What we learned from 2020?

Like most of you, we at the agency are spending time analysing what happened in 2020 and are trying to get our heads around what might lie ahead this year.

At the outset of the Covid-19 crisis last March, there were several predictions of heavy impending losses in fundraised income in the Irish charity sector. Initially estimates ranged from a minimum loss of €180 million to a high of €450 million – out of an estimated total of €1.5 billion.

While we can’t yet say for certain what exactly happened in 2020, we can assume that overall income will have declined.

However, the crisis didn’t affect all charities the same.


Who did well and why?

Some charities did well despite the Covid challenges. Those are the charities who pivoted their propositions to Covid. They made a commitment to engage with their donors, especially on impact. They developed new ask programmes and used online and digital channels effectively.

Those that did particularly well are working on the key issues significantly highlighted in the Covid media coverage, such as mental health, domestic violence and homelessness.

We know that charities that did well saw significant increases in Q2, Q3 and Q4 from their warm and prospect appeals and, in a lot of cases, saw record response rates and average gifts.

They also saw significant increases in major gifts from individuals, corporates, trusts and foundations. This is especially true of frontline organisations in Q2 and Q3, and all sectors in Q4.


Donor fatigue – Is it real or just feared?

There was some worry in Q3 of 2020 about possible Covid fatigue in the lead up to Christmas. But all the evidence is that this was not an issue. In fact, Christmas appeals seem to have done well.

The background to this success comes from a number of factors. Most donors will have seen increases in their disposable income over recent years, and in 2020 this increase has continued alongside exceptional levels of savings.

It’s hard to imagine, but the Irish economy actually grew in 2020! 

But perhaps the key takeaway is that we were all reminded of the core values of all donors. Donors want to help. Especially in a time of crisis.


What lies ahead in 2021?

It is probably fair to say that the decline in the so-called ‘Covid bounce’ has already started. We will know more about the true extent of this when the Easter appeals are completed.

From our perspective, we think that what happened in 2020 in Ireland is that those charities who took some risk and engaged with their donors succeeded. And we have little doubt that the same will be true for 2021.

Meanwhile, here’s two things we thought would be helpful.

The first is a short talk by Danny McCoy, head of IBEC, speaking at a recent IAPI webinar. He gives a good overall view of the economy and what he thinks lies ahead this year. (His talk begins at 3:38).

The second is the Charity Benchmarks Covid-19 Impact Report from the UK. The researchers have compiled a host of really useful information on the fundraising impacts seen in the UK, and some of it is really helpful for us here in Ireland.

Here’s how they end their summary: “As Seth Godin memorably stated, ‘The cost of being wrong is less than the cost of doing nothing.’ As fundraisers, we need to resist the urge to retreat into survival mode, and instead use this opportunity to engage in a more authentic and rewarding way with a public that clearly wants to help.”


And we’re here to help.

As you turn your thoughts to 2021 and how to continue to navigate your way through this crisis, our team is ready to help with any fundraising advice and expertise you might need. Or if you are trying to frame your post-Covid marketing, we can help you to ensure that all of it is integrated, compelling and effective. Chat with John on 087 266 3168 or email him on john@persuasionrepublic.ie.


That’s all from us for now.

Stay safe and be kind.

From John, Susan, Charlie and Alan and all the team at Persuasion Republic.



Welcome everybody, what an incredible year it has been. This time last year, nobody could have foreseen the extraordinary challenges and changes that lay ahead.

The last few months have been especially hectic and it’s been simply amazing and inspiring to watch how well you have all pivoted and adapted to this ‘new normal’. So we wanted to add our own personal message of congratulations to you all.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas

All of this year’s Christmas appeals are now in the field, and we know that a lot is riding on them as you try to make up for the loss of funds back in Q2. So, we want to wish you the very best of luck and we hope that the results reflect the huge effort and dedication that goes into organising these appeals.
We are really hopeful that the results this year will be very strong, due to the amount of innovation and imagination that you have put into them.
This year has also made one thing very clear – your donors are extraordinary. Despite the many challenges we have all faced, donors have continued to support their charities in the most passionate and generous way.
Some of the results we have seen to appeals this year have been simply staggering.

More 2020 learnings 

A selection box of great research

As you can imagine, over the past five months there has been a lot of great research conducted. If we wanted, we could have filled an entire book or two.
What we have done instead is chosen to share four key pieces of research which we believe will be most helpful to you as you plan the details of your work in 2021.

Pandemic Fatigue – when will it end?

First up (not in order of any priority) is a great piece from McKinsey on Pandemic Fatigue. It asks the questions that are on all our minds. When will it all end? When will we reach the new normal – what they term the ‘functional end’ of the pandemic? Spoiler Alert: Their guess is Q3 2021.

Are donations rising?

Next up is nfpSynergy’s blog on CAF’s UK Research which shows that fundraised income has risen during the Covid-19 pandemic by £800m in the UK. We believe that Nfp has rightly called this research finding into question.

What are your donors really thinking?

Third is a great piece from Mark Philips at Bluefrog on what donors think now that we are eight months into the pandemic. Mark also recorded a short video summarising the findings. The bottom line is that things are changing fast and donors want their most trusted charitable partners to have their house in order. You need to show how you have planned for the next stage of the pandemic and are ready to deliver services to those in need. Remember that your supporters are counting on you to deliver key services – they don’t want to have to worry about you as well!

The latest consumer research – just in time for Christmas

Next, we believe it is really helpful to keep an eye on any current good consumer research, as here in Ireland current donor research is hard to come by. Want to know what consumers are up to this Christmas and see how it is relevant for your work? Check out Core’s latest research consumer report here.
Lastly, if you want to read some more reports, here are a few from the research selection box:
·      Big Give survey/Salesforce
·      Enthuse Donor Pulse
·      Probono tracker
·      Giving Ireland report

A warm welcome 

We want to end the year by extending a very warm welcome to the clients that have joined us this year – Pieta, Women’s Aid, Mater Foundation, ARC Cancer Support, Irish Youth Foundation, Inclusion Ireland and Kare Services.
We also want to say a special welcome back  to Burren Geoparks and Dogs Trust, who have returned to work with us. We are delighted and proud to be working with you.
We look forward to helping you continue your wonderful work in the new year, and you will be hearing more from us now on a more regular basis from now on.

New Year Plans– we’re here to help

As you turn your thoughts to 2021 and how to continue to navigate your way through this crisis, our team is ready to help with any fundraising advice and expertise you might need. Or if you are trying to frame your post-Covid marketing, we can help you to ensure that all of it is integrated, compelling and effective. Chat with John on 087 266 3168 or email him on john@persuasionrepublic.ie.

We got a new look– just in time for Christmas

You may have noticed we have given ourselves an early Christmas present by refreshing our brand. We hope our new look and feel reflects the colour, the passion and the flair we try to bring to all your projects.
We love it and hope you do too.
Remember brand and design is one of the key services we supply. So, if you are considering a new brand – or just want to refresh your existing brand, like we did – please give us a call and we’ll chat you through what’s involved.

Thank You

Lastly, we want to thank you all for your trust and incredible hard work over the last year. It has been a real honour and privilege to work for you and with you during this unprecedented time.



As the country starts to open again we are all slowly – and carefully – returning to discover what exactly this ‘new normal’ will look like. What has been the effect of Covid-19 on the charity sector? What trends have emerged? How has public opinion changed? Where once the advice was to Stay Home, the key going forward will be to Stay Informed. To aid your journey, we thought we’d share the best research, roadmaps, analysis and insights from across the sector and the wider media.

Research and Insights

As the sector and the world comes to terms with living with Covid-19, we’ve gathered up the latest wave of research relevant to charities and the not-for-profit sector.

Counting the Costs

The Charities Regulator has shared the results of its survey on the impact of Covid-19 on Irish charities.

Lessons Learned, Habits Formed

Our media partners Havas published this in-depth report on changing media habits of Irish consumers in recent weeks.

My, how we’ve changed

Genesis have published their Now > Next report with lots of data on public habits, attitudes and implications of the recent crisis.

A healthy perspective

You can find detailed public opinion tracking research from Amarach for the Department of Health which looks at Behavioural Change, Emotional Well Being, Risk Perceptions, Policy Preferences and thoughts on Information and Communication.

Tomorrow is another day

Opinium look at the future of the charity sector in their report on how UK charities adapt to the impact of Covid-19.

Charity begins at home – everywhere 

Salesforce have released a report on trends in the NFP sector from across the globe.

Has everything changed?

According to McKinsey in their recent report A Transformative Moment for Philanthropy, the charity sector has demonstrated that it can and will pivot quickly in a crisis, and leaders must expand on this work.

The New-Normal Times 

There has been a large volume of media coverage on the sector in recent weeks and months, as we all settle into the ‘new normal’. We track these stories on a weekly basis and we thought we would share with you a number of  the recent ones. They range from inspiring stories of individuals in the community taking on fundraising challenges, to beneficiary stories, to charities calling on the new Government not to forget them as the country begins to open up again.

We’re here to help

If we can help you navigate your way through this crisis with fundraising, communications or marketing advice and expertise, our team is ready and well initiated in Covid-related campaigns. Or if you’re gearing up for post-Covid communications, we’re here. Chat with John on 087 266 3168 or email him on john@persuasionrepublic.ie






Our (socially-distanced) High Five Highlights

So, here’s the top 5 Inspirational COVID-combating antibodies we encountered this week.

1. Awake at the Wheel

First up is the extraordinary success in winning government support for a €40m Stability Fund – no mean feat. Congrats to The Wheel, Cii and all their sector partners who drove this campaign. You can get all the details here. The supportive government response to our sector seems to be in direct contrast with the situation in the UK where their charity support package has been described as, amongst other things, a farce, according to the Directory for Social Change.

2. An infectious response 

The evidence is in – there has been a great response to Covid 19 appeals – donors are now really engaged with supporting charities’ work on the impacts of the pandemic. Persuasion Republic’s client appeals currently in the field are performing extraordinarily well. Evidence of strong donor support is also coming from the latest survey from NfpSynergy in the UK which states “After a slow start, the majority of the public now agree that charities are responding well to the pandemic. Perhaps most encouragingly, the overwhelming majority (68%) believe that charities should keep fundraising. Donors are happy to continue hearing from charities and few think it would be inappropriate for them to continue asking for money at this stage.” 

3. Virtually always learning

As an agency, we all took time out to attend the IFC online fundraising event on April 29 and 30, which hosted almost 30 sessions covering a whole host of topics. The three stand-outs for us were Nick Burne – How to get people fundraising for you on Facebook, Adapting regular giving recruitment for the digital world with Kathryn Holloway and Alex Agiddis from Friends of the Earth UK, and Chris Steeves –  Embracing Data-Driven Fundraising. Well done to IFC for staging the event and we are already looking forward to the next one. You can check out all the sessions here.

4. Caption Marvel

Tom Ahern’s quick tutorial but very long title:  How To Write a Donor-Centered 3.0 Caption Using ideas learned from Identity-Based Fundraising Research. As always terrific practical advice from Tom.
And finally – 

5. The Magnificent Seven

A really strong and useful guide from Tom Woods  – ‘Power through the Pandemic’ – seven ways to raise funds with major donors, corporates and trusts, even now.

If we can help you navigate your way through this crisis with fundraising or communications advice and expertise, our team is ready and well initiated in COVID-related campaigns. Or if you’re gearing up for post-Covid communications, we’re here. Chat with John on 0872663168 or email him on john@persuasionrepublic.ie 



Looks like one of the main legacies of Covid-19 is…well…Legacies

The Will of the people

So, in this edition of our Book of Covidence we thought we would focus on legacy fundraising as there have been several great pieces of advice and research published in recent weeks. 

First up, according to media reports in the UK, there’s been a surge in Will making – up 300% in some cases – since the onset of the crisis. Twice as many people are visiting Remember A Charity’s ‘Making A Will’ page. In our view, given the existential times we’re living through, it doesn’t really come as any surprise that donors who want to make a difference are doing so with legacy gifts and pledges.

Be prepared 

One impact of this development is that supporters will make enquiries to their favourite charities, so the advice is to make sure you are prepared and know how you plan to handle queries about Will-writing and what you can do to help supporters. This might include putting them in touch with reputable Will-writing partners and encouraging them to discuss their intentions with their family and friends.

More or less?

New research from Legacy Foresight talks about the potential impact of the Covid 19 crisis delaying the processing of Wills so in the immediate short term it is quite likely we will see a drop in legacy income this year which they currently estimate at 10% or less. However, over the next 5 years they are still projecting possible growth of 14%-19% which is less than they had projected before the crisis due to the far more pessimistic outlook for house prices and share prices over the period.

Short term In-Memory loss

In regards to In-Memory fundraising, the fact that funeral services are being restricted suggests that funeral giving to charities will be severely diminished, at least in the short-term. However, they think there may be a ‘delay effect’ – where people who have been unable to give their loved ones the send-off they’d have wanted at the time of their death, will wait until restrictions have lifted to organise the memorial event of their choice.

With the best Will in the world

Just before the lockdown, Remember a Charity published the results of their latest consumer tracker survey they commissioned from nfpSynergy that shows that record levels of charity donors say they have written a gift to charity into their Wills or are preparing to do so. The study reveals that 17% of charity supporters aged 40 and over have included a charity in their Will and a further 10% are preparing to do so. Annual tracking indicates a steady increase over the past decade, with 21% of donors in this age group saying that they have left, or intend to leave, a gift in their Will in 2010 rising to 27% in 2019. Only 9% of donors actively reject the concept of leaving a legacy, down from 12% in 2010. The number of people unaware of legacy giving has fallen from 20% in 2010 to 11% in 2019.

Be top of mind 

Whether or not you should continue to campaign for legacies at this time is something that every legacy fundraiser is grappling with over recent weeks. The overwhelming anecdotal evidence is that most charities are pausing their legacy campaigns. Moceanic has published a great blog that summarises a new ‘White Paper’ by Russell James and Michael Rosen called Legacy Fundraising: The Best of Times or the Worst of Times? It proposes a strategy to charities that now is the time to be top of mind with your donors and suggests numerous tactics for achieving this. It’s free and can be downloaded here.

Be seen, sensible and sensitive 

Institute of Fundraising UK is recommending that charities consider the timing of any pledger recruitment mailings scheduled over the next few weeks, as these could be deemed insensitive at the current time. However, they’re also recommending that charities should think about how any pledger stewardship communications and activity can be reimagined, so you can offer some contact to any pledgers who are self-isolating and would welcome the interaction, without it being obviously linked to their pledge.

Download our survey 

Finally, a reminder that Persuasion Republic produced a legacy survey last year, in association with My Legacy, that tracks legacy giving in Ireland. You can get a free copy here.

We hope you are all staying somewhat sane and physically healthy.
Be safe.
From John, Susan, Charlie and Alan and all the team at Persuasion Republic.



This week’s best tips, advice and insights

Hi Everyone. We hope you’re all coping, adapting, connecting and most of all – staying well.

Thanks for all your messages and reactions to our recent EDMs. And it’s really uplifting to see so many smart charities reacting quickly, being lithe, being strategic, and getting their appeals out. And most of all, being more connected to their donors than ever. It shows once again, what a bright, developed and responsive sector we are.

Continuing our series on sources of helpful advice to fortify ourselves as we navigate this unchartered storm, here is our next instalment.

Could this be fundraising’s finest hour?

SOFII has launched a new series: Fundraising in a time of crisis. Over the coming weeks they will share insightful new content, links to great assets and more to help you maximise your potential to do good in this trying time. Well worth monitoring.

5 Steps to Keep Your Fundraising Strong Through the Crisis.

Sean Triner presented with Moceanic a new webinar live on Facebook called COVID-19: 5 Steps to Keep Your Fundraising Strong Through the Crisis, to help you survive the crisis, how to avoid a fundraising catastrophe, key strategies for crisis and emergency campaigns – and how to recover lost events’ income. Moceanic have also put together a Cheatsheet for Navigating the Crisis.

Bluefrog’s Mark Philips in interview with Amber Nathan

The first feedback on a Bluefrog research study aimed at finding out what UK donors need from charities during the time of the Coronavirus crisis is out. It is still early days and they expect donor attitudes to further evolve over the coming weeks and will update us more.

Havas Media Guide to Navigating Covid

Our media partners and Adam Taylor and his team have produced a terrific guide to understanding the changing media landscape here in Ireland with their Guide to Navigating Covid

ZOOM to improve. Our tips for maximising Zoom 

What we have learned in generation Zoom. The world has now come to love and rely on video conferencing tools like Zoom and Google Hangouts. But as some people may be recent arrivals to Planet Zoom, we’ve compiled the best  tips just for you. Find them here.

While video conferencing is a great and essential asset at this time, please do be careful. As reported in the Irish Times, there is, as with all online activity, a constant need for vigilance when it comes to your data and privacy.

That’s all from us for now. Stay safe and be kind. 
From John, Susan, Charlie and Alan and all the team at Persuasion Republic.



Latest Research & Insights

What we are learning from these first few weeks of the Covid 19 crisis.

As people start to really try to get to terms with what’s happening in the sector and Working From Home, some very valuable lessons are being learned every day. And now the first wave of research since the crisis hit is being published and it’s great to have it. So we thought we’d share what we found most insightful.

Some good news

First up, a quick look at what commercial marketeers are finding from their consumer research (which includes our donors and supporters). The good news according to research from MCCP Dublin is that we are moving from shock to an adjustment phase and looking for the positives in the negatives. Consumers are re-evaluating what actually matters. We are using the time to connect, to learn and to unplug. We are checking our bills, focusing on essentials, deferring expenditure and showing more deliberate, conscious buying behaviour.

Impulse buying is gone and we are saving our money. We are also returning to 70s/80s hobbies. Knitting is back! MCCP’s clear advice to companies, especially the big brands, is that consumers need them to step up, be proactive and help out. They also need to move fast and that those in greatest need, need the greatest support. Companies that decide to stay in the shadows and fail to act will lose valuable brand equity.

We think this research is very helpful for corporate fundraisers to use as part of their pitch to corporate donors and prospects over the next 4-8 weeks.

A Pint of Plain Goodness

Here’s one example of a corporate stepping up. Earlier this week Guinness announced that it was creating a fund of €1.5m to support communities around the country that have been affected by Covid-19. Of this, €1.2m will go to support the thousands of bar staff who have lost their jobs, while the remaining €300,000 will go towards assisting vulnerable elderly people around the country through a partnership with the charity ALONE.

There is much work to be done

There were also three very interesting pieces of research from the not-for-profit sector (all three from the UK). About Loyalty have launched a Covid-19 tracker and found amongst other things that 30% of people say they intend to stop or reduce their donations, but older donors say they are going to stick with their current charities through Covid-19. So all is not lost, the majority of donors will continue to support you.

The Institute of Fundraising, National Council for Voluntary Organisations and Charity Finance Group ran a survey to assess the initial impact of coronavirus on the charity sector. On average, for those charities that re-forecast their income, they now expect to see a decrease in their voluntary income of 43%, and 31% of total income from the previous year. Here’s hoping those estimates don’t come to pass, as based on our ballpark estimate of voluntary income in Ireland that would result in a loss of €300-400m in a full year.

NfpSynergy ran a short omnibus survey and found some interesting insights, including that only half of the public (53%) consider charity information trustworthy – around the same as family and friends. By far the clearest thing that the public think would be helpful for charities to do is provide day to day support for at risk people (64%), followed by funding or carrying out medical research (41%) and providing volunteers at hospitals (40%). In times of crisis, the public are aware of the need for charities; this perhaps suggests that charitable giving is not likely to be first on the list of cutbacks.

There is one simple conclusion to be drawn from this research. Now, more than ever, charities need to engage with their donors in an honest, consistent and regular way.

Another useful piece of research is the 2into3 report Fundraising in a Time of Crisis: Lessons from History.

Stay Safe.
From John, Susan, Charlie and Alan and all the team at Persuasion Republic.



What an extraordinary week that was

Nearly all of us are now successfully working from home and things are already shaping up for what will be a really challenging period. For every organisation (including us), their strategic planning window is coming in 3-month phases and it is certainly the shortest timeframe we have ever seen in our 30 years of working in the Not-For-Profit Sector. In fact, for some people and organisations, they are having to look at just 30 days.

But it’s terrific to see the sector, like so many sections of society, upping their activity and staying focussed on those in need – your beneficiaries. Never has fundraising and advocacy been so important to keep services and supports working.  And never has the Irish public been so united in kindness and solidarity.

And, luckily for your fundraisers and advocates, never has the public been so gathered in one very reachable setting – home.

We speak to a lot of clients and stakeholders every week and in the past 7 days we were told about events and appeals being rescheduled, services having to adapt, refocus and in some cases close and many of you have started to develop Covid-focussed fundraising and advocacy appeals. Over the next 3-4 weeks, we will see a lot of frontline domestic and overseas aid organisations fundraising because of the devastating impact of Covid 19 on their beneficiaries.

The good news

On another positive note, as well as seeing organisations like yours being so active, it’s great to see the umbrella organisations such as The Wheel and CII advocating a strong voice to government to support the sector in a meaningful way. It is also inspiring to see the solidarity and advice-sharing amongst colleagues in the sector and with that in mind, we are keeping our eyes and ears open for the best advice possible to pass along. Here’s this week’s highlights:

The post will always be delivered

It is also heartening to see that our postal service is continuing as per normal. An Post are even launching this wonderful initiative to connect the nation with positive messages of support and to reinforce the key message that ‘the post will continue’. As it has done in Italy despite the incredible challenges they currently face.

Updates from Italy

Speaking of Italy, some of you will know that this agency has strong links to Italy and we are in constant contact with family and friends there, especially in Lombardy, the region most devastated by the virus. The one constant piece of advice we are being told is to take absolutely no risks – self-isolate, full stop. No ifs or buts. The virus is incredibly contagious and knows no boundaries of age or health status. So be really careful and be safe.

You should all be so proud that, like our frontline healthcare workers, you too are keeping the flag of action flying for people in greater need than ever. Thank you.

From John, Susan, Charlie and Alan and all the team at Persuasion Republic.