A new 'Roaring Twenties' could lead to higher levels of charitable giving, fundraisers told

A post-pandemic 'feelgood factor' could result in people being more benevolent towards charity, the Chartered Institute of Fundraising's annual convention hears

The Roaring Twenties (Photograph: Underwood Archives/Getty Images)
The Roaring Twenties (Photograph: Underwood Archives/Getty Images)

A post-pandemic 'feelgood factor' could result in people being more open to charitable giving because they are feeling more benevolent, fundraisers have been told.

Speaking today at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising’s annual convention, which is being held online, Sue Pedley, head of research at the charity legacy consortium Legacy Foresight, speculated what impact a potential new “Roaring Twenties” could have on charitable giving following the coronavirus pandemic.

During a discussion called ‘In-memory fundraising after the pandemic’, Pedley began by referencing the work of Nicholas Christakis, the Greek-American sociologist and physician, who predicts a post-pandemic era of indulgence.

He speculates that, as in the “Roaring Twenties”, which followed the 1918 influenza pandemic, society will see a surge in “sexual licentiousness” as well as a “reverse of religiosity”.

Pedley joked that she was still waiting for this era of vice to begin, but her point was that “there’s a feelgood factor that might see some individuals more open to charitable giving as they are feeling more benevolent”.

She said this was particularly true in the context of how the pandemic had brought fundamental changes to the way people grieve for and honour the people they have lost, through video streaming at funerals and online in-memory donations.

Panel members at the session discussed whether some of these changes are likely to be temporary or permanent.

Kate Jenkinson, head of in-memory consultancy at Legacy Foresight, presented research that included 2,096 adults who had lost 696 loved ones during the pandemic, with more than 20 in-depth interviews and a survey of member charities.

She said more than half of member charities felt in-memory giving had become more important during the pandemic and a similar amount were planning to increase their budgets directed at in-memory giving over the next financial year.

The research found bereaved individuals were keen to embrace “the old normal” of remembering loved ones in person, but options such as online funerals and virtual wakes are likely to remain as part of a “blended approach” to bringing people together.

Jenkinson said Legacy Foresight’s survey found people were looking for a return to personal warmth when it came to contact during fundraising, but said technology had highlighted some trends that had already begun – and “the personal use of digital and social media will be key”.

Online payment is a trend that was accelerated by the pandemic, as about 45 per cent of all donations were made online, said Jenkinson.

Research by Legacy Foresight published earlier this month predicted charity legacy income could total £43bn over the next 10 years.

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