Charity marketing trends in 2020

As the UK continues to emerge from lockdown, this article explores the state of charity marketing as we know it, and key trends to influence your digital marketing strategies.

Charitable engagement has fallen in recent years

Data from the UK’s Charity Aid Foundation report suggests there is a downward trend in charitable engagement since 2016. With donations and (to a lesser degree) volunteering seeing a decline over the last three years, it may be harder, and more expensive, for charities to acquire new donors – highlighting the importance of re-engaging with your existing members.

Coronavirus has added specific challenges

The global pandemic has caused crucial challenges, specifically with regards to funding channels. For example, with traditional face-to-face communication and events becoming impossible, the charity sector is having to look at alternative methods to engage with their target audiences. 

Not to mention, there is a strong likelihood that social distancing restrictions across the globe may be a deterrent for volunteering efforts. And with the current uncertainty over when the pandemic will end, we can expect to see this extending into 2021 and impacting key donation periods.

To that end, in a time where in-person communications is near impossible, making the best use of digital communications with stakeholders, donors, supporters and the wider public has become especially vital. 

Charity donation demographics are shifting

In 2020 we are seeing a decline in both ‘semi-regular’ and ‘regular’ donors across the UK population – this is likely a result of the financial strain caused by the pandemic. However, it is worth noting that ‘occasional’ donors have been increasing over time, and as of Q2 this year was the most chosen option. This could suggest that, whilst there is a lack of regular donors, there is still a growing interest in donating.

“On average, how often would you say you donate to charity?”


Fundraising methods at risk

Whilst one-off digital donations grew in volume by 26% YoY in 2019, cash still remains the most popular form of donation, with 53% of donations being made using this method. Additionally, in the last 12 months, 22% of fundraising has come from events, which will need to be reimagined for the digital space, given the ongoing restrictions stemming from coronavirus.

In addition, some of the most popular collection methods over the last 12 months include street collections, door-to-door, charity events and at work. These are all examples of fundraising avenues that will become difficult whilst the pandemic continues. And with over 30% of donations over the last year a result of these methods, losing this could be critical for charities. 

So, it’s important to acknowledge that some of the key methods of fundraising such as in-person events, raffle and/or lottery tickets and even cash (to an extent) are at risk of seeing a stark decline. For this reason, charities will need to look to leverage their digital fundraising capabilities, such as virtual events, to help boost income that may be lost otherwise. 

Virtual methods have seen success

With 75% of consumers using less cash since the pandemic started, this will inevitably affect the number of cash donations made. In this instance, online and digital are understandably gaining a lot of focus, particularly as charities look to make up the shortfall. And we are able to see a shift in donor behaviours as online donations increase by 44% during this period.

At the same time, we are seeing online events increase particularly as social distancing causes traditional methods to shrink. Since the beginning of lockdown around 60% of charities have tested some form of virtual fundraising. 

To that end, charities who have tested virtual fundraising methods have also seen some success. For example, Against Breast Cancer (ABC) was among the first charities to launch an extensive list of stay-at-home fundraising activities during lockdown. This included a movie club, a sports hub to share your training tops and a ‘Get Your Pinks On’ campaign which encouraged people to do a clean out, fundraise and donate items once it is safe for the charity to collect them. This fundraising initiative raised over £8,000 for the charity in its first month.

Charities can also leverage online to replace in-person events that may have been crucial for their fundraising calendar. For example, Guide Dogs, had to re-think their annual tea party fundraiser, which takes place on National Tea Day 21st of April – and raised £60k in 2019. This year, it went virtual and as a way of engaging more supporters turned the event into an attempt to establish a Guinness World Record – for the world’s biggest virtual tea party. The charity raised over £16,000 and they set the world record with over 5,000 people taking part. 

Staying connected is key

Despite the coronavirus pandemic making it difficult for people to be together, consumers are looking to connect with those who hold the same charitable beliefs as them. 

53% of those surveyed in the CAF UK report agreed or strongly agreed with the statement ‘I want to feel connected with people who support the same charities as I do.’ In a time of isolation, social connection will be all the more important. 


Whilst declines in charitable engagement might be accelerated by the pandemic and reduced social contact is likely to extend into 2021, digital communication is more important than ever. Charities should look to leverage the growing popularity of virtual communities to increase their engagement, leveraging digital tools and virtual events to keep in touch with their supporters and prospective donors.

To find out more about Croud and how we can help, get in touch

by Sam Breddy
28 August 2020



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