Welcome to December 2020

This month:

  • Regular giving in times of crisis
  • Pandemic is transforming nonprofits’ approach to digital, new report finds
  • New charity governance code released

Current funding opportunities:

  • Local Connections Fund
  • Amazon Literary Partnership
  • Support Adoption for Pets

Regular giving in times of crisis

The first wave of Covid-19 undoubtedly posed huge challenges to fundraising, but it also inspired incredible levels of community action and giving of all kinds.

As we head towards the year’s end, we know that we still need to work harder and smarter to keep supporters engaged and donations coming in.

The CAF UK Giving 2019 Report showed that people donated £10.1 billion in 2018, 33% of whom gave via Direct Debit or Standing Order. This demonstrates what a crucial source of income regular giving is for the sector. So, what can charities do to protect it as we head through the next few months?

Regular giving and cancellations

Research by specialist Direct Debit payment service processor Rapidata, revealed in May 202 that regular giving Direct Debit cancellations (which had seen a high jump during the first month of lockdown) quickly dropped back to their usual level in April. Since then the cancellations rate has dropped to the lowest levels ever seen since reporting began in 2003. Between May and September, it has been consistently below 2%, with July dropping to a record low of 1.32%. Rapidata believes that such a significant reduction in Direct Debit cancellations suggests that there seems to be more revenue being retained via committed supporters and going to causes that really need it.

Online success

The last quarter of the year typically sees the biggest increase in new sign-ups with the traditional fundraising build-up to Christmas. Rapidata’s analysis of 350 charity giving pages shows that the first nine months of 2020 saw a 37% increase in the number of new online Direct Debit sign-ups compared with the same period in 2019.

Unsurprisingly, online one-off giving has experienced major highs as the nation has been motivated to give in a time of crisis. Analysis of online giving data from The Access Group for the last six months, shows an 85% cumulative growth in donation value of one-off donations compared with the same period in 2019.

Where now for regular giving?

Overall, Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) figures show that the total value of donations in the UK fell by 11%2 between 2007/08 and 2008/09 (during the last recession), with fewer people giving and average donation amounts decreasing. This is supported by Charity Commission data, which shows that 62% of charities saw a reduction in income during that period.

This time around, CAF’s Charity Coronavirus Briefing showed that 53% of charities had seen donations decline by the end of April. Rapidata’s figures show that giving did bounce back after the last recession, but it did take time.

The good news is that donors want to continue their charity support if they possibly can. According to the nfp Synergy August 2020 Charity Awareness research, 17% expect to give more in the next 12 months, while the majority (63%) believe charities should continue to fundraise in these difficult times. Roger Lawson, founder and director of About Loyalty said:

“Our job hasn’t changed. Our role is to build our donors’ loyalty, to grow their levels of commitment, satisfaction and trust. It always has been, it’s just become even more important.”

Pandemic is transforming nonprofits’ approach to digital, report finds

The current pandemic is transforming European non-profits’ approach to service delivery and fundraising, according to a new report released by the European Fundraising Association and Salesforce.org.

The report includes survey results from almost 800 non-profit representatives across Europe and looks at the impact of the pandemic on income, fundraising and service delivery. While many had to cancel events and downscale their income projections, over half of them increased their use of digital.

The report found that 65% of respondents ramped up their use of digital for service delivery, 62% for fundraising and 54% to diversify their future fundraising strategy. This included launching emergency appeals and starting new fundraising channels. The EFA found evidence that non-profits are “innovating and embracing digital to re-shape their future.” The impact is expected to be long-term with only 11% of participants stating that their future fundraising strategy will not change.

Most respondents predicted that their organisations’ total revenue during 2020 will be lower than they expected at the start of the year, but there are regional variations. Of the six national markets with the largest number of responses, respondents in Italy (53%), Spain (38%) and the UK (37%) were most likely to have seen a decrease in the amount donated. Respondents in Germany (45%) and France (37%) were more likely to have seen an increase, while donations were stable for 40% of respondents in the Netherlands.

The new governance code for charities aims to be clearer on equality and diversity

The Charity Governance Code sets out seven principles of good governance practice for charity trustees. It was first published in 2017 and replaced the Code of Good Governance. The latest version was published on the 8th December and contains updated guidance on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

The code is overseen by a steering group made up of the Association of Chairs, the charity leaders’ body Acevo, the governance institute ICSA, the National Council for Voluntary Organisations, the Small Charities Coalition and the Wales Council for Voluntary Action. The updated 2020 Code follows a rigorous consultation with the charity sector that received over 800 responses.

It says boards should focus on achieving equality of outcomes through their charity purpose and must be diverse themselves. The chair of the Charity Governance Code, Rosie Chapman, said: “We know that charities are at varying stages in their efforts to fully adopt the code, including in achieving equality of opportunity, diversity and inclusion, and the updated code is designed to help charities on this journey”.

“We’ve also heard that charities and boards would like more guidance on how to improve their approach to EDI. In response, we are asking charity umbrella and infrastructure bodies to provide more guidance and support to charities, to help them meet the recommended practice in the code.”

Hundreds of small grants available through £4m loneliness fund

Small charities and community groups are being invited to apply for grants from a £4m fund intended to help tackle loneliness.

The Local Connections Fund is a new £4 million fund to help charities and community groups in England that are working to reduce loneliness by helping them build connections across their communities. It is being funded jointly by the government and the National Lottery Community Fund.

This will be used to fund hundreds of grants between £300 and £2,500, to enable small, local organisations (with an annual income of £50,000 or less) to bring people and communities together in safe and secure ways.

The fund will be split into two equal rounds. The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) will provide the first £2 million round of funding. This first round will be open for applications on 5 January 2021 and close on 26 January 2021.

Baroness Barran, the minister for civil society, said: “By investing directly in local charities and organisations, the £4m Local Connections Fund will get support to where it’s needed quickly and help bring people together through shared interests, so that no one needs to feel isolated in the months ahead.”

Amazon Literary Partnership offers grants to literary charities

Applications are now open for grants from Amazon Literary Partnership. The Partnership has been operating in the USA for more than 10 years, providing funding to hundreds of organisations.

It expanded to the UK earlier this year. This new round of funding is for activities in 2021, with grant recipients being notified by 14 May 2021.

It’s goal is “to help those from all communities in the UK tell their stories through writing and find an audience” and to support “innovative groups that amplify diverse voices and strive not only for a lasting impact on writers’ lives, the literary and publishing communities but also our broader community.”

Applicants must be a registered non-profit organisation in the UK, whose core mission is to develop emerging writers, support diversity, celebrate storytelling, and/or build authors’ careers.

Applications from charities for 2021 grants from the ALP are open until 29th January 2021.

Support Adoption for Pets

Support Adoption for Pets awards grants of up to £10,000 (or up to 30% of total annual expenditure, whichever is the lower amount) to charities and not-for-profit organisations whose main activity is either:

  • the rescue and rehoming of UK domestic pets. These are cats, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, degus, mice, chinchillas, rats, parrots and pet birds, commonly kept reptiles, ferrets, chickens and equines; or
  • the provision of temporary support to ensure pets can remain with their owners.

Projects which have a direct impact on animal welfare are eligible to apply. In light of the current coronavirus situation, the funder will currently only fund:

  • Vet bills
  • Boarding costs
  • Food
  • Salaries of (non-furloughed) animal care staff
  • Utilities and consumables


It's packed with fundraising news, ideas, techniques and inspiration to help you raise more money.

Monthly BriefingDecember 2020 – Monthly Briefing