We look at the trends expected to define fundraising in 2022 and examine potential challenges the charity sector might face
2020 and 2021 proved that the charity sector was versatile and resilient. It demonstrated that the sector can adopt creative and imaginative solutions, adapt to meet the demands of the moment, and use digital to improve daily operations, smooth over processes, and improve the day-to-day workings of charities.
The past two years have proved without question that charities can rise to the occasion.
And, as we enter 2022, there are plenty of reasons to feel positive. The vaccine programme is in full swing, with vast swathes of the population already vaccinated. Cases and hospitalisations look unlikely to rise to previous levels. And the days of consecutive lockdowns seem well and truly behind us. We can finally say with cautious confidence that the worst of COVID-19 is over.
Normality, or some version of normality, seems around the corner. And with normality comes stability. And with stability comes the chance to prioritise the future, to switch from short-term solutions to long-term planning. Charities in 2022 will return to strategic thinking, utilising the knowledge they’ve gained over the past two years and maximising the use of digital.
Successful organisations will need to get ahead and stay ahead of trends. They apply lessons of the past to the present, ensuring success in the future. So, without further ado, here is our complete list of the fundraising trends that are set to define 2022.
Let’s start with some good news. Physical events are likely to return in 2022, complete with nibbles and in-person talks, perhaps even the occasional handshake. The better news is that digital events are here to stay, complete with pyjama bottoms and dressing gowns, Zoom and Remo.
The future of events, as with so many elements of charity operations post-COVID-19, is hybrid.
Virtual events had started to become popular prior to COVID-19, but charities were relatively slow on the uptake. After the pandemic arrived, however, charities fully embraced the virtual event – and noticed immediate benefits. The benefits of virtual events include, among other things:
But virtual events have drawbacks, particularly when it comes to authenticity and building lasting relationships. The screen can feel alienating and depersonalised. Charities often find it harder to yield an emotive response, which is essential to the act of fundraising. And many attendees of virtual events are simply not as committed or concentrated, finding distractions while attending from afar.
Fortunately, in 2022, with physical events making a return, charities can gain the benefits of both physical and virtual through hybrid events. And throwing hybrid events is relatively simple and cost-effective. All charities need to do is broadcast the physical event so that people can enjoy it from home, including any other positive bits and pieces that support easy interaction.
Charities can ensure authenticity while promoting further reach, overcome geographical limitations while still offering a dedicated geographical space, increase return on investment, and so much more. Hybrid truly offers the best of both worlds. Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it?
For more on hybrid events, check out our article: The future of events is hybrid.
We gave socials renewed attention because, since the pandemic, they’ve only grown in importance. It seems almost too obvious to mention, but social media continues to dominate marketing activity.
In 2022, charities will need to meet supporters on their own turf. And that means prioritising socials, regardless of size and structure. All charities will need to improve their social media etiquette, improve social output, learn when to meme and not to meme, and preferably develop a social media strategy.
At Charity Digital, we always recommend prioritising the platforms that best suit your needs. Too many charities adopt a blanket model, trying to post on all platforms, lacking personalisation, targeting, and an appreciation of shifting demographics.
Instead, we suggest that you pick a few of the platforms that best suit your needs, reach out to the demographics most likely to find value in your organisation, and shift resources to those platforms.
Here is some more social media advice for charities to follow in 2022.
Charities have largely focussed on ‘classic’ platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. That makes sense and can prove effective, but too many charities fail to adapt to changes in the platforms.
Each of the ‘classics’ is constantly shifting functionality. Changes arrive quickly and, in some cases, go away just as quickly. In 2021, for example, Twitter announced the Fleets function. Slightly later in 2021, Twitter announced that the Fleets function would be removed.
Many changes on the classic platforms give additional power to content creators. The successful charities of 2022 will keep up with trends, take advantage of the new functionalities, learning to livestream on Insta, fundraise with Stories on Facebook, make the most of Twitter’s Spaces, and use whatever new functionality arrives. And it will arrive.
In 2022, we predict the exact same thing. It will grow massively, again. TikTok is a big deal and it will continue to be a big deal in the future – and charities are still slow getting on board.
TikTok provides a particular opportunity when it comes to engaging with a younger demographic. It also offers a space for greater user-generated content, where charities can ask their audience to share content in a way that avoids hierarchy and embraces a sense of community.
Many charities have already started using TikTok. The British Red Cross was among the first charities to successfully use TikTok, taking advantage of the donation stickers and engaging young supporters during COVID-19. The charity has grown its TikTok profile to more than 416k followers, proving that user-generated, community-focussed content can massively boost fundraising.
For more information, check out our Charity guide to TikTok.
In 2022, the successful charities will also look at under-utilised social media platforms. Yes, TikTok and Snapchat have not been fully appreciated, Pinterest and Reddit have often been ignored, but plenty of smaller social media outlets offer a chance for charities to grow alongside the platform.
The key for discovering emerging platforms is research. Only a few of the emerging platforms of 2020, and even 2021, are still considered serious contenders. Platforms come and go, quickly rising to stardom, grasping attention, and then fading.
But, remember, you do not simply want the next big platform. You want the platform that matches your vision, your needs, and your mission. You want the platform that works best for you, that allows you to reach a desired audience, and allows you to fundraise effectively.
Always remember that, just because a platform seems popular, doesn’t meant that it is right for your charity.
So, do your research, find the platforms that might work, and start to experiment. See if your content works. Take stock of the traction, monitoring key metrics, and exploring success. Then decide whether that platform is right for you, based on some of the data you have collected.
Here are five potential platforms that might be worth exploring:
Founded in 2020 by Paul Davidson and Rohan Seth, Clubhouse is an audio-only social media app that has the charity sector talking. We’ve witnessed huge growth and engagement in the first few years, with charities flocking to the platform, using it to fundraise and raise awareness.
Clubhouse is invitation-only, but charities should find an invitation without too much hassle. The platform has no photos, graphics, and videos – it is purely about social interaction. Clubhouse is organised into rooms and a feed known as the ‘hallway’ or ‘corridor.’
Clubhouse is popular, but, as mentioned above, charities should only use platforms that directly suit their needs and their mission. Charities should question whether there are adequate opportunities on Clubhouse. Charities should ask themselves: Does Clubhouse provide adequate opportunities to fundraise? Does your content suit the format? Is the Clubhouse audience right for your charity?
If these questions generate a positive response, Clubhouse might just be the perfect platform for your charity. But you might also want to look at Twitter Spaces, an initiative that follows from the success of Clubhouse. It’s a similar venture and might prove popular because of the weight that Twitter can put behind the platform – both monetary and in terms of awareness.
For more information, check out our article: Should charities join Clubhouse?
We noticed the rise of Gaming for Good in 2021, publishing articles covering how to connect with influencers, how to engage the streaming community, how to find gamers, how gamers can raise funds and build a campaign, and much more. Gaming for Good finally started breaching the mainstream.
The pandemic helped. Charities sought to diversify fundraising avenues and reach out to new demographics. And, of course, lockdowns and social distancing forced people to stay at home, some of whom found themselves on the sofa, controller in hand, raising money for their communities.
Gaming for Good is a simple and easy way to fundraise. It relies largely on streaming. Gamers switch on consoles, pick their favourite games, and start playing. Many of those gamers will share that game with an audience. Friends, strangers, other gamers, maybe even the occasional nemesis will tune in to watch the player in action, usually on a popular platform called Twitch.
Gamers can easily add donation buttons to their streams, asking the audience to donate. Perhaps the audience put a bit of money when the gamer does something impressive, or even says something funny or enlightening. Perhaps the audience give money when the gamer makes a mistake, loses a life, or falls over, a form of sympathy fundraising that we certainly encourage.
Over the past two years, charities have started participating. Charities such Oxfam and Cancer Research UK have participated in Gaming for Good events, working with high-profile gamers and raising huge sums. Other charities, such as the British Red Cross and the US-based Humane Society, have worked with smaller gamers and raised promising amounts, too.
Whether you aim at influencers or everyone, the high-profile or the low-key, gamers are often enthusiastic about supporting a good cause and open to adding donation buttons.
Successful charities diversify fundraising streams. In 2022, Gaming for Good will be one of the most exciting, lucrative, and enjoyable streams around. So, charities should get involved.
Email marketing results in one-third of online fundraising revenue, according to Salsa. That is not surprising. The world has more than 3.7 billion email users, according to Statista. There are three times as many email accounts as there are Facebook and Twitter accounts combined.
Organisations are six times more likely to get a click-through from an email than they are from Twitter. And 59% of marketers claim that email is their greatest return on investment (ROI), according to email marketing platform Emma.
Emails offer charities huge potential, particularly with regards to fundraising. Good email marketing allows charities to make a personalised, optimised appeal to hundreds or thousands or millions of potential donors, all with a little preparation and the swift click of a button.
The potential for email marketing is huge. To make the most of email marketing, charities should utilise effective email marketing software. The benefits of decent email marketing software include:
And email marketing software is not particularly costly, either. In 2022, as email marketing continues to grow, as it’s been growing for years, we advise charities to invest. Follow the trend and stay ahead of the curve, spending a little money now to secure larger funds in the future.
For more information, check out: The best email marketing software on the market.
Automation is an essential element of digital transformation. It increases efficiency, provides opportunity for growth, streamlines processes and operations, allows staff and volunteers to prioritise more creative tasks, and minimises expenditure.
For charities, automation provides plenty of opportunities, including easy routes to effective fundraising and innovative methods of service delivery.
COVID-19 had a huge impact on the labour force, as some charities faced shortages of staff. Some organisations deployed artificial intelligence (AI) to fill that void. And, as we’ve seen in so many ways, the successful charities will learn the lessons of the pandemic and carry them into the future.
Many charities will embrace AI. Perhaps the embrace will follow their own early experiences with AI during the pandemic, or perhaps they will follow the wider sector moving in that direction. Either way, one thing looks quite clear. The charity sector is ready to use AI.
AI works by analysing data, denoting essential patterns, following trends, and using that information to make decisions that better cater to the needs of customers and service users. The tech basically streamlines tasks – particularly the time-consuming and tedious everyday tasks, such as data entry and invoicing – and takes the repetition of human action out of the equation.
One good example is chatbots. Chatbots use natural language processing to make life easier. The chatbots can minimise customer services interactions, for example, by answering basic questions without the need of a human. They can also provide donors with information, lead people in new directions, and even promote fundraising activities.
Take WaterAid’s ‘Talk to Selly’ campaign, for example. Talk to Selly provided potential donors with the chance to chat to a bot purporting to be someone who would benefit directly from the charity’s support. The person interacting with the bot would learn about how their money would help real life people who may find themselves in Selly’s situation.
Mencap have put an ‘Understand Me’ chatbot on their website. The chatbot guides users and potential donors through a conversation with Aeren, who was born with a learning disability. The AI gives users information about her life, while also providing statistics on learning disabilities in the UK.
Is This OK? is the result of a partnership between Runaway Helpline and Childline, with funding provided by Children in Need. Targeted at those aged between 13 and 18 looking for support or feeling pressured or confused, the chatbot asks some simple questions before offering useful information or connecting the young person to a real person for a chat conversation.
Unlike human support systems, the chatbot provides support all day, every day, with no breaks, offering a place for teenagers to vent whenever they need to. For particular problems, the chatbot can pass on to a human where that level of nuance is demanded.
Chatbots are a simple use of AI, but a very effective one. They show some of the early possibilities of AI in the charity sector and demonstrate the potential for improvement and growth if the charity sector adopts AI more enthusiastically.
2022 is the year charities embrace AI, so get ahead of the trend and start researching.
Find out more about the basics and ethics of AI: Common misconceptions about AI.
Or check out our dedicated article: How charities are using chatbots.
2022 will be the year that charities come up with innovative and creative ideas, using hybrid events, Gaming for Good, artificial intelligence, and much more to prove their digital prowess.
But the fundraising aspect will depend on using the latest tech. To effectively fundraise, charities need to give potential donors the best chance to donate – and that means providing lots of options.
That also means that charities need to take advantage of digital alternatives and always keep up-to-date with the latest changes on the market.
Here are some interesting facts about fundraising:
The core message is clear: the brave new world is digital. Charities need to hedge bets and ensure they are embracing digital. Mobiles and emails, cashless and contactless, websites and social media – charities need to be online, using the best tech and looking at new payment solutions.
All charities should keep an eye out on the following:
The above is not an exhaustive list, but just some of the old and new methods that charities can receive money from donors. Each method has a corresponding article that can help charities take advantage.
It is not essential that charities use the above methods, but it is essential that they remain open to using them. Charities need to stay ahead of trends so that they can grasp opportunities, should they arrive. All of the above may present opportunities. The onus is on the charity to take them.
The charities of the future will not simply accept the brave new world of digital. They will lead the way, jumping on the latest trends and ensuring the trends work for them. They will adopt the latest digital offerings, but always address issues of digital exclusion. They will find innovative solutions, but not neglect the classics. They will embrace the future, but not dismiss the lessons of the past.
We hope your charity has a fruitful and impactful 2022.