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Why Charities need to change their narrative this giving season

by Rosanna Irwin

October 30, 2020

Charities generate the majority of their annual revenue in the last three months of the year, in fact, 30% of annual giving occurs in December alone. This puts huge pressure on Charities and NGO’s to execute on their “Giving Season” campaigns, which usually consist of an appeal, or a “needs based” ask for donations.

Here’s why that’s a problem this year.

1. We have been asking audiences to donate to appeals on a near constant basis since the end of giving season 2019.

2020 has been a year of disasters and movements - from the bushfires in Australia in Jan/Feb, COVID in March, BLM and George Floyd fundraisers in May, Yemen in June and Beirut in August and now the Californian Bushfires in September. This has meant we have been asking our audiences to make outside the norm donations to various organisations since the end of giving season last year. This may mean audiences become desensitised to asks and may be less likely to give as we move towards giving season 2020.

2. Consumers are worried about their own financial status.

Financial resilience has worsened as we move further into 2020, particularly for parents and those who were renting for which about half of both groups said they could not afford an unexpected but necessary expense by 26 July. (1)

If we look forward to the long term, the story is not much different. 52% of UK consumers are extremely concerned about the impact of the pandemic on the country’s economy. (2) Similarly, 60% are concerned about the impact on their job.

Incomes have decreased for more than a third (35%) of UK consumers, while 9% have lost income completely. 16% of UK consumers are reliant on government help. This includes supportive financial measures such as the furlough scheme which will end at the end of October. It is no surprise that worries about future finances are coming to the fore. (2)

UK audiences have much less disposable income and are much less likely to donate to charities in these times.

3. Audiences want to support ethical brands and organisations

Beyond competitive prices, people care about the businesses they love, the people behind them and the actions they take, especially now. Social responsibility and brand authenticity are more influential than ever. People want to understand your organisation, what you stand for, and be proud to support you. Christmas shoppers may be price sensitive but when asked what kinds of content they want to see from businesses on Facebook platforms, they responded by saying real, authentic and informative content was as important as sales and offers. (5) Charities have a huge opportunity to step up as an ethical organisation and compete in the Christmas shopping season.

Ok great - so as marketers, how do we plan our activities for the holiday season, and how can we help our communities?

Gifting! 🎁

Charities and NGO’s are in a unique position this year where 51% of adults said they will shop more online because of COVID, broadening out their total addressable market. We also know that audiences are starting to incorporate brand values into their purchasing decisions. 27% of people surveyed across 12 key markets globally (3) bought a brand for the first time after learning about the company’s values, causes or business practices.

Audiences are looking for ethical brands to support this giving season. In fact, 49% of internet users worldwide said they had switched to a different product or service because a company violated their personal values. (3)

Charities have the opportunity to steal some of this market by switching up their narrative and offering the opportunity of a charitable gift this Christmas, perhaps packaging up regular giving products in a way that can be purchased for a loved one, aunty, friend.

Here is an example of this gifting narrative being tested last year with WWF UK.

CASE STUDY - WWF UK, Black Friday 2019.

WWF UK turned their adoption product into a gift idea for giving season. They used a messenger bot to create a “gift finder” to allow audiences to take a quiz to figure out which animal they should adopt as a present. They also took on black Friday, a shopping day notorious for e-comm and retail clients, not usually charities. UK shoppers spent over £2.5 billion during Black Friday week in 2018, which equates to around a quarter of all the money donated to UK charities in the same year.

The results?

- 58,000 visits to the WWF Website

- 2,087 incremental animal adoptions for the duration of the campaign - One every 10 minutes!

(1) https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/wellbeing/bulletins/personalandeconomicwellbeingintheuk/september2020

(2) https://www.ey.com/en_uk/consumer-products-retail/recovering-amid-increased-uk-consumer-economic-worries

(3) https://www.facebook.com/business/insights/tools/holiday-season?ref=alias

(4) Source: “Annual Consumer Journey Study” by Kantar Profiles (Facebook-commissioned online study of 35,557 people aged 18+ in AU, BR, CA, FR, DE, IN, ID,JP, MX, KR, UK, US). Minimum N= 1600 per market. July 2019 to November 2019

(5) Source: eMarketer, Sustainability Is Factoring into 2019 Christmas Purchases, Oct 2019


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