Europe Fintech

UK Charities Have Lowest Ever Direct Debit Cancellation Rate Despite COVID-19

The cancellations rate for Direct Debit donations to UK charities fell to its lowest ever levels between May and September this year, meaning committed supporters are sticking with their chosen charities. The Direct Debit cancellations rate was consistently under 2% over this five-month mid-pandemic period, with a record low of 1.32% in July compared to 2.45% in July 2019.

Online regular giving donations set up saw a significant 37% increase compared to the same period in 2019, as charities accelerated their digital adoption. However, the volume of new Direct Debit sign-ups dropped by more than a quarter (26.6%) than the same period in 2019, reflecting the impact of the pandemic in stalling fundraising acquisition activity.

The findings are the focus of new research ‘Regular Giving Update & Recommendations: Autumn 2020’, released on 11 November by charity payments specialist Rapidata, part of The Access Group. It shares the latest data on regular giving, as well as practical recommendations for charities needing to protect this income stream as the UK moves into the second wave of the pandemic.

Rapidata noted that the cancellations rate made an initial high jump in March – the beginning of lockdown – but then immediately swung back toward its usual trend line in April. Since then, the report shows that UK charities have seen an unprecedented drop in donation cancellations over the summer.

Scott Gray, Rapidata lead and head of payments for 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.”

In addition, this latest update analyses online giving data from the wider Access Group for the last six months, comparing one-off donations to the same period in 2019.

Dan Fluskey, Chartered Institute of Fundraising head of policy and external affairs says: “While growing regular giving is hard at this time of limited fundraising activity, the growth of one-off donations demonstrates that people do still care and very much want to give. Donor loyalty can never be taken for granted however but needs to be earned. Over recent years we have seen a real focus from charities in developing supporter relationships. 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.”


  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

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