The Public Fundraising Regulatory Association's Attrition Survey 2008 is based on analysis of 76 fundraising campaigns run by 30 charities between 2004 and 2006. Results suggest that donor retention is improving and the average value of gifts is increasing.
The full results will be revealed at a convention session today.
The research also found that in 2004 it took an average of three years to raise £75,000 from street or door-to-door campaigns. In 2006, the £75,000 target was typically reached in 12 months by door-to-door campaigns and 20 months by street
The PFRA said the study was particularly relevant because it was the first one based on payments actually received by charities. This means that the results include not only donors who have cancelled their pledges, but also those who have not cancelled but are not making payments - maybe because there are insufficient funds in their bank accounts.
Mick Aldridge, chief executive of the association, said the results addressed the misconceptions about attrition. "I see the research as saying that the glass is half full rather than half empty," he said.
"It's also a vindication of the transparency and accountability of the PFRA and the sector it serves."
Rupert Tappin, manag-ing director of professional fundraising organisation Future Fundraising, which
analysed the data, said: "These fascinating figures show us that, even at these very early stages, by beginning to look at factors that affect short, medium and long-term regular giving,
we have seen an improvement in attrition from 2004 to 2006.
"With continued monitoring and improved management of campaigns, we can achieve so much more."
But charities themselves did not realise that attrition was getting better. Only 10 per cent of charities that took part in the survey thought rates were improving - and 37 per cent actually felt they were worsening.
- Environmental causes have the strongest levels of retention. Social welfare and disability charities retain more donors than overseas development charities.
- Charity brand awareness has little impact on attrition.
- Cancellation rates peak when donors reach their first anniversary of giving.
- Several respondents said more should be done to contact donors who had stopped making donations but had not asked to be removed from the charity's records.