Face-to-face fundraising at lowest level since 2009/10

Figures from the Public Fundraising Association show there were about 711,000 donors recruited by street and door-to-door fundraisers in 2015/16

Face-to-face fundraising
Face-to-face fundraising

Face-to-face fundraising levels have fallen to their lowest level since 2009/10, according to figures released by the Public Fundraising Association.

The PFRA data shows the total number of donors recruited by street and door-to-door fundraisers was about 711,000 in the year to March – down from 845,000 in the previous year. 

It is the lowest number reported by the PFRA since 2009/10, when fundraisers signed up about 625,000 donors.

The figures do not include ongoing income from face-to-face fundraising donations solicited in previous years.

New income from street fundraising fell from an estimated £14.6m in 2014/15 to £12.3m in the year to March 2016, and doorstep fundraising revenue declined from an estimated £83m to £70m over the same period.

The estimates are based on the average value of donations: £96 for street and £120 for door-to-door.

Peter Hills-Jones, chief executive of the PFRA, told Third Sector the drop was due to three main factors, which he referred to as "the three Ms": the Metropolitan police, media scrutiny and market maturity.

Hills-Jones said that in January the Metropolitan police – which is responsible for licensing door-to-door fundraising in London – brought in a new policy requiring fundraising organisations to ensure that all their fundraisers in the capital undergo criminal record checks. Each check costs between £25 and £40, which has proved prohibitive for some organisations, said Hills-Jones.

"A lot of the campaigns that were scheduled to start in January, February and March were not able to proceed," he said. "It has been very disruptive and has had a chilling effect."

He added that the PFRA was in negotiations with the police to come up with a compromise that would allow campaigns to recommence.

On the impact of the media scrutiny of the past year, Hills-Jones said: "There’s been an additional degree of hostility on both the street and people’s doorsteps, and at least part of that is widely attributed to some of the news stories we had last year.

"Even though most of the stories were about telephone fundraising, there is a general feeling that charities are finding it harder to get their messages through, that there is more resistance from people on the streets to stop and engage in those conversations."

Hills-Jones said the maturity of the face-to-face market meant that members of the public in many areas had already been approached at least once by a fundraiser and taken a decision whether or not to donate. They were therefore less likely to have future conversations with them, he said.  

He said he believed the market reached a peak in 2014/15 – which he said was a "blockbuster year" for door-to-door fundraising – and was now at a more sustainable level.

"We’ll be anticipating a modest recovery for 2016/17," he said.

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