Direct debit cancellations fell to record low in the summer, figures show

The fall is largely down to a significantly lower level of donor acquisition activity because of the Covid-19 outbreak, says the company behind the data

(Photograph: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels)
(Photograph: Karolina Grabowska/Pexels)

The cancellation of direct debit donations to UK charities fell to a record low over the summer, new figures show. 

Data from the charity payments company Rapidata, published today, shows that the average direct debit cancellation rate was 1.32 per cent in July, the lowest figure recorded since Rapidata began collecting data in 2003. 

The company said the new low figure, which was previously 2.45 per cent in July 2019, was largely down to the fact there had been a much lower level of donor acquisition activity because of the virus and most cancellations happened immediately after a donor signed up. 

But the company also said the figures indicated that committed supporters were sticking with their chosen charities. 

The record low followed a spike in direct debit cancellations in March, when it hit 3.09 per cent as the UK lockdown was imposed. 

The cancellation rate then dropped to an average of 1.4 per cent between May and September, which Rapidata said was a “staggering decrease” from the same period last year, when it was 2.3 per cent. 

Rapidata’s figures indicate that regular online donations set up during the period rose by 37 per cent compared with the same timescale last year, as charities accelerated their digital fundraising efforts. 

Scott Gray, Rapidata lead and head of payments for its parent company, the Access Group, said: “While the very low cancellation rates of the past few months can be largely attributed to lockdown stalling donor acquisition activity – because we know 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.” 

Dan Fluskey, head of policy at the Chartered Institute of Fundraising, said efforts by charities to develop supporter relationships were bearing fruit. 

“Over recent years we have seen a real focus from charities in developing supporter relationships,” he said.

“This latest research shows not only that this work is now paying off, but also how vital it will continue to be for encouraging and retaining regular giving support as we traverse the challenging months ahead."

The data is based on figures from more than 600 charities that account for about 21 million transactions in a normal year.

A report into the findings can be found here.

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