News & Insight

8th February 2022

UK giving trends- fundraising post-pandemic


By Poppy Purvis, Client Support Executive

Charities Aid Foundation UK Giving Report 2021

The Charities Aid Foundation’s UK Giving Report 2021 looks at UK giving behaviour and the impact of the pandemic. We summarise some of the key trends in the report and our team of associates share their thoughts on the fundraising landscape post-pandemic.


Charity Engagement

Engagement with charitable and civic activities decreased in 2020, and continued to be low in 2021. Adults aged 65+ were more likely than younger people to engage. However, participation amongst this group in 2021 was lower than pre-pandemic, likely due to the high risks associated with Covid. 

Charities Aid Foundation UK Giving Report 2021

How people engage

Overall, 35% of people indicated making at least one change in how they donate, as a result of the pandemic. Of those interviewed, 13% reported donating to charities supporting the NHS, whilst 4% redirecting their donations towards charities responding to the pandemic. Older people reacted to the pandemic with bigger donations, meanwhile younger adults reduced their giving.

Below average number of donors

Despite initial above average donation levels in the spring lockdown 2020, there was a significant decline in the second half of 2020 with this trend continuing into 2021. 

Significantly fewer people donated in the festive period 2020 than normal, with 2021 showing little hope of recovery. This decline is attributed to reduced spending power in the economy, decreased fundraising activity, fewer in-person opportunities to donate, and cut backs of big UK fundraising events. 

Fewer people making larger donations

CAF’s report highlights that the pandemic appears to have progressed the trend towards fewer people making larger donations. The average monthly donation has remained moderately higher for most of 2021 compared to pre-pandemic levels.

The growth of digital giving has likely led to this increase given that donors are not limited by the amount of cash they have on them, and the fact that it’s easier for charities to recommend specific donation amounts on their websites. 

More people are using Gift Aid than ever before 

The number of donors using Gift Aid has slowly risen, from 51% in 2018 to 61% in January 2021. 

Charities Aid Foundation UK Giving Report 2021

Cash giving and digital fundraising

With Covid restrictions in place, cash giving nearly disappeared during 2020. In 2021 it remained below historic levels. Only 7% of donors used cash in January 2021, compared to 30-40% in an average January, with more donors opting for contact-free, digital methods instead. 

Approximately 49% of online donors gave through charities’ websites and 17% gave on social media. The increase in donations through websites and apps did not remain at such a high level, whereas debit cards donations did remain high for much of 2021.

Philanthropy company associates share their thoughts

Changes in giving 

As a result of the pandemic we have seen a big shift towards giving locally.

In the arts, we saw patrons continue to give to the sector despite the implications of the pandemic, reinforcing the importance of donor stewardship. Some arts organisations received major donations in the second half of 2021, meaning the sector could potentially come back stronger this year.

In-person versus digital giving

The move towards online events has presented a positive change in engagement, in that charities have been able to reach new global audiences. However, the personal atmosphere of in-person events often prompts larger donations. They’ll have their place again.

We’re seeing in-person events start to pick up. However, it’s likely that we can expect a slow build due to the persisting uncertainty of Covid-related restrictions, the challenges presented for vulnerable people to participate, as well as staffing issues. Yet the increasing willingness to participate is promising.

We hope to see… 

This year we expect more work on diversity and inclusion across the sector.

Looking ahead

Despite the immense challenges the sector faced as a result of the pandemic, the public’s trust in charities dramatically improved in 2021 compared to 2018. The incredible efforts of charities in response to the crisis likely had a key role in rebuilding the public’s trust in the sector. We are, therefore, optimistic that 2022 will be a positive year for the fundraising sector.

Back to the newsletter

Got questions or doubts about fundraising post-pandemic? We’re offering a FREE 30-min fundraising consultation to all organisations who sign up to our newsletter.

“From submission of the tender, formal interview and delivery of the brief the Philanthropy Company were outstanding throughout – a pleasure to work with.” Sport England

© 2024 Philanthropy Company