Fundraising during the Pandemic – Looking at 6+ Recent Reports

Fundraising During the Pandemic Image

Recently, I have seen an uptick in studies and data about fundraising during the pandemic. In general, there is consistency to the data. But the details tell the real story.

Nonprofits that were strong fundraisers continued to do well when fundraising during the pandemic. Nonprofits who were afraid of fundraising before the pandemic, often opted not to ask donors and funders during the the first part of the year. And what were tiny cracks in their development program and fundraising processes opened in to huge gaps.

These public studies about fundraising during the pandemic (all written within the past few months) highlight the highs and lows of events, arts organizations, hybrid fundraising, higher education, individual giving, and religious organizations. And while this is much longer than our usual blog post, I hope you will settle in and take a look at where we stand, a year into the pandemic.

If you know of others, please pass them along. I will add them to the list.

Pivot to Virtual Events Helps Nonprofits Sustain 2020 Fundraising Goals  (The Giving Institute)


  • Overall, 56% of nonprofits report that they raised less than budgeted, one-third are raised what they had projected, and 11% raised more than their original goal.
  • This year 48% of nonprofits had to cancel and 40% postponed at least one event.
  • Those that converted to a virtual or hybrid event were 10% more likely to raise more than those that cancelled events.

The Future Is Hybrid: Preparing for the Next Evolution of Fundraising (NonProfit Pro)


  • As the importance of online fundraising has grown particularly during the past year, many organizations struggled to optimize the digital giving experience when fundraising during the pandemic. Half of those organizations surveyed felt they could be doing better with online giving.  Only 16% said they were very successful in 2020.
  • The giving experience should connect donors to your mission and build affinity through a frictionless process — much in the same way that online consumer experiences enhance our connection to brands.
  • Overall, the pivot to peer-to-peer endurance events was successful for many nonprofits. 64% reported their virtual run/walk/ride in 2020 as either very or somewhat successful.
  • Challenge your organization to reexamine donor experiences, identifying opportunities to simplify and infuse new engagement touchpoints. Pandemic fundraising is not the same.

Pandemic deals a blow to college fundraising: report (Higher Ed Dive)


  • Fundraising revenue at one in four colleges fell by more than 30% during the first half of fiscal 2021 from the same period the year before.
  • Just over half of the 104 advancement teams surveyed said the value of new gifts and pledges at their institution fell, a trend largely driven by a decrease in the number of major gifts.
  • Smaller gifts and fewer donors during the first half of fiscal 2021 underscored concerns about the pandemic’s long-term impact on colleges’ financials.
  • In a completely separate but related article there was record fundraising and more individual donors to two-year Community Colleges which many attribute to the drive to support less-expensive and more accessible education options.

A Year Into the Pandemic, Long-Term Financial Impact Weighs Heavily on Many Americans (Pew Research Center)

While this is not directly related to fundraising during the pandemic, there is no doubt that decreases in income and fear of financial security will impact fundraising. We can also hope that those that have fared better will increase giving.


  • Roughly half of non-retired adults say the economic consequences of the coronavirus outbreak will make it harder for them to achieve their financial goals.
  • Lower-income adults, as well as Hispanic and Asian-Americans and adults younger than 30, are among the most likely to say they or someone in their household has lost a job or taken a pay cut since the outbreak began in February 2020.1
  • Adults with upper incomes have fared better. About four-in-ten (39%) say their family’s financial situation has improved compared with a year ago.

Philanthropy and COVID-19 – Measuring one year of giving (Jewish Funders Network*)

*In addition this report there is an incredibly deep “Reports from the Field” section about fundraising during the pandemic that relates to many sectors.


  • There has been more than $20 billion awarded for COVID-19 globally in 2020.
  • Corporations accounted for 44 percent of the funding during the pandemic.
  • Community foundations awarded more grants—mostly from Donor-Advised Funds—towards pandemic fundraising than any other type (54 percent of total awards).
  • Of U.S. COVID-19 philanthropy to specified recipients, 35 percent of dollars was explicitly designated for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, (and) People of Color)
  • communities.

What Keeps U.S. Art Museums Running—and How Might the Pandemic Change That? (ArtNews)


  • Those museums that had free admission may be faring better than other models. In a recent report by the American Alliance of Museums, it was suggested that as many as one-third of the country’s museums could close permanently because of the pandemic.
  • This is a time of self-reflection for museums. Institutions are struggling with the loss of revenue from having to close, the canceling of memberships, the losses from canceled fundraising galas, and fewer donor gifts overall…. Add to that a cultural reckoning over long-standing systemic racism and inequity, and museum leaders are caught in a perfect storm of cultural and financial crisis.
  • For most museums, one legacy of the pandemic will be a growing focus on digital experiences.

As with much of the pandemic, the flood of information is overwhelming. In future weeks, we use this blog to help consider next steps for your nonprofit. No matter what nonprofit sector you are in.

And, if you know of additional resources, or want specific questions answered, email me.