One of the facts of life is that nothing ever stays the same. This was particularly true last March when COVID-19 changed our lives.
The charitable giving landscape, like everything else, went through tremendous changes last year. Nonprofits had to move away from tried-and-true fundraising strategies like hosting events, engaging with in-person volunteers and using physical sources like donation boxes. As a result, fundraising professionals were presented with the challenge of finding new ways to generate income for their nonprofits.
Surprisingly, even though 2020 was said to be the most difficult year in the last decade, hope showed us that not everything was bad. According to Giving Tuesday's Giving in Unprecedented Times report, there was actually an increase in the amount donated to charities during the pandemic. They estimate that 2020 saw fundraising go up 5.23% over 2019. Last year was also the highest year-to-date with repeat donor growth.
The Shift Towards a Digital-First Approach
As Americans quarantined to slow the spread of the pandemic, it's no surprise that nonprofits had to come up with ways to reach their audiences at home. This led to a medley of creative solutions to share content – such as video creation, interactive Zoom calls and increased social media usage. But fundraising needed to find a way to shift online as well. There weren't staff members in offices to receive and process checks or cash and no one could gather in person.
Many nonprofits across the country starting using RoundUp App to provide an easy way for their supporters to become monthly donors – without having to set up their own recurring giving programs. Donors who used RoundUp App were able to continue living a safe lifestyle while also supporting the causes they care about.
The level of customization that RoundUp App offers donors also helped increase its appeal during the COVID economy, when people's budgets were unpredictable and changing from month to month. Through the mobile or web app, users can easily set maximum monthly donation amounts, or even pause their donations until they can afford to give again.
But the changes didn't just stop for the nonprofit sector. Many for-profit companies also had to adjust their business models and switch their products to online stores. This shift meant that RoundUp App users were still spending and using their credit or debit cards on a regular basis, which was good news for the nonprofits receiving their RoundUps. In fact, the online shopping industry grew so fast in 2020 that now 25% of Americans shop online at least once a month.
What Does This Mean for the Future?
As restrictions are being lifted and people are participating in in-person events again, what will happen to the changes nonprofits made to their fundraising programs over the last year? Our guess is that most of the adaptations nonprofits made to their fundraising strategies aren't going away any time soon.
Many people across the country don't plan on going back to exactly how our lives were before COVID-19 hit in March 2020. According to a study by Pew Research, during the first quarter of 2021, 71% of Americans were still working from home and 54% would want to continue working from home after the COVID-19 outbreak ends.
It also looks like the increases in online shopping and online ordering from restaurants are here to stay – which should mean that online giving will only continue to increase, possibly even faster than before. While in-person donation options will become available again, most donors have gotten accustomed to the ease of giving online.
So, if the events of the last year forced your nonprofit to prioritize online giving, it's a smart move to continue investing in those programs for the foreseeable future.