A comparison between April 2019 and April 2020 performance of a sample of New Zealand Charities in the wake of COVID-19

There has never been a more important time for fundraisers and charity leaders to understand how donors are behaving. Those who are brave, well-informed and tuned into the hearts and minds of their donors have been decisive, proactive, led with confidence and made a greater difference. Significant decisions are being made every week that affect the future of many for-purpose organisations, and the people and places they exist to serve.  Uninformed decisions, often based on personal bias and public rhetoric, can have a devastating effect on for-purpose organisations.

The full effect of COVID-19 on fundraising cannot yet be fully understood. However, we must act today based on what we know.  This survey provides early insights about what we intrinsically knew was true – that donors who care, who are cared for, who are fully engaged and were presented with an opportunity to make a difference, responded positively in April 2020.

This survey was completed by a range of large and small organisations representing social services, local museums, rescue services, INGO’s, higher education and environmental organisations. Our sincere thanks to these 23 organisations.

Key fundraising insights from respondent experiences in April 2020 include:

  • Over 70% of respondents indicated that individual donors, through key channels, gave the same or more in April 2020 when compared to April 2019. A very important fact.
  • Donors are responding positively to direct, authentic, personal engagement whether by fundraisers, Board members, frontline staff or volunteers.  
  • For-purpose organisations need to be ready to respond to changes quickly and communicate the impact. Donors want to hear from causes they have supported and know that their giving will make a difference
  • The fundamentals of fundraising have not changed, but there is an opportunity to change how your organisation engages with donors through the more effective use of both old and new technology

Clearly this is not a time to reduce fundraising activities.  All fundraising organisations need to effectively increase effort and resources to optimise donor relationships for short, medium and, most importantly, long term sustainability.

Look out for the detailed survey in early July 2020 that covers April, May and June. We encourage all FINZ members to participate as it will provide greater clarity about donor behaviour and further guidance for the sector to navigate the impact of COVID-19.