RESEARCH | Charities need to be proactive in the face of rising inflation and declining giving

publication date: Mar 17, 2022
author/source: Marina Glogovac

You can’t go far these days without seeing headlines plastered across news media that document the concerning rise in food, housing, gas, and other costs due to inflation and supply chain issues. Recent reports indicate that 74% of Canadians are concerned about inflation, and 82% believe that if inflation continues, their financial situation will be negatively impacted in some way.  These fears, along with the real impacts of inflation on personal finances, are adding a new layer of concern regarding charitable giving. 

To gain greater insights, CanadaHelps recently conducted research with Ipsos which found that 25% of Canadians are planning to give less to charities in 2022 due to the effects of the pandemic, inflation, and other factors. What’s even more concerning is that pressure on charity services is expected to rise, with 11% of respondents expecting to continue using charity services to meet their basic needs (e.g. food and shelter) — which could rise to 26% of respondents if the pressures on their finances don’t abate.

 Early in the pandemic, it may have felt like a challenge to capture the attention of donors — or you may have thought that it was “not the time” for your organization to launch an appeal if your team was not directly on the front lines — but the last two years have put enormous strain on our sector, and there is every indication that things are going to get worse before they get better. Now is the time to be proactive and ask yourself the following four questions:

Are you stewarding your donors well? 

 There is significant research showing that a portion of Canadians have amassed significant savings during the pandemic. Another Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of CanadaHelps in November 2021 found that 32% of Canadians have more discretionary income during the pandemic, and some estimates claim that Canadians have saved an estimated $300 billion. Proactively reaching out to these donors, with appreciation for the gifts they’ve given and strong storytelling about how they can help you do more is critical right now. 

 Have you asked your donors, especially the higher value donors, to increase their monthly gift or top up their giving to help offset the impacts of inflation on your work? 

 If rising costs aren’t met with rising revenue, the net effect can only be a decrease in programs, quality, innovation, and impact. Your donors genuinely care about the work you do, so it is up to you to help them understand the needs and how they can help. 

 Have you launched a monthly giving program?  

 For donors who have only given single gifts, now is the time to encourage them to set up a monthly gift. In 2021, CanadaHelps saw revenue from monthly donations grow at 21% year-over-year. Clearly communicating how monthly giving provides predictable revenue for your organization, while also spreading out their giving budget throughout the year can help convert a one-time donor to a monthly giver. 

 Are you giving your supporters other ways to give?  

 Strong stock performance in 2021 led to a surge in securities donations. Donations of securities, including stocks, bonds, and mutual funds, increased by 91% in 2021, raising more than $31.9 million. While the stock market is currently facing some turmoil, over the longer term, securities have been steadily growing as savvy Canadians learn of the added tax benefits. From 2013 to 2020, donation revenue from securities has grown at a compound annual growth rate of approximately 31%. Our forthcoming edition of The Giving Report also found that gifts of securities are appealing to younger donors — a key demographic the sector needs to cultivate.  Helping donors understand the unique tax benefits of gifts of securities, as well as the impact these typically larger gifts will have for your work, is key to growing this type of giving.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over my career is that you can’t hide from change. As the old adage goes, “The only constant in life is change.”  As leaders, we must prepare the best we can. And where we can’t prepare, we must adapt — which is a challenge all charities must continue to prioritize. 

Marina Glogovac is President & CEO of CanadaHelps, a leader in providing powerful fundraising and donation technology to charities and donors since 2000. Marina has been a technology and media executive for more than 25 years, including roles at Kobo, Lavalife Corp. and St. Joseph’s Media.

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