Charity giving being adversely affected by lockdowns
Fears over the Delta variant could have a detrimental effect on charity donations, a leading fundraising research agency has warned.
About Loyalty has spent the last 15 months surveying the public on a weekly basis to look at how the coronavirus pandemic has impacted on both the public mood and charitable giving.
Its data shows the more the UK government delays reopening after lockdown, the more likely charity donations are affected.
At the start of January 2021, when the current lockdown came into force, the public’s net optimism dropped to the pandemic’s lowest point of +4.4%.
As the country moved into lockdown-easing in Spring and the nation began to feel a return to normal was possible, net optimism lifted and by May reached +40%, its highest level since the pandemic began and only five percentage points below pre-pandemic levels.
However, since news of the Delta variant emerged, infection cases started rising again and the recovery roadmap fell into doubt, this has changed again.
Richard Spencer, director of About Loyalty, said: “There’s a strong correlation between public optimism and charitable giving. When net optimism goes up, it’s closely followed by claimed support for charities.
“We’ve seen this pattern consistently since we started tracking in March last year. Anything affecting optimism, such as delaying the recovery roadmap, could also impact giving.
“Over the past week alone, as fears emerged that Covid restrictions would be extended and cases of the new Delta variant rose, net optimism has fallen by 4.1 percentage points – a decline felt across all age groups. At the same time, the number of people donating to charities has fallen by 2%.”
This week Boris Johnson announced that some Covid restrictions would remain in place, with Monday 19th July now identified as the final date of the roadmap.
With net optimism among the public low and declining, Richard highlights the importance for charities of understanding the impact on supporters and how this might influence their giving.
He explained: “There appears to be a strong link with the way people are feeling and their propensity to give. While net optimism is down, the Tracker shows us that more than half of the public (54%) are yearning to reconnect with those they have lost touch with during the pandemic, to talk and socialise with those they care about.
“Our advice to charities is to create simple opportunities that enable people to reconnect with friends and family. So, for charities with retail outlets, visitor or community centres, this might mean creating events or activities that fit within the current restrictions, but can help fulfil some of that need to engage. What’s more, when staff and volunteers are friendly, sociable and helpful, this really can be a critical part of the supporter journey, building loyalty.”
Since retail shops reopened in April, About Loyalty has noticed a growing confidence among the public – across all ages – in donating and buying from charity shops.
Richard added: “Charity shops remain crucial as both a form of fundraising and awareness-raising for supporters and prospective supporters alike. There is a real opportunity for charities with retail outlets to make the most of direct conversations and engaging shoppers with other ways to support.”
Launched in March 2020, About Loyalty’s COVID-19 Sentiment Tracker has surveyed 2,000 people – including 1,150 charity donors – every week. Questions range from overall sentiment towards the coronavirus and its impact on their lives – finance, work, families – to the role of charities, attitudes to charity engagement and charitable support during the pandemic.
About Loyalty is now developing its Tracker to help charities with post-lockdown insight, advice and support.