Findings from the 1,000+ responses to our January 2021 survey provide some encouraging news for nonprofit leaders and development professionals.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began nearly a year ago, one of the central questions in the minds of nonprofit leaders and fundraisers has continually been can we raise money effectively in a virtual world?

The latest results from CCS’s Philanthropic Climate Survey—which encompass responses from more than 1,000 individuals representing nonprofits across sectors—help show that as we begin 2021, the answer is still yes.

Click here to download the full report.

CCS undertook the first installment of our Philanthropic Climate Survey series in spring 2020 to assess the immediate impact of the COVID-19 crisis on nonprofit fundraising. Since then, subsequent installments have broadened beyond analyzing the effects of the pandemic to address the larger picture of nonprofit fundraising today.

Our new fourth-edition results provide a snapshot of the strategies many nonprofits have embraced to fundraise in 2020 and early 2021. The survey data also provide a window into how nonprofits are planning for the future of their fundraising programs, including looking ahead to a post-pandemic world. The newly released survey report covers topics including the utilization and success of online fundraising events, changes to cases for support, trends in remote work for fundraising staff, and more.

Success in Virtual Major Gift Solicitations

One particularly reassuring finding from our survey is that virtual major gift solicitations were mostly reported as successful.

As of January 2021, 56% of our survey participants reported holding a virtual major gift solicitation during the pandemic via phone, video conference, or both methods (up from 43% in our September 2020 survey). Of those respondents whose organizations had conducted a virtual major gift solicitation, 72% reported that their virtual requests were either as successful or more successful than their typical results from in-person solicitations.

Improving Fundraising Results

This news of successful virtual solicitations aligns with our survey’s broader findings on improving fundraising outcomes over the course of 2020.

In line with trends observed in previous Philanthropic Climate Survey editions, our fourth-edition results suggested that in aggregate, the COVID-19 pandemic had less of a negative effect on fundraising by the end of 2020 than at the beginning of the pandemic.

As of January 2021, 39% of respondents reported that their organization’s fundraising increased in calendar year 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This proportion grew more than 2.7 times from our May 2020 survey results, in which only 14% of respondents reported an increase in 2020 to date. Similarly, the proportion of respondents reporting decreases in fundraising due to COVID-19 went down from a height of 63% in May to a low of 44% in January.

More Reasons for Optimism

Other encouraging findings from our latest survey results include:

To see more results from our Philanthropic Climate Survey series, download our fourth-edition report today. If you have any questions about the report or CCS Fundraising, please contact us at

To access our full suite of perspectives, publications, and reports, visit our insights page. To learn more about how CCS Fundraising partners with nonprofits for transformational change, click here.