Pandemic triggers lowest ever cancellations of Direct Debit donations for UK charities

The cancellations rate for regular donations made via Direct Debit to UK charities fell to their lowest ever level this summer, due both to fewer new donors being recruited, and a conscious effort from existing donors to continue their support during the pandemic.

According to figures from UK charity payments specialist Rapidata, the average cancellation rate was consistently under 2% during the five-month mid-pandemic period of May to September, with a record low of 1.32% seen in July, compared to 2.45% in July 2019.

Scott Gray, Rapidata lead and head of payments for The Access Group commented:

“While the very low cancellation rates of the past few months can be largely attributed to lockdown stalling acquisition activity – because the majority of cancellations happen immediately after sign up – more positively, it also shows a steady trend that committed supporters are continuing to give to the causes they care about.”

While fewer regular givers cancelled their Direct Debit donations than usual, the number of people signing up as new regular givers also fell during this time: dropping by just over a quarter (26.6%) compared to the same period in 2019, reflecting the pandemic’s impact on fundraising acquisition activity such as face to face. However, regular giving donations set up online saw a 37% increase compared to the same period in 2019.

The findings are the focus of a Rapidata research report, Regular Giving Update & Recommendations: Autumn 2020. According to Rapidata’s analysis, the cancellations rate for Direct Debit regular giving donations rose steeply in March, at the beginning of the first pandemic lockdown in the UK, but swung back toward the usual trend line in April. UK charities then saw this unprecedented drop in donation cancellations over the summer. The report also shares practical recommendations for protecting this income stream during the second wave of the pandemic.

This news comes as the Chartered Institute of Fundraising releases a new booklet designed to guide charities through the pandemic by increasing their focus on the supporter experience. A free resource, Fundraising in the Time of Covid-19 has been produced with its Supporter Experience Special Interest Group, and outlines six principles and suggested actions to help charities and fundraisers build on the public’s desire to give during the pandemic through a great supporter experience. It shares successful case studies on how charities, such as Child Rescue Nepal and GUTS UK, have used the principles to make a difference to their fundraising.

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