As the public’s fervour for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s imminent wedding continues to build a positive feeling across the nation, it’s worth reminding ourselves about the impact of major events and the national ‘feel-good’ factor on charitable regular giving and Direct Debit cancellation rates.
Previous research has indicated that the euphoria surrounding major events can play a key role in influencing donation trends, preventing or delaying the cancellation of regular donations. From our analysis of regular giving data across a hundred different charities and causes, we found that the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations during 2012 brought with them clearer signs of consumer confidence and a distinct fall in the number of regular gift cancellations. At that time, the average annual Direct Debit cancellation rate fell significantly from 3.79% to 3.56%.
There’s nothing better to lift the spirits of our nation than a good royal event. We’ve felt that already this year with the recent birth of Prince Louis. The upcoming wedding of Harry and Meghan on 19th May is set to be a major national celebration, and it’s a great opportunity for charities to engage with supporters and potentially reduce attrition rates.
It’s been reported that the new baby prince will add £50m to the UK economy before he reaches his first birthday (source: Brand Finance research, 2018) and the royal wedding will surely follow suit.
The bunting will be strung with street parties and celebrations across the UK and the wedding will almost certainly be front page news around the globe, all fuelling high spirits against the backdrop of Brexit, the Windrush scandal and the less-positive news in 2018.
If we look back, the enthusiasm for the last royal wedding had a hugely positive impact on regular giving donor activity. When William and Kate tied the knot in April 2011, Direct Debit cancellation rates dropped to their lowest in four years, only to rise again to normal levels once the celebrations were over. The data shows us that this high profile event sustained donations or deferred the date of Direct Debit cancellation, meaning that the charities were able to benefit from one or more extra
monthly payments – which could only be welcome additional income.
With this in mind, there appears to be a potential opportunity for communicating with regular supporters at the right time in order to join in the public’s enthusiasm.
It’s a window in which to positively add to your donors’ experience; building on your engagement and strengthening relationships with the aim of helping to reduce attrition once the excitement has died down.
We know that it costs less to retain an existing supporter than to engage a new one, and that giving donors the best possible experience is the responsibility of us all.
Now’s arguably a great time to invest in donor stewardship, ensuring your donor engagement is the greatest it can be. By saying ‘thank you’, by highlighting why they should continue supporting and by sharing real-life stories that can demonstrate how their donations have and can go on to impact the cause, we can perhaps help the buoyant mood stemming from 2018’s royal celebrations to have a positive impact on regular giving.
Scott Gray is CEO of Rapidata, the charity Direct Debit processing agency, and a specialist commentator on charitable regular giving.
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