Fundraising in a Pandemic: The Data

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With months of cancelled events due to COVID, more than 8,800 nonprofits have used GiveSignup | RunSignup to go virtual, launch a virtual challenge fundraising campaign, and/or host a virtual ticket event. Beyond the obvious benefit of engaging supporters, we get a lot of questions from nonprofits about whether a virtual fundraising event can generate any revenue. We’ve featured a lot of success stories – but what does the data say?

In this blog, we look at our donation and fundraising data from April to September 2020 and compare it to the same period from April to September 2019 using the averages of aggregated data. Here are the key trends:

  • Nonprofit events raised 67.4% more from donations in 2020 than in 2019.
  • Donors are making smaller but significantly more donations. The average value of a donation decreased to $35 in 2020 from $43 in 2019. However, the average number of donations grew 109.5%, driving the increase in amount raised from nonprofit events in 2020.
  • Fundraising increases the amount raised from an event by 166% compared to an event with donations only – even during a pandemic. While the average amount raised from an event with fundraising only increased 5.9% from 2019, the average number of donations increased by 36%.
  • More donations are being made on Facebook. Fundraising events that enabled the free GiveSignup | RunSignup Facebook Fundraiser integration have 24% of donations coming from Facebook, compared to just 6.8% in 2019.

Donations

Supporters are making slightly smaller but significantly more donations in 2020 compared to 2019. The overall impact is that nonprofit events are raising more money from donations in 2020 than in 2019. This confirms that people want to support the nonprofits and missions they care about – even during a pandemic.

Overall, the average amount raised by a nonprofit event from donations grew by 67.4% in 2020, from $1,381.94 in 2019 to $2,314.22 in 2020.

What drove this significant increase in amount raised from donations? Smaller but significantly more donations. The average value of a donation dropped to $35.34 in 2020 from $43.80 in 2019. The average number of donations per event grew 109.55% from 31.55 in 2019 to 66.1 in 2020.

Here is the breakdown of the number of donations across donation amounts. The breakdown is relatively similar across both years, and shows a slight increase in the number of donations under $10 from 42.1% of all donations in 2019 to 47.6% in 2020.

Fundraising

When nonprofits enable fundraising, their events raise significantly more than events with donations only. We see a 5.86% increase in the return on fundraising events this year, from an average raised per event of $5,831.08 in 2019 to $6,172.79 in 2020.

The trend of smaller but more donations also applies to fundraising events. There is a more significant 36% increase in the number of donations made per fundraising event from 85.11 in 2019 to 115.82 in 2020.

We introduced the free RunSignup | GiveSignup – Facebook Fundraiser integration in July 2019. To look at the impact that the free Facebook Fundraiser integration is having during the pandemic, we compare aggregate data from July – September 2019 and July – September 2020.

In 2019, 5.88% of fundraisers created a connected Facebook Fundraiser (when the event enabled the free integration). This increased to 9.13% of connected fundraisers in 2020. We see a growing demand for the Facebook Fundraiser integration from users because they want to reach their goals – and asking for donations via Facebook makes that easy.

The table shows the growth in the number of donations made to fundraisers that happen on Facebook, from 6.8% in 2019 to 24.1%. This means that nonprofits are saving more money (Facebook covers the processing fees for donations made on Facebook) and saving time (the integration automatically pulls in the amount raised on Facebook to the individual fundraiser’s page and associated team page).

2019 % Donations2020 % Donations
Facebook6.8%24.1%
GiveSignup | RunSignup93.2%75.9%

Key Takeaways

How can your nonprofit use this data to raise money and engage supporters this year? These key takeaways are action items for your nonprofit’s events to grow donations, empower fundraisers, and raise more for your mission – even during a pandemic.

  • Go virtual instead of canceling your event! Even if you offer a low-key and low-cost event, your nonprofit has the opportunity to make a soft ask for donations, grow your donor database, and raise money.
  • Engage participants throughout your virtual event so they keep coming back to your website to learn more about your nonprofit and (hopefully) make a donation. Results, participant photo albums, fundraising leaderboards, certificates, and milestones all keep things interactive and engaging.
  • Offer a variety of donation levels for donors to choose from. Remember to include small amounts ($5 or $10) as well as larger amounts. You can also tie the amounts to your mission and your challenge like the Pat Tillman Foundation’s 42 in 40 virtual challenge fundraising campaign.
  • Feature your donation goal thermometer and Donate calls to action clearly on your website. One of our top fundraising events from this summer was the (virtual) Run of Hope. Using a cover page, they featured multiple Donate calls to action and their donation goal thermometer.
  • Fundraising continues to greatly increase the revenue generated from nonprofit events. We see many events being successful with optional fundraising and suggested (but not required) fundraising goals. Take time to customize the settings for individual and team fundraisers. Don’t set a required minimum for fundraisers. Suggest a goal, but make it achievable (think $100 or less). Provide default individual and team fundraiser text that keeps your messaging relevant to COVID-19. Show the fundraising progress meter on results pages.

One comment

  1. People are spending less money going out for entertainment. Because they are staying home, people have more money to make donations to organizations of value to them. Value is very important now. Especially, important are fundraising goals that attribute to good health.

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