Omi­cron vari­ant, new restric­tions and fail­ings of lead­er­ship. What should fundrais­ers do now?

In a video that first appeared on his blog in Novem­ber 2021, Bluefrog’s Mark Phillips joins col­league Amber Nathan to out­line how the emer­gence of Omi­cron might impact on fundrais­ing and giv­ing. They includ­ed rec­om­men­da­tions on the actions that fundrais­ers like you should be tak­ing as 2022 begins. Cru­cial­ly, Mark can now give a quick update on the kind of results they’ve seen from recent Christ­mas appeals.

Written by
Mark Phillips
February 03, 2022

Back in September 2021, I recorded a presentation about the ongoing impact of coronavirus on giving for the Chartered Institute of Fundraising (CIOF) National Convention. Recent events have made me think that it would be useful to make the video available more widely.

The findings are of particular relevance because many of the worries shared with us by donors are now rapidly crystallising in the face of current events in the UK and abroad. The most important of these being the identification of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) and the ongoing questioning of government competence regarding both the management of the pandemic and the recent, horrific deaths in the English Channel.

To help explain what we’ve uncovered, I’m pleased to say that I’m joined in the presentation by Bluefrog’s head of research, Amber Nathan, who conducted the donor interviews that form the basis of our reports. Amber brings to life many of the discussions she has had as she shares what she learned from speaking to hundreds of donors as the global response has continued to evolve.

The presentation includes detailed findings from our research studies along with recommendations about what actions fundraisers should be taking as we move into 2022 (which links to my recent blog post on the long term effects the pandemic is likely to have on giving).

Like our previous releases, the video covers a great deal of ground. So, in response to requests, I’ve attached section timings so you can jump directly to the elements that interest you the most.


0.00 Introduction and summary of what we’ve learned from donors in our previous studies. Broader findings on thoughts about coronavirus, particularly looking at the growing number of people who don’t see an end to the pandemic.

8:00 Our latest findings. Looking at trust, role of the media, social conflict and attitudes surrounding injustice.

24:05 How living with coronavirus has impacted on giving behaviour. Results from appeals. Why public generosity has grown. The three factors that are driving this growth. The hierarchy of causes.

31:30 How you should frame your specific causal need during the ongoing pandemic.

40:05 How coronavirus has reset the relationship between donors and charities. Why are people not going to stop giving.

45:35 The long-term impact that coronavirus will have on giving. Challenges and goals. How donor needs have changed and the changing form of the current set of donor need states.

53:20 The factors that stop people from engaging with solving societal problems and how they can be overcome. Examples of creative work.

60:00 Summary and conclusions – key take-aways with an explanation of the A to E of success. Why the mantra for charities should be to solve – not to sell. And, above all, why you should still be focusing on the impact the pandemic is having on your work.

Editor’s note: Since this video first appeared, Mark and his team have been reviewing Christmas appeal results. 

In January 2022 he said, ‘Everything is up. Just seen results from one charity that are 230 per cent over target! People, as they have told us themselves, are being amazingly generous at the moment.’

Read the article and watch the full video to see Mark and Amber explain what they believe to be the reasons behind these results. There is plenty for you to digest and apply to your work today. Enjoy! 

About the author: Mark Phillips

Mark Phillips

Mark Phillips (he/him) started fundraising for ActionAid UK in the late 1980s and later became head of fundraising at YMCA England. He set up Bluefrog in 1997 with one simple goal – to be the agency he would have wanted to employ. His approach to fundraising is based on understanding and answering donor needs. Mark shares his research, ideas and findings via his blog.

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