AFP Publishes Survey on Fundraising Activities During COVID-19
September 2020 Charity & NFP Law Update
Published on September 30, 2020

By Esther S.J. Oh


According to a recent survey published by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (“AFP”), COVID-19 has resulted in layoffs or staff pay-cuts for nearly a third of reporting charities. The AFP’s Coronavirus Response Survey (“the Survey”) reports 70% of Canadian charities expect to raise less money in 2020 than they did in 2019 and over two-thirds believe the same will happen in 2021.

More than 160 fundraisers participated in the Survey, which was distributed to all AFP members in May 2020, with 45% reporting decreases in donations already in the first quarter of 2020 compared with 2019. Still, over a quarter (27%) reported an increase in giving. 

“We expected to see a significant drop in giving because of COVID-19, and our data shows that it will be a difficult time for fundraising for 2020 and well into 2021,” stated the AFP’s President and CEO Mike Geiger. “However, it’s too early to say exactly what will happen by the end of the year, and charities are still adjusting. There is one general rule that is the most important for charities to follow during difficult and challenging times. Organizations cannot afford to stop fundraising, and those charities that continue to raise funds—and even increase their fundraising—will do the best. We have to raise funds with sensitivity, but we must continue to raise funds to support our critically needed missions.” Only 11% and 13% of charities intended to increase their fundraising efforts in 2020 and 2021, respectively.

In an effort to make up for some of the expected shortfall, the Survey reports 38% of charities intend to increase their fundraising activities. The most popular areas where charities are expanding their fundraising include the following:

  • Donor retention and stewardship (connecting donors to the cause and inspiring them to get more involved), 88%;
  • Social media, 83%;
  • Virtual events, 81%;
  • Online fundraising, 79%;
  • Fundraising through e-mail, 71%.

Government grants have also been a key source of revenue for some charities.

The Survey also reported a significant impact on fundraising events, with 92% of respondents indicating they would reduce the number of in-person fundraising events during 2020.  More than two in ten organizations (23%) have already postponed five or more special events, and 14% have canceled five or more events.


Read the September 2020 Charity & NFP Law Update