Older donors, and digital engagement, to the rescue as COVID takes its toll on school fundraising, ToucanTech study shows


LONDON, Sept. 1, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Total school fundraising income dropped by nearly 20 percent in 2020, with alumni giving plunging by nearly half, as reported by leading community management software company ToucanTech, which examined 1 million database records from a mix of private and public schools across the UK.

ToucanTech founder Kate Jillings says: “It’s telling that alumni felt unable to donate to their schools in the same way as previous years. Presumably many were concerned about job security and the general uncertainty that hit us all during the pandemic and lockdowns, but limitations on physical fundraising events may also have played a part”.

Among the unique insights in the school fundraising study is the revelation that the value of donations to single-sex boys’ schools is nearly four times greater than for all-girls’ schools: £226,000 compared with £61,000.

Jillings comments: “This gender disparity is intriguing. Whether it’s because men ‘giving back’ to their schools is a more ingrained habit than for women, we’re not certain. Of course, we know that the gender pay gap remains sizable, so women may be less able to afford to donate to their alma mater. But we also know from philanthropy studies that women outrank men in the percentage that give to charities, so it’s interesting that schools aren’t seeing the same”.

Meanwhile, fundraising income from those aged 60-70 was up by more than £1,000 per donor in 2020 compared with 2019, and the largest donations came from the over-70s who, on average, gave more than £8,000 per donor.

“Through the pandemic we’ve seen consistently high giving from an older generation of donors, many of whom have stayed in touch with their old schools via email newsletters, virtual meet-ups and online communities” says Jillings.

ToucanTech’s data analysis shows that almost 75% of donors are opening school emails, and the proportion of donors is 12 times higher amongst people who engage in emails and events than those who don’t – a clear indication that it’s worth keeping alumni, and also former staff and parents, digitally engaged.

Jenny Blaiklock, Development Director at Lady Eleanor Holles, an independent girls’ school in West London, reflects on their activities during Covid restrictions: “The success of our eNews and virtual events has brought into focus how much our alumnae who live outside London and around the world like to keep in touch with the school and each other”.

Similarly, Rog Peach who administers The Lerpoolians community for alumni, parents, staff and friends of Liverpool College, remarks that following the pandemic they will “remain focused on driving online membership and building a community where it becomes ‘habit’ for people to interact virtually with news, photos, clubs, events and digitised school magazines”.

Further insights in the ToucanTech report revealed the difference between school type (by age, gender and funding) and the connection between parent and alumni engagement with communications, events and other activities to raise funds for both bursaries and new building projects.

ToucanTech works with hundreds of schools and other education, nonprofit and membership organisations to help them create engaged online communities that give back. The ToucanTech software combines a CRM, website/ portal, email and events management in one flexible system.

Editor’s notes: The ToucanTech study is based on data from 997,244 database records for 124 schools across the UK 

  • 68 Senior, 35 Junior and Senior, 21 Junior (Prep)
  • 100 Independent and 24 State
  • 81 Co-Ed, 24 Girls’ and 19 Boys’

For further information, and to arrange an interview with Kate Jillings, contact Jade Brennan, Marketing Director for ToucanTech: jade@toucantech.com  


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here