New Report Finds Pivot to Virtual Events Helps Nonprofits Sustain 2020 Fundraising Goals

OneCause releases findings from survey of 1,997 nonprofit professionals

December 9, 2020 — INDIANAPOLIS – OneCause, a leader in online and event fundraising, released today insights from a study on Fundraising Through a Pandemic. The online survey of self-reported data from nonprofit professionals was conducted between September 14-October 16, 2020. Findings detail the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on event fundraising, successes with virtual fundraising, and the outlook for 2021.

“Nonprofits across the country continue to feel the effects of COVID-19 on their fundraising,” said Steve Johns, OneCause CEO. “While many nonprofit budgets were impacted this year, the pandemic has been a catalyst for innovation and experimentation, as organizations found new online revenue streams to supplement projected revenue from in-person fundraising events. Those who did make the pivot to virtual events are seeing success and are more likely to be raising at or above their original fundraising goals.”

Key findings include:

  • COVID-19’s impact to fundraising is the number one challenge facing nonprofits. Fifty-seven percent of nonprofits are raising less than budgeted. Other top challenges include donor engagement, year-over-year fundraising growth, donor fatigue, and recurring giving.
  • Cancelled events had an impact on fundraising budgets. Almost all nonprofits surveyed (98 percent) typically hold one or more fundraising events annually. In 2020, 48 percent had to cancel an event and 40 percent postponed.
  • Nonprofits that pivoted to a virtual event are more likely to be raising at or above their original fundraising goals. Sixty-two percent of nonprofits converted to a virtual fundraising event and 16 percent converted to a hybrid event.
  • Mobile optimization and creative donation options ranked as most important for engaging virtual event audience, according to those who were very successful with their virtual events. Switching between livestream and recorded content and social media integrations were also considered very important.
  • Engaging and retaining known donors is the most important goal for nonprofits in 2021. Securing a few, key major gifts and adding net new donors are also of importance. Securing a broad base of donors is of least importance.
  • Events remain an important part of 2021 nonprofit fundraising strategy. Seventy-eight percent of nonprofits surveyed are planning to host one or more events in 2021. Hybrid events are gaining popularity with 42 percent planning to hold one next year, while 45 percent plan to hold a virtual event and/or an in-person event. Twenty-one percent of nonprofits remain undecided as to their 2021 event fundraising plans.

“In 2021 we’ll see the next evolution of event fundraising as more nonprofits turn to hybrid strategies to drive better engagement and higher impact with both in-person and virtual attendees,” added Johns. “There will be a heightened focus on creating a seamless, dual giving experience that brings a mission to life, fosters donor affinity and turns participation into active giving.”

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About OneCause®

OneCause creates user-friendly fundraising software that helps nonprofits engage donors, raise more money and save valuable time and resources. Our full suite of cloud-based fundraising solutions has powered 6,000 organizations, well over 20,000 fundraising events, and helped nonprofits raise more than $2 billion. OneCause has been recognized on the Inc. 500 list of Fastest Growing Companies, is a TechPoint MIRA award winner for Mobile Technology Excellence & Innovation and is a nine-time Stevie® Award winner for excellence and innovation in Customer Service.

Media Contact:
Jenna Jameson

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