Make the big ask and make it now

Ask supporters for bigger gifts? In a global pandemic? Am I off my rocker?

By Caoileann Appleby - Mar 12 2021

Yes, yes, and no.


Let me show you why. Have a look at these figures:


Some of this is “forced saving”: we have more money because we can’t spend it on the usual things (like holidays, going out for a meal, or getting a haircut). And some of it is a sensible coping method against an uncertain future.


So, odds are a lot of your supporters – certainly not all, but a lot – have more spare cash right now than they usually do. And they’re also looking for something to do with that money.


Sure, a lot of it is going on home improvements – but charity supporters in particular are looking for something to believe in. Our clients have also seen big increases in appeal response this year, which isn’t reflected in average gifts; this suggests supporters are spreading their extra cash beyond their usual top charities (UK figures from CAF suggest this as well; and see also Bluefrog’s UK analysis here).


But when lockdown eases (and then, hopefully, ends…) a lot of that extra money will likely be spent. Look at these figures from economist David McWilliams from last year:

Screenshot 2021-03-12 at 13.47.07

Q1 is pre-lockdown; savings then jumped massively in Q2 during lockdown and fell back towards pre-pandemic levels (though still higher) once the country opened up again.


We all want the pandemic to have meant something, and consumer research makes it clear that we want companies to be more sustainable, more equitable, and better for all of us than ever.

Screenshot 2021-02-15 at 13.08.07

But supporters are also now looking for charities to have a plan. If your organisation is to be truly effective and sustainable, it must be beyond crisis mode by now. From our donor research, supporters know charities have been massively affected by coronavirus and are needed more than ever: but what they want now is to support the charities who are going to be here post-coronavirus.


The TL:DR version? A lot of supporters likely have more money now than they had before. They won’t have it later in the year. And they want to help be part of a better world.


Now is the ideal time to go to them with a mid-value offer:

  • A tangible need
  • About funding a newer, better future (not desperately trying to fill the hole coronavirus left in your unrestricted funds)
  • That speaks to them personally


It’s a basic truism of fundraising that doing good makes people feel good:

“The pandemic has heightened people’s desire to do good, because doing good helps them feel better.”
Chartered Institute of Fundraising (UK): Supporter Experience. Fundraising in the Time of Covid


So offer them the chance to do more good, so they can feel even better.


Don’t believe me?


“The money is there, they just need to go after it. I see other charities doing it.
Cash Supporter, age 65+, interviewed by Ask Direct in 2020


Just do it now. Not six months from now.



We’ve been banging on about the right mid-value offer for years, and successfully implementing it with clients. Talk to us today about tailored mid- and high-value targeting and communications. 

Tagged with: Donor Caremid-valuepandemic

Caoileann Appleby     @Qaoileann


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