State of Charitable Giving and Donor Engagement in 2021 and Beyond

FrontStream survey reveals new insight on charitable giving, empowering nonprofits of all sizes to maximize fundraising efforts in 2021

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Despite the turmoil, despite the pandemic, despite it all, 2020 was a reminder that when the world appears at its darkest, our compassion shines the brightest. 

According to a survey we recently commissioned from OnePoll: 87% of respondents plan to donate to charitable organizations in 2021.

Now, while this sounds astonishing at first, when you start to really look at the data--which we’re proud to share with you down below--it’s not much of a surprise at all. 

The first thing your nonprofit needs to know is that the online march is already very much in progress. Right now, we’re living through a ‘new normal’ in donor outreach. 

For the nonprofits willing to shift their fundraising efforts online, and utilizing the emerging trends, you can enhance member motivation and surpass previous donation records. 

To help continue spreading your mission, let’s go over how these new poll results can directly impact the future stability of your nonprofit this year, and for years to come.

Your donors want to give more.

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Nowhere was that more evident than in charitable giving in 2020. 

Forget what you might have heard about stagnant wages and mass unemployment, when we asked, “How often do you donate money to charitable organizations?”

  • 87% said they gave once
  • 57% said they had given at least four times

The reason for this collective mass good-will happened for the same reasons as usual, when we asked, “what motivates you to donate money?” They responded: 

  • 31% said helping others
  • 30% said they were personally impacted by the cause
  • 27% had a family or friend who were impacted

And, in a year that seemed to have no shortage of important urgent causes, when we asked “what type(s) of organizations do you tend to donate money to?” 

  • 43% said health charities
  • 42% said children-focused charities
  • 34% said wildlife/animal charities
  • 27% said social justice /rights charities

People are out there and want to give. But more than that...

Your donors want to get more involved.

The days that nonprofits hold only one event--a gala, a race, a meet-and-greet--are over. 

Today, people like getting involved throughout the year. In fact, by communicating with your donors more frequently, across a wide variety of platforms, the stronger your engagement strategy will be. 

There are now so many ways for donors to get involved. When we polled, “how do you tend to donate money?” We heard answers as varied as: 

  • 46% said they donate online to friends, families or coworkers fundraising on behalf of a charity/nonprofit
  • 38% said they donate directly via website
  • 37% said they donate in-person
  • 36% said in-person directly to friends, families, coworkers fundraising on behalf of a charity/nonprofit
  • 29% said through mail-in donations

With such a wide variety of responses, you need a strategy that maximizes their giving potential. That’s why, when we asked, “how do you prefer to be contacted by a charitable organization regarding an upcoming fundraising effort?” We weren’t surprised when there was almost an even split among:

  • 37% said email
  • 34% said direct mail
  • 29% said they prefer a phone call

There is no one-size-fits-all response when it comes to giving. By having an array of giving solutions as varied as your donors, you can help instill year-round passion for your mission.

Speaking of... 

Your donors want to do more in 2021.

For many, their lives revolve around their computer. That means, your nonprofit has to be there too. 

With multiple virtual, in person and hybrid event participation options, there is no shortage of ways to drive increased donations in 2021. 

The trick is knowing what type of event sparks involvement.

When we asked, “which of the following virtual fundraising events would you be interested in participating in?” We heard:

  • 39% prefer virtual activity-driven fundraising event
  • 38% prefer to donate directly online
  • 34% prefer virtual livestream videos 
  • 23% prefer virtual auctions
  • 22% prefer virtual galas

Now, for the biggest and most important question of them all. For the future strength and stability of your nonprofit for the new year, we asked “do you plan to give in 2021?” And the results were music to our ears.

  • 87% said they’ll donate about as much as last year
  • 43% said they'll donate the same about as in 2020
  • 19% said they’ll donate more than in 2020


Your donors believe in your mission. Now it’s up to you to go out there and start talking to them. 

Use your fundraising platform technology to:

  • Send targeted email communications
  • Set up virtual, in person, hybrid fundraising events 
  • Create customized donation pages, auctions, peer-to-peer events

The need and passion for helping others is more apparent than ever. And, no matter what challenges we may face, we can raise more to do more good, today, tomorrow, and beyond.

To learn more about how to gain valuable insights into what motivates your donors to give and how to make your message resonate more in 2021, download FrontStream’s State of Charitable Giving and Donor Engagement Survey by clicking on the link below.

Download Infographic


Additional Resources:

eGuide: Ten Smart Ways to Diversify Fundraising Download Now

Industry Article: 2021 Fundraising Tips to Jumpstart The New Year Read On

Blog: Powering Online Fundraising Excellence with Email Automation Read On

Video: Panorama All-in-One Digital Fundraising Platform View Demo


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