Great progress is being made in digital fundraising but more support is needed

11 July 2022
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Computer on a desk, the words

Following our roundtable discussion with our members and Law Family Commission on Civil Society, we teamed up with Pro Bono Economics and Fundraising Everywhere to find out how charities are moving forward with their digital fundraising, including if they have a digital strategy, how income from digital fundraising is performing, and the challenges charities are facing. 

Below are some of the key highlights, but the survey covers many different areas so we encourage you to read the full results here.

Most charities are advancing their digital fundraising but few have a strategy

The good news is that 45% of charities who responded consider digital as part of their strategy and are currently investing in new technology and developing their skills. Equally, 30% are starting out, meaning they are developing their use of digital but don’t have a strategy in place. And perhaps the most promising takeaway is that the number of respondents who considered themselves digitally advanced was nearly double the number who considered themselves digitally curious or barely online, indicating that digital fundraising is becoming the norm. 

Although progress is being made, it was interesting to see that only 33% of respondents have a digital fundraising strategy and 60% of respondents do not. When asked why they did not have a strategy, the top reasons were that they were moving forward without one, or they lacked the resource and expertise to create one. 

Income from digital is growing

Overall, 65% of charities who responded confirmed that income from digital fundraising had somewhat or significantly increased and only 10% reported that it had slightly decreased. Similarly, the percentage of donations received from the public over the past 12 months from digital fundraising activities was fairly evenly split between the 1-10%, 10-25% and 25-50% brackets.

Looking at the percentage of donations received from the public over the past 12 months from different digital channels, organisational websites brought in the highest proportion- 18% of respondents said it brought in over 50% of their donations and 24% said it brought in 25-50%. This was considerably higher than the other channels, although social channels also seemed to also be a significant source of income as 53% of respondents said it brought in 1-10% of their donations. 

Websites, email and social are key channels but future fundraising will be supported by additional tools

When asked to rate their use of different digital channels and tools for fundraising, respondents seemed most confident in their use of their organisational website, social media platforms, email marketing, although very few rated their use of them as excellent, showing us there is room for improvement.

This somewhat mirrors respondents’ priorities, with 79% ranking their organisational website as very important for future fundraising, followed by social media (77%) and email marketing (76%). But interestingly, 90% of respondents rated CRM and donor management systems as very important. 

Respondents were least confident in their use of emerging technologies, notably blockchain and contactless payments, with most not using these at all. Despite this, however, contactless payments were considered one of the more important tools for future fundraising, with 76% of those who responded rating it “very important” or “somewhat important”.

There appears to be limited support from senior leadership and other teams

Whilst it is unsurprising that 54% of respondents said fundraising teams were the most involved in digital fundraising, closely followed by marketing and communications, no other internal teams, such as I.T, HR or finance, appeared significantly involved. 

Senior leadership also appeared to have limited involvement. Only 5% of respondents reported having a digital trustee and 16% said they had buy-in at board level for digital fundraising. Equally, 34% confirmed their trustees are interested but not involved, and a further 34% stated they are not involved at all. 

We see a similar pattern with CEOs, 31% of respondents said their CEO is somewhat involved, and another 31% said their CEO was interested but not involved. 

Skills, donor appetite and resources continue to be the most common challenges 

The biggest barriers fundraisers are facing to raise money online are similar to those brought up during the roundtable- a lack of skills and capacity is the common challenge (29%), followed by the charity’s current pool of donors (19%), and a lack of resource (17%). 

Some great advice was shared during the discussion which you can read here, including:

Charlotte Weatherley
Charlotte Weatherley
Policy Manager, Chartered Institute of Fundraising
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