South Africans returned to work on 1 June as the government relaxed the national lockdown from Level 4 to Level 3. But things may never – and probably shouldn’t – go back to the way they were before the crisis.

This is according to Marius Maré, president of the South African-built online fundraising platform GivenGain, who says there’s much to learn from “online fundraising 2.0” methods that emerged during Covid-19.

As public events were shut down, charities and fundraisers have had to find creative new ways to raise money without breaking lockdown rules – and the results speak for themselves, he says.

“But even when marathons are reinstated and door-knocking campaigns can begin again, fundraisers should keep using the new virtual ways of raising money alongside them.”

As the first cases of Covid-19 began to appear in South Africa, charities warned the impact on their work could be catastrophic. As well as the increased need caused by the pandemic, they feared they would no longer be able to deliver essential services due to the conditions of the lockdown – and that donations would dry up in a climate of economic uncertainty.

Ordinary people immediately sprang into action. Activity on the GivenGain platform has climbed by more than 60% year-on-year since 1 April, Maré says.

“Donations are also hitting record highs – April was our best ever month in South Africa.”

He adds that around 40% of donations to South African charities were made in foreign currencies, with donors from 90 different countries stepping in to help.

But the biggest change has been in the innovative ways fundraisers and charities have been winning donations day-to-day despite restrictions. “It is these innovations that will change how charities work long after the lockdown ends,” Maré predicts.

While people have been making donations online for years, they were often still tied to real-world events like marathons. Today’s online fundraisers, on the other hand, aren’t just sharing crowdfunding links. They are running entire fundraising campaigns virtually – and sharing it globally, he says.

Social media, livestreaming apps and video conferencing platforms like Zoom have given fundraisers a way to reach out to a global network of donors and share inspiration with each other, but they also provide a platform for fundraising events.

Maré says the average fundraiser on GivenGain connects with 15 donors and raises R10 000 simply by creating a project page and sharing it with friends and family.