This post was inspired by some recent research by our friends north of the border: Good Works out of Ottawa, Ontario.

Now, Canadians are different from Americans in many ways. For instance...

They have a Prime Minister instead of a President. Every Canadian has health care. And they prefer Tim Horton's to Starbucks.

But at the end of the day, I'd bet that Canadian donors really aren't that different from American donors. And vice versa.

Last month, Good Works published a research report, Is Annual Giving Immune to COVID-19. (Click here to download a free copy)

In this report, Canadians shared their year-end and 2021 giving intentions in the current coronavirus climate.

The purpose of the report was to understand three key questions:

  1. How did donors give before the pandemic?
  2. How has COVID-19 impacted households, financially?
  3. How do donors intent to give going forward.

Here are some of the key findings:


In this Canadian survey, 70% of donors have stable (and even growing) personal incomes)

Another 30% have experienced income loss due to the pandemic.

canadians income covid19

Image credit: Good Works


75% of Canadian donors say they will either maintain or increase their pre-pandemic giving behavior.

And here's the kicker. These donors say they intend to keep giving regardless of whether their incomes have been impacted or not.

In Canada, college-educated donors are most likely to give in the next 12 months.

The general intent is that donors will give the same or more, congruent with their household income. ($100K+ households expect to be the most generous)

Last year's donors expressed intent to remain generous whereas last year's non-donors are less optimistic about starting to give. That shouldn't be surprising.


That is to say, the percentage of Canadians to intend to decrease their giving is almost offset by the percentage who intend to increase their giving over the next 12 months.

And remember how 75% of those who'll keep giving will give the same or more?

Of those folks with stable income, 14% expect to give less and 18% intend to give more!

canadians income stable giving

In Canada, the donors who expect to give more are young people (Millennials) - surprise! Or maybe not. Look at younger Americans and their passion for social justice, the environment and so many other causes.

Less surprising, more educated and higher earning individuals expect to give more than people in with less education and/or in lower income brackets.


Direct mail is not dead. Digital is growing and, when combined with direct mail, can be a solid source of income.

In Canada, more than half of donors expect to give the same amount through the mail as pre-COVID.

And nearly one-quarter expect to give more in response to direct mail than before COVID.

canadians direct mail covid

Similarly, half of Canadians expect to give the same amount online as pre-COVID.

And nearly one-third of donors expect to give MORE through digital channels.

canadians digital giving covid


#1. Keep fundraising!

COVID is merely a disruption in the fundraising cycle.

In fact, U.S. nonprofits that stayed the course and kept fundraising during the spring and summer are having record years.

#2. Focus on donor retention.

Many donors intend to keep giving to charity - but that doesn't mean they'll keep giving to your cause.

In the words of Mark Phillips: "She is not one of your donors. You are one of her charities."

Make sure you have a retention plan and are working hard, so she'll keep you as one of her choices.

Focus first on keeping your long-time and loyal donors. Then focus on getting your first-time donors to become second-time donors.

Then work on reactivating your lapsed donors and bringing new donors into the fold.

#3. Direct mail AND digital are reliable fundraising channels.

This is not an either-or. You want use direct mail and digital as complementary fundraising channels.

Both work well, and they work better together.

Direct mail and digital are essential fundraising tools, especially in the age of COVID, when face-to-face (and knee-to-knee) meetings aren't possible.

Here's to a strong finish to 2020 and a bright outlook for 2021!

With gratitude to Fraser Green and the fine folks at

Photo credit(s): Quote attribution: Mark Phillips, Bluefrog London,@markyphillips

Need help with year-end messaging that that will get more donors to give this year? Laura Rhodes can help.

Send a message to start the conversation and learn how Laura can help you and your organization.

You may also be interested in upcoming training events.