New Research Examines Social Giving During a Time of Social Distancing

OneCause releases findings from study of more than 1,000 event and peer-to-peer donors

June 1, 2021 — INDIANAPOLIS – OneCause, a leader in online and event fundraising, today released findings from its latest research, The Giving Experience Study. Findings provide insights from Social Donors who gave to fundraising events and peer-to-peer campaigns over the past year including what motivates their giving, when and how they will be comfortable returning to in-person events, and what influences repeat donations.

“As we emerge from an extended period of social distancing, we wanted to reexamine giving experiences to better understand how social giving has evolved and changed over the past year,” said Steve Johns, chief executive officer for OneCause. “The data suggests that a year of virtual fundraising is improving access to philanthropy, with younger, more diverse donors giving at higher rates. Insights from this study will help nonprofits leverage lessons learned from the virtual pivot, to improve ease and engagement for future giving experiences and increase retention as we return to some sense of normalcy.”

Key findings include:

  • Social giving is on the rise. Even during a time of social distancing, there was an increase in giving through events and peer-to-peer fundraising, with an estimated 27 percent of U.S. adults giving in this way over the last 12 months. Giving for occasions (e.g., birthday, memorials), personal challenges, and giving days saw significant growth.
  • Social giving experiences and virtual formats are improving access to philanthropy. Younger, more diverse donors are giving more than they used to, to more places, and to address current issues and needs. Gen Z and Millennials now represent a majority of Social Donors, with giving among Black and Hispanic donors also increasing.
  • Ease, mission, and impact remain top motivators. Though the world changed, the key reasons to donate remain constant: ease, mission, and impact are still the core motivators for today’s Social Donors. Having an easy-to-use online platform has also been a necessity for those participating virtually.
  • Donors value the convenience of virtual and would attend virtual events in the future. When asked what their post pandemic engagement would look like, there were split responses from Social Donors with 38 percent leaning towards mostly virtual, 22 percent with a preference for in-person, and 30 percent anticipating attending a mix of both.
  • A majority of donors are ready to return to in-person fundraisers. Almost 6-in-10 donors surveyed said they will feel comfortable attending an in-person fundraising event by Summer 2021. Being vaccinated is the main requirement, with older donors needing more specific stipulations and safety precautions in place.
  • Opportunity to convert more Social Donors to recurring donations. The number of Social Donors who self-report they will give monthly or annually increased to 47 percent this year, up from 28 percent in 2018. Feeling like their donation made a difference and an easy giving experience are the most important factors driving repeat gifts.

“To continue reaching a broader, more diverse group of donors post pandemic, nonprofit fundraising should incorporate a mix of virtual and in-person giving opportunities,” said Karrie Wozniak, chief marketing officer for OneCause.  “No matter if your fundraiser is in-person, virtual or hybrid, the key is to prioritize ease throughout the giving experience, while providing donors opportunity to connect with the mission and understand their impact.”

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About the Survey

The online survey of 1,026 Social Donors was conducted by Edge Research between March 31-April 14, 2021. Social Donors are defined as anyone who self-reports giving to at least one charitable organization by attending a fundraising event, participating or sponsoring someone in a fundraising activity like a run, walk or ride, or donating or requesting donations for an occasion, challenge, or giving month or day within the last 12 months. Data is self-reported, not transactional. Edge Research worked with an established industry sampling partner, consisting of opt-in research participants. This is a non-probability/convenience sample. Quotas were set to ensure incoming data (prior to screening for charitable donations) was census representative in terms of age and gender, region and race/ethnicity.

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 $3 billion. OneCause has been recognized by Inc. Best in Business, is a TechPoint MIRA award winner for Pandemic Pivot of the Year, Mobile Technology Excellence & Innovation, and a Stevie® Award winner for excellence and innovation in Customer Service.