Charities see significant reduction in fundraising during COVID-19 lockdown

Virgin Money Giving calls on the UK public to ‘Save our charities’

Many of Britain’s usually favourite good causes, supporting cancer, mental health, the homeless and those with disabilities, have seen a significant impact on their fundraising income during the COVID-19 lockdown, according to data gathered from online fundraising platform, Virgin Money Giving (VMG).

In the month following the start of COVID-19 lockdown, total charity donations remained very strong. VMG, the not-for-profit fundraising service, processed a record-breaking 1.15m individual donations in the 4 weeks to 21 April, and the total donation value increased by 151% year-on-year to £19m.

However, the vast majority of these donations were driven by NHS focussed charity activity. Beyond NHS Charities Together, COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the UK charity market. The total charity sector donation value through VMG, excluding NHS donations, declined by 44% in the month following lockdown compared with the same period in 2019, from £12.5m to £7m.

Some of the UK’s biggest charities have been particularly hard hit. The top 50 charities on VMG, which includes many of our most well-known UK charities, saw fundraising income reduce by 93% in the month following lockdown compared with the same period in 2019.

Aside from the impacts seen within offline fundraising channels, such as the closure of charity shops and cancellation of charities’ own events, the penetration and value of online fundraising for the established charity sector has seen a substantial downturn. This is largely due to the postponement and cancellation of mass participation events which has a strong correlation to online fundraising and on which many charities rely to drive vital income. These events – in particular key annual events such as the Virgin Money London Marathon – greatly influence both fundraiser and donor behaviour.

Charities supporting the cancer sector, for example, have been impacted by COVID-19. Pre-lockdown, cancer related VMG registered charities were performing at an equivalent level to 2019, but in the month following lockdown donation income declined by 87% year-on-year. Similar numbers were seen for VMG registered charities supporting the Mental Health sector, despite an increase in demand for the support services.

From 21 April, aside from the NHS, all charity donation performance improved in the following month to 70% of 2019. Smaller charities have had a stronger recovery than the larger charities, which have been more greatly affected due to event cancellations.

Jo Barnett, Executive Director at Virgin Money Giving said: “Many charities have been impacted hard with reduced income during COVID-19, and it remains critical that they have support as we move into the first phase of recovery. These are the charities that will be providing vital support to those people who have suffered most during lockdown, including those affected by cancer treatment delays and increases in mental health issues, domestic abuse and child poverty.

“We’ve seen some fantastic ways people have been raising money for charity during lockdown, and there are lots of ways people are able to fundraise as we emerge from lockdown when the traditional routes are still not open to them. From virtual pub quizzes, running 5k in your back garden or taking part in a virtual 50k bike ride, we encourage people to see what they can do to raise money to support the charities close to their hearts.”

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