The shift in people’s worries from the pandemic to personal finances has been rapid – three months ago less than half the public had the cost of living as a primary concern, now it’s 76%.
This trend, and more, is explored in the latest Enthuse Donor Pulse report. The pressure on people’s wallets mean they have less disposable income to give, while the economic situation has led to an increased demand for many charities’ services. The sector did a phenomenal job of handling the pressure on services and income generation during the pandemic, and will need to repeat this over the coming months.
Fundraising warning signs
The pandemic has faded in importance over the past few months, but this has coincided with the cost-of-living crisis that has dominated the headlines together with the thoughts and wallets of the public.
Despite the high levels of inflation in the UK, the number of people donating has remained high, with 74% of the public giving. This is a rise of five percentage points since this report a year ago. In the face of the cost of living challenges, donations are likely to have held up in part because of people giving to help Ukraine.
The number of people donating to multiple causes has risen slightly (by one percentage point) over the last three months – with the volumes of people donating to two charities driving this. The likelihood is that the public has supported Ukrainian charities – but combine this result with the insight that the overall level of giving has edged down, then there’s an implication people have swapped their giving to Ukraine from other causes.
The latest report also highlights the issues around the public’s ability to donate. Figures show that the percentage of people saying they make a regular monthly donation to charity has dropped from 30% to 27%. In fact, there has been a gradual decline over the past year in the number of people giving regularly, despite an increase in the overall number of members of the public donating.
For charities, this means consideration needs to be given to how feasible it is to secure monthly donations in the current environment, and balance campaigns and resources across one-off donations and those targeting ongoing giving.
Donors are feeling the pinch
This year has seen a near complete change of focus from the pandemic to the impact that inflation is having on people’s finances. Three quarters of the public cited the rising cost of living as their biggest concern and a further 6% stated job security.
There are two leading drivers to why people are feeling the pinch with energy prices (77%) and food prices (71%) the main factors. These are by far the most significant issues for people, though petrol prices are also a worry with 43% citing the cost of running a car. With no end currently in sight for the high levels of inflation the country is experiencing, these figures look unlikely to improve in the next few months, which limits the amount of funds people will have to support charities.
So, how does the cost-of-living crisis impact donations? The report's findings show that 55% of people are now saying they are finding it harder to donate to good causes than they did six months ago.
There is a strong correlation between the 55% finding it harder to donate and the 58% of people who find themselves in a worse financial position. While 34% say their ability to give is about the same, just 6% state that it’s easier to donate than six months ago. For over 40s only a handful (3%) say it’s easier to give, compared with 10% of under 40s. This is an important consideration for charities – providing flexibility for the amount people can donate will help to give people a range of options to support the organisation.
Why run when you can walk?
With life largely back to normal for most people, fundraising events are back on the agenda for both charities and supporters. Yet, the after effects of Covid-19 may still be having an impact on fundraising events, with some evidence that people are less fit and so less willing to enter shorter distance running events.
Perhaps above all though, there is just the desire to spend time catching up with friends and family, which is leaving people with less time to dedicate to fundraising events. This time pressure allied with the rising cost of living presents challenges for charities. In terms of the types of fundraising events that people want to take part in – the clear leader is walking-based activities – half of the population would consider getting involved in such an event. Running came in second place with 19% of the public interested in this type of event, followed by cycling at 16% and swimming at 14%.
The interest in events looks positive on the whole for charities, but there are obstacles that are stopping people from getting involved. The biggest is a lack of fitness…
The first full summer of proper events post-pandemic holds some promise with interest in events still high, but the difficulty will be securing commitment from supporters, with the challenge of fitness concerns and the difficulty of fundraising during tough economic times.
A third (33%) state they do not like asking for sponsorship in the current financial environment. This is a far more significant concern for people than the price of participating in the event, with only 14% citing this issue.
These are challenging times and will remain so for the medium term, but there are still opportunities for charities despite the cost of giving concerns.
Enthuse is a fundraising, donations and events registration technology provider that has helped thousands of charities raise millions. Enthuse’s solutions are customised under a cause’s own brand and put the organisation in control of the data. This allows charities to build and nurture a loyal supporter base, raise more and ultimately have more impact. Enthuse was founded in 2012 and is headquartered in London, with operations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.