6 Things We Learned From Social Giving During a Time of Social Distance
In a year where people were forced to be apart, nonprofits found new and innovative ways to bring their communities together, maintain strong social connections, and continue fundraising. From virtual events to runs, walks, rides, and personal occasion and challenge fundraisers, social giving experiences were some of the most drastically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we emerge from an extended period of social distancing, it’s important to reexamine how giving experiences and expectations have changed and what lessons we can learn from virtual fundraising.
In April 2021, OneCause partnered with Edge Research to conduct an online survey of 1,026 self-reported Social Donors, those who either:
- donated to a fundraising event,
- participated in or sponsored someone in a run, walk, ride, or
- donated to an occasion, challenge, or giving day/month within the last 12 months.
We’re able to compare findings from our 2018 Social Donor Study to understand how social giving continues to evolve. Insights from our new Giving Experience Study will help nonprofits understand shifting donor intentions and opportunities from the pandemic, to improve ease and engagement for future giving experiences.
Here are the six most important things we learned from social giving during a time of social distancing.
1. Social giving is on the rise.
Even during a time of social distancing, there was an increase in giving through events and peer-to-peer fundraising, with an estimated 27 percent of U.S. adults giving in this way over the last 12 months. Giving for occasions (e.g., birthday, memorials), personal challenges, and giving days saw significant growth this past year.
2. Social giving experiences and virtual formats are improving access to philanthropy.
Younger, more diverse donors are giving more than they used to, to more places, and to address current issues and needs. Gen Z and Millennials now represent a majority of Social Donors, with giving among Black and Hispanic donors also giving at higher rates this past year. Millennials have emerged as the caretaker of nonprofits during the pandemic, as they were more likely to donate to sustain an organization through COIVD-19, gave to the largest number of organizations, and give the highest average donations to social giving campaigns.
3. A majority of donors are ready to return to in-person fundraisers.
Almost six in 10 donors surveyed said they will feel comfortable attending an in-person fundraising event by Summer 2021. More than half said they would want to be vaccinated before returning to in-person, with 35 percent expressing they would want all the event attendees to be vaccinated. At the time of this survey in April 2021, 55 percent of those who responded stated they were vaccinated, with an additional 31 percent planning to get vaccinated. Event size and travel restrictions are not important deciding factors for the majority of those surveyed.
4. Future fundraising should incorporate a mix of virtual and in-person giving experiences.
Overall, Social Donors responded positively to virtual fundraising, with 95 percent of those who donated to a fundraising event or run, walk, ride stating they would consider attending a virtual event in the future. When asked what their post-pandemic engagement would look like, there were split responses from Social Donors with 38 percent leaning towards mostly virtual, 22 percent with a preference for in-person, and 30 percent anticipating attending a mix of both. As we return to normalcy, it will be important to retain a mix of fundraising formats to meet donors where they are, ensuring virtual, in-person and hybrid engagement opportunities.
5. Ease, mission and impact are most important to Social Donors.
Though the world changed, the key reasons why donors give remain constant: ease, connection to the mission, and believing their donation would make a difference are still the core motivators for today’s Social Donors. These core motivators are the same for regular donors, as well as those making their first donation to an organization. No matter if your fundraiser is in-person, virtual or hybrid, the key is to prioritize ease throughout the giving experience, while providing donors opportunity to connect with the mission and understand their impact.
6. Social Giving engages First-Time and Lapsed Donors
Social giving experiences have enabled nonprofits to reach first-time donors and reengage lapsed donors. Nearly one in three Social Donors who gave during the pandemic had never donated to the organization before, providing a new segment for nonprofits to tap into. On the flip side, 38% of donors who gave during the pandemic were considered lapsed donors, those who had not donated to the organization in one to 10-plus years. The accessibility and convenience of virtual formats played an important part in expanding reach into new bases and dormant donor groups.
With these findings in mind, we encourage nonprofits to evaluate their current giving experiences for opportunities to improve accessibility and ease. Take this time to also survey your donors to understand how they want to engage and what’s most important to them.
For more recommendations on how to improve future giving experiences, you can check out our full study findings here.
Kelly Velasquez-Hague brings over 20 years of fundraising, nonprofit management, and marketing experience to her role as the VP of Donor Engagement Strategy for OneCause. Prior to starting her career in nonprofit fundraising technology, Kelly worked in the nonprofit sector as a Development Director and Event Coordinator. She’s an active speaker and thought leader sharing insights on donor trends and fundraising best practices at nonprofit industry conferences and webinars. Kelly is passionate about empowering great missions and loves that her current role allows her to continue to help nonprofits reach new donors and raise more funds for their cause.