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Almost half of medium & smaller charities saw lower income during pandemic


Income for large charities, on the whole, remained stable through the pandemic, with 69% seeing similar or rising levels of income during the last 18 months. Medium and smaller charities however have found things more challenging, with 45% and 44% respectively reporting lower or very volatile income, according to research from Enthuse.

Overall, 61% of charities surveyed maintained or increased income, with a further 26% seeing lower income than usual, and 12% describing the situation as very volatile.

Enthuse’s first Charity Pulse report explores how the pandemic has impacted charities of different sizes, the biggest opportunities and challenges in 2022 and how far advanced charities are in their digital journeys. Conducted by Redfox Research, decision makers from 204 charities were surveyed in November and December 2021. It will be an annual report.

The results shows that large charities have, on the whole, remained stable through the pandemic. 69% of large charities have seen similar or even rising levels of income. Medium and smaller charities have found things more challenging, with 45% and 44% respectively reporting lower or very volatile income in the past year. 

On the pandemic’s wider impact, half of charities said that at first they found their teams working from home disruptive. However, in the next six months, charities expect the split between working from the office and working from home to be around 67% to 33%. Morale seems to be strong among staff, according to the report, with 84% of those surveyed ranking it as either good or excellent. 

The year ahead

Charities of all sizes said they felt optimistic about 2022, with four out of five (79%) stating they are either very or fairly optimistic about the year ahead, with income growth seen as coming from all areas. 60% said supporters are starting to re-engage with fundraising events, and these and other fundraising activities are seen as the fastest growing source of income with 56% of charities predicting a rise in this area.

57% of charities are seeing more support from younger demographics, which, Enthuse says, is likely due to a shift in how people give. The acceleration of digital fundraising is seen as an opportunity by 61% of charities.

However, charities do see some difficulties ahead. While they have seen supporters wanting to take part in events again, 83% believe this will be a challenge to some extent. Tied to this is 77% being concerned about volunteers coming to help out at events.

In terms of how charities will be approaching fundraising this year:

36% say they will be repeating campaigns from 202129% state the majority of their time will be looking at new campaigns35% will focus on reprising pre-Covid campaignsVirtual events will continue to play a significant role as 64% state they are planning them for this yearA further 42% are running hybrid events, with 33% focusing on mass physical events.

Chester Mojay-Sinclare, Enthuse Founder and CEO, said: 

“Charities have had to work incredibly hard during the last 20 months to try and bridge the gaps in their income and have continually had to pivot fundraising to ensure it is both safe and viable for their supporters. This has been a uniquely challenging time.


“In spite of this, the sector’s natural optimism has shone through and morale has remained high. I’ve also been struck by how the sector is taking the few positives the pandemic has brought and is building those into future fundraising – for example the accelerated development of virtual events and digital transformation. With these foundations in place, there is a great opportunity for the sector, as supporters now have more choice around how to engage with and fundraise for their favourite charities.”

Digital capabilities

While the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation in the sector, only 12% of charities consider themselves ‘advanced’ – meaning they have an integrated approach to digital fundraising and events, with personalised journeys and established digital platforms.

The largest group (40%) consider themselves to be ‘building’ – these charities have a digital fundraising strategy, a digital lead and are building some capability in-house. Nearly half (48%) have virtually no in-house capabilities, and consider themselves to be either ‘ad hoc’ or ‘starting out’. Those in the ad hoc category use digital tools on a campaign by campaign basis. Charities that are starting out (13%) are just beginning to learn how to use digital technology in fundraising.

Large charities are by far the most advanced in their digital journey with 71% stating they are either advanced or building. For small charities it is the reverse with 75% either ad hoc or starting out on digital fundraising. Medium charities sit in between with 75% either building or ad hoc.

When asked about any concerns relating to digital strategy, data privacy and compliance came out on top, with 62% seeing it as an issue. 60% of charities also cited the behaviour of platform owners as a concern – this was related to worries about platform owners collecting supporters’ data and re-contacting them. 57% also flagged developing skills in-house to run digital campaigns as an apprehension. Data security and data leaks came in lower at 45%.

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