Growth in donations to Russian CSOs during pandemic

Study: in 2020 people started supporting CSOs more regularly

7 April 2021

The Yesli byt tochnym (To Be Exact) project, together with the payment service CloudPayments, has presented new benchmarking guidance for CSOs (NGOs).

On 7 April, as part of the Nuzhna pomosh (Help Needed) foundation’s ‘CSO Benchmarking’ project, To Be Exact released the results of a study into CSO fundraising activities. The data shows how charity donations changed in 2020 and at the beginning of 2021.

Spring 2020

In spring 2020, researchers detected a substantial rise in one-off donations, mainly to CSOs working with socially vulnerable groups. One-off donations peaked in April, with a 136% increase compared with March.

Recurring donations from March to May grew at a monthly rate of between 4% and 17%.

“The difference in growth rates for one-off and recurring payments during the pandemic is typical for any emergency situation: people make one-off donations more often, while subscribing to recurring payments less often”, noted the authors of the study.

The number of one-off donations started to decrease towards the summer with the gradual easing of severe lockdown restrictions.

Regular Support

Donations grew again towards the New Year, which is typical of seasonal trends. CSOs launch pre-New Year campaigns at a time when people are feeling charitable.

In December 2020, one-off donations to help socially vulnerable groups rose by 96% compared with November. Donations increased for other categories too: 43% for medical aid, 220% for environmental charities, and 58% for human rights organisations.

In January 2021, there was a natural fall in the number of donations. Nevertheless, the monitoring study concluded that in 2020 people started supporting CSOs more regularly. Over the course of the year the number of monthly payments gradually increased, with one and a half to two times more in January 2021 compared to January 2020.

Human Rights

There was minimal support for human rights organisations at the beginning of the pandemic, with the number of monthly donations from March to May barely increasing.

“This area is particularly effected by external events, the political climate, and public gatherings. Social distancing restrictions made it even harder to carry out mass protests and political actions, which in turn can make the work of human rights organisations ‘invisible’”, explained the researchers.

However, in January 2021, experts recorded a sharp rise in support for human rights organisations. Amid mass protests there was a 200% increase in donations by December, one of the most fruitful months for CSO fundraising.


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