We look at JBWere’s report: Where to from here? The outlook for philanthropy during and post COVID-19.

philanthorpy during a global pandemic

In these unprecedented times, one thing is certain: the landscape for giving has changed. While charities and for-profit organisations have battled through recessions and rallied together for disasters, never have we faced both at the same time on a global level.

For fundraisers trying to forecast for the next few years, COVID-19 has thrown an especially unique spanner in the works: prompting economic downturn, lockdowns and social distancing, and more need than ever before.

JBWere’s John McLeod and Creative Partnerships Australia CEO, Fiona Menzies, joined for a webinar on JBWere’s report: Where to from here? The outlook for philanthropy during and post COVID-19.

JBWere predicts a 7% fall in giving in FY20, and a 12% fall in FY21, contrast to the past trend of yearly increases by 5-6%. This drop will take us back to giving levels from 2012.

Here are their top five takes on what a global pandemic means for giving.

Falls in mass market giving

This group of givers – those dropping coins into tins, attending events, or buying raffle tickets – are more inclined to donate during disasters. Combined with the daily media coverage of COVID-19 and its impact, these two factors create a good environment for giving.

However, as we have already seen a huge level of generosity earlier this year during Australia’s bushfire season, donors may be hesitant to give again, so soon.

Uniquely, there is also a general feeling that COVID-19 does not discriminate, affecting everyone, not just one vulnerable, or minority group. If everyone feels like they should be a beneficiary, they may not feel compelled to be a benefactor.

And, of course, with restrictions and lockdowns, fundraising events that typically rely on mass market participation won’t be up and running for a while. Another blow for mass market giving.

Volunteering will need to look very different

COVID-19 has changed how charities can mobilise their armies of volunteers, but this may also come with a silver lining. Those who support charities with their time, may be more inclined to give financially given the restrictions.

Volunteering has been shifting over the last few years, so now is a good a time to revisit and re-engineer this important aspect of philanthropy. How do we reconnect with volunteers during this time?

McLeod believes its important to get volunteers involved in the conversation: ask your volunteers how they would like to contribute in other ways.

We may see an increase in the percentage of corporate giving

For corporates, giving is typically based on their profitability, which may suffer a blow from the economic downturn. Of course, this also differs industry by industry, so McLeod recommends looking at your suite of corporate supporters and adjusting from there.

Corporate giving trends during past recessions show that while the actual dollar amount donated may change, giving as a percentage of profit typically increases cushioning this blow.

Understanding your corporate donors, from why they support you to how they support you, will help you mitigate any risk. Think outside the box: are there opportunities to utilise space or vacant workplaces, instead of asking for financial support?

Trusts and foundations will remain steady

There is a strong relationship between the number of new Private Ancillary Funds established and the performance of the share market. Giving trends for most foundations are based on their assets: PAFs are required to give a minimum of 5% of their asset worth, and charitable trusts give 85% of their income each year.

Global share markets are quite resilient and seem to bounce back after times of downturn, which is good news for charities worried about their future income from trusts and foundations. PAFs, trusts and foundations base their giving for this financial year off their performance at the end of the last financial year. As the market finished relatively well in FY20, this will set the tone for FY21.

The government is also providing an incentive for PAFs to give more than 5% in 2020 and 2021, which could indicate that some will bring forward their spending.

Overall, it looks like we shouldn’t see a big decline in giving from PAFs, and trusts and foundations.

Keep your donors close

As fundraisers well and truly know, it’s easier to keep existing donors than find new ones. Communicate regularly with your donor base; tell them the impact of COVID-19 on your organisation. But ensure that your messages are positive and don’t stray into the territory of desperation.

Larger donors, such as corporates and PAFs, are often savvy businesspeople and are hesitant to support charities that don’t seem viable. Include in your messaging your plans to weather this pandemic, alongside the need for support. Clearly highlight how your organisation can help during these unprecedented times.

McLeod recommends charities plan for the worst and hope for the best. There is no denying that many will be facing financial pressure that may continue for months.

As the current climate evolves daily, fundraisers will need to adapt and change their strategy. What is clear is that charities relying on philanthropy will need to work together to be part of the broader solution.

Read the full report here.

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