By Caoileann Appleby - Mar 12 2021
Yes, yes, and no.
Let me show you why. Have a look at these figures:
- The Central Bank says we have €12.6 billion more on deposit in 2020 than 2019 (not a typo. That’s billion). That’s about €7,000 per household on average. And we know that the functional unemployment rate right now is about 25%: so the better-off households are likely looking at savings much higher than €7,000.
- (this pattern is not unique to Ireland. The UK, the USA and elsewhere are also seeing it).
- In fact, 50% of us say we have more cash than pre-pandemic, and most of that 50% have saved at least some of it.
- And two-thirds of us expect to save the same or more in 2021.
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:
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.
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.