Protecting regular giving income in a crisis: what the pandemic has taught us

06/07/2020 | by Scott Gray

Among the many implications for charities of this pandemic and its associated lockdown measures has been a renewed recognition of the critical role regular giving and stewardship play in ensuring a steady and reliable income stream in times of crisis.

As many fundraising events and face-to-face activities have had to pause, and with the sudden jump in Direct Debit donation cancellations seen at the start of lockdown, this value has really been brought into stark relief. Many charities, as a result, have changed the way they communicate with their regular supporters to help further strengthen relationships and loyalty.

So, what has worked? With another recession on the horizon, and sector figures estimating a potential £12.4 billion shortfall in income for this year, what can we learn from the pandemic so far to help protect regular giving income in the future?

To find out, Rapidata ran a study in June, comprising a survey that invited charities to share their experiences of regular giving during the coronavirus pandemic and how they’ve adapted their fundraising, as well as a series of telephone interviews with senior fundraisers for valuable insights and case studies.

In the survey we asked participants to share how they reacted to lockdown, and to the initial recovery phase of lockdown easing, we also asked them about the strategies they had implemented to drive donations, mitigate attrition and protect regular giving income, and for their thoughts on the future of regular giving.

We found that some two-thirds (67%) of charities had changed how they communicate with supporters. With in-person forms of fundraising halted, many have significantly increased their use of digital channels, telephone and mail, with stewardship activity also dramatically increasing over acquisition.

Full findings can be found in our latest report 'Navigating Times of Crisis to Protect Regular Giving' being released during Fundraising Convention Online as a free download. It demonstrates how charities have reacted and which approaches have worked, including case studies illustrating successes. Importantly, the report also incorporates key lessons for the future to help charities prepare for other crises and mitigate risk, including a checklist of practical points for better protecting regular giving.

While this pandemic crisis is beginning to ease and we’ve seen how charities can respond and adapt, we clearly still have a way to go and must remain vigilant as the situation continues to change. What is certain is that future crises will occur and impact our sector. It’s critical then that we as a sector share our experiences and learnings to help protect charities and their beneficiaries into the future.

Download Rapidata's new report 'Navigating Times of Crisis to Protect Regular Giving' here.

Scott Gray is Rapidata lead and head of payments at The Access Group