The Status of UK Fundraising 2020:

Looking Ahead to What Happens Next

Last year, when we published the 2019 edition of The Status UK Fundraising report, we urged non-profit organisations to take the time to read and utilise the findings, citing that ‘in uncertain times, the building blocks of success in fundraising are more important than ever’.

Little did we know how pertinent that statement was to be as we headed into 2020. COVID-19, pandemic, lockdown are now all common words in our vocabulary, and just like most other organisations we’ve had to quickly adapt. However, as we hit the six-month mark since UK lockdown was first announced, and with end-of-year campaigns around the corner, now is a good time to briefly pause and think about the building blocks needed to make the year ahead a successful one.

How can The Status of UK Fundraising 2020 help you to prepare for 2021?

Whilst the report doesn’t hand you quick fixes or one-size fits all solutions; it does bring key topics and potential issues that your organisation may need to address to the surface.

If we look back at the 2019 findings, we can see that a third of charities were concerned that having the right tools and systems for fundraising in place would be a main challenge for the sector in the next three years. Fast forward to the current day: there’s been a significant shift to remote working and as a result 15% of this year’s survey respondents said that they don’t have good access to digital tools which will enable them to do their job. A further 12% said that they’ve been unable to access systems from home due to their organisation not having invested in cloud-based technology.

Looking further at digital, in 2019 one in five organisations revealed that they didn’t have any digital strategy in place. Now, at a time when typical offline fundraising activities have been disrupted, those coping best are well-supported digital fundraisers.

What does this have to do with your 2021 strategy? Whilst the pandemic has presented exceptional circumstances, last year’s report shows that in times of crisis any existing, unsolved weaknesses will be exacerbated, and outdated processes will impact your ability to adapt efficiently. This isn’t meant to be a downcast warning or a wagging finger, but a call to embrace and utilise the insights that are being handed to you whilst you have the chance. Have you used the report to check how your organisation’s performance compares to that of others across the sector? Have you identified any common behaviours of organisations who are able to not just maintain their income, but grow it? The report found that the organisations who were able to successfully continue raising money had a shared mindset and culture of:

  • More likely to say their organisation is willing (very) to try new things
  • Are familiar with VF methods
  • Strongly agree: we have the skills/ tools in place to run a VF campaign & VF is the future of fundraising

Do you recognise any of these traits within your own organisation? If not, consider why and talk to some colleagues to see what they think. Even the best organisations can streamline or improve their processes, so don’t be afraid to use the report findings to ask yourself some honest questions in order to identify what small (or big) processes could need some TLC.

Creating a 2021 Action Plan

Here are some simple next steps that you can take in order to strengthen your organisation’s strategy and positioning for the year ahead.

1. Download a copy of The Status of UK Fundraising 2020

2. There are four key sections in the report

  • Income
  • COVID-19 impact
  • Virtual Fundraising
  • Homeworking

Make a list of your weaknesses or where you feel you’re lacking in each area

3. Go through each section and highlight the findings which relate to your list. Focus on the commonalities of organisations that are thriving in the areas in which you’re struggling

4. Now, looking at the behaviours and statistics that you’ve compiled, write down at least one practical action that you would be able to take to improve each of the weaknesses on your list. Go at your own pace and be realistic about the actions you're setting

5. Look at the list of resources and groups listed at the back of the report that can help you work through the challenges

Finally, be patient. Change can take time, but by using the insights provided to identify possible actions that could improve your processes, you’re already on the right path to be ready for whatever 2021 throws your way.