Street fundraising: attrition rates predicted to rise by 10%

PFRA figures point to sharp increase in 2008

The cancellation rate for charity donors recruited by street and door-to-door fundraisers is increasing, according to figures from the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association.

Its 2009 Attrition Survey examines whether donors who signed up during charity campaigns in 2007 and 2008 are still donating a year later. The figures show the proportion cancelling their direct debits after signing up through street fundraising campaigns in 2008 is on track to be between 55 and 57 per cent – an increase of up to 10 percentage points on the final 2007 figures.

Door-to-door figures for 2008 are predicted to remain fairly stable at 46 to 47 per cent, compared with 46 per cent in 2007.

The figures for 2008 have yet to be finalised because the survey monitors a 12-month period from the donor's first payment, which could have been made as late as the end of December. A total of 20 charities responded to the survey with details from 70 different campaigns.

Figures from the PFRA's previous attrition survey, published in 2008, showed a 49 per cent cancellation rate for donors signed up through street fundraising campaigns in 2006. Door-to-door attrition over the same period was 41 per cent.
The 2009 survey also includes an analysis of the giving trends of the 377,000 donors who were included in the previous survey.

The study, completed by Adrian Sargeant, professor of fundraising at Indiana University in the US, found that many of the reasons donors cancelled direct debits related to how charities communicated with givers after they were recruited.

The full details of the survey will be presented at the Institute of Fundraising's National Convention this week. Sargeant's research suggests that donor retention can be improved by making welcome calls within three months of recruitment, customising newsletters and making upgrade calls within seven and 11 months of signing donors up.

Rupert Tappin, managing director of Future Fundraising, who worked on the PFRA's surveys, said the figures were unsurprising. "We have never had regular giving in a recession before, so we don't know if this is out of the ordinary or not," he said.

But the two pieces of work would help charities improve their attrition management, Tappin added.

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