More than 50% of nonprofits moved their fundraising events to a virtual format in 2020 — but there is significantly less consensus about event plans for 2021, according to a new report from QGiv.
Data from 182 responding nonprofits found that more than 40% of planned fundraising events in 2020 were either canceled (32.4%) or postponed (8.8%), while just 8.2% of events remained as scheduled.
As vaccine rollout continues gradually across the U.S., nonprofits expressed general uncertainty about how to proceed in 2021. While just 3.5% said they plan to shift back fully to in-person events, 28.3% said they intend to run hybrid events.
Virtual events will continue in 2021 as well — 23.7% of respondents said they plan to run virtual-only events. A combination of both virtual and in-person events is the plan for 17.9% of respondents — and 26.6% of respondents said they simply aren’t sure.
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“The findings discovered in ‘Expecting the Unexpected’ reveal an incredible need for nonprofits to further diversify their fundraising channels and build in contingency plans to redirect attention to certain channels should one of them fail or cease to exist,” said Todd Baylis, CEO and co-founder of Qgiv, Inc. “What we saw in the report was that nonprofits with diverse funding streams, frequent digital communication, and those with a crisis communication plan already in place were able to weather the events of 2020 and raise more than they had in 2019.”
The consistent stream of breaking news around the pandemic led to most nonprofits increasing the frequency of their communication — 39.6% said they communicated with their donors and supporters slightly more, with 22% indicating they communicated much more. Only 13.7% indicated they communicated less often in 2020.
The economic uncertainty correlated with a modest increase in nonprofits asking for support, too: 41% said they asked slightly more, with 14.5% indicating they asked much more. About 1 in 3 nonprofits (32.3%) said they kept their frequency of ask the same.
And while 23.6% of nonprofits said their overall donor base shrank due to the pandemic, 45.1% of nonprofits indicated that their overall donor base increased.
The average gift size through QGiv’s platform across all fundraising efforts increased from $127.86 in 2019 to $133.31 in 2020, but there was a more stark rise on the average peer-to-peer gift: from $87.46 in 2019 to $108.62 in 2020.
The 80-page report also included a section polling donors. Social media posts were the top driver of charitable giving (36.1%), with news stories coming in second at 25.4%. Donors indicated that email asks drove just 14.6% of their giving.
Donors also indicated, by a slim margin, that asks that focused on the nonprofit’s mission — and not the pandemic — were most effective, at 30%; asks that mentioned the mission and the pandemic were just behind at 29.6%. But emergency requests that only referenced pandemic response logged just 13.8%.
And despite the economic tumult, the report found that a larger percentage of donors gave on GivingTuesday 2020 (30.3%) than on GivingTuesday 2019 (28.3%). The largest cohort of respondents — 48.2% — gave to 2 or 3 nonprofits on GivingTuesday.