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- TIPS FOR 2022

February 2022


Throughout the pandemic, British people united to support one another, charities and protect the NHS. Veteran fundraiser, Giles Pegram, observed that “compassion spread faster than the virus”.  At that time, exercising our emotional and philanthropic muscle by supporting charities that are meaningful to us was something which made us feel better. 

In this short article I will look at the legacy of the pandemic, the likely impact of economic uncertainty and offer suggestions for how charities can adapt and thrive in 2022.

As a fundraiser of 30 years I have experienced recessions and boom times. Fundraising continues in all economic circumstances and indeed, becomes more vital as the needs of the most vulnerable increase.

Now is your time to play you best game. Below are a few observations and tips. I'd love to hear your tips - you can email me here!

How will giving change as we emerge from the pandemic?

During the pandemic we saw unprecedented levels of gifts and grant-making by major donors, charitable trusts and National Lottery boards. We saw previous criteria relaxed so that funds could be dispersed quickly. As we edge closer to business as usual, many trusts and lottery boards have recognised that some of the learning from the pandemic should be retained. Less onerous applications criteria, more emphasis on listening to what would help most and a recognition that great strides forward come from innovation. 

Greater investment in technological solutions will continue. However, the value of face-to-face client work, particularly for the most isolated members of society has become clear and many funders are investing more in mental health and wellbeing.

Climate change and environmental initiatives which lost funding during the crisis will come back into focus for many major grant-makers.

The digital switch

Use of social media, particularly short-form films is the most rapidly developing means by which donors find out about charities and 'movements'.  Embedding short clips on within your website, your email newsletters as well as sharing regularly via Meta (Facebook and Instagram), Snapchat, TikTok and other platforms, has the power to transform your charity's reach and income. 

Gone are face-to-face street 'chuggers', replaced by fun online challenges and dance routines which can be shared in an instant.  The 'donor journey' has switched from personal to digital and this trend will continue. The trick is to convert attention grabbing stories and posts, into donations through integration with online giving platforms, virtual events, Facebook Fundraisers, Instagram stickers etc which allow smaller gifts to quickly add up while expanding your donor base.

Bottom line - if you're not already investing in digital, start in 2022.

Recognise the financial impact and stay positive. 

With charities, your staff and your supporters managing the rising cost of living, we must look to reduce costs to balance the books. However, try to avoid the trap of making a drop in fundraising income a self-fulfilling prophecy by scaling back investment in fundraising and in the recruitment and cultivation of donors.  Supporters and particularly major donors often apply a similar rationale to donations as they do to investments and will pull back if they doubt your conviction.

Acknowledge the economic legacy of the pandemic by emphasizing how the needs of your beneficiaries continue and have increased. Avoid what may be considered unrealistic grand plans and concentrate on solid plans for the immediate future.  Maintain your enthusiasm, optimism and passion about your cause. Be authentic and present the reality for your charity right now.  Show what measures you have taken to respond to today’s needs and how these will change in coming months. Above all, maintain contact with donors throughout.

Show that you are financially responsible.

Let donors know that you are doing your part by being financially responsible. Make sure your charity has good financial controls in place and that you are examining marginal programmes for possible deletion or postponement. Keep your (their!) money safe by making sure the charity’s investments are in funds guaranteed by the Government and avoid high risk investments. Communicate with donors how you are looking after donations for maximum benefit.

Invest time in a major donor programme

Keeping your warm supporters informed and inspired is more vital now than ever. After asking after their health and wellbeing, your next step is to reflect back to them how important they are to your charity.  

Major donor giving, like trust fundraising, tends to weather economic storms better than other sources of income. 

It has been shown time and again how people give to people. While your cause and how you present it through stories is important, how and who maintains the personal relationship with your donors can never be under-estimated.

Through my career running dozens of successful multi-million pound fundraising campaigns, I know that making use of networks and connections makes all the difference.

If you think that your charity doesn't have any well-connected people, think again! Involve your CEO and Trustees in engaging new charity 'friends', some of whom may come on board as supporters. Enlist local MPs, councillors, clergy, community leaders, directors of some of your suppliers, meet with your local community foundation etc. Take a look at your warmest supporters and ask whether they can help by making 2 or 3 introductions. By starting to put out feelers you can begin the process of developing a warm pool of people who could be encouraged through events and other engagement activities to support for the first time or elevate their levels of giving. I am convinced that every charity has the potential to develop successful major donor programmes and it starts by making a commitment to doing so.

Re-ignite your corporate supporters

There is evidence that corporate donations fell significantly during the first year of the pandemic but those numbers are picking up. Some companies have experienced a boom time - not just Amazon and Zoom! Try an internet search of companies which have thrived during the pandemic and you will find dating sites and wine delivery firms as well as screen manufacturers and distribution companies.

If your corporate supporters have suffered financially they may recognise the need to top-up a falling cash contribution by volunteering time or giving pro bono work.  This could help your charity raise more funds e.g. through virtual events, will writing services or by curbing costs such as HR and legal support.

Maintain the relationship even if they are unable to help financially this year. With more companies welcoming staff back to the office, opportunities exist to encourage team building through volunteer action. As well as the practical benefits this offers, your charity can help by providing positive social media content they can share for mutual benefit.

Some companies which have continued to thrive will offer financial help but for various reasons, may not want their name slapped across as ‘sponsor’ so be sensitive and creative in the recognition you offer.

Don't pull the plug on major campaigns - we all need positive stories right now

If you are starting, are mid-way through or planning a major capital or revenue campaign do not stop, but consider tweaking the message to show why it is vital that you continue. Recognise that getting those lead gifts in the size you want may take longer and be dependent on how the economy recovers.  If you ask for a multi-year gift, and a donor resists, seek part of that gift now and go back later for a top-up. Donors may not wish to make long-term commitments in uncertain economic times and flexibility is the key.

Sensitive, timely communication with donors

Building a buzz about your work will help build your donor relationships. The more they know and see your name about, the more likely they are to contribute to your cause.  Consumer confidence affects us all. Getting stories in the press is great, but fundraisers who place greater emphasis on one-to-one communication that is personal and sensitive to individual circumstances will maintain profile and ensure donors feel recognised and appreciated.  Concentrate on your top donors and prospects and pick up the phone to ask how they are. I find that many fundraisers hide behind emails. Next time you start to write an email, pause and ask yourself, could I do this with a call instead? It is a fast-track to building a closer understanding and personal relationship.


Many people have taken time during the pandemic to update their Wills and many more will be thinking about doing so. With charities offering free Will Writing services in October, now is the time to partner with local law firms and get your legacy case studies and communication strategy prepared. Legacies account for around 15% of UK charitable giving and with legacies set to double in the next 25 years, now is the time to act.

Offer something of value

It has been said before but it is worth repeating that uncertainty breeds anxiety. We all seek ways to exert some control when we have been disempowered and doing a good deed can be one way to make ourselves feel better. Think about what good deed you can offer your supporters – it could be tips for maintaining mental wellbeing, a virtual exhibition or museum tour, beautiful photos from nature, or health advice for people in vulnerable groups. Use your expertise as a trusted and valued source to help those who help you.  

Remember, despite challenging economic times ahead, those who have the ability to help, want to help. And some of those you help might choose to help you back.

This is by no means a comprehensive list - I haven't touched on events, retail or regular giving for instance. I hope that my thoughts have prompted a few of your own. 

If you would like a conversation about ways your charity can build back towards a post-pandemic era for fundraising, get in touch. I specialise is major appeals and big gift fundraising from lottery, trusts and major donors. You can reach me by email here or call 0779 375 3331.

Nancy Chambers

February 2022

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