COVID-19 impacts on fundraising - the case of Face-to-Face
The ongoing crisis caused by the Corona pandemic has brought huge challenges for many people all over the globe and dislocation in all types of industries. The evident impacts and maybe the ones yet to come imply serious threats for numerous fundraising nonprofit organizations. The pandemic has significantly affected the conditions under which widespread fundraising channels can be used. Considering lockdowns all over the world leading to drastically reduced mobility, Corona has most obviously affected Face-to-Face fundraising (F2F). Since the introduction of its contemporary form in the 1990ies (by the way in Austria, where the askyourdata-team is based), F2F has become an enormously important channel for many charities, particularly for the acquisition of regular supporters.
In the majority of countries affected by COVID-19, people were not completely forced to stay inside but allowed to move for certain purposes (work, groceries, walking etc.). One can get an idea of the impact on people´s mobility using the currently publicly available mobile data from Google. You can go ahead and download a flat file to play with on this website. We obtained the global dataset and put together the following dashboard for which we invite you to have a closer look. Just click the two little arrows in the bottom right corner of the dashboard or follow this link.
If you are looking for an insightful situation report on the state of Face-to-Face fundraising in times of Corona from a global perspective, we can recommend the recording of a recent panel discussion hosted by The Resource Alliance. In short, F2F teams all across the world have proved their adaptiveness in many ways already...
I cannot tell how many countless times I have recently come across quotes talking about the opportunities that lie in crises. In many cases, they were mere platitudes, at the same time I deeply believe that the world will gradually get closer to how it was before Corona. This will be reflected by people sitting in cafes after some relaxed high-street shopping enjoying the sun ... everything completely mask-free. Will Face-to-Face fundraising be exactly the same then?
Let us try to start dealing with this question with an analogy. COVID seems to have changed almost everything in our lives - but the world keeps turning for the good and the bad. This means, for instance, that Climate Change will not pause just because we are busy with another crisis. The same applies to - in a more positive way - the ongoing digital revoution as well as the expansion of analytics and data science across all types of industries. From my point of view, F2F fundraising has been keeping pace with technological developments quite well in the recent past. The chances to come across F2F agents using tablets, simple and customer-oriented processes, instant messaging services etc. are quite high in many countries. Our hypothesis is, however, that there is scope for even farther innovations ...
The Power of Where: Using Location Intelligence in F2F?
This nice newspaper article illustrates examples of how companies use geolocation data to target their (potential) customers. One of our favourite blogs Towards Data Science has summarised the Power of Where and goes as far as to postulate that location analytics will change the world. Location analytics also has the potential to make contributions during and after this pandemic, as outlined in this recent article by the platform Carto.
Seen from a practical perspective, what might use cases of Location Intelligence be in F2F fundraising? Many mobile network providers across the globe have started offering services in the context of Mobile Location Analytics, as US-provider Verizon calls it. These services are typically not as prominently advertised as other products and tools - but they are there. What might "Mobile Location Analytics" mean? Well, in a retail context, interesting "research questions" might be:
Seizing this idea, would it not be interesting to know who is moving when across the (high-)street or the shopping center where the next large-scale F2F campaign will take place? Of course, nonprofits following-up the use of such services have to have awareness of data protection and privacy (although this is what the networks have to take care of) and donor communication to be prepared.
Admittedly, we are raising a somewhat ambiguous and maybe even controversial approach as potential add-on to professionalized Face-to-Face fundraising. What is your opinion?