Methods of giving are a regular topic for discussion, the more so as we enter the post-coronavirus era.
So what’s best for charities? Perhaps more to the point, what’s best for our donors?
The coronavirus crisis has shifted fundraising towards digital technologies. Lockdown and the general feeling we should not be attending large – or even small – gatherings even when permitted by law have led to an explosion of ZOOM meetings and on-line events. But should we not reassess whether the systems forced on us by coronavirus are really what our donors like – or simply what they are prepared to put up with in a limited timeframe for the public good ? And how can we best match changes in attitude with the traditional preference for face-to-face fundraising?
The changes brought about by coronavirus tend to favour younger donors, who on the whole prefer to give through digital channels. But we need to remember that some of our older donors – who are likely to have greater disposable wealth than those in their 20s – do not even have e-mail, let alone access to the world-wide web; and certainly don’t have social media accounts. Many of that generation have complained about the move away from cash transactions in shops to the use of credit and debit cards. So moving our giving systems to exclusively digital platforms is likely to upset a major segment of our donor market.
This is a particularly challenging area for small charities which cannot afford to invest too heavily in new systems, particularly if they find that these new systems do not work as they should or, worse, alienate actual and potential donors.
There is no doubt that fundraising will become more digitalised in the years ahead. But in considering how to invest in technologies, small charities need to consider the views of those who will fund those technologies – many of whom will be older donors with a preference for existing systems.
The message must be that while small charities must modernise, their plans should go hand-in-glove with the needs of their donors, present and future.