Navigating times of crisis

The first wave of Covid-19 shocked and galvanised us. An unprecedented situation for all, amidst the challenges to fundraising, health, finances, and freedom of movement it presented, it also inspired incredible levels of community action and giving of all kinds.

In this second period of lockdown not for profits will need to work harder and smarter to keep supporters engaged and donations coming in.

So what does this mean for regular giving?

The 2019 CAF UK Giving report showed that people donated £10.1billion in 2018, 33% of whom gave via Direct Debit or Standing Order.

Rapidata’s latest Charity Direct Debit Tracking Report looks at the latest trends in regular giving through the pandemic, how supporters are still giving and what not for profits can do to protect this income stream

Lowest levels of Direct Debit cancellations for 17 years

Source: Rapidata

Rapidata’s May 2020 update revealed that regular giving Direct Debit cancellations had seen an initial high jump during the first month of lockdown, before quickly dropping back to their usual level in April.

Rapidata now report that since then the cancellations rate dropped to the lowest levels ever seen since reporting began in 2003. From May to September the level of cancellations has been consistently below 2%, with July dropping to a record low of 1.32%, significantly under the rate of 2.45% seen in July 2019.

Digital adoption and online success

Source Rapidata

In May, Rapidata reported a significant increase in digital fundraising activity as charities turned to lockdown’s most viable channels, and regular giving sign-ups via webpages have grown in this space.

Based on Rapidata’s analysis of 350 charity giving pages, the first nine months of 2020 saw a 37% increase in the number of new online Direct Debit sign-ups compared to the same period in 2019. And, as the last quarter of the year, with the traditional fundraising build up to Christmas, typically sees the biggest increase in new sign-ups, they expect these to rise further before year end.

Analysis of online giving data from the wider Access Group for the last six months, shows an 85% cumulative growth in donation value of one off donations compared to the same period in 2019.

Where now for regular giving?

In the last recession, Rapidata report that Direct Debit cancellations rose sharply to reach an average 4.33% for 2008, rising further in the early months of 2009 before falling quickly and dramatically back to a more normal level of 2.63% in December of that year.

Rapidata believe that it is absolutely critical that charities seek to safeguard their regular giving as much as possible to reduce future loss.

According to the nfpSynergy August 2020 Charity Awareness Monitor research, the good news is, donors do want to continue their charity support if they possibly can: 17% expect to give more in the next 12 months, while the majority (63%) believe charities should continue to fundraise in these difficult times.

The innovation and agility charities have shown during the first wave of the pandemic, will be more critical than ever in protecting regular giving as we move through this next phase

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

Keeping regular givers giving

Over the last five years Rapidata have been researching what it is that keeps donors giving to the causes that they care most about, reaching over 200,000 supporters, including more than 70,000 regular givers.

The latest report illustrates three factors:

  • Commitment
  • Satisfaction
  • Trust

But in one way none of this really matters. Our job hasn’t changed. Our role is to build our donors’ loyalty, to grow their levels of commitment, satisfaction and trust. It always has been – it’s just become even more important.

Roger Lawson, founder and director of About Loyalty

Practical recommendations

With much charities can do to build loyalty, relationships, and the resilience to survive the next few months, Rapidata’s report expands the following seven key recommendations for protecting regular giving:

1. Don’t be afraid to ask

2. Build and maintain engagement

3. Better leverage digital

4. Share your impact

5. Empower donors

6. Keep thanking

7. Be agile

Final Words

The loyalty of our regular supporters is often the bellwether indicator for how well charities are doing in taking care of their donors and the public’s commitment to give to good causes. These latest findings show that in the face of hugely challenging circumstances, fundraisers are doing a good job of nurturing relationships with their supporters and in inspiring them to continue giving.

Dan Fluskey, head of policy & external affairs, Chartered Institute of Fundraising

While the coming months will undoubtedly be tough for every charity, regular giving success will depend on preparation, continuing to ask, and insightful and engaging stewardship programmes for support into the future.

We’ve created a basic framework for how to protect regular giving, based on sector research and our own long-term tracking of Direct Debit regular giving. We hope the insight we’ve pulled together here provides useful guidance. We will continue tracking regular giving activity, reporting further updates in due course

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

Download the report

Regular giving update and recommendations, Autumn 2020.

Download Rapidata’s latest Charity Direct Debit Tracking Report

Or contact Rapidata:

Telephone: 01293 601111



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