CoronaVirus and Fundraising – What Do Donors Think?

CoronaVirus and Fundraising – What Do Donors Think?


26 May 2020


By David Allen, Development for Conservation


Happy Memorial Day! – Sort of.

The flags were out in my neighborhood, the grills were active, and the mail didn’t come – all that was normal.

But the parade was cancelled. The community pool still sits empty (and the summer swim teams have all been cancelled). And people were home, but they are always home now.

What a weird year.


Lots of information is emerging about various approaches to fundraising in the midst of a pandemic. Some of it is good information.

Some of it is research.

Bluefrog Fundraising is a London-based full-service fundraising agency. They recently released a benchmarking study based on interviews with donors now that the coronavirus is a reality. You can find the full article here, but I thought I’d share a couple of nuggets:

  • Donors are still seeing very few requests from charities. This implies two things: first that the requests donors do see are even more effective – and we’re hearing anecdotal evidence to that effect as well. And many charities are pulling back from fear and a misguided sense of frugality – at their own potential peril.
  • Monthly giving remains under threat. This one was a head scratcher for me. It feels as though donors might find it easier to give monthly than to make larger commitments at this time. That, however, is always true. What Bluefrog was reporting is that when donors feel financially vulnerable and reach for things they can control, automatic withdrawals from bank accounts and charges on credit cards are re-examined. This might be a good time to connect with those donors in very personal ways as well.
  • With people and companies under financial threat, charities are not seen as a special case. In other words, the fact that YOU are scared and the fact that YOU are financially vulnerable are not motivations for donors to give more or give now. Because EVERYONE is in the same boat.
  • People use the term Coronavirus rather than COVID-19. This was interesting because I wouldn’t have even thought to ask the question.


Based on the research, Bluefrog offers the following advice for fundraisers:

  • Focus on what your donors want to hear – what they and you are accomplishing with their money, that you realize your mission is still important to them, that they made the right decision in giving to you, and that you value and need them more than ever.
  • Show how you are innovating – adapting to the evolving local situation, redefining workspace and use of technology, and scenario planning.
  • Show your donors they are valued – thank them, of course. But also ASK. Donors can feel valued in many ways, but one of them is to understand that their help is still needed. Make it personal.


Summer is here. How will it change for you?


Cheers, and have a great week!




Photo by Alayna Wilkening courtesy Pixabay



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  • David Lillard
    Posted at 09:23h, 26 May

    As ever, thanks! I especially took to heart bringing donors in on scenario planning. Thanks, David, for keeping the First Thing Tuesday going during these times. It’s reassuring to hear from you.

    • David Allen
      Posted at 11:28h, 26 May

      Thanks for the comment, David. I’m glad that you continue to find value here. Best of luck navigating these next few months, and probably years.