News for Nonprofits – January 2021

Surge in virtual events lowers revenue expectations

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted fundraising from traditional events, such as annual galas and walkathons, to virtual happenings. But, according to research from the Peer-to-Peer Professional Forum, the revenues raised from these events often fall below projected revenues.

The organization surveyed 120 North American nonprofits and found two-thirds already had hosted a virtual campaign in place of an existing program or completed a new virtual initiative in addition to what had been planned. Seventy-five percent had virtual campaigns underway or were preparing for one and expect to raise only about half of the amounts they had projected for their traditional campaigns.

Several programs have experienced dramatic fundraising declines. The March of Dimes raised $48.9 million with its 2019 March for Babies and set a prepandemic goal of $40 million for this year. But its virtual campaign ended up raising only $25 million. The Arthritis Foundation had set a goal of $8 million for its walks series last spring, but the virtual version raised only $3.5 million.

What we know so far about COVID philanthropy


COVID-19 spurred more than $11.9 billion in global philanthropy in the first six months of 2020. That’s just one of the findings in the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and information service Candid’s new report, “Philanthropy and COVID-19 in the first half of 2020.”

Report data came from publicly available sources in English, including press releases, websites, membership reports and surveys as well as funders reporting disbursements directly to Candid. The findings provide guidance to nonprofits in search of new revenue sources.

For example, the report reveals that corporations accounted for two-thirds of funding in the first half of 2020. Community foundations awarded more grants than any other type of grantmaker. And a combined $452.9 million was donated to COVID-19 response through donor-advised funds.

Study identifies digital trends  

Nonprofit consultant M+R has released its annual study of digital trends among nonprofits, and the results are promising. For example, total online revenue grew by 10% in 2019, compared with only 1% in 2018.

This appears to represent a return to the expected long-term trajectory, following “extraordinary volatility” after the 2016 election. Revenue spiked dramatically in 2017, especially for progressive organizations, but 2018 saw relatively flat growth.

The study also reports a 1% increase in email fundraising response rates — the first time it has ever found a year-over-year increase in the metric (though some sectors, such as public media and animal welfare, suffered sharp declines). Giving via Facebook accounted for 3.5% of all online revenue, with the donations heavily concentrated around Giving Tuesday. Find the report at