Three reasons why it’ll be a tough winter for fundraising

A london street blanketed in snow

Three reasons why it’ll be a tough winter for fundraising

This week we're looking at trends we've found in our research showing how the public are looking to tighten their purse strings in the lead up to winter, and how fundraising might be hit hard by the cost-of-living crisis.

Tim Harrison-Byrne

We’ve spoken at length about how the cost-of-living crisis has been affecting the sector: from the rising use of food banks to the potential need for funders to provide emergency grants, and the desperate support that charities have been appealing for from the new PM. Today, we’re looking at one area that looks set to be badly impacted: fundraising. With so much of what charities do relying on appeals to the kindness and generosity of the public, can we still rely on this relationship to continue unaffected in the midst of an enormously costly winter?

Below are three observations from our research so you know what to expect from the public over the next several months.


  1. The public has reduced ALL spending

Concern about personal finances has hit a record high. As of July, 42% of the public said their savings have decreased in the last 12 months, a figure far higher than should be typical. It’s unsurprising then that, in the highest figure we’ve ever recorded, a third of the public now consider their own financial state to be a top concern.

And this is being reflected in spending habits. Our data suggests that the public are significantly cutting back across the board, with baby boomers and the silent generation reducing their spending significantly across all expenditure. With these demographics being core supporters to a huge number of charities, it’s likely that we’ll see a decline in fundraising figures over the next few months.


  1. Levels of giving at record lows

The impact of rising costs on donor habits can’t be understated, with a large section of the public shifting their spending priorities away from charitable giving. When we asked the public in July whether they had changed their donation habits in the past year, many said they had giving less. In fact, a member of the public is twice as likely to have decreased their donations in the past year than to have increased them (29% vs 14%).

In July, only 57% of the public said they had given to charity. This is worryingly close to the all time pandemic low of 54%. With the cost-of-living crisis set to become even harder as the weather gets colder, we look set to be on course for a new record low this winter.


  1. The public say they’ll give less, but they must be asked

With the news-cycle dominated by terrifying forecasts for enormous inflation rates and skyrocketing prices for all of life’s essentials, the public are primed to continue saving what they have rather than participating in fundraising efforts. We were told by respondents that they were planning to reduce their donations in the coming year almost three times more often than we were told they would be giving more (32% vs 11%). In all, this paints a grim picture for fundraising over the next 12 months, with our data suggesting a 21% net decrease in total giving over this period.


While these forecasts do depict some dire circumstances for the state of giving over the next few months, it’s worthwhile to remember that fundraisers have been surprised before at the support from the public in times of need. In the last recession the public continued to give generously, and during the pandemic many charities increased their voluntary income.

It's vital that charities don’t throw in the towel on fundraising. The coming winter will be challenging for all involved, but the public has proven before they will give, whether in terms of donations or other means of support. Crucially, fundraising efforts will have to continue if the sector is going to weather this downturn: there will always be donors out there.

If you're interested in seeing more of our sector data, follow the link below.

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