Nearly six in 10 Australians say cost of living is their top concern. No surprise, with inflation sitting above 6%. But what does this mean for charitable giving? How should charities shore up their fundraising? 

First, some good news: Aussies still give when it’s needed. They gave after the 2008 financial crisis — NFP revenue initially fell by 20% but bounced back within a year. They gave during COVID lockdowns. 

In fact, most Australians are in a better position today than they were during past crises. Unemployment is low. The average family has close to $40,000 in savings tucked away — more than any point in the last 30 years. Still, uncertainty remains. So, we surveyed 300 Australians to find out exactly how the cost-of-living crisis will impact their giving at Christmas. 

The bottom isn’t falling out

Encouragingly, two out of every three Aussies say they still plan to give. In fact, 22% plan to increase their giving, a trend that’s even stronger among younger donors, nearly half of whom plan to give more this year. 

In other words, most Aussies still plan on giving to charity, despite the rising cost of living. When asked why, an even clearer picture emerges. By and large, those with well-paying jobs or whose earnings increased see it as their responsibility to give something back. As one respondent put it, “I have earned more money this year, so I am in a better position to give.” 

This doesn’t mean charities can rest on their laurels. With finances tightening, the way donors give is changing.

How donors prefer to give

Do’s and don’ts of fundraising in an uncertain economy

  1. Don’t pull back This is not the time to ‘play it safe’, not when the data shows most Aussies plan to keep giving. You still need to be on the field of play, so go out with confidence. Make your most persuasive case for giving and trust your donors to step up. 
  2. Be sensitive to your donors Be sure to acknowledge the hardship many Aussies are facing right now. Give your fundraising content a lighter touch so you don’t alienate those who want to help but can’t afford to give as much as last year.
  3. Share what you’re doing to help those feeling the pinch Connect the cost-of-living crisis to the work you’re already doing. If inflation is creating increased demand for your services, for example, then that’s the story you should tell. 
  4. Review your channel mix to match shifting donor preferences. It’s no surprise that online is by far the most important channel. But a surprising number of donors prefer giving face to face. (People are primed for personal interaction after two years of COVID.) What doesn’t resonate? Unsolicited phone calls and text messages. Just 4% of respondents rated these forms of fundraising favourably.
  5. Don’t forget younger donors Younger donors have lower tolerance for digital friction and higher expectations for user experience and transparency. Which means your online checkout experience needs to be seamless — mobile-friendly, one-click donating is a must. They also expect a more personalised donor experience, taking them ‘behind the scenes’ and showing them exactly where their gift will go.  

The cost-of-living crisis is causing real pain. But it can also be an opportunity to sharpen your fundraising and find new ways to engage donors. 

Garth Stirling is Head of Services at ntegrity.