News & Insights

What We Know Now – The Impact on Charities & Donations from Covid-19

25 January 2022

For many charities, Q4 is a key time of the year, when large proportions of annual budgets are put to work to recruit new donors.

In 2019, 35% of charity spend was concentrated in Q4.  Source: Adynammix, 2019

Around this time of year, many charities and their agencies start planning for Q4 – a significantly more complex task in 2020.

We cannot know yet what effect Covid-19 will have on donations in Q4:

  • People may consider they have already helped, and done their bitby donating earlier in the year
  • People may have less disposable income
  • People may have empathy fatigue, or conversely, they may be more empathetic and wanting to help others

That said, there is quite a bit of data out there right now.  Granted, the data may be out-of-date as soon as it is produced, but it can help us understand people’s thought and attitudes which may help with our planning. So, let’s review it.

Trust Barometer

Edelman published their Trust Barometer Spring Update earlier in May.It showed a big jump in the percentage of people who trust NGO’s since the start of the year. So, charities’ responses to the pandemic have helped regain some trust that has been eroded over the last few years owing to various scandals and a lack of transparency.

Other key out-takes from the report included:

  • 36% of people said they believed charities were raising money for pandemic relief well or very well
  • 37% of people thought charities were coordinating local relief efforts to support the most vulnerable community members well or very well
  • Only 25% of people said charities were preparing for recovery well or very well

See our source here

Search Intent

Based on what people are searching for online, Captify produced this chart which shows the top indexing moments in people’s new normal, daily routines. These are micro moments of emotion ranked by importance which give us some indication of what is most important.

With donating and volunteering ranking so highly, we can take some comfort in knowing that charity is still important currently and people feel they can make a difference by supporting their communities.


YouGov tracker data shows a growing proportion of people are thinking about donating to charitable causes helping people affected by COVID-19, rising from 7% on 20th March to 14% on 17th April, and consideration of charities helping people not affected has also risen.

High profile campaigns such as Colonel Tom Moore’s 100th birthday walk generated a huge number of donations showing that the public can be inspired and do have money to donate.

At the same time, the percentage of people who were willing to volunteer their time has decreased after an initial peak – this may be because of people thinking too many people had already volunteered or because of fears about getting sick as a result of exposure during volunteering.

Several charities directly helping people affected by COVID-19 such as Age UK, St John’s Ambulance and Shelter also saw an uplift in brand metrics during the same period as measured in YouGov’s BrandIndex.

See our source here


TGI introduced a series of lifestyle questions covering off attitudes to life in the time of COVID-19 such as: “I trust my government to make the right decisions for my country” and “the coronavirus outbreak has made me more worried about my future”

Respondents tend to fall into 2 categories – those that feel they are/will cope ok with the pandemic and those that are more worried about its impact.

What is heartening to see, and bodes well for charities, is that 90% of the population agree that “safeguarding the vulnerable during the coronavirus outbreak should be everyone’s duty”.

Source: TGI UK 2020 Q2

Economic Forecast

With around a quarter of all private sector employees either furloughed or claiming welfare, and unemployment predicted to hit up to 7 million if the lockdown lasts 12 months (source for this), there will undoubtedly be an impact on the level of disposable income available for donations.

That said, the typical charity donor, tends to be older and affluent and so may be less affected than some other demographic groups.


In summary, the data shows the UK population has been very charitable in recent months in reaction to the pandemic.

As lockdown brings the pandemic under control, we will however still see swathes of the population continue to feel its effect financially.

Given that historically charities receive a high proportion of their annual  donations in the run up to Christmas from people, even when they may themselves be financially constrained, the current data would suggest that people will still be charitable in Q4 this year, but maybe to a lesser degree than in previous years.

So now we know this, what can charities be doing to counteract the uncertainty?

Here are some positive steps they can be taking:

  • Use branded content storytelling explaining how the charity has been affected by coronavirus and what they are doing to help those in need
  • Use advocates to explain why the work the charity does is more important than ever now
  • Re-consider asks and prompts to show consideration of the change in people’s circumstances
  • Replace face-to-face collections with channels which reach donors in their home such as TV, door drop or partially addressed mail
  • Ensure media channels are connected to each other efficiently to make media budgets work as hard as possible

If you would like more information on our work with charities, then please contact: Clare Arndell

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