building ongoing relationships. Changes are still happening all around us which we will need to adapt to.

It’s such an interesting time to be in fundraising. As we work our way through developing those opportunities and battling the challenges, we hope we can all continue to learn, share and support each other together.

Woods Valldata

Woods Valldata has a wealth of experience providing fundraising services for charities and not-for-profit organisations. Our industry-leading outbound and inbound fundraising services merge insight with innovation to generate real results.

We work with you to grow your individual giving programmes, creating bespoke strategies designed to help you achieve your objectives.

Our end-to-end print and production, response handling and fulfilment services take the hassle out of operations, leaving you confident that your supporters are in the best of hands.

Watch our video to see the many ways we can help you:

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