Charity fundraising in a socially distanced world

Charity fundraising in a socially distanced world

3rd December 2021

By Dani Lowe

Charity is all about bringing people together. So when a global pandemic and social distancing measures forces us all apart, what can fundraisers do?

Fortunately, the nonprofit sector is full of creative people who make things happen no matter what. Let’s take a look at some of the forward-thinking ways charities are raising money while keeping everyone safe.

Covid and the charity sector

We all know the upheaval Covid has caused in the charity sector – it’s best summarised as: demand up, income down. 

A March 2021 survey of 600 charities by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) forecast that charitable income from all sources will drop in 2021/22. Trading activity is predicted to be the worst hit (down 17%), while public donations could fall by 8%. 

So, the sector is braced for another tough year – but is responding with gusto! Here’s how…

How to fundraise during Covid

Virtual sponsored events

Covid-era zeitgeist by inviting you to take part in fundraising campaigns while curled up on your sofa. 

Macmillan’s Games Night In lets supporters hold virtual quizzes, escape rooms and other fun events. Meaning, if you love horse racing nights but hate standing around in the cold, this is for you!

Virtual auctions (of promises or donated items), film clubs, dinner parties – a host with the most can make just about anything work online. 

Solo and socially distanced challenge events

Covid put a temporary stop to group challenge events. They’re back, but with a twist. 

The British Red Cross Miles for Refugees campaign worked with social distancing measures and invited supporters to clock up the kilometres independently throughout September, making for a dispersed yet shared experience. 

The London Marathon went hybrid, with some runners completing the actual course and some joining remotely. Covid-safe measures included lateral flow tests for all participants, smaller waves of runners released over 90 minutes, and a reduction in spectator numbers.

Live-streamed events

Broadcasting charity events is nothing new – Comic Relief has been doing it since 1986. But now, there’s a plethora of live streaming platforms such as Twitch, YouTube and Facebook.

The Global Citizen Festival, usually held annually in New York, was broadcast on TV and live-streamed across the world in 2021. 

But perhaps more excitingly, the internet makes it possible for anyone with a webcam to follow suit. Mind is inviting gamers to take on a timed #StreamforMind challenge, which involves streaming for 23 hours for the 23% of us who experienced mental health problems in 2020. 

Digital communications

With face-to-face contact curtailed, you need to boost alternative communication channels. 

Social media has truly come into its own during the pandemic. Think Marcus Rashford on Twitter, influencing government policy and helping FareShare raise enough money for 21 million meals

On a smaller scale, you can keep in contact with your supporters via e-newsletters and blogs. And how about video chats? For many of us, they’re now second nature. 

Read more: Top 5 charity TikTok campaigns

Contactless donations

Finally, tangible donations – cash in collecting tins, or goods to charity shops – are on hold. Fortunately, there are some great alternatives. 

Easyfundraising lets your supporters raise money for your charity when they shop online. 

Tap-to-donate collections are also big news. Many Big Issue vendors now have card readers, and shops across Manchester have installed devices in their windows to take donations to the Greater Manchester Mayor’s Charity. 

And charity shops are increasingly acting as collecting points for donations, while the goods are sold via eBay or other marketplaces. Between February and July this year, the number of items sold online for charities rose by 151%

Ready to make a change?

So, with hard work, innovative thinking, and great tech, charities are finding ways to raise funds while staying socially distanced. If you need a partner to support your switch to digital, drop us a line or give us a ring today.


If you need our help in developing more effective, meaningful connections with customers, get in touch today.