As many organizations already know, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in exponential growth for food banks over the last two years. It also created need unlike any other.
This growth—as you’ll see in RKD’s 2021 Food Bank Benchmarks—has resulted in the evolution of many food banks’ donor files. Before we dive into the numbers, let’s first reflect on some of the things we’ve learned over the past year:
1. Food bank donors are getting younger
Generation X and Millennials have stepped up their support. In 2020, there was a 22% increase in active Gen X donors and a 40% increase in Millennial donors when compared to 2019.
2. Food banks are using this growth to invest in their futures
From donor cultivation strategies to monthly giving to strategic multi-year planning, food banks are looking for ways to reinvest in their organizations for a more sustainable future.
3. Food banks are leaning into digital transformation
Many food banks had already started their digital transformation journey prior to the pandemic but saw that transformation accelerate exponentially once COVID-19 began.
4. The COVID-19 pandemic brought a wave of new donors
As we saw in our 2020 benchmarks, the food bank donor file grew dramatically. These donors look—and behave—differently. They skew digital and give larger gifts.
As the need for food assistance grew, so too did the realization that access and messaging isn’t always equitable. Since 2020, a growing number of food banks are changing the way they speak about those dealing with hunger and introducing new efforts to serve everyone in their communities.
Keeping these five points in mind, it’s time to present the 2021 Food Bank Benchmarks:
As you can see from the results we share in the video, the sharp rise of new donor counts as a result of the pandemic has caused a dramatic change in food bank donor files. New donors in 2020 evolved into second-year donors in 2021—and in 2022, we expect them to become a large portion of the core donor universe (those who have given two or more consecutive years).
Knowing this, the next few years are critical for food banks. How we speak to COVID donors—and the channels in which we reach them—will be key.