Virtual fundraising campaigns raised more than £39m in 2021

The number of virtual fundraising campaigns that raised more than £1m doubled in 2021, despite the overall total raised through virtual fundraising falling by about a third, new research has found. 

A new report by the mass-participation event agency Massive, in partnership with JustGiving, found that virtual fundraising events continued to grow for charities of all types and sizes in 2021.

The findings built on a 2020 report that found more than £60m was raised by 150 virtual campaigns after the first coronavirus lockdown. 

However, Captain Sir Tom Moore’s record-breaking fundraising effort accounted for more than half of the 2020 virtual events total, after his walk for the NHS raised more than £33m.

More than £39m was raised in 2021 from the same number of events and campaigns. Positively, the report found virtual fundraising events raised more on average than in 2020. 

Almost half of the surveyed events raised more than £100,000 in 2021, double the previous year. The number of events raising more than £1m also doubled.  

The median figure raised by the virtual campaigns also increased, from £33,000 in 2020 to £45,000 in 2021.

Charities saw increased success in recruiting participants to their events, according to the report, with the average number of people registering for events more than tripling to an average of almost 3,000 per event.

In addition, eight in 10 charities cited Facebook as their most effective marketing channel, although the research found that people were less committed to repeated virtual events experiences in comparison to in-person ones. 

John Tasker, partner at Massive, said: “We’re seeing more people taking part in virtual events but not seeing any significant growth in levels of fundraising, so the growth we’re seeing appears to be driven by volume as opposed to value, and we’ve seen a  corresponding increase in marketing spend to drive that volume.

“Encouragingly, the report found that the return of physical, real-life events hasn’t impacted on the success of virtual campaigns and suggests that there is room in the market for both physical and virtual fundraising events.”

Sally Falvey, head of retention marketing at JustGiving, said the platform expects to see a continued growth in charities blending their event portfolios, with a balance of virtual and physical experiences developed to suit the needs of their supporters.


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