Charity sector income and supporters at five year high

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Press release

Award-winning data agency, Wood for Trees, has released its annual State of the Sector Report 2022, which indicates several upward trends in the charity and not-for-profit space.

Overall, charity sector income and number of supporters increased significantly during 2021, compared to 2020, and is at the highest level seen in the last five years. Income was 9% higher and supporter recruitment up 22% in 2021, compared to the previous year.

Key income products across the sector performed at similar levels in 2021 and remained stable compared to 2020 results, led by high-value giving (107%), community fundraising (103%) and gaming (102%).

Although stabilised, income from regular givers remains in decline since the onset of the pandemic in favour of one-off donations, which has stayed almost 50% higher than the last three years.

Income by channel showed a considerable increase in digital and direct mail during 2021 – both at the highest levels seen in the last five years. DRTV delivered a steady increase in income, largely from one-off giving. However, income from direct dialogue continues to fall, coinciding with the start of Covid-19.

Not only have supporters increased in number, but also active file size. There were 9% more active supporters in 2021 compared to 2020. Most were recruited via community fundraising (150%), one-off donations (131%) and regular giving (111%), showing significant increases compared to 2020.

Supporters were mostly secured through direct dialogue (126%), digital (117%) and direct mail (117%). Digital and direct mail recruitment channels have witnessed a considerable boom since the start of the pandemic. However, supporter recruitment via DRTV took a significant hit during 2021 at 57% of the success seen in 2020.

In addition, supporter profiles continue to lean towards older, more affluent populations but there has been a continuing trend in the rise of younger, less well-off families who are choosing to donate.

Wood for Trees Managing Director, Jon Kelly, says: “It’s been interesting to see how the charity sector has performed in the last year and how the effects of Covid-19 are still impacting on organisations in the longer-term.

“In particular, the changing behaviours in the ways supporters are choosing to respond and interact with their chosen charities, such as the continuing shift we’re seeing from regular giving to one-off donations and a resurgence of direct mail in supporter recruitment.

“It’ll be fascinating to see how fundraising performance progresses in 2022 with the learnings taken from dramatic changes implemented during Covid restrictions and lockdowns, and how this will compare to pre-pandemic years.”

Wood for Trees is hosting a free, live webinar at 11am on Wednesday 23 March 2022 to delve further into the charity sector’s performance during 2021 and uncover what and how key products and channels have contributed to this positive trajectory. In addition, areas where performance has dipped or where there’s room for improvement will also be discussed, as well as trends indicated so far this year.

Request a free copy of the full Wood for Trees’ State of the Sector Report 2022 here. Register for the free, live webinar here, to join live and receive a recording.

Request a free copy of the report