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COVID-19 Fundraising Update: What Nonprofits Are Doing, How Donors Are Responding, and What it Means for the Future of Fundraising

Published by Tim Kachuriak

COVID-19 blog image

When the first known case of COVID-19 was reported back in November of 2019, no one could have possibly understood how this new disease caused by the novel coronavirus would fundamentally change the world.

But as this global pandemic has quickly spread, shutting down businesses, straining economies, and putting pressure on government authorities to come up with a solution, those of us working in nonprofit fundraising have been holding our breath as we wrestled with two important questions:

  1. How are nonprofits responding to the outbreak of coronavirus and COVID-19 in their communication with their donors?
  2. How are donors responding to nonprofits during this global pandemic and subsequent economic downturn?

In an attempt to answer these two questions, we’ve developed the Coronavirus Nonprofit Fundraising Resource Center which features a series of data visualizations to track in real time how nonprofits are communicating with their donors.

Here’s What the Data Says

We are currently tracking donor email communication from 156 different organizations across 12 different verticals. Here are a few observations:

  • As the coronavirus pandemic has intensified, nonprofits have increased their email communication with their donors.
Chart showing the number of nonprofit emails increasing week over week
  • Nonprofits are increasingly mentioning “COVID-19”, “Coronavirus”, or “pandemic” in their email communication with their donors.
chart showing COVID-19 related emails increasing since January 27, 2020
  • Nearly half of all email communication with donors comes in the form of a solicitation.
Chart showing the breakdown of email types this year. 46.9% are solicitations.

So, in summary, to answer the first question regarding how nonprofits are communicating to their donors regarding COVID-19, we see that they are still fundraising, and in most cases, increasing their communication with their donors.

But How Are Donors Responding?

Although it is helpful to know what other nonprofit organizations are doing, the bigger question is, will donors continue to give? To answer this question, we looked at data from our nonprofit online marketing benchmark project that includes Google Analytics data from 90 nonprofit organizations from 10 different industry verticals.

Here are a few observations:

  • Overall nonprofit web site traffic is up slightly (+3.2% year over year)
Chart showing median weekly web traffic comparing 2019 to 2020 year-to-date.
  • Overall nonprofit online revenue is up 13% year over year, although March revenue remains flat
Chart showing year-over-year online fundraising revenue. Revenue in March is flat.
  • The total number of gifts for the year is up and March is up 11.2% year over year
Chart showing the average number of online donations per month - comparing 2019 to 2020.
  • Donation Conversion Rate is up every month of 2020 compared to a year ago
Chart showing online donation conversion rates month over month - comparing 2019 to 2020.

So, What Does All This Mean?

The good news for digital fundraisers is that so far we have not observed that COVID-19 has had an overall negative impact on online giving across the sector. In fact, the data suggests that just the opposite is true.

Comparing key performance indicators from 2020 to 2019, we are seeing more online gifts, higher donor conversion, and overall higher online revenue. One negative trend is that average gift amount is down, which suggests that although donors are still giving, they are giving smaller gifts.

It should also be noted that based on the full data set, not all nonprofit verticals are experiencing the same trends.

Over the next few weeks, we will be continuing to monitor these trends and providing updates in a weekly blog post.

Please check back often, or signup to receive email updates and we will send you an alert when a new article is posted.

Want to Dive Deeper into the Coronavirus Fundraising Data?

Coronavirus Fundraising Response Dashboard image

With the free email volume and web traffic monitoring tools, you can filter to your specific vertical, see real email fundraising examples, access other COVID-19 related resources and more.

About the author:

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Tim Kachuriak

Tim is the Chief Innovation & Optimization Officer for NextAfter. Tim has accomplished a lot over his career between driving online fundraising growth for countless nonprofits, sitting on the board of multiple nonprofits, and being a sought-after international speaker. But his biggest accomplishment may be winning "Best Stage Presence" for the 1991 Pittsburgh Boys Choir.