Charity trends 2020 revisited

Charity trends 2020 revisited

10th September 2020

By Ron Moody

What a difference a few months can make! Last November, we forecast our top 10 charity predictions for 2020, with a focus on emerging digital and tech opportunities. 

Well, nobody foresaw quite how 2020 would turn out. But are our predictions still relevant – or has Covid-19 overturned them all?

Below, we’ve re-examined our forecast, and added a few predictions that address the changing charity landscape for our Covid-19 era. 

1. Improved use of data

This remains a top priority. The pandemic has changed supporters’ priorities and habits, so you must analyse your data to detect emerging patterns of giving. Never rely on assumptions!

2. Post-Brexit compliance

Forgotten about Brexit in the Covid-19 crisis? It’s closer than ever. GDPR regulations will probably be worked into UK law, but we know little more for certain than we did last November.

3. Going digital

This broad category has become even more critical than we envisaged.

We forecast tap-to-donate would play a greater role in street fundraising. While that’s off the cards for the foreseeable future, contactless payments are crucial to avoid Coronavirus transmission. 

Virtual events, online fundraising and other digital innovations are now absolute musts. Voice-activated digital assistants open up the online world to more people, including those with disabilities. 

The 2020 Charity Digital Skills report reveals that before Covid, 30% of charities felt that a lack of buy-in from trustees was a barrier to digitalisation. After lockdown, that figure halved. 

If your charity network is ready to embrace digital, why not apply for a grant of up to £60,000 from a £4.95m fund?

4. Campaigns

We forecast that the trend of viral campaigns such as the Ice Bucket Challenge would give way to huge campaigns led by the charities themselves. 

However, charities have had to abandon their campaign plans, or adjust them to our new normal. Some have done so with great innovation, e.g. carrying out Covid-compliant filming to produce videos that address our present predicament.

5. Getting (even more) social

Social media has really proven its worth during the pandemic, helping us all stay connected while staying safe. 

Charities have been using the medium for innovative campaigns, such as Save the Children’s celebrity-studded initiative, ‘Save with Stories’.

And the pandemic has accelerated the move towards omni-channel helplines. In the US, a third of contact centres say queries received through social media have risen during lockdown. 

6. Cutting edge tech

We predicted that blockchain, enhanced voice search, improved mobile experiences and virtual reality would all boom this year. 

Your tech investment plans probably got derailed by Covid-19, as you diverted your IT energies into remote working and online fundraising. But now you need to get ahead in a very competitive market. Tech can help you reach accessibility goals, too.

7. Email marketing

Graphic of a data sheetThis remains important – but don’t underestimate the extent to which lockdown has changed people’s habits. 

Direct response TV and direct mail have both made a resurgence as people have been at home more. Keep a close eye on your response rates, and be ready to adapt.

8. New trend: emergency appeals linked to Covid-19

Donors’ giving priorities are likely to change. If you have a great story about how your charity is helping people overcome the challenges of Covid-19, use it!

9. New trend: increased collaborations

Times are tough for the charity sector: some 84% say donations have decreased. Networks, collaborations on certain initiatives, or even full-scale mergers are all options for organisations looking to pool resources or streamline services. 

The International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness is merging with Clearly, for example, to strengthen the charities’ capacity. 

Lean on strong corporate partnerships that you know won’t be going anywhere during the pandemic or recession, like Crisis has done with Tesco Mobile to enable homeless people to access online support. Such teamwork can improve your agility and flexibility, as well as help you survive the economic downturn.

10. New trend: increase in helplines

Charity helplines have been busier than ever during lockdown, and that trend will continue. 

The National Emergencies Trust is distributing £12m of Covid-19 funding. Its deputy chair, Gerald Oppenheim, said: “Helpline services will feature prominently as they offer a lifeline for those less able to leave their homes, those seeking advice from someone like them, and those who are looking for charity support for the first time due to the sudden and extraordinary circumstances caused by coronavirus but are unsure where to turn.”

At Connect Assist, we’ve been continuously updating and reassuring our customers that we are here to stay – in fact, we’re upscaling.

11. New trend: Mutual aid

Even before lockdown, neighbours were setting up informal mutual aid groups, often run through WhatsApp, for their locality or surrounding streets. People who are self-isolating or ill can request shopping or other assistance, and some groups keep morale high with virtual social events. 

Such hyperlocal groups speak to people’s need to take direct action and see tangible impact. How can your charity tap into this community spirit, and enable your supporters to feel they’re doing good

12. Increased innovation

Charities will have to adapt to survive. Many are already developing great new ways of
trainingdelivering services, and marketing. 

Speak to your supporters, involve your staff, invest in talented new fundraising and marketing staff, and find new ways to raise money. If any of your funding is restricted, ask the donors to change its terms. 

Your services are needed now more than ever.


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