Increase in proportion of donors recruited on street who never make a payment, survey shows

Nick Henry, head of standards and allocations at the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association, says the quality of street fundraising has got worse

Nick Henry
Nick Henry

The proportion of donors who fail to make the first payment after being recruited by street fundraisers increased significantly in 2011, according the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association’s annual Donor Acquisition and Retention Survey.

Figures released after the PFRA’s annual meeting yesterday say that ‘no shows’ for people recruited by street fundraisers jumped from 21 per cent in 2010 to 30 per cent in the 2011 calendar year.

The figure had remained at 21 per cent or below for the previous five years.

Doorstep fundraisers saw a slight increase in the proportion of no shows during 2011, from 19 per cent in 2010 to 23 per cent last year.

The latest figures, compiled by face-to-face fundraising company Future Fundraising, analysed data from 30 charity members of the PFRA. It is based on 1.5 million individual donors recruited to 210 separate campaigns.

Attrition rates for 2010, which is the latest year for which data is available, appear to be following the pattern for the cancellation rates for donors found in 2008, which reached at high of 56 per cent, Future Fundraising said.

Figures were available only for the first eight months of 2010, but the attrition rate, which indicates the proportion of people who have cancelled their direct debit within the first 12 months, appeared to be "following the pattern for 2008", according to a presentation given by Future Fundraising at the meeting.

The PFRA announced yesterday that the number of people who signed up to give to charity through street fundraisers had risen by almost 40 per cent in 2011/12.

The analysis for doorstep fundraising has seen attrition rates stay at a similar level, dropping from a high of 47 per cent in 2008 to 45 per cent in 2009. The figure for the first 10 months of 2010 is 44 per cent.

Morag Fleming, account director at Future Fundraising, said that figures for the full 11 months of donations in 2010 were not available because the charities, which filled in the survey in March this year, did not report them.

The survey, which is in its fifth year, was presented to PFRA members after its AGM.

Speaking at the meeting, Nick Henry, head of standards and allocations at the PFRA, said he thought the quality of street fundraising had fallen.

He revealed the results of the association’s latest mystery shopping scores, which monitor the professional standards of street fundraisers. They show that although between April 2011 and March 2012 the monthly averages have been increasing, the trend since January 2009 shows that monthly average scores have fallen from just under 94 per cent to below 90 per cent.

Asked by an audience member whether he thought the quality of street fundraising had got worse, Henry said: "Honestly, yes. It has got worse because it has got harder and recruitment is harder. As it has got more expensive and harder, the more difficult it is to recruit enough suitable staff who are responsible and able to be trained to the level of skills some of us remember."

The PFRA said it was concerned about the drop in quality and was looking at several measures to address the issues.

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