The results of the 2021 McNair yellowSquares Survey of Public Awareness and Support of Leading Charities are in.

Donations up in 2021Average donations over the past two years have increased to $603 per person, up from $523 in 2020, results from interviews with 3,524 Australian adults about their awareness of and donations to more than 50 leading charities show. This is after donation amounts levelled off in 2020 (see Graph 1).

GRAPH 1: Average donations per adult to all charities (past two years)

Angela Brooks, author of the survey at McNair yellowSquares, says: “The average donation of $603 is the highest in a decade. Given the impact of the economic environment during 2020, the rise in average donations can be seen as good news for Australia’s major charities”

Encouragingly, the number of Australians who do not donate at all has decreased from 40% five years ago to 35% in 2021.

Donation amounts are likely to have been impacted by two crises:

  • 35% of respondents said that their income had been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • 27% of respondents said that COVID-19 had affected their donations to charities.
  • 40% of respondents specifically gave to the Bushfire Appeal.

Results of more than two decades of monitoring awareness and support of leading charities shows that the number and amount of donations given is directly correlated with the number of approaches to potential donors made by charities. There is a direct linear relationship between the donor level and the level of direct approaches by charities.

The proportion of Australians who say they have been approached by any of the charities in the survey has fallen dramatically in the last decade but has remained relatively stable over the past five years with 54% of Australians saying that they have been approached by at least one of the nominated charities. But Australians are spreading their donation money around with the proportion who donated to one or more of the listed charities in the past two years at 65%, an increase from 60% four years ago.

The data gives some tips to charities about how to improve their donation amounts:

1. Convert approaches to donors On average, around 38% of those people approached by a charity donated to that charity. Charities with conversion rates of donors from approaches above 50% during the past two years include Caritas (71%), Compassion Australia (67%), Christian Blind Mission International (61%), Water Aid Australia (59%), Childfund (58%) and The Salvation Army (56%).

2. Increase awareness While converting approaches is important, maintaining awareness levels is also paramount to achieving donations. Prompted awareness is not as accurate a predictor of donor level as unprompted awareness. Beyond around 78% prompted awareness, the donor level can vary anywhere from 12% to 22%. This study shows that 80% prompted awareness is generally necessary to achieve a donor level of 15% or more. Australian Red Cross, The Salvation Army, and Cancer Council Australia achieved this 15% donation level. Prompted Awareness of many major charities has increased in the last year (see Table 1).

TABLE 1: Change in prompted awareness

3. Learn to target donors effectively Australians are likely to have a set of up to three charities that they donate to. Respondents donate to an average of 2.7 charities. Those groups who tend to give to an above average number of the listed charities are men, people aged 25–39 years, and people working in a professional or managerial role.

The future of donations

In terms of intended giving, the overwhelming majority of adults (75%) claim that their regular donations will stay about the same in the next 12 months. This has increased from just 69% in 2020.

“Coming out of 2020 we find that the market for charities is rebounding,” says Angela. “The future is bright for those organisations that understand the importance of maintaining high awareness and continuing to approach potential donors.”

McNair yellowSquares has been monitoring public awareness and support of charitable organisations since 1987. This national survey aims to assist charitable and aid organisations in their marketing and public relations activities by providing reference data for planning and performance review.

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