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The Impact of Covid-19 on Individual Giving: Q&As

During our recent webinar, we presented findings from our report on the Impact of COVID-19 on Individual Giving to more than 90 representatives from different charities.

This was followed by a Q&A session but we didn’t have time to answer all of the questions. We’d now like to share those answers with you:


Is there a particular type of ‘cash’ campaign that has seen an increase in online giving eg. cash appeals or raffles, or is it across the board?

We have found that campaigns that have been COVID-19 specific have been best received (unsurprisingly). Especially those that target specifically what we are doing and how we are doing it.
Gina Almond, Head of Income Generation, Blind Veterans UK

We have seen a definite increase in response to our cash campaigns, and assume this is a result of people not wanting to post their responses. The telephone response has increased too.
Jo Stone, Head of Public Fundraising, Battersea

We’ve seen an increase across the board. Our suspicion is that some of the increase is people choosing to give online instead of more traditional methods, some is due to increased activity online and DRTV, and some is due to higher levels of generosity. We plan to do some further analysis on this over the coming months.
Ella Pierce, Director of Fundraising and Marketing, Sightsavers


You mentioned Direct Mail exceeding expectations with Cash Appeal & Raffle. What has been your experience with a DM Regular Giving Appeal? Would you advise a campaign as a direct RG ask or as a soft convert from a Cash Appeal DM?

We have tried both, and both have been relatively successful. But I think people are concerned about setting up DDs when the future isn’t looking healthy. One-off gifts allow them to feel like they are doing something in a crisis – especially with our newly acquired supporters.
Gina Almond, Head of Income Generation, Blind Veterans UK

We just mailed an RG ask to our cash/raffle players and so far have seen a healthy response rate too.
Jo Stone, Head of Public Fundraising, Battersea


How has COVID-19 affected your overall income?

Overall, we’ve have had the best April and May we have experienced for the last 3 years. Our events and community fundraising is down, but they are a small part of our income-generating portfolio so it hasn’t impacted our overall results. Corporate is struggling as companies are focusing on their performance and redundancies – keeping them engaged and aware of what we are doing is our current strategy.
Gina Almond, Head of Income Generation, Blind Veterans UK

Overall in the next five years we are forecasting -25% net income, largely through the downturn of face to face.
Jo Stone, Head of Public Fundraising, Battersea

So far the picture has been mixed but overall we are in line with budget. We don’t rely on many of the channels that have been hardest hit (eg face to face and community fundraising). DRTV is performing really well, direct mail is still holding up, digital is doing well. We’ve obviously seen a hit on events income (although this is only a small channel for us) and major donor income is quite unstable. The other big question for us looking ahead for the year as a whole is legacy income as it’s impossible to predict at the moment what impact the housing market and potential legal delays will cause.
Ella Pierce, Director of Fundraising and Marketing, Sightsavers


Interested in hearing that Battersea has increased their legacy marketing activity – what does this include? What has the response been to this? Does it include any DM activity?

We have increased our press and inserts activity. We have a proposition called “forever loved” whereby people can put their animals on our database, and if they pass away we ensure they are picked up, cared for and find a nice loving home. This has done really well. But we have had to put it on hold currently until our operations as a rescue return to some sense or normality. Our legacy enquirer ads have not performed as well. We are looking into a radio ad and have not done this before.
Jo Stone, Head of Public Fundraising, Battersea


Concerning the report…

The regular giving cancellations, how many are definitely as a result of Corona?

We’re not sure, the reason for the cancellation isn’t captured so we are making assumptions.  We can see there’s a spike in Feb and March at the time when the impacts of Corona were at their most unknown/scary/immediate and impactful.  People were being furloughed or losing their jobs, those that were self-employed were in a state of flux, and everyone was very fearful of the unknown and their personal security and health.  In addition, regular givers are younger and therefore their income has been more likely to be impacted by Corona.  It’s likely that the peak is largely related to Coronavirus.  However, it’s important to remember that January was also a very high month within Woods Valldata’s base of regular givers, and therefore, it could well be that we would have a higher rate than last year as a result of increased acquisition channels.  The drop in April could be a reflection of a stabilising of the supporter base as they understand the new world around them, but the drop in face-to-face acquisition (a key channel for many regular giving programmes) will also be influencing.  We will be reviewing this data more at the end of June and will let you know our updated findings.
Helen Daw, Head of Data and Insights, Woods Valldata


Why haven’t you included all the campaigns you work on?

We wanted to ensure that our comparisons were as robust as possible.  For our cash year on year comparisons, we looked at warm data sets only and chose charities and campaigns that went out at the same time each year, to similar warm data sets with an identical type of ask and pack i.e. normal non-Corona related cash ask or raffle.  Likewise, for the regular giving comparisons, we looked at programmes that we had processed last year and this year within the same type of programme. For the emergency appeals, we looked at all those that were specifically Coronavirus emergency asks.
Helen Daw, Head of Data and Insights, Woods Valldata


What’s happening with the campaigns now, it’s the end of May and your data only covers up until the end of April?

Good question!  We’ve done a check on DD’s and we are still seeing very strong cash ask response, one we looked at yesterday had seen a 169% uplift in response to their Spring Raffle.  We have been busy working on their data strategy and creative approach with them, but an uplift that high is definitely unexpected and we believe there is a strong desire to give currently.
Helen Daw, Head of Data and Insights, Woods Valldata


If you have any further questions for the Woods Valldata team, we would be more than happy to answer. Please get in touch.


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