New donor sign-ups fell by more than a half in April

Figures from the charity payments company Rapidata show the level was 54 per cent lower than in April last year

(Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
(Photograph: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

The number of new donor sign-ups to charity fell by more than a half in April compared with the same period last year, new data shows. 

Figures from the charity payments company Rapidata show that the volume of new sign-ups to give to charity in April was 54 per cent lower than in the same month in 2019. 

The company said the data, which is based on payment information from more than 600 charities, was unsurprising because some key fundraising channels such as face-to-face were out of action because of the coronavirus outbreak. 

But it said that charitable direct debit cancellations had returned to a more normal level after March recorded the highest month-on-month rise since the company began collecting the data in 2003. 

Cancellations jumped to 3.09 per cent in March, when the coronavirus outbreak took hold, an increase from 2.16 per cent in February.

The rate fell to a more normal 2.04 per cent in April, which was slightly lower than during the same period in 2019. 

Rapidata declined to reveal how many new donor sign-ups it had recorded because it said the information was commercially sensitive, but it is understood to handle tens of thousands every month. 

The company said its tracking data was based on more than 21 million direct-debit transactions made since 2017. 

Scott Gray, head of Rapidata, said: “Numbers of new regular donors signing up are currently low, but this is no surprise while key fundraising channels such as face-to-face remain out of action.”

He said it was a relief that the charity direct debit cancellation rate had swung back to its more normal rate after jumping up in March. 

“The sudden uncertainty and concerns about job losses, the furlough scheme and the impact on future personal income will have seen many people review their ability to continue supporting their chosen charities at this time,” he said. 

“It is heartening that the majority of committed regular donors have maintained their support and that regular giving remains a strong and stable income stream for many charities.”

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