About 31% of nonprofits said they had successfully switched to digital fundraising in 2020 … [+] Many who tried the shift reported failed efforts.


Ninety-seven percent of nonprofits reiterated the need for innovation in response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to a recent study published by CAF America.

In Volume 6 of Future-Proof Nonprofits for the Post-Pandemic World: The Voice of Charities Before the COVID-19 Series, released last month, 805 nonprofits were surveyed, 57.76% of whom said they were between To have 1 and 20 employees.

The report includes responses collected from nonprofits in 152 countries between March 2020 and December 2020. Their collective scope of work included social services (45.56%); Education (44.54%); Health care (29.19%) and human rights (21.45%), among others niches. Who they serve: 73.25% said they work with children and adolescents; 47.72% work with people with disabilities; 39.92% work with the elderly; 35.48% work with the unemployed; 27.55% work with the homeless; 21.77% work with refugees; and 8.33% work with veterans.

When asked if their organization was negatively impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, the answer was a near universal yes, but there was a slight decrease over the summer months – 96.50% said yes in March 2020, but that number went down in June back to 90.40%. In December the number had risen to 93.07%.

When asked about the innovations that they implemented in 2020, the highest answer with 73.94% was “Adaptation of programming to the digital sector”. Nonprofits also said this was their most successful innovation – 62.84% said they succeeded in this customization.

Other innovations were rated as less successful by respondents: 57.42% said they had developed new donation strategies and campaigns, but only 31.42% said they were successful.

Comparing the strategies implemented with the changes seen as successful reflected the deep frustration of the nonprofits and their various efforts: 45.68% said they implemented collaboration or partnerships with other nonprofits to coordinate the response, but only 27 , 25% said these efforts were successful; 42.45% said they had changed existing grant agreements, but only 20.60% did so with success. 30.06% changed employee roles, but only 16.95% said they had done so successfully.

In six priority areas – technology, communications, finance, fundraising, leadership and diversity, equity and inclusion – nonprofits were surveyed to identify areas for improvement. 71.05% said they could use support or advice to use communications more effectively for fundraising and resource mobilization. 75.60% seek help or advice in finding new ways to fundraise through digital technology. and 69.24% seek support or advice in cultivating new and existing donors for sources of funding for diversity.

When asked about the percentage of their board of directors who belong to the marginalized or underserved populations they support, 41.69% of the responding non-profit organizations said 0%; another 21.92% said between 1-25%.

The 13-page report can be downloaded here. You can find a corresponding webinar here.