Fundraising news, ideas and inspiration for professional charity fundraisers

Pandemic triggers lowest ever cancellations rates for Direct Debit donations

Pandemic triggers lowest ever cancellations rates for Direct Debit donations

Cancellations of donations to UK charities fell to their lowest ever levels between May and September this year.

The average cancellation rate was consistently under 2% over this five-month mid-pandemic period, with a record low of 1.32% seen in July, compared to 2.45% in July 2019.

donations set up online saw a 37% increase compared to the same period in 2019. Overall though, the volume of new Direct Debit sign-ups dropped by more than a quarter (26.6%) than for the same period in 2019, reflecting the impact of the pandemic in stalling acquisition activity, as well as the acceleration of .

The findings are the focus of new  Regular Giving Update & Recommendations: Autumn 2020, released today by charity payments specialist Rapidata, part of The Access Group. It shares the latest 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, commented:

“While the very low cancellation rates of the past few months can be largely attributed to lockdown stalling 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, the update analyses online giving data from the wider for the last six months, comparing one-off donations to the same period in 2019.

Commenting on the report’s findings, Dan Fluskey, Chartered Institute of Fundraising Head of Policy and External Affairs said:

“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 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.”


Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

Melanie May is a journalist and copywriter specialising in writing both for and about the charity and marketing services sectors since 2001. She can be reached via

Get free email updates

Keep up to date with fundraising news, ideas and inspiration with a weekly or daily email. [Privacy]

* We do not share your email or personal details.
" />