The number of people who signed up to give to charity through street fundraising fell by 47 per cent in 2012/13, according to new figures from the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association.
The figures, published today, show that PFRA members recruited 125,827 monthly donors through street fundraising in 2012/13, compared with 238,273 the previous year.
The regulator put the sharp decline down to the closure of Gift Fundraising, which was the biggest fundraising company. It went into administration in February 2012.
The demise of Gift, which provided about 30 per cent of street fundraising in the UK, was to blame for about two-thirds of the decline in sign-ups through the technique, the PFRA said.
Overall, the number of new donors signed up through both doorstep and street fundraising fell by 16 per cent to 726,492, down from the record high of 863,407 in 2011/12.
The figures show that in-house charity teams made a record number of street sign-ups in 2012/13.
Fifty-eight per cent – or 72,206 – of all new donors were recruited by fundraisers employed directly by charities or supplied by recruitment agencies as temporary staff to work exclusively for a single charity.
The proportion was 26 per cent in 2011/12, 20 per cent in 2010/11 and 15 per cent in 2009/10.
Doorstep recruitment also fell in 2012/13, by 3.9 per cent to 600,665, although the PFRA said the technique still enjoyed its second most successful year ever.
Research by the PFRA has found that street fundraisers approach an average of 180 people for every sign-up they make.
The figures, based on the monthly invoices the PFRA sends its 137 user members for a fee of 75p a donor, show that the numbers signed up by prospecting, the solicitation of contact details or SMS giving, also fell by 35 per cent in 2012/13 to 3,516.
Nick Henry, head of standards and allocations at the PFRA, said: "With agencies not able to meet the demand, it seems that charities might be taking control of the situation by meeting the demand themselves.
"It will be interesting to see whether this trend continues this year or whether there is a resurgence in fundraising by professional fundraising organisations."
After the agency Dialogue Direct went into administration in late 2009, street recruitment fell from 222,000 in 2008/09 to 178,000 in 2009/10 before recovering in 2011/12.
Henry said that if the recovery of street fundraising followed previous patterns after the closure of major agencies, up to 200,000 new donors could be recruited in a single year by 2015/16.