Fundraising income 'very volatile' among more than one in five small charities

More than one in five leaders of small charities say their organisation’s fundraising income is “very volatile” due to the Covid pandemic.

A survey of charity leaders found that small charities fundraising has been particularly badly impacted by the health crisis.

This found that 22% of leaders of small charities say their organisation’s fundraising income is “very volatile” and the same proportion say their income has fallen amid the pandemic.

Meanwhile, 10% of leaders of large charities are facing a volatile fundraising situation and 21% have seen a dip in income.

The fall in income is more pronounced among medium sized charities. Among leaders of these charities 34% said their income had been dented, while 11% say it is “very volatile”.

The findings have emerged in a report by digital fundraising firm Enthuse, based on its survey of more than 200 charity leaders, which was carried out in the last two months of 2021.

“The pandemic has been a deeply challenging period for the third sector in general and specifically fundraising,” says Enthuse’s report.

“In particular the limitations on in-person events provided a significant challenge to the income levels of charities at the same time as having more demand for their services.”

Digital fundraising

Small charities are significantly behind their larger counterparts in adopting digital fundraising techniques, the survey found. Such techniques such as staging virtual sporting challenges, have been used by many charities to replace or run alongside face-to-face events amid the pandemic.

Among leaders of small charities none described their approach to digital fundraising was advanced with three quarters saying their take up of fundraising technology was either ad hoc or they were just starting out.

In comparison, one in five (19%) leaders of large charities say their organisation’s digital fundraising is at an advanced stage and a far smaller proportion (28%) say it is either ad hoc or just getting underway.


But despite concerns around income and digital take up, small charities are optimistic about their fundraising potential in 2022.

Among those surveyed 86% of leaders of small charities say they are optimistic about their fundraising for the year ahead. There is similar optimism among leaders of large charities, with 83% saying they are optimistic.

Increasing public interest with in-person events post-pandemic as well as adoption of hybrid events, which combine digital with face-to-face fundraising, are key factors in this optimism, says Enthuse.

“Charities are starting to see supporters re-engage with fundraising events, with 60% stating this as an importance reason to be looking forward to 2022, according to its report.

“Linked to this is the fact that half of charities see supporters as more willing to get involved in hybrid and virtual fundraising events as physical ones.

“So even with the likelihood of some restrictions potentially being in place at times during 2022, events are seen as a critical part of success.”

Home working

Another challenge amid the pandemic faced by charities has been fundraising staff working from home, with half of charity leaders saying this has been disruptive to running activities.

But the survey indicates charities are adapting to remote working with hybrid arrangements, which combine the office with home working, being increasingly adopted.

The average split for staff over the next six months is expected to be 67% office based and 33% at home, according to the survey.

“One of the benefits from the pandemic seems to be a long-term adoption of a more flexible approach to working for all,” adds Enthuse.

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