The COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally altered many aspects of day-to-day life and the philanthropic sector in the United Kingdom (UK). Pandemic restrictions limited in-person interactions and accelerated an already growing digitalization of the UK philanthropic sector. However, past research found no conclusive evidence of the degree to which digital interactions will replace in-person fundraising. While 2020 witnessed a growth in online donations alongside a drop in cash donations, only a little more than a quarter of charities said digital fundraising was as effective as in-person fundraising.
Key findings do affirm some pre-pandemic trends in giving methods in the UK. There was a marked increase in the proportion of people giving via website or app, which occurred at the same time as a decrease in donors giving via cash. Younger people donate online more than older adults, yet older age groups have also engaged more with online giving. On average, 60 percent of donors’ gifts were made online in the 12 months prior to this study.
Nevertheless, the findings also suggest that philanthropy will retain a human element. Most who used social media to request donations from family and friends also tended to make those requests in-person. And most British people expect that in the future we will give digitally rather than in cash, but almost half expected this to occur via in-person contactless donations tins.
Overall, this report concludes that the post-pandemic fundraising landscape seems more likely to develop as a hybrid one, where online interactions complement—rather than substitute—offline interactions.